Cry Me A River
The emails come in every day from Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C. and Quebec, all lamenting the Toronto-centric nature of Hockey Night in Canada and lambasting those us of in this part of the country for not being able to understand their complaint.
Well, Saturday night it was so incredibly obvious that there was no denying it.
There sat Ron MacLean and Don Cherry after the Maple Leafs had lost 5-1 to Detroit, shaking their heads at the 14 power plays the Red Wings had enjoyed on the night.
"Terrible," murmured MacLean, agreeing with his distraught companion.
'Course, had it been the Leafs who had won 5-1 with five power play winners, it would have been a wonderful night.
In fact, it's interesting to note that for the first five to six weeks of the season - when the Leafs were winning consistently - MacLean and Cherry were able to keep it zipped on the officiating. They were too busy taking credit, for example, for Kyle Wellwood's early success alongside Mats Sundin, although you don't see them doing that or holding up newspapers as proof of their expertise so much these days.
But now, with the Leafs now in a deep funk, why, the poor lads just can't contain themselves any longer.
Suddenly the game's in crisis. Too many penalties. Not enough fights. Need more hooking, holding and interference.
And after Ian White was nailed for flipping the puck over the glass and sent to the penalty box three times in two games, sure enough there was Cherry on Saturday night once again fuming over this penalty.
What they want you believe, of course, is that they only have the greater good of the game in mind, not just the greater good of the Leafs.
But if you examine the stats, the Leafs were just doing on Saturday night what they have done most of the time in the post-lockout era, and that's take too many penalties.
They were ill-prepared for the "new" NHL - Pat Quinn never believed it would stick - and after improving that part of their game earlier this season, have again fallen back into old habits.
The Leafs gave up the 12th most power plays in the league last year, an average of 6.1 per game. This year, they're giving up 5.6 per game, better but nowhere near the record of, say, the New Jersey Devils, who are giving up only 3.5 power plays per game.
HNIC would also have you believe that every game contains a ridiculous number of power plays roughly similar to that of the Red Wings-Leafs game.
On Saturday night, the average number of power plays in the 14 NHL games held was 11 per game. Take out the Detroit-Toronto game, and that figure drops to 10.2.
The Devils gave up no power plays at all to Boston in a 5-1 win. The Sens and Rangers each had four power plays in their game. Tampa and Anaheim combined for seven, while Dallas had five against Phoenix while the Coyotes had four.
Leaf fans, of course, dig the Leafs-getting-the-shaft angle, so they were going email crazy after Saturday's game as well.
One reader suggested too many of the referees live in the Leafs' broadcast area and are thus subconciously biased against the Toronto club. (No, I don't get that one, either).
It's the basic refrain you expect out of any overly-enthusiastic, loyal Leaf fan.
Leafs lose, too many penalties called against the Leafs.
Leafs win, the world is okay again.
That's what being a fan is all about.
You just wish HNIC could do a bit better.