There aren’t a lot of people that have yet to come to terms with the state of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the present time. Maybe children who haven’t yet experienced their first Leafs playoff game, or well....idiots, but other than that, we all know where the Leafs are destined to end up the next couple seasons. A lot of good has come from all of this though, and I for one am proud to say that I have learned what type of Leafs fan I am.
Starting almost immediately after Cliff Fletcher took the reigns last year, I renounced my cheering for the Leafs this year; not because I was not a fan, I just figured there was no point in hoping for a team I really didn’t even WANT to make the playoffs. All of my friends heard it, and I might have even posted a it online a few times, my Western team (the Oilers) were who I was cheering for this year. I liked the promise they had, they have all the young talent I wish the Leafs had, and you’ve got to love those retro third jerseys. I was ready, the Oil was in my veins.
Then came the actual season. I couldn’t help but enjoy watching the Leafs winning a few games and actually competing with some good teams. I don’t know if MLSE has tapped into the drinking water supply of the Greater Toronto Area, but I was compelled to watch the Leafs play, much moreso than the team I had adopted over the summer. To this day, I think I’ve only watched about 10 Oilers games, I’m sorry Darryl Katz...
Anyway, I have no reason to feel ashamed of myself, or disappointed, as all I’ve realized is that I truly am a Leafs fan. I hate to see them lose, even when I’d prefer it...
What I am appalled with however, is the amounts of people who give me slack about it. In forums, comment-strings, and real conversations, arguments are thrown my way about ME being a bad Leafs fan because I want them to win. This is ridiculous. Any REAL Leafs fan, although should not be upset about bad positioning in the standings, should ALWAYS want their team to win. Screw tanking, tank-nation, or anything else you people wish to come up with. It’s ludicrous. The Leafs are trying to establish themselves as a respectable franchise, and “tanking” is the last thing that will help us with that. So what, we get a first round pick (maybe...the Islanders are trying and they still stink worse than us), but at what cost? Ruining the confidence of any young players we do have, and showing them all that “hey, we both know you guys all suck, so what do you say you help us get someone better than all of you”.
My point here is not that I want the Leafs to sneak into the playoffs, not that I don’t want them to finish last. I just want them to play their hardest and end up where they deserve to. If they play themselves into the ground, then so be it. Brian Burke is a good man, if we end up with the first overall pick, or the 8th, he’ll find something exceptional to do with it. So everybody who calls themselves a Leafs fan, please, for your teams sake, be a good one.