Toronto Maple Leafs
It's a gorgeous day in Toronto, and I've got a ball game to play, but I understand there's a hockey game tonight.
This entry serves no purpose except to tell everything a very interesting discussion has emerged in my If You Love the Leafs, You Hate the Habs: It Is Written entry. You might want to click on over and throw your two cents at it.
Also, I did a little interview on this subject with OpenFile. You can read their article here.
Go Flyers Go!
If another supposed Leafs fan tells me they're cheering for the Habs, I'm going to blow. The commonality amongst the people I'm hearing this nonsense from is that they're all young. It seems our youth thinks it's okay to love the Leafs and root for the Habs.
When I ask these young Leaf fans why they're cheering for Montreal, they give me the same two reasons:
- They're a Canadian-based franchise, and we should root for a Canadian team
- They're underdogs, and we should root for the plucky underdog
Kids, let me be clear: under no circumstance is it okay for you to cheer for the Montreal Canadiens if you love the Toronto Maple Leafs. There are no exceptions. Should Montreal face Ottawa in the conference finals, you cheer for an influenza outbreak that suspends the season.
Luckily, Montreal isn't facing Ottawa in the conference final. Montreal's facing Philadelphia, and that means for the next couple of weeks I'll be rooting with all my might for the Philadelphia Flyers. Normally, I strongly dislike the Flyers, but in this situation, as a die-hard Leafs fan, the choice is clear. Actually, it's not a choice at all.
If you know a young, ignorant, misguided Leafs fan who has decided to cheer on the Habs during these playoffs, please direct them here. We need to put an end to this despicable nonsense. Again, so there's no misunderstanding: If you love the Leafs, you hate the Habs. There are no exceptions.
I don't have to tell you about the hockey game tonight. You already know it's the Penguins vs. Canadiens, game 7 of the conference semi-final. I'm playing a slo-pitch game at 6:30, but immediately following the final out I'm directing all my energies and vibes to Sid the Kid and the Pens. I passionately want the Habs to end this ridiculous playoff run.
I tweeted as much this morning, and started getting offers from Habs fans to join them.
Here's an open and important message to all Habs fans from yours truly.
This has been a rather gruelling stretch for us Leafs fans. The last fun playoff moment for my team was April 20, 2004. Here's my recap of our easy 4-1 win over the Senators in game 7.
I would like to bottle this euphoric feeling I have right now in order to preserve it for moments in the future I'm feeling less joyous. What a fantastic night. For the fourth time in five years, the Ottawa Senators are going home early from the Stanley Cup playoffs thanks to my beloved Maple Leafs. Ottawa is 0-4 in series against Toronto and 0-4 in Game 7s overall.
Lest we forget Daniel Alfredsson's promise to win this series tonight at the ACC. Alfredsson, like the rest of his teammates, were all but invisible tonight. They have proven time and time again that they aren't built for the playoffs and can't win when it matters most. At the trade deadline, there was much speculation the Senators would upgrade between the pipes as Patrick Lalime was showing himself to be rather inconsistent. Staying with Lalime would prove to be their downfall. Tonight, in the most important game of the season, Lalime was horrible while Maple Leaf goaltender Eddie Belfour shone bright. Belfour was brilliant throughout the series and is the biggest reason I'm sitting here right now with a huge smile on my face.
Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!
Toronto wins series 4-3
The next day, I collected the reaction from the Ottawa press. The Sens had choked once more, and proven they can't beat the Leafs when it matters most. It was another collapse for a franchise with a rich history of collapses.
Fast forward to last night... I watched every second of the Pens vs. Sens, wondering when the Penguins would start trying. It looked awfully bad for Leafs fans, who root as passionately against the Sens and Habs as they do for the blue and white. But, the world reset itself, as it's apt to do. The Pens started trying, came back to force overtime, and ousted the Sens in six games.
When Pascal Dupuis scored 9:56 into overtime, eliminating the Senators from the playoffs, I cheered at the top of my lungs. In essence, it was a Leafs victory. When the Leafs aren't around come spring time, we root for ABO and ABM: Anybody But Ottawa and Anybody But Montreal. The Sens are done, and tomorrow I'll be a Caps fan cheering passionately for a Habs loss.
We're six years removed from our last playoffs, but there's still plenty to cheer about in the Barilkosphere. The Sens still choke.
I just read a piece by James Marsh for the National Post that gave me shivers.
James was in Maple Leaf Gardens that April 21, 1951 night Bill Barilko scored in overtime to win the Leafs the cup. Here's an excerpt from his article.
Foster Hewitt, broadcasting to three million listeners on the radio, described what happened at 2:53 of the aptly named sudden-death overtime: “He shoots, he scores! Barilko! Barilko has won the Stanley Cup for the Leafs!” Ignoring his coach’s constant imprecations to stay back and keep his position, Barilko had pounced on the centering pass, tripped over teammate Cal Gardner (who might have scored with the same loose puck) and backhanded the puck over the sprawling McNeil.
“You see! You see! Barilko!” I shouted to Granny. She was quiet. For her, the thrill of victory was always far less pervasive than the relief of not losing.
How much of the enduring appeal of that goal is owing to the subsequent tragedy is hard to say. The following summer, on Aug. 26, 1951, Barilko and a friend took off in a fish-laden, single-engine bush plane and disappeared into the tangled forest of northern Ontario. I was devastated. How does a seven-year-old sort out the mythic implications of the death of a hero? Barilko’s number five was etched onto my heart and even today is the nearest thing I have to a superstition. The site of the crash was not discovered until 1962, supposedly lifting a curse and allowing the Maple Leafs to win another Cup, as they conveniently did that year.
More certain is the effect on memory of the astonishing photograph of the goal snapped by Ned Turofsky on his Graflex camera, with such exquisite timing that he caught the puck in the net before the goal light had flashed. McNeil is planted on his seat, having stumbled trying to follow Meeker’s antics behind the net. Richard waits for a pass he will never get. Meeker will never see the moment of glory, as he is plastered against the boards by Tom Johnson.
Bill Barilko, my hero, is suspended in mid-air, frozen in time. Forever elated, forever young.
That was 59 years ago yesterday. I'm less than 59-years old, but I feel as if I saw that game. I've been enamoured by Bill Barilko for as long as I can remember.
I've got an online tribute to Bill Barilko here that I've maintained for a great deal longer than I've had this blog. I own a custom-made vintage white Maple Leafs jersey with Barilko and #5 on the back that I wear to every Leafs game and Tragically Hip concert I attend.
Next year, Bashin' Bill's goal turns 60. Let's do something special.
It seems like we were just talking about the Raptors gunning for fourth in the conference and a home court advantage for their first round in the playoffs. For those who don't follow the Raps, we finished ninth in the conference and that means we missed the playoffs for the second season in a row.
At least the Raptors played a playoff game three seasons ago. Our Leafs haven't played a playoff game since 2004. That's five seasons ago and six years. My daughter's about to turn six and she's not been alive for a single Leafs playoff game.
Of course, if we're talking playoff droughts in this city, the Blue Jays are the top dogs. The last Blue Jays playoff game ended with Joe Carter touching them all, and that was back in 1993. What's that, 17 seasons ago? Do we count the year they cancelled the World Series? Is it really 18 seasons ago?
At least it's tough to make the playoffs in baseball. Our Argonauts play in an 8 team league in which 6 teams make the playoffs, and they haven't qualified since 2007. It's not looking good for next season, either.
I could drag Toronto FC into this mess, but they're only in their fourth season. We'll excuse their three years of missing the playoffs. And the Marlies missed the playoffs, but they were there last year, if we're desperate for a silver lining.
Who am I kidding... there's no silver lining. The three teams with the largest fan-base, the Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays, have collectively been absent from the playoffs since the Raps lost to Orlando in the first round back in the spring of good 'ol 2008.
The George Carlin of the Barilkosphere, Down Goes Brown, is sharing this great Google ad.
Google gets us. They really, really get us.
I'm listed in the first page of Google results for that search, by the way. Watch the Wendel Clark "All Heart" video here.
My Leafs just wrapped up their last game of the season. As you know, we were attempting to throw a wrench into the Canadiens' playoff pursuit. It was a great game, but Montreal got their point and clinched their playoff spot. I'll still win the bet, but Ron Wilson really should have pulled the damn goalie.
The game was called by Bob Cole. 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.
Besides, I sense others don't appreciate him the way we do. Here's Exhibit A, or "Reason #42 as to Why Habs Fans Suck".
Please CBC, give him back. We love him, we need him and they don't deserve him.
My beloved Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs on October 4th, so I've been watching and following my team with an eye towards next season.
I'm cautiously optimistic, for three reasons...
- Our goaltending will be better
- The Frat Pack is emerging as an intriguing line
- Nazem Kadri will be here to centre Phil Kessel's line
Pension Plan Puppets has a great little Nazem Kadri update for us today.
Remember how last time we checked in, Kadri was on a ridiculous and totally unsustainable scoring pace, with 8 points in 3 games? Well... yeah. He's now sitting with 16 points in 6 games, putting him 4 points ahead of the rest of the pack for the OHL lead. Turns out he didn't get suspended for his misconduct at the end of game three of the first round, either. He picked up 4 points in game five to help London move past Guelph. They now face Kadri's old club, Kitchener, where Naz had two points in a game one victory. A parting stat: Kadri has two points or more in every game this post-season.
Things can only get better, and they will. Go Leafs Go in 2010/2011!
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I love those new NHL ads for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The two I've been seeing lately ask What if Bobby didn't fly? and What if Mario wasn't super?
Here they are. I never get tired of watching them.
What If Bobby Didn't Fly?
What If Mario Wasn't Super?
About three hours ago, after watching the Bobby Orr ad again, I tweeted my prediction as to what will be the third in the series. I predicted it would ask "What if Kerry Fraser wasn't blind?"
Great minds think alike...
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