The second time that The Fear struck was on my birthday. I think my eleventh. My father gave me two tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs. A Leaf hockey game for me then was the ultimate experience. I took a friend as my father didn’t really like hockey and thought that I might be happier on my own. The seats were great – center-ice reds – and we were up on the visiting team early. And then it hit me again. It wasn’t as strong as the first time. I seemed almost to have control over it. I could rationalize it.
Why was I sitting here watching this nonsense? Who gave a damn who scored what and when? The whole thing was a farce designed to brainwash and control. Nobody cared about winning. It was the popcorn, furs and dinners, the money, being part of the scenery that people cared about. The blue leaf could just as well be a red wing. I especially hated the silence between play, the organ occasionally filling that with carnival tunes. Eventually, it passed, but the evening had been depressing. We had won, but I didn’t give a damn. I just wanted to go home and get into bed.
Instead of the damned blaring horn, spotlights and screaming, the Toronto Maple Leafs should focus on the import of the moment. A single note on a gong followed by the crowd rising in silence, a bow between teams and audience, after which they would resume play. That’s what makes a champion.
It was to be magic, the stuff of dreams: a pair of seats ten rows behind the Capitals’ net for Game Seven, perfect for that overtime goal by Matthews, Marner or Nylander. And then not…and I was sent this damnable message: “Thanks for being a fan”? Fuck you. They’re my seats! Mine. I owned them on this night, just like the Leafs owned…ugh.
Washington Capital goalie Braden Holtby had this to say after his Game One overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs: The first period, if it’s bad, we know we can outplay them the rest of the game. However in Game Two, Mr. Holtby was caught looking the wrong way. As he later realized on the replay.
I’ve never liked Bobby Nystrom. Brash and conceited, he’s the New York Islander I remembered for almost taking out Borje Salming’s eye in 1978. And so it was with a mix of revulsion and childish glee that I received his figurine at Barclay’s Center on Bobby Nystrom Night. I knew I would destroy it as soon as I had it. But what started out as a joke – it was Lorne Henning and not Nystrom who was responsible for Salming’s injury – turned into a glimpse of a personal abyss, in the creation of seedy ISIS-ish video.In my mind, it was fine and funny, something I had to do, but as an act it wasn’t. It was awful really, just wrecking something for a reason that didn’t exist. Not that I’m sad it’s gone.
Phil Kessel started the summer by bringing the Stanley Cup to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. He ended it with a biting tweet on being left off the USA team, which lost all of their games at the World Cup of Hockey. Coach Tortorella – and some players – took offense. They said that Kessel shouldn’t express an opinion, no matter how relevant, because it had an edge. They have a problem with Kessel simply because he’s his own person, because he says what he thinks. Which says a lot more about them.
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded away the majority of veteran players over the past season to begin anew.
On Monday, February 29, four young players had their NHL debuts: Connor Carrick (21), Kasperi Kapanen (19), William Nylander (19), Nikita Soshkinov (22). Soshkinov was the first of the rookies to score, two days later, on March 2 against the Washington Capitals.
It appears that all of Toronto have fallen madly in love with Price, Donaldson, Encarnancion and the rest of the Toronto Blue Jays. Understood that it has been more than twenty years since the Blue Jays have made the playoffs, the longest streak in major league sports, but I still find this sudden blind adoration too much. Where were all of these Torontonians over the past twenty years, when the likes of Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green and Roy Halladay were wearing the good old BJ?This notion of supporting a team only when it wins is superficial to say the least. It’s not that I don’t like the Blue Jays – I remember their first game against the White Sox like it was yesterday – but I do not jibe with this fanaticism. Because it’s not just the winning, not in the least. It’s the hard grind of building, the many long seasons, the many downs….yes, that’s where true fans are born. Go Leafs Go.