When Game 7 ended on Monday night, I wanted to rent a military chopper to fly over Leafs Nation so I could drop propaganda flyers on the long suffering masses below.
“This Team Will Never Stop Breaking Your Heart. Get Out While You Can.”
Then I’d ask the pilots to hover over Doug Ford’s house as I leaned out the side door with a megaphone: “Open the golf courses! The Leafs are ready to putt! It’s a springtime tradition!”
As Montreal celebrated its 3-1 win on Monday, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit and making the Leafs look like 3-in-1 soil mix, the cameras cut to the stands. For the first time since the pandemic, there were fans in attendance, about 500 health-care workers.
One lass, in a Mitch Marner jersey, arched back in her seat, staring up at the rafters and slowly shaking her head in disbelief. Another chap with forlorn eyes slumped forward, holding a white rally towel over his black mask, as if to double-gag the screaming inside his tortured head.
Haven’t these people suffered enough?
Why express gratitude to front-line heroes by subjecting them to a Game 7 involving the Leafs? That’s like thanking a good Samaritan for returning your lost wallet by stealing his phone.
Speaking of health care, I can only assume the Leafs training staff have gold certification in the Heimlich manoeuvre. A common symptom of blue-and-white disease is choking. If there’s a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, these wheezing bums will find a way.
I don’t know if it’s the ghosts of Bill Barilko or Harold Ballard or Red Kelly screwing around with Pyramid Power in the ’70s, but even the late skeptic James Randi would now embrace the paranormal as a plausible explanation. This franchise is cursed by a force in the universe far more powerful than Auston Matthews and his ridiculous ’stache.
That ghastly injury to captain John Tavares in Game 1? Curse. Giving up a 2-on-nothing less than a minute into overtime in Game 5? Curse. The turnovers, the delay-of-game penalties, the clanging posts, the sputtering power plays, the fact this team was as flat as an opened can of Mountain Dew forgotten for a week — curse, curse, curse, curse and curse.
The curse came for Jake Muzzin’s groin. Then the curse savaged the hearts of Leaf fans.
Again. It’s always again because this team will never stop breaking your heart. We will colonize Mars and cure cancer before the Leafs ever make it to the finals. This team has not won the Stanley Cup in my lifetime. They have not made it to the second round in the lifetimes of my daughters. If I ever have grandkids, I doubt the Leafs will manage a .500 record.
There was a Habs fan in my junior high who would tiptoe behind me and shout, “Leafs suck!” I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to homeroom and say, “Yeah, you’re right.”
This is why I renounced my citizenship in Leafs Nation a few years back. The emotional taxes are way too high and the parade route will never be paved. Not happening because it doesn’t need to happen. This franchise could mint money even if the first line was a hologram of the Three Stooges. It’s why I got out. I realized my unconditional love was part of the problem. To be a Leafs fan is to stay in an abusive relationship. It is to accept failure as inevitable.
Now, the diehards — and I was one for decades — will skate to centre ice and say this team finally has an elite nucleus. They had a boffo regular season. Stay patient. Keep perspective. Then the annual refrain: just wait until next year. Right. Yes, on paper, Matthews, Marner and Tavares are a few cuts above the calibre of players I used to cheer on as a kid when our road hockey games started with heated arguments over who got to be Bill Derlago or Jim Korn.
I still have my beloved John Kordic jersey, for crying out loud.
But I am done with this team because “next year” is now comically delusional.
And the fact my daughters have zero interest — they were watching an old Elijah Wood movie during Game 7 — is the icing on this putrid blue-and-white cake. I have finally broken the cycle of misery. My offspring will never know the pain of fantasizing about a Rocky Saganiuk hat-trick.
After the Leafs blew a 4-1 lead late in a Game 7 to the Bruins in 2013, I was interviewed by a Boston radio station and said exposing my kids to this team felt like bad parenting.
After Monday’s clunker of a Game 7, I feel even stronger about that sentiment.
Get out while you still can, is what I tell my two younger brothers, who still Beleaf. This team could have the best 20 players in the world and would still find a way to break your heart. It’s why I wanted to drop Airborne Leaflet Propaganda on Leafs Nation this week: this team will always crash and burn when it matters most.
I reserve the right to be a bandwagon jumper in the future. I’ve earned that much.
But the lost years of blindly cheering on these wheezing bums is over.
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