Toronto Maple Leafs
I had stopped watching Leaf games. Prior to tonight, the last game I watched was the game I took my son to a couple of weeks ago. Total and complete apathy had set in... the 2011-12 Leafs were dead to me.
Then, Ford Canada invited me to their luxury suite and 3rd row seats at the ACC to watch the Leafs vs. Flyers. Suddenly, I'm not only watching the Leafs again, but I'm at ice level, unable to turn the channel.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's far worse than I had imagined. It seems we've found a new bottom, if that's possible. Jussi Rynnas got no support in his first career start, the Leafs only managed to get 17 shots on net and the fans only showed passion when chanting "Let's Go Blue Jays", which also happened to be the highlight of the night, or when booing the home team, which began early in the first period.
This team has no pride. In this lifelong fan's opinion, things are as bad now as they were under JFJ's watch, and that's saying something. It hurts to watch.
I was comfortably numb in my apathetic state until Ford Canada woke me up. Now I've seen the carnage for myself and it's ugly. Toronto ugly.
[via greek colin farrell]
I remember Maple Leaf playoff hockey. Here's my entry following our last playoff game on May 4, 2004. At a quick glance, 2004 might not seem like that long ago, so I'd like to offer you some perspective.
This is my daughter. Soon, she'll turn 8-years old.
She was born after the Leafs' last playoff game meaning the Maple Leafs have never played a playoff game in her lifetime.
She, essentially, is the measuring stick I use when actualizing this drought. She's about to finish grade two. She's fluent in two languages. She's got interesting ideas and a great sense of humour and there's no telling when I'll be able to sit down with her to watch Maple Leaf playoff hockey. Will it be next year? When she's ten? We seem as far away today as we were the day Burke was hired.
I'm done with Leafs hockey for the year, and it's only March. Complete apathy is setting in, yet still I yearn to share playoff hockey with my kids. If the Leafs won't do it for me, maybe they'll do it for her.
I monitor Toronto weather via gCast, a simple little Chrome extension. Here's what it looks like right now:
26°, 25°, 31°, 25°... those numbers are absolutely sick for March. I took last week off to enjoy March Break with the kids, and we were out playing catch every day. I wore shorts and sandals, and it looks like I'll be doing the same this week. In my lifetime, I can't recall a winter as mild as this one. It's ridiculous.
If I offered you 26°, 25°, 31° and 25° highs in May, you'd take it. Heck, these temps look good for June. The weather in Toronto is hot... damn hot.
I'm not complaining. I just came back from a nice walk and tried to remember a March that was even close to this one. I couldn't come up with one.
This concludes my obligatory Toronto weather entry on the warmest March 19th in recorded history.
Let's finish last.
I still remember taking my son James to his first Jays game. That was way back in 2004 and Gabe Gross hit a grand slam, Russ Adams hit his first career home run and Carlos Delgado went deep in a 12-5 victory. Brian Burke sat two rows ahead of us and we had a blast.
It's taken me quite a bit longer to get James to his first Leafs game. We've seen several Jays and Marlies games, and a Raptors game and TFC match, but last night was his first Leafs game, a 1-0 shoot-out loss from the Coke Zero Gondola Box.
I'm not sure how the game played on television, it was quite possibly a snooze-fest, but live there was a good ebb and flow and it was pretty entertaining for a scoreless hockey game. Fatherhood Schmaltz Alert: More than anything, I wanted the Leafs to score. I didn't care if we lost 10-1, I wanted James to hear the horn go and witness the eruption of joy that happens after the home team scores. A bunch of posts later, I didn't get my wish, but James had fun regardless.
I want to give a big thanks to Coke Zero for inviting us. It was a part of their big "Impossible Made Possible" campaign and it was amazing not only getting James into a game, but having free food and drink all game long. I'm not blaming Coke Zero for the lack of Leafs goals.
Flyers scout Patrick Burke, who happens to be Brian Burke's son, did a Reddit AMA today. AMA stands for "ask me anything" and when they're done right, they can be pretty awesome.
Here are some Patrick Burke answers that would be interesting to Leaf fans.
Q: Can we get your dad for an AMA as well? I'm sure /r/hockey would love that.
A: My dad just mastered his blackberry about 6 months ago. In 15 years when he understands how online message boards work, I will have him do an AMA.
Q: What was Brian Burke like as a dad?
A: Truculent? In all seriousness, the image that the public has of my father is not accurate. He takes on a lot of heat for himself in order to save his team or coach the hassle, and people seem to judge him by that. He sees that as part of his job. He has a very big heart- I guarantee he does more charity work than any other GM in professional sports, and he does it very quietly.
Q: What was your (and your dad's) very first reaction when you found out Brendan was gay?
A: I gave Brendan a hug, told him I didn't care. Then we walked back inside my family's house and I yelled "Mom, you owe me twenty bucks! I always told you he was gay!" An older brother's job is always to harass his younger brother. I wanted Brendan to know that nothing would change about our relationship.
Q: 1) How has your dad handled all the stress of being the GM of the Leafs within the last couple months as they've dropped in the standings?
2) What position do you think the Leafs need to fill the most to be a strong playoff team next year? Who do you think will fill that position (realistically)?
3) What do you think of the media pressure on the coach and your dad in Toronto? How well do you think Wilson and your dad had/have handled the media?
Thanks from a die-hard Leafs fan. (They're actually a religion to me).
I'm still waiting for Patrick Burke to answer that last series...
During the Leafs game last night, Joe Bowen mentioned that there were only six active NHLers who had ever played for the Leafs in a playoff game.
That's amazing, but what's more amazing is the fact that there are only four players still playing who can say they played for the Leafs in our last playoff game.
That game, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers, was recapped here on May 4, 2004.
It's tough to look back, but here's what I wrote that night.
I am 29 years old. For every year of my life, the Maple Leafs season has ended without the Leafs captain hoisting Lord Stanley's Mug. You'd think I'd be used to this by now. I'm not.
The overtime was thrilling, the momentum was ours but victory was not to be. This is where I'd chuck in a cliche like "We'll get 'em next year", but I don't even know if there will be a next year. When NHL hockey finally does return, how many of these lovable but grizzled veterans will remain? Have I just witnessed Ed Belfour's last game? What about Gary Roberts? Will Alexander Mogilny return?
I have so much to say but little desire to say it. The fact is I've seen my last Leaf game for quite some time and that's pretty shitty. A second round exit in six games does not come close to meeting my expectations for this team. Anything less than an appearance in the finals would have disappointed me. Tonight I'm downhearted, crying tears of blue and white. I'm going to bed.
Philadelphia wins series 4-2
Little did I know, one day there'd be but four. This is for the survivors, the final four... this is for Antropov, Kaberle, Ponikarovsky and Stajan.
I'd give anything for a second round exit this season. Anything.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded defenceman Keith Aulie to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Carter Ashton, a young right wing prospect.
From Hockey's Future:
Ashton has developed into a consistent two-way performer and has quietly impressed scouts. Ashton possesses pro size and has demonstrated that he understands and accepts his role. A polished player with regards to the defensive nuances of the game he has added some offense to his game and drives to the net hard. Ashton's skating technique may need to improve as he advances to higher levels. Ashton is the son of former NHL winger Brent Ashton, who played 998 regular season games in the NHL.
Here's hoping Carter Ashton works out because I liked Keith Aulie. I liked him so much, he was #4 on my list of 5 reasons to be psyched about this Leafs season, published last March.
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