For many of us, being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs has meaning beyond being something that helps to pass the time.
Not the kind of meaning that comes from love of family, or making a difference in the world. But the Leaf "link" is about a real connection, about being drawn to something—for each our own reasons—that we end up caring about. (Click on links to two stories that speak to my early attraction to the blue and white - How I became a Leaf fan and It was worth the drive to Chatham.)
Sometimes, having a passionate interest in a particular sports franchise, whether it be the Maple Leafs or any other team, seems to border somewhat on the irrational. After all, we are cheering passionately for an "organization", for a team of individuals who, in most cases, we don’t even know on any kind of personal level. And by and large those individuals could not care less about us.
Yet the feeling, that peculiar connection, often lasts our entire lifetime.
Being a fan of the Maple Leafs seems to have that kind of meaning for many, many people- young, old and in between- who have in some cases carried the blue and white torch in their family for generations.
This was exemplified quite beautifully in a post this past weekend in the Toronto Star. Some of you are no doubt aware of an oustanding blog the Star has run this season by Vinay Menon, a columnist at the newspaper. Vinay has put on his “fan hat” as the NHL schedule unfolds and has provided readers with a realistic view of the up and down emotions that go hand-in-hand with following the Maple Leafs faithfully.
This past Saturday, Vinay posted something truly unique: a remarkable letter he received from the grand-daughter of Conn Smythe (the original owner of the Maple Leafs) himself.
Smythe, as Leaf fans well know, is the man (along with being a Canadian war-time army veteran) who launched the Maple Leaf brand some eight or so decades ago.
His grand-daughter provides a heart-tugging commentary. I can’t do it justice but it’s a must-read for Leaf fans old and new alike. You can see the post at http://thestar.blogs.com/leafsfan/
If you ever questioned why you are still a Leaf fan despite years of falling short, this should help ease your concerns.