Well…here we go. Let the experiment of objectively writing about the team and sport you are passionate about begin. I am a lifelong Leafs fan – I got it naturally from both sides of my family.
I’ve played hockey my entire life at various levels through to university and still lug the big bag to the rink every Monday night for a pretty competitive Men’s League in Toronto. In order for me to not watch a Leafs game on TV, one of the three things has to occur:
1) I have tickets and am going live.
2) Some sort of monumental family occurrence and/or event.
3) I am under general anaesthetic prepping for surgery.
Suffering since the lockout without witnessing a playoff game I care about has been tough, and the years taken off my life with the Buds going down to the last 1 or 2 games of the season is time I’ll never get back. What does it say about Me (or the Leafs in general the last 10 years) that my fondest recent Leafs memory is a game-tying goal in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against Carolina?
Enough about me though…let’s just say that I am a legitimate Leafs fan, through good times and bad and am now lucky enough to write about what I see. Agree. Disagree. If anything, I hope to inspire some serious debate about the direction of the team; where they are, where they’ve been and most importantly, where they’re going.
Let’s start with this point that’s been eating at me the past two seasons – let’s forget this “Spirit is Everything” garbage. After 42 years and counting without a Cup, it takes more than spirit to get folks to shell out the big bucks night in and night out to sit in the seats and watch a mediocre product. Aside from the business meetings in the platinums, it is the “Passion that Unites Us All” that keeps people in the building, the team in the news, and the website traffic hitting the countless sites offering up any sort of information on Canada’s team. Admittedly, there is work to be done to live up to that last statement – at least to the point where you can look yourself in the mirror and believe it.
It’s time that Leafs fans stand up collectively and demand accountability throughout the organization. Spirit isn’t everything – parading a giant metal Cup up Yonge St. in the springtime is. Enough slogans. Get it done.
The Los Angeles Kings come to the ACC tonight (7:00PM – Sportsnet Ontario) with pretty much the blueprint roster that those “re-buildist” proponents trumpet as the only sure way to remake a Stanley Cup contending team. The merits of this philosophy can be debated, but a superiorly talented group of young players come to Toronto tonight to show what a decade of high draft picks will net you on the ice. Should be interesting, and a little depressing all at the same time*.
*Depending on which Leafs team arrives at the Hanger tonight.
(Side note: Watching the Leafs this year is kind of like looking at pictures of Kirstie Alley in six month intervals: Great…Whoa, umm, what happened?…Great…Whoa…you get where I’m going with this)
I’ll be watching Drew Doughty closely tonight. How good is this guy? (hint: from all accounts and three time zones away, pretty great) Does he deserve a spot on Team Canada in Vancouver?
Notes of Interest:
· With Jonas Gustavsson poised to run with the starting goaltending duties for the blue and white, how will he handle the added pressure? Is he an NHL #1 in your opinion?
· Which Leafs will raise their level of play heading up to the trade deadline to either a) get paroled to a playoff contender , or b) earn a spot on Brian Burke’s team of the future?
· Will Thomas Kaberle waive his no-trade clause? What is an acceptable return for a player of his skill-set?
· What should the Leafs do with some of their “anchors”? (aka: Jason Blake, Jeff Finger, Vesa Toskala)
Enjoy the game tonight…should be interesting*.
About the Author
Written by Mike De Petrillo
Leafs fan; former OHL LW; Live in Toronto