Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Toronto Maple Leafs vs The Culture Of Defeat (Pre-game)

The Leafs are at home to take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight, who for something like the 16th straight year head into the end of the season clawing for the final playoff spot. We can't gloat of course; our Leafs are doing only nominally better, currently in a three way tie for eighth. (TSN is gracious enough to give us the final spot in their standings, though Montreal has more wins, and the Islanders have a better goal differential). The talk in Edmonton, from what we can gather, is on Kevin Lowe's ever nascent attempts to acquire another defenseman, and the questionable future of Ryan Smyth (which we totally feel your pain on, see Tucker, Darcy).

But whatever, the real story tonight isn't about Edmonton, it's about the Leafs. Not our Leafs, mind you, but rather 1967's Maple Leafs, the last blue'n'whites to the lift the cup. This is the fortieth anniversary (a fun game to play is to imagine that the Leafs win the cup this season, and then go on another 40 year drought. There would literally statues, as in plural, of Mats Sundin in front of city hall, and Wade Belak would be GOD) of that momentous occasion.

But here's the funny thing: it wasn't all that momentous 40 years ago. '67 was just another win in the last great Leaf dynasty (course, those poor, naive fans didn't use the word "Last"), number 10 overall, and a nice screw you to Montreal at the time. Sure, the men on that team were special (10 of 'em are in the Hall Of Fame) but the cup win wasn't. If you could go back in time 40 years to tell your grandfather that the Leafs wouldn't win another cup in his lifetime and that Harold Ballard was actually clinically insane, he wouldn't believe a word you said. Seriously, would you believe a guy who said he traveled through time just to warn you about the future of a hockey team? Where are the lottery numbers, damn it?

Anyway, fast forward four decades, and the fine folks of Toronto are approaching Bostonian in their drought fetish. It will still be a decade or two before we make a true source of pride out of it, but that day is definitely approaching (All we needed was Jonas Hoglund to screw up in a game seven cup final, and you know we'd be there by now).

It should be a nice ceremony tonight, Dave Keon will be in the building, significant because of his long standing feud with the Leafs over their head-in-the-sand policy of not retiring jerseys (because just look at the godawful disaster in Montreal when Dryden's number went up. Wait, not godawful disaster - absolute, smashing success).

Seriously though, do Toronto fans need another reminder that our hockey team is useless? Do we really need our current iteration of Buds to be stacked up against some of the greatest to ever don the blue and white? because, let's face it, it's a losing proposition. (Silly, idle speculation: Current number of Leafs who will end up in the Hall of Fame: 1, and that's about it (still way too early to call Kyle Wellwood, or Alex Steen, but we do have a good feeling about Steener.)


1 comment:

Joe Pelletier said...

I'm not sure if you'd be interested in this or not, but there is an interesting posting about the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs over at Legends of Hockey Network.

In depth profiles have been written about every single player who was a member of that magical team.

Check it out at