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As a little boy I grew up in a city with a mighty and dominant hockey team. Not only did our team play in the (then much smaller) NHL, but they often won the highly-coveted Stanley Cup. And to top it off, they were profitable, so we never wondered from year to year if our team would stay in town.

Ah, those were the days! My uncle had a share in a pair of tickets in the nose-bleed seats; since my aunt and their daughters didn’t want to go with him all the time, sometimes he’d take a niece or nephew instead. It was so exciting! Our team was always competitive, almost always in the play-offs and often in the finals. Now, sadly, our team rarely even makes it into the second season that the play-offs have become in the enormously-grown NHL. It’s one of those things I’m Always Grumpy about.

So who was this fantastic team? It was the Toronto Maple Leafs, of course! I guess I’m dating myself now… but in the 1950s and 1960s, the boys in blue and white played at the top of the league.  I’m not big on sports, but I was a Leafs fan especially during the play-offs.

In the 1970s the Leafs fell behind a bit. The fans stayed loyal, and I watched games on TV. By the 1980s, the wheels had come off and by the 1990s our team was a joke. Now our Maple Leafs have failed to make the play-off cut for the eighth time in a row. Like our players, my Leafs sweater is dejected and ready for some golf (see picture below), but like the team it has to play out the season. I wore it last night. Watching regular-season hockey games these days leaves me Quite Sleepy, so I haven’t seen the Leafs play in a very long time indeed. We went to a movie instead.

Dejected and ready to play golf... but it had to play out the season anyway.

Toronto is a hockey-mad town in a hockey-mad country: we laugh at our Leafs, but we love them anyway. I’ve heard that they still sell more hockey tickets than any other franchise in the NHL. (I’m too lazy to check that out but it sounds about right.) And maybe one day, we’ll get another chance to cheer for our Maple Leafs in a play-off game again.

Jonathan Gladstone is alwaysgrumpy at jbglad59@sympatico.ca or follow me on Twitter @jbglad59.

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4 Comments

  1. Personally, oh Grumpy One, the Leafs have yet to emerge from the toxic after-effects of the Ballard era. It’s half-life appears to be long indeed.

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    • I think you’re right: Pal Hal seems to have thrown a very long shadow over the Leafs franchise.

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  2. I would like to query the use of “often” in paragraph won (I mean one). This seems like the magical thinking that only Leafs fans can muster. Personally, I haven’t watched hockey since Ray Bourque retired…

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    • I started attending Leafs games with my uncle in the late ’60s; over six years from 1962 to 1967, the Leafs won the Cup four times… and not since. 😦

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