I grew up a Leafs fan. I remain a Leafs fan. It's been tough.
We've never made the Stanley Cup final in my lifetime, and we've only made the playoffs once in the past decade, when we lost in the first round. There's not much hope for next season, either. But as tough as it is being a Leafs fan, being a Penguins fan is tougher. Allow me to explain...
Since the Penguins drafted Sidney Crosby first overall in 2005, I've rooted for them once my Leafs were eliminated. I just love how he plays the game, so I adopt the Pens as my team throughout the playoffs.
Don't get me wrong, the Penguins don't replace my Leafs, I just enjoy having a rooting interest. I believe Crosby is the greatest player today and I truly admire his work ethic and focus.
Rooting for the Penguins these past few years is tougher than rooting for the Leafs. Our Leafs have never had the best team, and certainly never had the best player. We've never been expected to win it all, so when we fall short, it stings, but it's not a big surprise. We typically finish exactly where we should finish.
The Penguins, on the other hand, are loaded. They don't just have Sidney Crosby, the greatest player on the planet, but they have Malkin, sometimes the second best player in the league, and Kunitz, Letang, Niskanen and Neal. That firepower makes them perennial favourites.
Despite that fact, they've done nothing but thoroughly disappoint since winning it all in 2009. Why they haven't upgraded Marc-Andre Fleury is beyond me. He waffles between being okay and junk, and dragging him out there every spring is a complete waste of Crosby's prime.
As a Leafs fan, I find solace in the fact we're just not very good. Penguins fans don't have that luxury, and that's a tough pill to swallow.