If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times. You don’t understand why I’m still cheering for the Leafs. The management is struggling, the team is lacking personality, and the cost of tickets is STILL through the roof. Why do I do this to myself, you ask.
Well it’s simple. It’s because it’s the Leafs.
To all those who continue to taunt me for beleafing, here are a few reasons why my blood still runs blue:
Because of the Nostalgia
Growing up on a back country road in the middle of nowhere, my family living room was the place to be on Saturday nights. Siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends would all gather for a common cause. At 7:05pm you’d find us crouched around the TV, squinting at the screen through the storm static coming down the antenna, listening to Harry Neale’s soothing voice and waiting for the glorious horn and the eruption of cheers around you. This was true bliss.
Because Canada has Long, Cold Winters.
It’s Saturday night in the dead of winter and you’ve got to get out of the house or you’ll go crazy with cabin fever. Here are your two options:
Option 1: You’re heading out to the club, high heels are tromping through the snow, you’re freezing as you wait the 25 minutes for a cab to arrive so you can go to a loud bar, full of gross guys, and spend $10 on a drink.
Option 2: In this second scenario you strap on your sorels, grab your parka and hike the 5 minutes to the local bar. $15 pitchers, $10 nachos and a bar full of fans.
Because They’re the Underdogs
Now before you start arguing with me, I want to be clear – I acknowledge the Leafs are actually a major conglomerate with evil businessmen stealing our hard earned money for astronomically priced tickets. And despite the money, management still manages to screw it up EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
But c’mon, there’s still something beautiful about cheering for a team that is fighting against history to try to get that Stanley Cup back. If we were cheering for, say, the Boston Bruins, wouldn’t winning get a bit old?
Because of the Fans
The fans. These are the real Leafs. Not Clark Macarthur who lasted two seasons, or Hal Gill,or Igor Korolev or even Darcy Tucker. For those guys, hockey is a career and the Leafs are one of their many employers. But for the fans, the maple leaf symbol lasts a lifetime. It represents camaraderie at the bars, family reunions by the TV, saving up to go to that one game a season, and children skating on the pond pretending to be Darryl Sittler. How could I possibly turn my back on a team that brings this many people together?
Because that Moment WILL Come
And when that moment comes no one will accuse me of jumping on the bandwagon. When the city starts talking about this team again, and excitement is in the air, I’ll be a part of the conversation because I’ll have been a part of the struggle. I’ll be able to laugh about the goaltending fiasco of 2015, I’ll recognize the legends as they go to drop the puck, and I won’t have to buy a jersey at an (even more) inflated price because I’ll have #17 hanging in the closet.
And when that moment comes, it will taste that much sweeter, being so hard to come by.
Laugh all you want. Bail all you want. But I will still be watching the game on opening day. Hoping and praying that this year will be our year.
Go Leafs Go.
~Written by Fiona Geddes
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