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900 posts and counting, you’ve made this site what it is—a place hockey fans can “talk Leafs” and call home



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.


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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.


28 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Michael...look forward to 1000!
    I'm glad I found your site and appreciate the effort you put in to it. As I've always said, it's nice to see differences discussed respectfully, but always fueled by the passion we all share for our Leafs.
    Thanks for this forum.

    Cheers.

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  2. Thanks Caedmon. I appreciate your kind words.

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  3. Congratulations on reaching 900 posts and for finding a following in so many different countries. You are a great boon to the world of Leaf lore.
    Your personal story is intriguing. I cannot imagine what would have happened if a Habs fan sprung up in my family!
    You have always impressed me with your gentlemanly conduct. It stands out in a sea of vitriol. Whether such harshness is deserved or not, it gets a bit tiresome at times.
    I also enjoy reading the comments and usually find myself in complete agreement with Gerund O.
    I wish you much good fortune and will continue to visit this site time and time again.
    Just think how much fun it will be when we are all bursting with the thrill of victory!

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  4. Thank you very much Elizabeth. As a member of the legendary Maple Leaf Smythe family, it means a great deal to know that you appreciate this site.

    Kindest regards.

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  5. Congratulations Michael. VLM is always the first place I go now to start my day as well as after games. I may have to stop posting after games though as I think I'm getting depressed and cranky, although that could be my 4 year old son who seems determined to to do every dumb little boy thing I did in spades. Maybe God's way of getting back at me for being a Leafs fan. I'm sure he has a sense of humor about it.

    Anyways keep up the excellent work and like Caedmon said look forward to 1000. My favorite Leaf site by a wide margin.

    PS sorry about the poor spelling earlier today. Did a couple of posts when the boss wasn't looking so had to type in a hurray. Although now that I think about it he probably can't spell anyways being an Oiler fan and all. Poor guy.

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  6. Willbur, I can relate to what you are saying about writing after games. I've been thinking lately I should take some time off, to re-charge and ensure that I don't sound negative as often as I fear I do. (Never worry about small things like typos...the ideas we share are way more important than a typing error...)

    More importantly, a big thank you for being an important part of VLM, and for your thoughtful words and support.

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  7. I really enjoy that you take great pains to keep the discussion at the highest level...friendly, knowledgeable and intelligent.

    I am quite sure this is why other sites link to your website every day.

    Keep up the good work. It is greatly appreciated. Other NHL teams would do well to have such a lofty level of discussion.

    P.S. Nabokov was signed tonight...there goes that option.

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  8. There seemed to be suggestions that he would re-up with the Isles. I guess we'll never know, DP, if that was on the Leaf agenda!

    Many thanks for your comments about the site. You, like Caedmon, Willbur and many others who take the time to post so thoughtfully make it something that I hope people really enjoy.

    Thanks.

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  9. 900! Fantastic, Michael. I think you can see how much we all appreciate the effort you put into VLM.
    The pictures of Ed Chadwick certainly brought back childhood memories. The first goalie I remember -albeit vaguely - was Harry Lumley. Must have been something about the sound of his name - I was pretty young at the time! If I'm not mistaken, Chadwick was his replacement.
    I was watching two vintage Leaf games the other night - both from 1964 - and it was interesting to see both how the game has changed and how TV technology has changed the way we see the game. The first game was announced by the peerless Foster Hewitt, and the second by his son, Bill - I guess the switch was happening in there somewhere. Foster worked without a colour guy, and wasn't afraid to to have some silent moments. He was a master of just the right amount of detail and commentary. Bill was good too, and seemed to have added a colour man named "Jim", who commented sparingly. I don't remember him - do you?
    (I also didn't remember that the period ends were signaled by a bell back then. I'm afraid my vintage Leaf memories might be a little suspect!) I marvelled at Keon, Mahovlich, Horton, Stanley, Baun, Armstrong, etc etc - the players who form the template for "my" Leafs. And I was surprised to see how good Ron Stuart was. Smooth skater, good shot. He's one of the forgotten ones.
    Anyhow, I couldn't help but think of all the memories this team has created for me - from ecstatic joy to deep despair - that are intertwined with so much of my life. And I think one of the singular qualities of VLM is that you touch on all aspects of what this team means to those of us who are hopelessly enthralled by it.
    Looking forward to many many more VLM posts!

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  10. Gerund O'...

    I'm not one hundred per cent certain, but the occasional "colour" commentator would be someone like Bob Hesketh from radio station CFRB, Jim Coleman, the great old sports writer, and others as well. But I don't think they were regulars after Foster (and before Brian MacFarlane...).

    I thank you Gerund for your wonderful contributions here, and for your kindness in talking about the site. I hope we all can do this together for a long time to come...

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  11. congrats michael! i enjoy reading your blog EVERY day! cheers to you, and cheers for the future potential of the leafs!

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  12. Michael I would like to echo the congratulatory comments and heartfelt thankyous from all the above regular posters. I really enjoy your efforts and appreciate the passionate, knowledgeable posts and the civilized discussion of all the points of view.
    VLM is a must visit site every day for me!

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  13. I read this site almost every day. Thank you for all the hard work that you have put into the site, I always enjoy your thoughts on the current leafs, and stories of the past.

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  14. Cheers, Michael! Well done. I can't do 900 of anything.

    Ok, maybe cupcakes. I can do 900 of them.

    - Not Norm Ullman

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  15. Congratulations Michael, on having achieved your 900th post, a remarkable milestone to say the least. VLM has become a fertile think tank, influential in ways that are invisible to us, but hopefully over time will contribute to the future success of the hockey club. This influence, I believe, is largely due to the civil tone that exists here; an atmosphere which allows serious contributors a forum to bring their ideas forward, resulting in a stimulating blend of doubt and belief about the direction of the hockey club on and off the ice.


    More than that, this site allows room for history and memory, and how the game affects or lives us in personal ways, should we wish to share that with others. By reading these posts and comments we can appreciate how we live the game and our passion for the hockey club in myriad ways. For that reason, this personal dimension is a source of endless fascination to me.

    Here is to hoping that we can all hang in there just a little longer so that we can share those anecdotes for years to come. For now let us find a way to somehow reconcile the proverb that seems, more than ever, to apply to our future as Leaf fans: “The believer is happy; the doubter is wise”. Your father may have even said this to you Michael at age four, when you displayed your stripes and pronounced where your future loyalties would lie. At any rate, it applies to all of us now: “Bon courage!”

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  16. Congrats, Michael on reaching another milestone! Though I grew up as a Canadiens fan (I remember your dad fondly) and then became a Red Wings fan in my 30s, I still read your blog every day.

    Who knew that those high school English compositions we used to submit would start you on the path to a writing career (also evidenced by the books you've written). Me, I was always a numbers guy (still am).

    Anyways, best regards. Don't know how you're able to do it and still keep it fresh every day!

    Don't forget that old saying: The first 900 posts are the toughest (OK I made that one up)!

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  17. Great job Michael! It takes a lot of work to maintain a blog of this quality (as well as be a Leaf fan) and it's been great seeing the readership grow.

    Looking forward to the next 900!

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  18. Alex C....thank you so very much for your comment- and thank you for visiting as you do.

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  19. Ed I'm just catching up on the comments after a day away from the computer for the most part- sincere thanks to you. I know you have been a Leaf fan for many, many years and your input is valued here always. Thank you.

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  20. Anon- thank you as well for joining in today. Glad that you enjoy the site and thank you for the nice comment about the site.

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  21. Not Norm Ullman....I can certainly relate to your reference to cupcakes!

    Thanks for commenting here as you do from time to time. And thank you for your support and kind words.

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  22. Bobby C.,

    You know how much I value your perspective and contributions here. Thank you for that, and for your ongoing support.

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  23. For those that may not know, Gene and I are old friends...very good old friends from our high school days in Essex County in the early 1970s.

    I so appreciate, Gene, that you make the time to visit the site, and contribute here on occasion when the topic strikes you. Thanks very much. I think of you fondly, and often.

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  24. Thank you, Hogie. You are another tremendous contributor here, and I appreciate your sentiments today. Thank you.

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  25. Long suffering Leafs fanMarch 22, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Congrats to the man of this site who is like meat loaf, the comfort food of thought and memories for we weary Leaf fans!

    Looking forward to some more of your awesome audios from players and management of the past.

    To Willbur from a man who struggles with Dyslexia anything that you post...spelling mistakes and all looks right to me :)

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  26. Thanks Long Suffering- I appreciate that!

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  27. Hail to the blogger! Here's to 900 more posts!

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  28. Thanks for that KidK and thanks as well for your significant contribution here....

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