Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Guest Post : Leafs 40 Years of Shame ///La honte des Leafs

Thanks to my buddy Paul for an account of the Leafs 40-Years-Without-A-Cup ceremony. Those who want to watch the final game of the 67 series can see it on Google NHL Video :

"Went to see the Leafs and Oilers on Saturday. Tickets were hard to get but I was lucky and got two great seats. Found out about a week before the game that this was going to be special. Yes, the Leafs were actually going to celebrate something. They were going to celebrate the last time they actually won Lord Stanley's mug. My friend who got the tickets from his friend told me that tickets were impossible to get for that game because of the amount of alumnus that would be there to "celebrate". He actually almost kept the tickets to himself because of all the hype in Toronto over this game.

Scalpers were selling nose bleeds for $700... I kid you not. As a Leafs hater, and a proud one at that, I actually thought about how much I could get for the two $180 tickets I was holding? But, I was sort of looking forward to the celebration. Got curious that I was going to actually witness some kind of hockey history. In fact, I myself got caught up in the hype by reading everything there was to read on the '67 Leafs in order to better appreciate the ceremony.

Well, now I know why the Leafs don't win: because they don't know how to celebrate. Oh my God!!! What a letdown. The entire thing from start to finish was less than 10 minutes long and the applause was tame even at its loudest. What a joke.

The whole thing was even a letdown for the Leaf fans around me. Yet they applauded with less enthusiasm that I did... and I wasn't wearing a blue wig and a Tie Dummy jersey!!!! Sigh... this was the event: 1) Video of about 4 minutes that basically said "They were not supposed to win...but they did." 2) Introduce players who walk one by one onto the ice to some COSTCO (!) metal chairs placed at centre ice. 3) Ceremonial face off. 4) Voice over loudspeaker saying "Ladies and Gentleman, your 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Champions". 5) Lights on, roll up carpet.

That was it!!! I'm sorry but any other team from the Original Six would have brought the roof down when they introduced Dave Keon. Mind you, probably 75% of those at the game don't even know the 1967 Leafs. 1967 is the most hated number in Toronto and relates to how long it has been since they won. People do not view 1967 as something to celebrate... and boy oh boy did they ever prove that on Saturday night.

"I've been to a few ceremonies, and this one ranks right up there,'' said 82-year-old goalie Johnny Bower. "The crowd was great, and all of us appreciate the gesture." Bower must suffer from dementia. Or was drunk!! Not sure what kind of ceremonies he is refering to but someone in Calgary said the ceremony on Saturday for Mike Vernon was a classy and a "goose bump" affair. The Flames even had the Stanley Cup there for him, which leads me to believe that the Leafs organized this haphazardly with not much thought. Obviously the Flames planned well in advance to secure the Cup for their evening. It would have made sense for the Leafs to do the same!!

That said, the night was an entire let down as the Leafs won the game. Not much of a game either, sloppy play from both teams. Not very entertaining.

The highlight of the night for me was to watch Stephen Harper, our Prime Minister, enjoying the game with his son. I know how hard life can be on kids when parents are in public life and I really admired the PM giving all his attention to his son and the youngster, who was probably seeing his dad for the first time that week, was soaking up his father's attention like a sponge.

At one point, after a whistle, a Harper staffer rushed to go and tell him something and Harper completely ignored him and without taking his eyes off his son who was talking, shooed him away. It was hilarious. Made for a good Tim Horton commercial.

Side note, Tim Horton the hockey player got a louder ovation than Keon. As my buddy said, "everybody here knows him that's why they are cheering".

It is sad that most would cheer loudest for a dead business man who baked a donut (and a good one at that) instead of what is supposed to be a hockey hero to Leaf fans. It was really sad for the Leafs. They failed to kindle any kind of "goose bump" feeling in anyone.

That is the best way I can describe it... "the ceremony had no goose bumps effects". And that is what you are supposed to accomplish with those celebrations. Oh well, what did I expect from a team who's fans adored players like Wendel Clark, Tie Dummy and Darcy Tucker but to name a few (I actually saw someone with a Cory Cross sweater at the game). Fans got what they deserve. They keep cheering for sub par players, they will get sub par ceremonies. Thank God my buddy paid for the two beers and two popcorns. $32.75. That's why there's MasterCard!"

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