When did we enter a world where a fan can't say something optimistic about their team without fear of backlash? I have been a Leaf fan my whole life and apart from a slight resurgence when I was five when Cliff Fletcher brought in Doug Gilmour and Dave Andreychuk and the call-up Felix Potvin lead the team to a 99-point season, I haven't experienced many positive outcomes. But I am still a fan, through thick and thin (mostly thin, very thin).
And whether it be here, online, or in a bar talking to friends, I am always shocked at the overt and outward disgust people have when you try to defend or find morsels of optimism in the Leafs. And I expect this from non-Leaf fans -- Habs, Canucks, Flames, Sens, etc. fans have always hated the Leafs as we get most of the TV coverage, the coveted 7 p.m. HNIC time slot, etc. But Leaf fans won't hesitate to throw overt shade.
I understand having your backs up and being on the defensive, there hasn't been much to celebrate or be proud of in the past 15 years. It can be disappointing to finally get a line that can produce goals (Alexander Mogilny, Mats Sundin and Gary Roberts for example) just to see the rest of the team and the goaltenders fall apart and provide no support.
The Red Sox have some of the most loyal and devout fans in the sporting world and they went over 80 years without winning a World Series. Sure they put on a good show most seasons with some big name players and often a playoff appearance. So is that what Toronto fans are looking for? Quality games? It is often criticized that the Leafs especially, cater to a corporate crowd in a rich market and don't have the priority of quality players, games, hockey. Which I understand, and I agree, that should be a huge priority. But when CuJo and Sundin left the Leafs to join an organization better equipped to play quality hockey, we selfishly faulted them for it -- even though we weren't producing quality hockey here in Toronto.
What would make us, as Toronto fans, happy? Making the playoffs? One year, two years? First round? Second round? A Cup? There is so much positive press out there for Toronto being a huge market that could support two NHL teams... I suppose they mean financially support two teams, cause the way I see it -- we can't mentally or emotionally support the team we have.
It is fascinating to me as my primary profession is an advertiser that a brand can be so financially successful and continues to see revenue growth, with such ubiquitous negative press and public opinion. It's like tequila -- no one likes the taste, or the way it makes us feel the next morning, but we buy the ticket and go for the ride...
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