Work commitments on Thursday and Friday won’t allow me to respond to any comments on my posts here until later in the day both days. But by all means send along any comments you might have and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
When I started Vintage Leaf Memories in September of 2009, I wasn’t really sure quite where I was going with the site. I hoped to share some memories and stories from the “olden days”—specifically my time as a very young Maple Leaf fan in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. I’ve certainly appreciated the opportunity to do that here, but the site has also developed into something more: a place where a lot of Leaf fans can feel comfortable sharing their hopes, views, and yes, their own memories. And it’s important to me, as the founder and host of this site, that the conversation has continued to follow the path and tone I tried to set from the get-go—one of respect for the views of others, even when those opinions collide.
Lately it has been another difficult stretch for long-time Maple Leaf supporters, as the wheels (maybe only temporarily) seem to have fallen off yet another re-build. That tends to get Leaf supporters “chirping” back and forth at one another, which is unfortunate, since everyone wants the same thing: a Maple Leaf team that they can be proud of and that, yes, ultimately brings a Stanley Cup back to Toronto—and as importantly, to Leaf fans all around the world.
One of the shocking (but nice—and encouraging!) things for me to realize is that, the last time I checked, the site had received visits from 143 countries around the world. Oh, I’m sure some people have clicked here by mistake, but analyzing who continues to visit, the regular readership demonstrates how widely loved the Leafs are, and how many people have an interest in the team and what’s happening in this market, all around the globe. It’s remarkable.
What keeps me posting here is that I have a history that is part of me. While nowhere near as important as family, of course, or the many daily life values that we all care about and try to live by, being a “Leaf fan” triggers memories like few things do for me. My own history goes back to being raised in a passionate French-Canadian household (I was born in 1953 in southwestern Ontario) filled with Montreal Canadiens fans. And I don’t just mean loyal fans, I mean religiously devout Hab followers. My Dad saw all the greats play—Morenz, Joliat and later Richard, Bouchard, Plante, Harvey, the “Pocket Rocket”, and of course Beliveau, Dickie Moore and many others.
When I claimed my freedom as a Leaf fan in and around 1957-’58, at the age of 4 (as my late father told the story), it set off a chain of events (not to mention some significant household anxiety) for years to come. As I’ve posted here before Eddie Chadwick (pictured at right, and above in late 1950s action against Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Norm Ullman and the Red Wings) was probably the first Leaf that I distinctly remember. He was the fine old Leaf goalie from the mid and later 1950s. In fact, Chadwick is last goaltender, by the way, to play every game in goal in an NHL season for the Maple Leafs.
I’ve told many stories here in the past two and a half years, and commented as often on the current Leaf team and provided my views on how things are progressing going forward. But the thing I have appreciated the most is the response I have received from so many of you, and the kind comments many have made about the site. For my part, it has been a pleasure to converse with many of you who post here on a regular base. My only additional hope is that some of you who visit, but perhaps don’t “post”, would indeed do so. The more voices, the better.
Again, 900 posts later, thanks to everyone for helping to make the site something that is a labor of love, yes, and something I enjoy immensely. I hope I have contributed in a small way to the so-called “blogosphere”, and have also left a modest imprint on the Leaf legacy that fans should be rightly proud of.