Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rebuilding Springs Eternal

Tuesday February 28, 9:57 a.m.

Do you remember this game? I don't. I wasn't even two years old. But that was the last time I existed when the Toronto Maple Leafs won a Stanley Cup. It's unimaginable to me to see any hockey player in a blue-and-white uniform with a big maple leaf with North American hockey's biggest prize in his hands. But apparently, the Leafs were once winners in 1967. Then again, the Montreal Canadiens were even more legendary and look where they are now.

I was watching two sports channels' worth of commentators yesterday grumbling and snarking off about how quiet the NHL trade deadline was (until the last few minutes, that is). 10 hours of that?! Whose bright idea was that? Incredible waste of time. I can understand the NHL Draft in June since the GMs and the coaches and the new players have to be there. There is no such compulsion on the last official day of trading. Get back to reporting and commentating on other things, TSN and SportsCentre.

But I digress. The point is that an entire generation has never witnessed the Cup come to Toronto and has barely seen a decent year of Maple Leafs' hockey (with the exception of that one year in the early 90s when Pat Burns almost got them into the finals). And I missed out completely on the Sundin Years. I left The Great White North when Dougie Gilmour was the captain...I come back, it's a fellow by the name of Dion Phaneuf. But it seems as if things are still the same....frustration in T.O. while the rest of Canada guffaws at us.

It's frustrating because the team hasn't really changed. I've seen these guys go on a hot streak and everything is happy/happy/joy/joy. But then these guys suddenly just collapse en masse like a massive house of cards assaulted by a stiff breeze. The Leafs are and have been so bizarrely streaky....for years. Perhaps I can understand Brian Burke's virtual non-action yesterday...whoever comes here (including Rick Nash) would probably end up in the same existential loop of streakiness. It's almost as if some warlock or witch had secretly placed a curse on the team all the way back in '67, which could go some way in explaining why even Burke and Ron Wilson, supposedly seen-it-all veterans, haven't been able to get The Leafs into the playoffs, let alone all the way to the finals.

I've got a couple of friends on Facebook who are part of The Leafs Nation...probably the most optimistic fans on the planet. I would love to be a citizen someday but right now I'm gonna hold off on any thoughts of emigration.

courtesy of Scott Sillcox of Flickr