Hey, Leaf Fans, it's not the Cup but the anticipation
|Toronto Star Photos|
|The Flames’ Warren Peters battles the Leafs' Ben Ondrus|
Okay, sports fans, humour me. I admit I'm not a hockey writer and haven't played since my time as a pathetic right winger in university days. But I'm a hockey fan au but and grew up in a home where nothing else existed on Saturday night. Then, the franchise was about more than money. Recently, I read a report on the draft by my talented colleauge, sports reporter Paul Hunter. He began his story:
"As with any major construction project, it takes a while to see the results. But, yesterday, as general manager Brian Burke continued the teardown of the Maple Leafs, he added some valuable bricks and mortar for the foundation of a squad that will eventually be more competitive, possibly as early as next season."
Next season. Possibly. As early as. Leaf fans are so beaten down, even the promise of a promise of a good season (the gods willing) seems sweet. I don't get it. I know these are fighting words but Leaf fans are forgiving to the point of lunacy. The team hasn't made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season. Personally, I wouldn't shell out my hard-earned dollars to watch a team falter year after year. And the fighting - who gets that? Never mind what the polls say. I don't understand how the league has turned the spectacle of the first draft into a game in which some teams try to lower quality in order to improve their chances for the next round. The heart has gone out of hockey. Meanwhile, the Leaf franchise is the richest in the NHL, pulling in $77.9 million a year in ticket sales, not counting pre-season games, according to a report on the hockey pot of gold last year by the Star's Rick Westhead.
I don't want a return to the days of exploiting players. Treating the "Rocket" like a work horse almost tore this country apart. But it can't continue like this. Leaf fans, get a grip. If you continue to come no matter, there's no incentive to change. How about a boycott? (Bet our multimedia editor Neil Sanderson is thrilled with that suggestion!)
I was going to blog a couple of other items today, but I think I'd be smart to shut up and go to ground. I'll be back Monday when I take the Decoder on assignment for a week.