Leafs fan till I die
There are many reasons why people become fans of a sports team: there’s your home town team, or that favourite player you follow as he gets traded from club to club. Sometimes a team just has the right colours to speak to you (probably not the greatest reason, but speaking from experience it can lead to full on loyalty). You’ve also got the most despicable of the bunch; the bandwagon jumpers who start rooting for a team when they got hot or even after they’ve won a championship.
And then there’s another source of fandom that nearly every sports fan has experienced at some point: that of the born and raised variety. We’ve all been there, your parents have grown up cheering for a team and now you’ve found yourself doing the same. As a result, you’ve spent days and nights of your childhood watching the game with your folks. Maybe it’s to connect with them through something they love, or to just spend that little extra time with them. Heck, maybe its just because on those nights they’re a little more lenient, and your bedtime no longer applies. Before you know it, you’re a fan! You may even be a second (or third) generation fan of the franchise.
This is where I stand when it comes to professional hockey. Sure, I originally became a fan of the Green Bay Packers due to their jerseys. And I can’t even tell you why I root for Chelsea in the English Premier League. But for the NHL, I am proud to say that my dad has raised me as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Sure, they haven’t made the playoffs in almost a decade, or won it all in nearly five but that shouldn’t stop the hope that springs with the birth of each new season. It’s no different than being a Cubs or Lions fan (and I’m sure there are many others in the same position).
But what makes it special is that it is a shared experience. As the saying goes, misery loves company and what better unifier than a professional sports team. It’s a special feeling watching the game with your dad, experiencing the highs (Borschevsky’s OT goal against Detroit in game seven of their 92-93 playoff round, though he had to tell me all about it the next day on account of the game going a bit too far past my bedtime) and the lows (Gretzky’s controversial clip of Gilmour in game six that same season versus the Kings). It’s hearing about the great players that played before you were born (and watching them due to the magic of video tape). Or more recently, sharing in the pleasure of watching the Leafs eliminate the rival Senators four out of six seasons earlier this millennium.
With a win tonight, the Leafs have inched themselves a little closer to making the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04, and I couldn’t be more excited. According to this link they currently have a 99.8% of making the playoffs (an average based on all possible outcomes of the remaining games). There’s a chance they can get on nice run and then there’s no limit to where they can go. And with a little luck, when all is said and done it may be fans of the other 29 teams that are saying “maybe next year”. In conclusion:
Go Leafs go!