I’m not a Leafs fan. In fact you could say I hate the Toronto Maple Leafs. But even I felt a little sorry for the long suffering Leaf fans last night and this morning. Game 7. 4 -1 up. 12 minutes to go, parade route planned, then total capitulation!!!
I moved to the left coast of Canada in 1984 from the UK. Up until that point I was a big football (soccer) fan. In those days in Canada especially in BC, prior to internet, cheap international phone calls, Sportsnet World and other sports TV stations it was very difficult to follow soccer here. In order to fit in I started to follow hockey. The late 80’s were not a good time for the Vancouver Canucks. They were usually somewhere near the bottom of the old Smythe Division, whipping boys for the Oilers and the Flames. They used to play at the old Pacific Coliseum, not much fun trying to watch a game if you got stuck behind a support column.
In the early 90’s it all changed with the arrival of Pavel Bure. In 1994 I was fortunate to get playoff tickets in the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Western Conference final. We won that game 4-0 and went on to win the series 4 – 1. And my hatred of the Leafs was born. Picture this it’s your home barn, it’s the first game in Vancouver of the conference finals and there are more Leafs fans than Canucks. The NHL arranges the schedule around so that the Leafs always play Saturday nights, any idea how much that pisses the rest of us off? Imagine being a fan of the opposing team when Cherry does his HNIC bit, when he is such a Leafs homer, its really annoying!!!
I eventually signed up with a couple of buddies and shared season tickets at the new GM Place. Vancouver sucked wind until a couple of years after I had moved to Ontario. 2 lock outs have taken its toll on my interest in hockey, plus a 3 hour time difference makes it very difficult to watch my chosen team.
Anyway back to the Leafs. In all my years and world travels I have never come across a sports team that has such a loyal committed fan base as this hockey team. Manchester United comes a close second but it’s hard to compare because Manchester United is actually successful (20 Premier League titles). The Maple Leafs are not, but the fans still keep coming back. Management doubles the price of playoff tickets, fans can’t get enough. 9 years of not even making the playoffs Air Canada Centre sold out every game. None of it makes any sense.
After I had been in Ontario a few years Mrs. Nobody finally said “You have been here long enough why don’t you just start to follow the Leafs?” She doesn’t understand it doesn’t work like that. My dream would be a Leafs vs. Canucks Stanley Cup final. That would be something to get excited about. But with the Canucks fading now and the Leafs on the ascendance not likely to happen any time soon.
One last thing what’s with this Leafs thing? Isn’t the plural of a Leaf Leaves? Just one more thing to piss me off about this annoying hockey franchise!!!