Bad As It Seems: A Leaf Fan Laments

leafsI was certain we hit bottom last October. Hell, that was a good rant... here it is again in its entirety.

It's never been easy being a Leafs fan. I discovered the team in the early 80s and endured some painful seasons when I was too young to expect any better. One of my best early memories of the team was a first round sweep of the Chicago Black Hawks. We were forced to make a lot out of very little.

Six and half years ago, I was using this blog to ask God "Why?".

What exactly do you have against my Toronto Maple Leafs? Why to you use your omnipotent power to crush us at every opportunity? You tortured us with the Harold Ballard regime, forcing me to grow up in a decade almost completely void of playoff victories. Then, when everything lined up perfectly for a Habs-Leafs Stanley Cup Final in '93, you gave The Great One yet another break and used your mighty power to blind the refs as Gretzky clearly high-sticked Gilmour. We deserved to win that night. You made sure it didn't happen.

I follow my Leafs today as closely as I ever did. You could argue I follow them closer than ever, because I now follow their AHL affiliate quite closely. I don't miss a game, I blog about every significant Leaf-related event and not a day goes by that I don't read about my team and think about my team. It's never been particularly easy to be a Leafs fan, but I don't think it's ever been harder than it is right now.

My daughter is just about five and a half years old. The Leafs haven't played a playoff game in her lifetime. This is an unprecedented streak of failure for a team that hasn't won the Stanley Cup in 42 years.

When Brian Burke came on board, we were given something we haven't had in quite some time. We had hope. I'll never forget his quote following the 2008/2009 campaign. "We require, as a team, proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence." During the off-season, Burke made several moves to increase our levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence. During the pre-season, I'm sure we led the league in fights. We were told that we may not win the Stanley Cup this season, but teams weren't going to look forward to playing us.

I'd argue that teams are looking forward to playing us. It's the surest thing to a guaranteed two points there is in today's NHL. In seven games, every team we've face has earned their two points, and most of them have done it rather easily. We've been outscored 11-2 by opponents in first periods and the average score in our games has been 4.57 - 2.

We're 0-6-1, our goaltending has been brutal, our lack of offensive skill has been exposed and our abundance of tough defensemen have failed to gel. There's talk of making our greatest prospect a healthy scratch, our coach is unfireable and we've traded away our next two first round picks. Don't ya see! In any other season, we'd get behind a "Let's Finish Last" campaign in the hopes we'd score our first first over all selection since Wendel Clark. But in Leafs Nation, we don't figure out how to lose properly until it benefits a division rival.

I've been a massive fan for about 30 years, but now I'm stuck watching a terrible team with little hope. With a healthy Monster and Phil Kessel, our best hope is that we actually win a handful of games, maybe make our Saturday nights a little brighter by being somewhat competitive. After 30 years of investing blood, sweat and tears, I think I deserve better. I think we deserve better.

Brian Burke, this is your team. I don't believe pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence is enough. We're going to need some skill. We're going to need true leadership. We're going to need real hope.

Fix this mess before we jump ship and raise our kids to be Penguins fans.

Then, just last January, I did it again. That was another sweet rant, I'm pasting it down.

I thought I hit the bottom last October. I had just come to the realization that my five and a half year old daughter had not been alive for a single Leafs playoff game. We Leaf fans are enduring an unprecedented streak of failure for a team that hasn't won the Stanley Cup in 42 years.

standings

Four months later, it's gotten worse. For the first time since I discovered the team in the early 80s, I hate my Maple Leafs. We've been this bad before, we've even been worse, but as a wise man once tweeted, the 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs "have no redeeming qualities whatsoever".

radio-raheem-do-the-right-thing

It's okay hating your favourite team. I feel I've earned the right. After 30 years of investing blood, sweat and tears, I know I deserve better. And in lieu of better, I'm going to do what feels natural, and that means hating this hateful, brutal team.

I knew we found a new bottom when I got free tickets to next Tuesday nights game at the ACC and I didn't feel the excitement I've felt every time prior. I'm not even looking forward to watching my team live and that scares saddens me.

The Passion That Afflicts Us All

It's bad, folks. I hate my favourite team. I can't stop watching them, or reading about them, or writing about them, but I sure as hell can hate them. And I do.

I just finished watching the Leafs completely mail it in against the Edmonton Oilers. We were blown out 5-0, but more concerning than that, we didn't seem to care. I don't remember this team quitting like that before, and if Ron Wilson isn't gone tomorrow, he's never going anywhere.

Again, we're 28th in the NHL, without a first round pick in the draft next June, without a bona-fide blue chip prospect in the organization and with absolutely no hope.

I watched the entire game, but it wasn't fun. It was painful. It was depressing. It's as bad as it seems.

And it's only going to get worse. Sigh.


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Comments (16 - click here to join in!)

Dougie

Teach 'em how to Dougie!

December 2, 2010 @ 11:14 PM

Hobo Joe

In light of this post, this may not be the best time but I'm surprised you didn't post an entry concerning the Toronto Maple Leafs being the answer (actually, the question) on Final Jeopardy the other night (Tuesday I think).

December 2, 2010 @ 11:14 PM

Alex

No home game for these guys. This loss was UGLEEE!!

December 2, 2010 @ 11:36 PM

JP

I'm a huge Toronto sports fan and I can't invest anything in that team. They started losing me a couple years ago. I'm sure I'll be back when they turn it around, but right now I feel totally apathetic. Just don't really care.

With the great young players and expanded playoffs coming, I'll be investing my hope in the Jays for the next while.

December 2, 2010 @ 11:57 PM

VegasGeoff

I had been planning on driving to LA next month to see them play the Kings.

Not so much now.

December 3, 2010 @ 2:30 AM

_Justink

I've had it, and I'm sure other fans have too. Last night's game, just like Tuesday's, was COMPLETELY unacceptable.

We lost 5-0 to the EDMONTON OILERS! The Oilers who are the laughing stock of the west right now! Not only did we lose, but we got shut out for the sixth time this season. We've been shut out six times in the past twenty-four games, which means we get shut out one quarter of time. What a horrifying stat.

This team is in desperate need of some top-flight scoring. We failed to acquire a big offensive player this past off-season, which is Burke's big mistake. This team just doesn't get many quality scoring chances and when they do they can't finish. I'm afraid that's something that Kadri, Crabb, Caputi, or Hanson can't fix. Until we get a top-flight offensive player, get used to this team being offensively inept.

I'm so frustrated right now and my pride as a Leafs fan has dwindled away. Before every game I hope that we'll finally break out, win a game, and maybe even go on a little winning streak. I'm tired of doing that. In fact, I'm getting less and less motivated to watch the games.

What a shame

December 3, 2010 @ 6:14 AM

Mike from Lowville

"The Oilers who are the laughing stock of the west"

They have some young players that are in a learning curve right now. What does Toronto have? A limp dick curve. G! H! G!

December 3, 2010 @ 6:48 AM

Steve

Not sure if I'll be able to follow through with it, but I'm pretty sure I'm done watching this team until something changes. Wilson has got to go. People can say what they want about the team itself, but there are some good parts and it should be playing a lot better than it is. It's Wilson's job to be a motivator and he's not getting it done. He's had his time and there needs to be somebody else stepping up and taking over. It can't get much worse, it has to get better.

December 3, 2010 @ 7:17 AM

McNulty

I used to consider myself a Leaf fan. Not anymore.

I know diehard fans say you have to support your team through the good and bad, I disagree. This isn't a marriage. The Leafs supply a product and if the product is bad and the ownership and management don't give a crap about the delivering a good product, then the consumer has the right to go.

I was a fan of Depeche Mode. Their last few albums were crap and I didn't buy them. It doesn't mean I don't like them anymore, it just means that their recent product is crap and I won't support it.

If the diehard fans stopped supporting the Leafs and it caused their revenues to drop then someone would take notice. Why should they change their business plan now? They are making a fortune. Having a winning team wouldn't increase their revenues enough, so why bother?

December 3, 2010 @ 8:07 AM

Steve

I agree with that. the Oilers have some great young players who are already great to watch, and I imagine they'll only get better as they develop. I'd hardly consider them a joke, but I do consider them a team that the Leafs should be beating or at the very least be in a close game with. What happened last night was pathetic, but it wouldn't bother me nearly as much as it does were it not the norm.

December 3, 2010 @ 8:15 AM

Cambo

Something has to give...2 things have to happen.

1. Wilson has to go. He's not getting the job done, and has had plenty of time to. I would NOT let me son be coached by someone of his nature.

2. Leafs "fans" have to turn the game off, and stop buying tickets and other overpriced garbage. Saying "this is unacceptable" and not doing anything about it is pathetic and you are talking out your arse. Put up your dukes. If you say you've had enough- STOP GOING.

December 3, 2010 @ 8:53 AM

Boomer

Cambo, option #2 will NEVER happen. The Leaf fans are just like the Dale Jr. fans of Nascar.

It certainly makes that 4-0 start to the season seem like a long time ago Leaf Nation.

Go Habs Go!

December 3, 2010 @ 9:20 AM

JP

Boomer - I think, yeah, the Leafs will always be a powerhouse off the ice. But I do notice that this generation of kids don't seem quite as into the club as the younger generations used to be. If they keep losing their success may soften a bit eventually.

December 3, 2010 @ 12:20 PM

A.R.

As a Torontonian, I just can't feel a meaningful connection to a team outside Toronto, especially with a sport I have so much passion for. I'd follow another NHL team in Toronto as an alternative. But the NHL won't let the free market work; they ensure that the Leafs have the monopoly in Toronto.

People are going to pay to see the Toronto Maple Leafs no matter what because the team is so entrenched in the city's culture.

December 3, 2010 @ 12:29 PM

elvis

Thanks for making matters worse by posting a Hayden song.

December 3, 2010 @ 4:40 PM

Rob

Im not a Leafs fan, but my son (who is 12) is. He can't really remember what the play offs look like, and I ONLY want the Leafs to make the playoffs so HE can remember. My other son is an Oilers fan, so a lack of playoffs is frequent in my house.

By the way, LOVE the Hayden song. Well chosen!

December 3, 2010 @ 8:57 PM

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