Montreal Canadiens fans who are also firefighters run afoul of the city for plastering Habs’ logos over 60 fire stations. Fight ensues and accusations fly.
Fans of Montreal hockey team the Canadiens (nicknamed The Habs to the truly devoted) are known for their enthusiasm, especially when the team is within striking distance of the Stanley Cup – the swansong highlight of the NHL hockey season . As was the case for Montreal firefighters who decided to demonstrate their team loyalty by plastering the Canadiens’ logo over 60 or so fire stations across the city. Not being a terribly fan of hockey (yeah, I know, blasphemy) even I don’t see an issue with this. Fans see sports team logos as a flag under which to rally, and the emblems are featured on everything from sweaters, T-shirts, car flags and – on game day – faces and torsos. Why should firefighters be any different?
Take down demand.
I don’t think they should, but Montreal city officials think otherwise, engaging in a campaign to remove any logos from stations – deeming the murals graffiti – and dispatching personnel to scrub the larger-than-life team logos off walls and windows. The firefighters union took umbrage – calling the move ridiculous – and the logo issue has developed into a public fracas, pitting hockey fans against the city itself. The fact that there’s already some bad blood between both sides, the result of a protracted contract dispute, only fueled the standoff.
Logo fracas turns political.
Staring to get ugly too – two firefighters were suspended last week after they were caught painting their station. Private contractors with pressure washers were seen at several stations removing the paint, a clean-up job Mayor Gérald Tremblay said will be charged to the firefighters union – moves that Montreal firefighters association spokesman Chris Ross called ridiculous – also opining that the city was using the issue to discredit the union during the contract talks. If the city expected support from the public, they woefully underestimated their constituents loyalty to The Habs, and the majority of the public have come out in support of the firefighters.
Hockey logo an “insult”?
Firefighters deny that the hockey logos are graffiti, or vandalism, as they made sure to use water-soluble finger paint. Says Ross, “There’s absolutely no permanent damage to the fire station. And contrary to graffiti, I think they’re very well done, and it’s also a little insulting to call the Habs logo graffiti.”
Security risk too?
A spokesman for the city claimed that windows painted with a hockey team logo are a security risk because people can’t see inside the station, a position the firefighters claim is ludicrous. The firefighters also point out that if the city is successful in removing the logos, the taxpayers will ultimately be on the hook for the costs involved, especially if the city tries to get the firefighters to pony up for the cleanup (firefighters point out that they’d planned to remove the logos themselves, after the Canadiens Stanley Cup bid had run its course).
“It’s going to be a waste of taxpayers’ money, one: to have this washed off, and two: to have to go after us to get us to pay the bill. Obviously we won’t pay it without going to court.”
Ah, sports fans. Gotta love ’em.
[Footnote: This article was originally posted on our (now) Legacy Blog and moved to its current location for consistency and database functionality. While it was accurate at the time of publication, it is currently posted as part of our historical record and details may have changed.]