I am planning the parade route and I don’t care what anyone says. I grew up in the rocky swampy forests of central Ontario listening to Gilmour and Clarke on the radio, nothing can take that nostalgia away from me. I will always love the Leafs and I have always believed that things would come around for us and there would be a new period of success, and a new nostalgia.
…I have been planning them every year for many years. I was even planning a parade route last November after they lost their first seven games. Maybe deep down I knew that I was insane, but I still told all my friends in Vancouver, “you’ll see…0-7 is nothing. They’ll come back and win the Cup this year. They’ll turn it around”
I have been a Leaf fan consistently no matter how good the team was doing. Many years I swore that the Leafs would win the Cup even once the playoffs started and they weren’t in it. Even when it was the finals and it was Anaheim Verses Ottawa and people asked me who was going to win the Cup, I would still say the Leafs. To be a Leafs fan means to reject reality and love the team no matter what the circumstances. If there was no Cup I could at least enjoy watching the individual players and hope that they could grow in strength to become better players. Sure I had criticisms on a hockey level of players and the organization…but I stuck by them and knew that building a winning team takes time…sometimes it takes decades.
They called me delusional…and I am…but I know better than to be downer on my team. I am a real fan and I always found little victories to satisfy my soul. I never sat around and complained and whined and trash talked the organization up and down while calling myself a fan. I couldn’t stand it when I lived in Alberta, even when the Flames were doing well everybody would be over-reacting to every little thing that went wrong. A player could be having a good season, but if he hit a five game funk the Flames fans would be calling for a trade and for everybody who had anything to do with bringing that player to the organization to be fired. Imagine coming home from a road trip to Calgary and reading that sort of stuff in the newspaper, it couldn’t possibly encourage you to succeed. They say hockey players are professional and criticism is part of it, you have to be tough and ignore it. But the truth is, hockey players are human and human beings need support in order to succeed.
As for the Leafs…I knew that eventually things would come around and we would have a team capable of doing some damage again someday. I knew that everyone in the front office wanted to make this happen but were just completely incompetent to do what it takes, let’s be honest…JFJ meant well but came from a line of outdated thinking that Brian Burke did away with inside the organization. I knew from day one that JFJ would never ice a contending team, but I stuck by them! They all meant well and they were all trying their best, the management and the players. Meanwhile people out there who called themselves fans took every opportunity they could to remind everyone on that team how terrible they were.
What a shame it was that a classy guy like Mats Sundin left Toronto embittered by the fans. The way you all trash talked him was a disgrace, he put his time in and tried his best for all of you and the thanks he got was enough to make any player out there think twice before signing a contract to play in a city where rabid fans hate even their best players.
Imagine playing for a team nobody believes in you? Not only do you have to contend with the entire league laughing at you, your own fans get more joy out of trash talking you then they do out of seeing you succeed. If nobody believed in me I would find it much harder to succeed. I think in order for the Leafs to ever make the playoffs and get to that Stanley Cup Final we need to believe in them, we need to cheer, we need to give them confidence so they know that the fans are behind them.
The thing is, I didn’t care if the Leafs won or lost…I would always watch and believe that all those losing years would someday pass…but now that they have passed I can’t believe that I was so patient, it’s so wonderful to see them win! I feel like a terrific burden is off my shoulders, I can wear my hat in Vancouver and do so with pride cause this team is fun to watch! I am so excited to watch this years Leafs, I can’t get enough of them. I must have been crazy to put up with all those losing years…man did that ever blow! It’s over friends! It’s over and now it’s time to take some pride in being the perrenial underdog…it’s time to show these guys that they are loved and supported, it’s time to light a fire underneath them!
It reminds me of the Blue Jays in 1992 when Winfield said he wanted NOISE! He wanted the fans to show up and use their voices to give the team the moral strength that it takes to succeed! I don’t need a snappy comeback to every Leaf joke there is out…not even the reality of all those losing years ever made me stop loving the Leafs. That’s what being a fan is! Make some noise, get behind these boys. That’s your job as a fan! You are the gasoline that fires the engine!