The Leafs Memory Project
I was out with a friend the other night when he suddenly said, "You should try to do something like the Human Genome Project."
(Two caveats before we continue: 1. Neither of us have any formal training in genetics. 2. At this point in the evening, alcohol was a factor in our conversation.)
Prior to the Human Genome Project, we were brainstorming ideas for ALF B. We talked about what it means to be Leaf fan and how this identity must differ from fans of other NHL teams.
If you came of age in Edmonton during the 80s, for example, your head is no doubt jammed with glorious recollections. There's probably an entire part of your brain dedicated to storing Gretzky goals while another part handles sick Messier moves.
When you possess so many great memories, at some point, they begin to cancel each other out. Did Grant Fuhr stone Mike Bossy on a breakaway in overtime? What team did Marty McSorley challenge when he stormed the bench?
Now you can't remember.
Fortunately, Leaf fans don’t have this problem.
We grew up cheering so much for so little that when something spectacular did occur, it was relived for weeks at a time with no danger of being replaced by anything new. The event – a goal, hit, save, or fight – became a flashbulb memory. It was as if we were on the ice when it went down.
This is why when two Leaf fans meet for the first time, within five minutes one of them will say: "Hey, do you remember..."
Hey, do you remember the 1986 Norris Division semi-finals? A first-round, best-of-five series against Chicago? Vaive, Thomas, Fergus, Salming, Poddubny, Frycer and these Hounds?
They go into Chicago and steal the first two games. Now it's April 12. Game 3 in Toronto. A win and the Leafs advance to the next round.
I can still see Bob McGill putting a smackdown on Al Secord. I can still hear the crowd stand and roar when Bill Root goes lateral and flattens an attacking Hawk player with a bone-crunching check. With the help of a hypnotist, I could probably even tell you what kind of broom was tossed on the ice as the Leafs won 7-2 that night for the sweep.
So here's the plan.
Once the regular season starts on October 7, I want to start The Leafs Memory Project. Basically, this is what I need: Two or three paragraphs about your all-time favourite Leaf memory. If you know the specific date, that would be helpful. And if there's a related clip on YouTube, all the better.
"A database of powerful Leaf memories would be so cool," slurred my friend, possibly becoming the first person in history to use the words "database" and "cool" in the same sentence. "You could create a shared timeline of great events in the minds of Leaf fans!"
"What if nobody participates?" I asked.
"Well, then at least you have a blog post during the slow pre-season, right?"
Please send your memories to: firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll also need your real name and age.
This will be cool.
Okay. I'm off to buy new database software and a lab coat. I leave you with this memory:
UPDATE (9:51 p.m.): So the Leafs just beat the Sabres 5-4 at the ACC. Thank you for all of your emails and comments (even the smartass ones). Great anecdotes. Keep them coming because... The Leafs Memory Project is officially underway. After the regular season begins, I will begin posting your memories. Details to come.