End of the Year Sentiments


So the curtain comes down on the 2009-2010 Maple Leafs season. I know many readers are upset because we as Leaf fans must once again adopt and follow an entirely different team as a sort of playoff hockey avatar in order to fully enjoy the postseason (I find the only way to really get in to it is to pick a surrogate rooting interest). The angst is ramped up in Leaf land as well because the team finished so low in the standings, yet come draft day the guys clustered around our table won’t be studying anything more intently than the lunch menu, because we won’t likely have a pick for the first day and a half (unless Burkie has a miracle relating to a certain Czech defenceman tucked up inside those French cuffs).

Alec mentioned to me that MLHS would be doing a kind of “end of year” thing today, so I thought it would be appropriate to chip in a couple of words; that’s what this post is about. As for the series of posts I have been sporadically writing, the ones about the Good News in Maple Leaf Blue and White, if I can convince real life not to get too terribly much in the way over the next couple of months, I’ll continue writing those until I feel they’ve reached a logical end, and then I’ll find something else to write about.

As for my end of year thoughts, I know from many years of experience as a Leafs fan that the hardest part of this for all of you out there is going to come in the next couple of weeks as you deal with the idiots in your life who want to give you grief about being a Leafs fan in the first place. No matter how old you are or where you spend your time during the week, you’re going to run into these tools; maybe it’s the loudmouth Habs fan on your floor in residence at university, or the Daniel Alfredsson fan in the office down the hall at work, or the kid in your gym class who just hasn’t shut up about Sidney Crosby and the Penguins since the Olympics. Whatever the particulars and wherever you are in your life, there’s going to be somebody who wants to bring you misery and gloom and basically call you an asshole because the team you love missed the playoffs again. Truth be told, there’s often a lot of so-called Leaf fans who want to participate in this type of crap too. There’s a guy where I work who claims to be a Leaf fan but who has been on so many self-imposed “boycotts” and anti-Leaf tirades over the last ten years that I wonder who he’s really kidding.

Anyway, my point is that there are tough times ahead for you, and I know that you’re not in much of a frame of mind to deal with these idiots. Here’s some survival equipment for you. When one of these loudmouth purveyors of misery and gloom approaches, here’s what to do:

  • Kick them in the junk, that hurts.
  • In case your tormentor is a fellow “Leaf fan”, do us all a favour and don’t even try to talk them out of the misery. Suggest strongly that they switch allegiances, or better yet, follow tennis.
  • Remember back to the way you felt about this team in October and November; you know, the team that opened the season oh and a bajillion, featuring the Finnish Obscenity in net and Jason Blake boring a hole in each and every NHL goalie’s midsection one thirty foot shot at a time. Really focus on the shitshow of a team that managed to get Luke Schenn playing like the second coming of Jeff Ware, or worse, sitting in the press box watching. Got it? Okay, now think about the way you feel about this team in the last couple of months, the team that’s been led by the physical presence of Dion Phaneuf, has featured the coming out of Nikolai Kulemin as the real deal full on complete package NHL’er and has given us a peek at some possible real talent in the person of Tyler Bozak. Add in the improved play of Jonas Gustavsson and Carl Gunnarsson, remember that I haven’t even mentioned Phil Kessel or Nazem Kadri yet, and that feeling of relief that just came over you? That feeling is the measurement of the team’s progress this year. Remember that word: progress.
  • In case your tormentor is an Ottawa supporter, inquire earnestly after the performance of Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire, feign surprise when the Sens fan expresses some doubt about their performance, then “console” the poor fool by sagely observing that, if their goaltending is bad, at least they’ll be able to rely on Dany Heatley to get some goals.
  • If I told you at the beginning of the season that I could wave a magic wand and that by year’s end the Leaf team would feature Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel, but our first round draft picks over the next two years would never become Leafs, you would have taken that deal. You would have said, “okay, so we screw up our 1st round picks for two years, I am a Leaf fan and I was fairly certain that this was going to happen anyway, at least this way we get Phaneuf and Kessel”. That’s essentially the position the team is in right now; we have those two guys, and we know we’re not getting help through top-round picks in the next two years.
  • On second thought, maybe another kick in the junk wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
  • In case your tormentor is a Habs fan, just smile and ask if you can make an appointment to speak with them again in approximately four games.
  • You have an excellent reason to hate Taylor Hall and/or Tyler Seguin for the entirety of their NHL careers – at least until one or the other joins the Leafs someday.

All kidding aside, it’s been a tough year, and we know that there are tough times ahead still. Stick with your team, even when the going is tough. That’s what a fan does. Remember this when the team starts to win again and the bandwagon fans begin to return.

On a personal note, I want to thank Alec and the team of contributors here at MLHS for welcoming me aboard around here; I especially want to thank them all for not continuously mocking me for producing so very little. I am the Rickard Wallin of this team, of this there can be no doubt (except that I hope my chances of sticking with the club are a bit better than his). Thanks to all the readers here at MLHS too, it’s been my pleasure putting up the occasional empty-netter for you to make of what you will.

Here’s to brighter times ahead, and let’s all get ready to cheer for….whoever is playing the Canadiens.