During the NHL playoffs, while the Habs were still in it, a restaurant owner in Montréal put up a poster rooting on the home team. The NHL struck back and fined him 1000$CA per day for the time it was up, resulting in an 89,000$CA fine. You can read more about it here: http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110516/mtl_basha_110516/20110516/%3Fhub%3DMontrealHome
I find this incredible.
I don’t think any other major sports league pulls this kind of garbage. Through the 90s, when the Indians were winning, the Plain Dealer used to print banners in the paper that everyone in town hung in their windows … and a lot of people did their own. Never heard that the MLB fined anyone. Dick Jacobs didn’t send people out to force them to change their decorations.
And when the Browns were good (in the Kosar days), people wrote songs and they got played on the radio and no one seemed to mind. Fans dressed up like “dawgs” in the stands and cheered “Go Browns!” — a cry echoed on Browns paraphenalia of every description, on the signs and flags and posters visible on every office building and business … the statues outside the Federal Reserve Bank wore Browns helmets (and maybe “jerseys”, altho I can’t be sure about that, my memory being what it is) … guess what? No fine from the NFL. No ‘cease and desist’ from the team.
Finally, when the Cavs were winning with LeQuitness, there were signs and tees and you name it — the name was EVERYWHERE (LeBron’s and the team’s) — and not a peep from the NBA. The Cavs didn’t see the need to tear down anyone’s stuff (well, except for the giant Nike sign after His Loserness left).
The NHL’s only outpost in Cleveland — the “we lasted for two years andthen became the North Stars” Barons of the 1970s — probably wished someone would put up a sign or two.
I have been a Canadiens fan for over 30 years. I love my Habs and I love Hockey … but there’s a reason why the NHL’s product is #4 (or lower — if you include Nascar) here in the States. Someone in the NHL needs to buy a clue, and learn that you don’t grow a sport by chasing down the fans and taking money from them for imaginary offenses. Whether it’s going after the car dealership in Vancouver for supporting the ‘Nucks, this restaurant owner, or the Montreal Gazette’s Hockey Inside/Out blog (formerly Habs Inside/Out — but the NHL claims that’s copyrighted, too), you need to figure out what’s really copyright violation (like the people on EBay counterfeiting stuff) and what’s an honest expression of fandom.
GO HABS GO! Vive le bleu, blanc et rouge!
Sue me, NHL. I dare you.