I'm a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. I always have been and I always will be. I last watched my team play on April 18 when we beat the Penguins 5-3. That was over two months ago.
The next night, eleven of us got together to draft our annual playoff pool. It wasn't until the second last round that someone decided to gamble on an Oiler. In total, 110 players were chosen that night and only four played for Edmonton. To a tee, we all considered them first round fodder for the Detroit Red Wings. Their chances were slim to none and slim was in a cab heading out of Motown.
Damn this Oiler team was likable. A bunch of red-bearded warriors exceeding all expectations and playing a Whyte mile over their heads. It didn't take long for me to adopt this team as my rooting interest for the tournament. They weren't playing for Edmonton and they weren't playing for Alberta, they were playing for Canada and for the dreams of every Canadian boy, aged 4 to 104. They were playing for me.
Last night's game seven was thrilling. I was rooting for overtime because I didn't want it to end. Until Williams' empty netter I continued to believe Edmonton would come back again. Why wouldn't they? They were a team of destiny, but in sport, things don't always unravel as scripted. Carolina won the cup and I watched as they passed around Lord Stanley's glorious mug for a kiss, a hoist and another kiss. I've dreamt that dream a million times. In my mind, I've hoisted that cup high in the air, pulled it towards my lips for a big ol' wet kiss and hoisted it once more. In all of sport, that's my favourite moment. That's the pinnacle.
As a Leafs fan, year after year I sit and watch another team share that moment. It's fans of other teams that reap the benefits and spill into the streets in celebration. I want that... just once. I want the cup.