Toronto Maple Leafs
The first home team clinching game I recall was when George Bell squeezed the last out to clinch my Blue Jays the AL East in 1985. It wasn't until that next April, however, that we broke out the Diet Coke.
The Maple Leafs were awful in 1985-86, finishing 25-48-7. In the Norris Division, that was good enough for fourth and a matchup with the division winning Chicago Black Hawks.
It was only a best-of-three back then in the first round, and somehow, against all odds, the Leafs played superb hockey taking games one and two on the road. In game three, on April 12, 1986, my brothers and I watched Wendel Clark lead us to the sweep.
It was our first taste of the thrill a playoff series victory brought us, and we instinctively headed to the fridge for something to celebrate with. I remember we grabbed cans of Diet Coke and began spraying them at each other in celebration. Our Leafs were victorious and we were elated.
I'll never forget that first Leafs playoff round victory celebration and the Diet Cokes. I can't wait for tonight.
Back in January, I got a cease and desist letter from Brian Burke's lawyer on his behalf. You can read that letter in its entirety here.
I was sent that letter because this blog was hosting an anonymous comment alleging Brian Burke had an affair with Hazel Mae. The letter wanted me to do two things: remove the offending comment and reveal the IP address of the anonymous commenter. I removed the comment right away and decided not to reveal the IP address.
Yesterday, Brian Burke filed a lawsuit with B.C. Supreme Court against 18 people who left similar comments on forums and blogs. Burke doesn't know who these 18 people are, just their handles Poonerman, Sir Psycho Sexy, Slobberface, Loob, Steve, etc. Here's a statement from Burke's lawyer Peter Gall:
Brian has decided that it is time to stop people who post comments on the Internet from thinking they can fabricate wild stories with impunity. Brian is determined to find the authors of the lie about him and those who have circulated the lie.
Back in January, when this rumour was being shared via chain emails and on forums and blogs, I dismissed it as "scandalous speculation". Such rumours about people in the public eye are nothing new, and the complete lack of mainstream media coverage spoke volumes. By February, the rumour had all but disappeared.
Suddenly, thanks to Burke's defamation lawsuit, the story is being widely reported by the CBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, CTV, Toronto Sun, Canadian Press and numerous other MSM news sources. Burke has the masses Googling for details about the rumour this morning. In essence, Burke is now experiencing the Streisand Effect:
The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.
As I write this, I am not being sued by Brian Burke. I suspect that's because I didn't personally write about the rumour and willfully complied with the request to remove the comment. If I hadn't removed the comment from Anonymous, would Anonymous have been a 19th person included in this lawsuit? I have no idea.
I also have no idea how Burke will get damages from anonymous posters in online forums and blogs. Will a judge force the website owner to cough up the IP address? Were the IP addresses already voluntarily shared with Brian Burke's lawyer in response to a cease and desist letter like the one I got? And we all know an IP address won't reveal the commenter, only detail about the network they used to access the web when they wrote the comment. For example, the IP address might reveal the place where the commenter works or the commenter's ISP, but it would require a court order for the ISP to name the customer. And what about commenters who used public wifi networks? Or if the commenter simply jumped on a network belonging to a friend or neighbour? I have no idea how Burke can be successful here.
But one thing is certain... he's successful at making this a far bigger story than it would have been. It had fizzled out, as such rumours always do, and the CBC, Globe and Mail and other news sources had rightfully ignored it. But not anymore. Now Burke's made this a very interesting story and has Canadians from coast to coast searching for more scandalous details.
I'll be watching this story closely from a rather unique perspective. If I receive a summons, you'll read it here first.
It seems some are outraged that Maple Leaf home playoff tickets are 75% more expensive than regular season Leafs tickets. It doesn't bother me a bit.
They can charge a million dollars a ticket if they like, it just means I won't be buying any. That's my right. I don't have to buy Leafs tickets.
Then again, I find regular season Leafs tickets to be too expensive. I'll happily accept a free ticket to enjoy the game at the ACC, but it's been about a decade since I paid for a Leafs ticket. During that time I've paid to see the Argos, Raptors, Blue Jays and TFC, but not my Leafs.
But I can't wait to watch Maple Leaf playoff hockey from the comfort of my living room on CBC in HD. This is going to be fun.
When my Leafs defeated the Sens last night, we secured a playoff spot for the first time since 2004. That was nine long years ago.
So what's new? My favourite barometer for measuring our playoff drought is my daughter Michelle. She's turning nine this summer. The Leafs haven't played a playoff game since she was born.
The last time the Leafs played a playoff game, I was in my 20s. Really. I WAS IN MY 20s.
Sure, this blog was active, here's an entry about our last playoff game in which Karel Pilar scored a big goal before Mats Sundin scored late to force overtime. (That's right, I wrote Karel Pilar.) But there was no Twitter. There wasn't even YouTube. Facebook was just for Harvard students. And we all watched the Leafs in standard definition. And if you had a cell phone, it was likely not a smartphone. Compare the television and phone you owned in 2004 to the ones you use today.
I big tradition in my family has always been my brothers (and sometimes mom) coming over to watch Leafs playoff games. We'd all wear our jerseys and go crazy for the blue and white. Neither of my brothers had kids last time we did this. Now they both do, and just like my daughter, one of my nephews is almost nine.
I could go on.... nine years is a long time. What matters now is that the drought is officially over. The Leafs are in the playoffs and playing a fun brand of hockey I've enjoyed all season. But make no mistake... if we're going to advance a round or two, it will be because of this remarkable young man.
Guys, I'm worried about what's happening this month with my Leafs.
First, Mike Brown was shipped to Edmonton for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft.
And yesterday, Mike Komisarek was waived by the Maple Leafs. When he clears, he'll be sent down to the Marlies.
Now that I think of it, hasn't Michael Kostka been a healthy scratch lately? And wasn't Mikhail Grabovski left on the bench during that lengthy shootout with the Jets?
This systematic elimination of Maple Leaf Mikes has to stop.
The NHL's board of governors have approved NHL realignment for next season. The new format will feature two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions in the West.
As a Leafs fan, I'm going to look at this with my blue and white eyes. Our new division is identical to our old division, with a few new teams added: Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay.
I grew up with the Leafs in the Norris division where we had a great rivalry with Detroit. I'm looking forward to enjoying that rivalry again, and always felt the Red Wings belonged in our division. So I'm loving the fact we keep our rivalries with the Sens, Habs, Bruins and Sabres, but we get to add Detroit to the mix.
I'm fairly indifferent to Florida and Tampa Bay joining the party, but I suppose it makes good sense geographically. What do you think of the NHL's realignment?
Prior to boarding a flight from Frankfurt to London, I was given a complimentary copy of USA Today's International Edition. I shot straight to the hockey section to see how USA Today covers hockey.
There was one article about the dominating Chicago Blackhawks and their replenished depth. It specifically applauded the trade for Viktor Stålberg. Stålberg, as you'll recall, was traded by the Leafs to Chicago in the deal that brought us Kris Versteeg.
There was another article about the Staal brothers and their success together. Both Eric and Jordan Staal are on pace for personal highs in terms of points-per-game, and part of the reason Eric Staal is having his best season is the presence of Jiří Tlustý on his line. Tlustý, of course, was traded by the Leafs to Carolina in exchange for Philippe Paradis.
Another article mentioned the St. Louis Blues, already left in the Central Division dust by Chicago. The article referenced the Blues' leading scorer, Alex Steen. Steen was traded by the Leafs to St. Louis with Carlo Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak.
Stålberg, Steen and Tlustý are all blossoming young NHL stars and all were recently Toronto Maple Leafs. These assets were practically given away and my Leafs have little to show for it.
I now suspect Mike Brown will lead the Oilers in scoring.
Toronto Sports fans, I have good news. It seems we bounced off the bottom in August and things are looking up.
At that time, the Jays, Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Argos were all in pretty dire straits. You'll have to click back for details. I called it a "brand new low", but as I type this today I'm pleased to report the Argos are Grey Cup champs, the Blue Jays are entering the pre-season as World Series favourites and both the Leafs and Raptors are on four game winning streaks. Heck, the Leafs might even make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
And let me tell you as someone who is watching both the Leafs and Raptors these days, they're both entertaining and full of hope, something that's been sorely lacking the past few years. The Toronto professional sports scene is suddenly respectable again.
Go Jays Go! And go Leafs, Raptors and Argos, too! I'm not sure about TFC, but the other teams are headed in the right direction.
I've made no secret over the years what I think about Bob Cole as a hockey game commentator. A couple of years ago I pleaded with the CBC to let Bob Cole continue calling Saturday night Leafs games.
I loved every syllable he uttered. I love Bob Cole's voice and style, I always have. He provided the voiceover for all my favourite hockey memories. Every Leafs playoff goal of my life has been called by Mr. Bob Cole and I'll always love him for it.
Hearing his voice tonight, I realized how much better Leafs games are when he's behind the microphone. Not only do I hope Bob Cole doesn't retire, but I hope the CBC gives him back to us and has him call every Saturday night Leafs game next season. That's the way it used to be, and that's the way it should be.
Last night, Bob Cole called the awesome Leafs - Habs game on Hockey Night in Canada, and I loved it. He sounded great... there's no other voice like Bob Cole's and I sincerely hope he's up to calling every Hockey Night in Canada Leafs game until he sheds his mortal coil.
We don't get Bob Cole calling many Leafs games these days. We usually get the much less interesting Jim Hughson who has a decent voice but lacks Bob Cole's poetic flavour and irreplaceable timbre. It's that flavour Bob Cole adds that has me easily forgiving if he mispronounces James van Riemsdyk's name or misidentifies a player. He's human, and 79-years old, and a minor mistake like that never bothers me. Like I said, he's the best hockey commentator I've ever heard and until I hear someone as good I'd like to hear the best.
Without failure, every time Bob Cole calls a Leafs game on Hockey Night in Canada, I celebrate on Twitter. Every time I do that I'm hit with a series of replies that he's too old and should retire. Many, it seems, dislike Bob Cole calling hockey games, and it never fails to baffle me.
I want to know what you think of Bob Cole calling Leafs games in 2013. Would you rather Jim Hughson? Would you rather someone else? Does it really offend you when he's a step behind a play that you're watching in real-time?
Why don't you appreciate Bob Cole the way I do?
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