Custom Search

Is VLM missing the mark?

One of the things I enjoy most about hosting Vintage Leaf Memories is the  back and forth banter with the many thoughtful hockey enthusiasts and Maple Leaf supporters who are good enough to take the time to not only visit the site but comment in depth on the various daily pieces I try to present.

Regular visitors will know that I have a particular affinity for talking about the old days, not only because the Leafs became a really good team when I was a kid in the late 1950s and early ‘60s but, like most people, it brings back warm feelings whenever I think back to my childhood, the time my Dad and I spent watching hockey together and my love of the Leafs.  Names like Eddie Chadwick and Punch Imlach still mean a lot to me, all these years later, when it comes to why I became a Leaf fan, and why it still matters to this day. (I've always loved and held on to the great old photo of the former Leaf goalie, Chadwick, at right.  It is actually from a 1950s magazine advertisement for Bee-Hive syrup and the company's very popular hockey pictures promotion...)

Those were, for me at least, good days to be young and in love with hockey.

Fast forward to the present.  September will mark, if I can call it that, the third anniversary of Vintage Leaf Memories.  Soon I’ll reach a thousand posts, for what it’s worth. (I know, I know, quantity does not trump quality…)  While many of my posts do indeed reflect on days, players, events and moments past, many of the columns have to do with the current Leaf team, because I sense, from the feedback I receive, that’s what readers want most.

While I often write quite positively about individual players or the current team, being honest with myself (and what I observe) I feel compelled to be truthful and comment when I see management or our coaching staff do something that I find troubling or that I think will not benefit the franchise now or in the longer-term.  One such occasion was a few days ago when I posted a piece which shared my thoughts about how Gustavsson, Schenn and Kadri had/have, in my view, been “mismanaged” by the organization in terms of their development, and as a result, how they may be less valuable in any possible trade as a result (though Schenn certainly brought a nice return).

I thought it was a very fair piece.  Not everyone agreed, of course, but that’s part of the reality of being devoted fans.  We can agree to disagree.  That said, the standard that I have tried to create here over the years is an atmosphere of mutual respect for different opinions, even when we do disagree.  That said, one (anonymous) poster sent me the following note (below, in italics), which I posted on the VLM site, in response to the Gustavsson piece:

You know, I am fully annoyed by articles like this. Yes I am a leaf fan. As far as it goes with the team....I want to believe. But I can't. The reason is the constant crap that comes out of the media, of expectations, failed this and failed that. The only thing that I see that is so entirely different here, than any other NHL city, (with exception to maybe a Montreal), is the over analyzed and under appreciation for the players and their management here in this city, BY THE MEDIA, and crap like this, that I just read. Maybe players would so covet the atmosphere and the greatness of Toronto and this team, if these racoons would stop trying to kill our wildlife here. Brian Burke must be appaulled with this crap. And I would bet that he has a good laugh at you hounds from time to time, but at the same time, frustrated with the you guys killing any chance we have for a descent hockey team. I shake my head everytime I hear someone with a motivation to only rip and be a negative influence in this city. Get it together people.

Just like the players and coaches that we talk about here, anyone who writes—for a living or even casually as I do— has to be open themself to critical comments and I certainly am.  When I receive such comments here, I always try to respond as thoughtfully as I can, as I did in the above instance.

But the negative comment above, which seemed to clump VLM in with “the media”, did make me ask myself if readers here would prefer a different approach. Maybe some think that I shouldn't raise certain issues and should instead offer more ‘happy’ Leaf talk?  (You know, all of our draft choices are—or will be—great.  The Kessel deal shouldn’t be assessed objectively.  Brian Burke should never be questioned.  We should never look behind the wizard's curtain.  We fans know nothing.  Our players should be treated with kid gloves because if we don’t constantly talk nicely about them they won't want to come here, etc.)

I’m not sure I would enjoy hosting that sort of site, or would even want to continue, but maybe I’ve misread what a lot of potential readers are looking for?

If VLM is missing the mark, it’s better for me to know.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts…


  1. Don't change a thing Michael. This is one place I have found where I can disagree with a guy and not be called some kinda name. I like the fact that we here at VLM are respectful and can voice what we are truly feeling. There are lots of post, both by yourself and commentators, that are entirely positive. No one has flat out panned the JVR trade as far as I recall, some were less enthralled than others but people were generally positive.

    The one thing I would suggest is a forum for people to have conversations. I love the comments but it does make it hard to have a discussion some times.

    One last thing, you can tell that the people here DP, O'Malley, Skill2envy and all the others are genuine life long Leaf fans. We all love the Leafs but like all loves can get exaperated at times with them. They are not perfect but they are ours. I for one like having a place like VLM to hang out in. Keep the srticles coming my friend and I'll keep coming back to read them. Whether or not I'll agree with them is another thing entirely Hehe.

  2. Don't change.

    I really enjoy reading your posts and will continue to do so whether you change your focus or not. Traditions are a positive!

    In my opinion, the comment you shared does not represent the majority.

  3. Thanks very much Willbur. I appreciate hearing from you on this one.

    I certainly don't expect people to agree with me all the time! The fact that everyone here has their own individual perspective makes things a lot more interesting. As you say, virtually everyone who posts here has followed the Leafs for as long as they can remember, so we're all here for the same purpose.

    My sons (who know a great deal more about social media and technology than I do) have talked to me about a "forum" concept. It it's do-able, I'll certainly look into it.

    Thanks for your support. It's encouraging to hear from someone I know takes the time to visit here regularly and feels the way you do.

  4. Thank you for you the kind words, Faeldam. As I mentioned to Willbur, it's important to hear from people who visit here often enough to have a sense of the site's overall tone.

    I very much appreciate your support.

  5. Michael:

    I have been reading your blog for a few months now and find it very balanced (much better than Fox). I find the comments of you and your followers show much more thought than I see on other sites. I certainly respect the lack of name-calling.
    I enjoy the history aspect which may come from the fact we saw many of the same things. I also saw my first NHL games in the Detroit Olympia because getting tickets to MLG was next to impossible. Many of the players you talk about I saw play as Juniors in Hamilton.

    Toronto is a difficult place to play, but anyplace where hockey is taken seriously also is. The same applies to any major sport. e.g. Yankees, Red Sox, Celtics, Packers, etc. When we moved to Georgia, I couldn't believe over 90,000 at a college football game and finding out that a Bulldog coach losing multiple times to the Gators is enough to cost you your job.

    The Leafs have been mismanaged for most of the last 50 years and it is not surprising to see the real fans getting frustrated. It would appear that Brian Burke is giving his constituents a snow job and enjoys toying with them and the media. VLM sugar-coating reality should not be the future.

    While everyone has an opinion, please do not let someone who hides behind an anonymous tag sway you.

  6. I share a similar perspective as you, RLMcC, that if you are an athlete/coach, you naturally face pressure in markets like those you mentioned. Toronto is no different. It goes with the territory. If you make an effort as a coach or player to understand why fans care, why media acts as it does, you can learn to was embrace the so-called "pressure".

    My view is that fan sites like this one should be able to comment on what they see, not just offer up cheerleading.

    Thank you very much for your support and thoughtful comments. I really enjoy hearing from someone such as yourself who has followed the sport and the team for a long time. (Wasn't the old Olympia a neat place to go to a game...great smoke-filled atmosphere! I'm trying to remember the name of the well-known Hamilton junior franchise owner who was a local legend in those days....??)

  7. Great article Michael.

    When you mentioned thinking back to your chidhood, it brought back "warm feelings" to me as well remembering back when my Dad and I spent time watching hockey games together, those times I'll never forget.

    As for "Gustavsson, Schenn and Kadri had/have been mismanaged by the organization in terms of their development", I completely agree with you without hesitation! I certainly hope in time that they will realize they were wrong and the mismanagement of player development becomes much less in the future with much more patience. Two out of the three are now gone and I personally with certainty thought that they were going to be big pieces of the puzzle going forward into the future with this organization.

    The comment you shared from the anonymous poster, I have to agree with Faeldam and can assure you it does not represent the majority.

    Don't change a thing Michael, great work!

  8. Wilbur has said everything I would have said. Keep up the good work, Michael.

  9. Michael... I often enjoy reading your pieces, and on the majority of your views I often agree. When my opinion is slightly different, I make sure that I try to substantiate. Your replies to my comments show that you try to be objective and open to other's ideas. We may still not agree, but hey that's all part of being a Leaf fan.

    Your mention of the old Bee-hive syrup brought flashbacks for me. If anything your VLM memories about the past just remnind me of how old I am, and how many years I have been a Leaf fan. Stop that! ;-)

  10. Regarding the person who just posted his or her concerns about the media contributing to a "descent" team. No worries there. Leafs management will take care of that. Seriously, the VLM commentaries are arguably the best that can be found on the web. Thoughtful, interesting, and always worth reading. Your post about how the team basically destroyed Jonas G's trade value was very insightful. Keep up the good work.

  11. Michael,

    I'm glad you enjoyed my introductory life/Leaf story and thank you for the invitation to comment further.

    I have read many of your articles over the past year or so and find myself identifying with your perspective and manner of interaction with those who comment on your thoughts. You are a wise and appreciative fellow who encourages thoughtful interaction. When I choose to look at multiple sites, I usually leave yours 'til the end... leaving the best for last!

    With respect to the article pertaining to the management of players (like Gus, Luke and Nazem), I feel it is perfectly justifiable to consider how their young careers have been handled.

    We must always be aware that we do not know both (or all) sides of any issue, so fans must always exist with perspectives that pertain to portions of any issue that we might discuss. That being said, I like how you try to see things from more than one perspective and open the discussion from that viewpoint while clearly presenting your own thoughts and admitting when you aren't even fully able to express or formulate your own perspective - at such times, it is good to have this forum to explore your own feelings on the subject of our mutual affections!

    Gus, I feel, is a fine young man and I'm sad to see him go, though I feel the frustration that comes from unrealized potential/hopes/dreams. He came with fandom's fantasy expectations heaped upon him that weighted down his own health and family struggles that ensued after his arrival. I hope his future will be bright and that he will 'find himself', his health, good friends and family to support his career (and his general well-being)... and when he does, I hope Leaf fans will all demonstrate the class that would rejoice in his success (all the while, recognizing the pain that we feel in our hearts when we think of 'how he was ours' and 'what could've been'). Indeed, is this not how we already feel about Luke?

    Even though we may legitimately ask questions about the development strategies pertaining to any players, we also recognize how easy it is to question the development of other people's kids... all the while wondering why others don't understand our perspective on all the issues pertaining to our own sons or daughters. It is always my hope to present such perspectives on 'others' more as a helpful, introductory question than a statement and that, I feel you have done in most every article I've read from you, Michael. You also continue by providing your thoughts (which you defend until someone provides a comment that brings further light to the issue at hand) that gives us all the opportunity to consider the issue with you.

    I like what you do and am thankful for the opportunity to 'fill in the gaps' of my own Leaf memories (that are tied in with the ones my Toronto area father gave me) with those that you have shared. You fill a niche that I enjoy reading and thank you for your thoughtful, measured and reasonable presentations. It's good to find a fellow Leaf fan with a similar perspective to my own... Kudos!

  12. Michael,
    As someone who finds the line between legit opinion Journalism ie Cox,Berger,Mirtle and(although he is increasingly crossing the line into tabloid smeared pap,Simmons)more and more difficult to distinguish from the uninformed pure speculative drivel like Hockeywriters and Bleacher Report, I beg you to continue. You strike the perfect balance between informative articles about the Leafs' past glory for those of us that were too young to remember and informed commentary on current events.Keep it up!

  13. Michael, I thank you for the time you put into this site. Your posts are great. It keeps me coming back. Although everyone doesn't agree with each other all the time, you and the many other posters are intelligent,articulate and respectful. At times I even find myself changing my views through your insite.
    Since most of my older friends no longer follow the Leafs like I still do, you have given me the opportunity to be a part of a family where we can share our hopes and vent out our frustrations about our team we follow with the passion that unites us. Thank you and don't change a thing.

  14. “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” Quoting George Orwell, here.

    For me, founded criticism has nothing to do with negativity, as it is commonly presented out of a desire to simply make things better. Your obviously frustrated commenter misunderstood your point, which is kind of hard to understand if he actually continued reading past the headline. And I'm sure the media covering the Leafs has its fair share of gloaters and doomsayers, who bring nothing to the table beyond gloom and I-told-you-so's. Those people have as little to do with journalism as public relations people, the difference being that the latter group usually at least understand their job description.

    I understand many fans get frustrated by combination of the journalistic platitudes presented by the part of the madia that focuses on negativity and their team constantly losing, and frustration very effectively clouds judgement. And a person's clouded judgement becomes fairly obvious once he begins to believe his team is actually being held back because of the media. And, if it actually was being held back by the media, then you'd know your favourite franchise was employing the wrong people in their front office.

    I don't always comment, but I do always read your blog, and I read it because of what it is; the thoughts, the insights and the memories. If I wanted cheerleading and public relations, I'd go somewhere else. People who don't approve of founded criticism should do exactly that. And you, Michael, should keep doing what you do.

  15. I love the respectful give and take of this site, Michael. And, believe me, there are few NHL teams for which the passion burns like it does for the Leafs. Far from "killing any chance we have for a descent hockey team" - which is ironically exactly what the Leafs are at the moment - a measured re-reading of comments over the last year would show VLM'ers were ahead of management in suggesting - positively, though perhaps frustratedly - exactly the kind of player changes that Brian Burke says they're currently pursuing.
    I love the deep fandom that anchors this site - not only yours, but, as Wilbur says above, that of many of your frequent posters. This site has a unique quality to it, and I hope you keep on keepin' on for many a year!

  16. I discovered this site a few months ago, and I have to say I have enjoyed the content. What has brought me back time and again is the fair, unbiased discussion. You and most of your followers have neither been sheep cheering the team on, nor chronic complainers. I seek out as much info on the Leafs online as I can, and like many, I am none too fond of the Toronto media who put the screws to the players too fast, too often. On your site, I see practical, intelligent discussion.
    As far as the historical content, let me give you a brief background on myself. I first discovered hockey and the Leafs when Darryl Sittler was king. When I was asked what uniform number I wanted for myself, I immediately claimed number 27 in his honour. I still wear 27 to this day in my beer league.
    My son was born about a quarter century after Sittler retired. But when he was given a jersey number choice, he chose 27 in my honour (I was so proud). So today I have an 11 year old still skating with Sittler's 27 on his back.
    I turned 40 years old last month. I don't know how she figured it out, maybe from my son, I don't know, but my girlfriend surprised me on that day with my very own Darryl Sittler jersey. It's about the best gift anyone has ever gotten me. So I for one will never tell you to let go of the past. It is part of us, it is what made us Leafs fans.
    I can even speak in a more practical tone about that, and remind everyone of the old saying "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it". That goes for a hockey team as much as anything else in this world. A team that continues to make the same mistakes in coaching, trades, drafting, and developing their prospects just might wonder why they haven't won a championship in 45 years!

  17. Michael.

    Keep on doing what you do and how you do it.

    You've got a great thing going here!

    Thanks again

  18. Don't change a thing. I enjoy reading your articles to hear about your opinion a lot more than I do reading MSM articles. Keep up the good work!

  19. Thank you very much Derek, for the kind words and support.

    I think the sports connection with our Dads, for a lot of us, is one of the things that keeps our love for a particular sport alive. Thanks for sharing that.

  20. Weren't those old Bee Hive photos great, TML__fan?

    Yes, we're getting older, but we keep hanging in! Thanks very much for your thoughts and support, TML__fan. Different views, like yours, make this a much, much better site than it otherwise would be.

  21. Thanks for that, Cameron. The interaction with posters here makes this a very worthwhile experience.

  22. I'm very glad that we have connected here, InTimeFor62. Your post today takes us well beyond hockey. Too often we don't put ourselves in other people's shoes (including other parents, as you say) and as a result, we miss some important stuff and often judge unfairly.

    I completely agree with your thoughts on Gus (and Schenn as well). I think I lot of us will always have a soft spot for Monster, for all the reasons you cite above. Schenn will always be a Leaf as well, as un-fulfilled as his vast promise is at this point.

    I appreciate your taking the time to chime in today. Thank you.

  23. Thank you very much Sean. It's heartwarming to hear from you today.

  24. I find your articles to be well thought out, stimulating and thought provoking. VLM is a must read for me each day along with Pension Plan Puppets and Maple Leaf Hot Stove. I have found that the quality of journalism in the three Toronto papers has sunk badly with the exception of Mirtle of the Globe and Mail and more and more I have looked to the blogs for quality articles pertaining to the Leafs.

    I wouldn't place much credence on the opinions of one who finds it necessary to use the word crap three times in a paragraph.

    I enjoy your mix of the past and the present. I have many fond memories of Leafs of the past and your articles have tweaked some of those memories. As an example, I had forgotten about the Bee-Hive Corn Syrup sponsored pictures. They were an integral part of a young boy's collection along with hockey cards that were flipped and traded in the schoolyard. Bee-Hive also sponsored Wes McNight's Meet the Hockey Stars on CFRB every Saturday evening before the Leafs game.

    Please don't change a thing. Your format is unique and has provided me with many hours of enjoyable reading.

  25. Hi Michael,

    Don't change anything. If people want a 100% positive spin on the Maple Leafs they can visit The mix of history and contemporary themes is what makes your blog stand out. As someone who only moved to Canada in 1994 I enjoy hearing about the Leafs when they were winning cups, but also that there were indeed darker days. I think most level headed fans understand that our team is far from perfect, I myself tune out when reading 100% positive schmaltz.

    I do believe that the Toronto media makes this a tough place to play and a tough team to cheer for. When you're up you're up. The media starts in on their gushing articles, and us fans have to listen to the "plan the parade" jokes as if its us that are writing the articles. When they're down you are in one of the worst places possible. Negative media articles are jumped on by everyone and pretty soon we start to hear how we are the problem as we buy the tickets and merchandise.

    They give us fans a bad name by linking every big name player available through free agency or trade with the Leafs. This makes non-Leaf fans believe that is is us that are actually thinking that our team might get a Suter or a Parise.

    If non-fans and fans alike spent more time reading blogs such as VLM they would understand that most Leaf fans, and the people who write on a fans perspective actually have a level opinion of the team.

  26. BlueandWhite. Thank you very much. My views, too, are absolutely influenced when I read the thoughtful posts from readers here. I appreciate not only the feedback on various posts but the fact that people take the time to present their thoughts in a manner which keeps my own passion for doing this at a high level.

  27. CGLN, I always appreciate your posts here, and today you well distinguish between journalism and public relations.

    For me, this is not quite journalism; it is a fan site, yes, but hopefully one that brings together perspectives from thoughtful hockey observers from all across Leafland- which covers a lot of countries and a lot of territory! It's nice that we can meet here, and chat. Thank for for your contributions, which I appreciate immensely.

  28. Sports is to war what masturbation is to sex. Or something.

    As such, people are always going to have what seems to be some intense opinions. I'm a Leafs fan from Upstate NY, I don't live in Toronto, but I find myself quite disgusted with how this team is covered in the media.

    Again, "in the media" -- by the "pros" who at least get paid for their opinions.

    I suppose all writers should accept that criticism happens, because it's really easy, but this is a hobby for you, and I just started reading this blog at the beginning of last season. I enjoy it, as I enjoy a number of Leafs blogs over the digital dreck I read in the Toronto Sun.

    I write, too, mostly on topics outside of hockey, but I've got a small collection on...Bleacher Report..., so I've certainly dealt with critics, too, but keep doing what you're doing. I'm not one to necessarily bash those who scrutinize, I think it keeps things healthy, but to flame someone who does this on their spare time is just too much.

    Internet bravado. So while I do agree with this guy, it's with noted exclusion for the Leafs' blogosphere, which, I have to say, is quite good. I've even got my father and brother, who are both die-hard Rangers fans, reading some.

    I like your writing for the historical perspective, not to make you sound old, haha. That's why I enjoy the Leafs so much. There's an establishment to the team that's ingrained in sports history, Canadian cultural heritage, and I get a sense of that from this blog. So, I have to say, keep it up. Take criticism for what it is -- someone who sees things just a bit differently.


  29. Thanks for that, Unknown. I appreciate it.

  30. That's a wonderful name from the past, Pete Cam- Wes McNight and CFRB, when it was the classiest station in Toronto. Those Bee-Hive photos were such a thrill to get, every time those old brown envelopes arrived from Port Credit in my old rural, small-town mailbox.

    Sincere thank you for your supportive comments, PeteCam. It means a lot, coming from someone who has also seen the Leafs through decades of good times and bad.

  31. Keep up the good Work Michael. I don't always agree with your assessments, but I appreciate your opinions and the work you do on this blog.

    "You can't please all the people all the time."

  32. To be honest, of all the Leafs blogs that I read daily, yours is the most positive and optimistic. When you're talking about a team whose last playoff appearance seems like a distant memory, you simply aren't being honest if you pretend like everything is roses.

    You strike me as an optimist by inclination but you seem to present all of your opinions honestly (whether they're positive or negative). Compromising on that doesn't further the discourse -- it stifles it.

    Keep doing what you're doing, Michael. You've got a fan in me.

  33. You've hit the nail on the head, Alex. When a young player arrives here, the media puffs them up, often unduly. But then things turn sometimes and it can indeed be very challenging in a market like this for a young athlete. Most need guidance and support to understand why fans (and the media) act and respond as they do- and some don't get that support.

    It's true, non-Leaf fans are amused that we Leaf fans are perceived as so Toronto-centric, as though every available player (in trade or free-agency) will end up here, etc. I guess we all contribute to that perception, to a point, but hopefully this site tries to go beyond that. As Leaf supporters, we need a lot of reality-checks, eh?

    Thanks for taking the time to chime in today, Alex. Much appreciated.

  34. Well said, Another Derek. I receive plenty of different (and dissenting!) views, and I always enjoy hearing those perspective. Helps me shape my own views. I just wondered if the comment I highlighted today represented a broader point of view that VLM was not positive enough.

    Interesting that you found a Leaf connection from upstate New York. There's no question that, while the franchise has not won in a few decades, there is a remarkable and proud history here. Glad you're part of it and it's great that you're writing for Bleacher Report. As competitive as things are, there is a lot of opportunity for young people with writing talent and ambition. I wish you success with your writing. Thanks for posting today.

  35. No problem with what you do. It's not like you get in players' faces or go around saying we need Ryan, we need Luongo, we need Schultz (which is exactly the Leaf plan for the last 30 years, get other teams' guys and hope [pray] it works, for once). Though isn't doing the same thing (building the team through trades and FA's) and expecting different results the definition of insanity?

    We haven't drafted any blue chippers since, well, Damphousse or maybe Jonsson. And somehow that's the scouts fault when our GM's have screwed around at the draft so much.

  36. Gerund O'...I absolutely agree, the posts here are what make this site, I hope, a worthwhile place to visit. You've been a big part of that, along with many others who contribute their unique thoughts and their passion. The Leafs are special, not necessarily for what they are now, but for what they have been- and what they meant. Thanks Gerund O'.

  37. Michael...agree to disagree is a very good way of saying it.

    I am reminded of an old saying though, that goes something like this

    "I may not defend what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

    Keep on writing what you are writing, it is good work and I enjoy reading it on a regular basis.

  38. Oooohhhh boy. lemme take a deep breath here to control my frustration. i work in a profession that involves a lot of miserable people (dentistry)... one of my few happy moments each day is taking a break from work to read a post you've written about my favorite team: the leafs. i love the articles that focus on players in leafs history i never got to see in action, and i often comment on articles you write discussing the state of affairs with the leafs today.

    VLM is a place where regular visitors (gerund, DP, b-craig, myself to a lesser degree) feel very comfortable leaving constructively critical thoughts, and you respond in turn. in fact, along with the articles, i LOVE reading the comments! it's a great atmosphere/feeling.

    that said, the interet is filled with 'trolls' who hide under pseudonyms or anonymity to voice their opinion (usually poorly constructed or with little to no merit). in this case, the anonymous writer believes in his cultural-marxist world, that people should not question, complain or criticize, and perhaps even be censored, so to appease the nhl 'elite'... the fact that the poster is leaving his comment anonymously does not help his cause (as he ironically feels quite comfortable criticizing and complaining!).

    i am in favor of absolute freedom of speech (in other words, i don't even believe in 'hate-speech' and other politically-correct nonsense which just serves to control people), so to me, everyone has the right to give their opinion. it's up to the readers to determine whether the comment/opinion is worthy of praise/respect, or if it should be dismissed/ignored (an 'anonymous' post does not lend ANY credence to the person's argument/comment).

    keep up the great work michael! keep the articles flowing, and just remember that anyone too cowardly to stand behind their comment by posting it anonymously, doesn't really deserve to be given any thought/time/consideration.

  39. Pete Davies- that's a wonderful memory. Thanks for sharing. The fact that your son now wears 27 has to mean a lot to you. It's funny how we have these connections with sport, with particular teams. Fathers and sons. It's special stuff.

    As you know, 27 was a big number in Leaf history even before Sittler. Frank Mahovlich was the guy when I was a kid growing up in the late 1950s and early '60s. Then Sittler picked up the torch, and led the Leafs through some pretty good years, too. I'm glad you've enjoy the commentary on the site, Pete. Good to be connected.

  40. I'll add my voice to those who feel VLM is a wonderful site that reminds us of the past of this historic organization, celebrates its triumphs but isn't afraid to recognize that there have been, and will continue to be, some serious issues with getting the franchise back to where we all think it should be.

    I am no psychologist. Certainly I never bought into the idea that being critical means you are not a 'true fan'. Perhaps with the proliferation of blogs and twitter and the like, it's more visible. I think I saw so much of it during the playoffs, where some felt that saying you liked this or that team to go all the way got you painted as a bandwagon fan with no allegiance to the Leafs. I think the same applies here... it's frustration, being fed up with a lack of results and then somehow linking the franchise's shortcomings to being caused by fans or media who don't support them enough.

    I do believe there is a bias in the MSM to focus on the negative. I used to hate Howard Berger on the Fan – everything seemed to have 'sad-sack' and 'hapless' as a theme (though admittedly I find him much more positive now). Strachan, Cox, Simmons also seem to tend to the negative in their writing. I sometimes think it's a desire to set themselves apart from the old ink-stained wretches who seemed to be Ballard's pals... I'm no Dick Beddoes type of thing. Funny enough, while I don't agree with Cox many times, I've have the opportunity to tweet back and forth to him a couple times, and I come to realize he's not such a bad guy as I thought.

    I don't believe you to be thin-skinned at all. As we criticize the Leafs here, sometimes we also will be criticized. I note one comment above kind of slammed thehockeywriters, a site I do some writing for. It stings a bit, I hope the person who posted it will give the site another chance, or even better, let me know what he thinks can be done to make it better. But, it all comes with the territory right...

    Sorry for the long post Michael. I guess I could have summed it up with a "you're doing a bang-up job" but that didn't seem like me lol

  41. Good to hear from you, Shift__Disturber- thanks!

  42. Michael,

    I haven't been reading your site as long as some others but you definitely provide a lot better feedback than a lot of other places, in a very respectable manner. I think I do tend to agree with the posters that posted the "media drivel" bit but that only goes as far as places like TSN, Sportsnet,the Star, Sun, and perhaps Facebook groups, Bleacher Report and HFBoards. There are very few places I actually do enjoy discussing the Leafs and that is here on your site, MapleLeafsHotStove and PPP. Out of the above places, I'd say you generally provide the most balanced and sensible articles out there. On top of that, we have a sense of respect. Some that tends to be missing in many places *cough Facebook groups, cough*, and I've been forced to leave on my account cause I couldn't stand the constant negativity towards each other and the TML team in general. I think Leafs fans have become so deprived now with everything that it makes a lot of ppl upset and causes them to lash out at others. Keep doing what you're doing Mike. It's been a pleasure so far :)

  43. Johnerstonrex- thanks for that. Part of the fun is that we won't always agree! But we can disagree respectfully, which I appreciate about the vast majority of posters on this site. And you're right, we can't please everyone all the time, for sure.

  44. That is good to hear, Curt S. I'm with you, if we can't really write (as long as it it not personal or unfairly harsh) what we observe and as a result what we believe, then there isn't much point. Thank you for posting today.

  45. Well said, Susan. I remember when we drafted Kenny Jonsson. Long time ago, now!

    Part of the fan base's job is not only to support the team but, in a sense, hold management and ownership accountable. Thanks for posting.

  46. Robert...that's perfect. Thank you. And thank you for visiting the site.

  47. Michael, please do not change what you are doing. This is the only site that I visit on a daily basis, your posts are always well thought out. There is a maturity to your page that is very refreshing. I don't always comment but I always read and enjoy. Keep up the great work!

  48. Alex know I appreciate your semi-regular posts here, and always not only enjoy but look forward to hearing your thoughts. And you mention a few of the other individuals who help to make the VLM site, I hope, a place that people can feel comfortable coming to, stopping by, and not only reading but commenting, if they are so inclined.

    Thanks for sharing today. I appreciate your support very much, Alex.

  49. Don't change anything. This is the best Leafs commentary site on the internet.

  50. You make nothing but good points today, as usual, Mark. I think it's true that longstanding frustration leads to people saying things about one another, etc. I see that on Twitter sometimes, Leaf fans kind of turning on one another and it's a shame. (Natural, I guess, but a shame.)

    The old argument forever exists: if a writer "criticizes" the team in some fashion, they're not a true or "loyal" fan. I guess for me there is a difference between being a fan and pretending I don't see what's in front of me.

    As for true journalists, paid to write about sports, for example, we sometimes forget their job is not public relations, or to simply write glowingly about a particular team. Some probably do cross a line, but again, they are usually trying to, as you say, set themselves apart.

    As for criticism, yes, we all experience it, and we are fair game whenever we put our name and views out there. That's as it should be. As for other sites, I think all sites have some fine writers, including thehockeywriters. I don't think any one site has all the top writers, or any one site should just be dismissed. There is some solid analysis and good writing in all kinds of places. Young writers (older guys like myself, even!), mainstream and non-mainstream. We need it all to keep things vibrant.

    Great stuff. Thanks Mark.

  51. That's very kind and much appreciated, BlueSasquatch.

    I think we'd all be bored if sites were all glowing or constantly negative. Thoughtful back and forth discussion is engaging and makes visiting sites worthwhile. Thanks again.

  52. cbh747....Good to hear from you today. I always look forward to your comments here, and am glad that this is a site you tend to visit. Wonderful to be connected and thank you for the kind words.

  53. That's high praise, Robert. (Awfully nice to hear, I admit!) Thank you.

  54. Michael

    Thanks for reply.

    The balcony of the Detroit Olympia was a special place amongst the rabid Detroit auto factory workers to watch Gordie Howe dominate a hockey game . Very different from the stodgy Maple Leaf Gardens populated by Corporate ticket holders. I assume Wrigley Field must be similar.

    The owner of Hamilton Red Wings was Ken Sobel, who owned CHCH, Channel 11. His daughter, Joan was a classmate at Westdale Secondary School. His channel showed all home games. Old Barton Street arena was "concussion alley" through the combination of Steel girders with padding? along boards to hold up roof and Howie Young lining up the opposition's number one player for a resounding hit and a call for a stretcher.

    I don't see why you would want a forum. Probably would drop quality of writing, commentary. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

  55. Two points:

    First, I can sympathize with your Anonymous Unhappy Commenter, Michael. It's an indisputable fact that Leafs fans, pundits, and reporters can be...let's say...a jumpy bunch of folks. Do we overanalyze? Absolutely. Is it frustrating that we make mountains out of molehills? Sure it is. Do we praise calmness even while we frantically refresh Twitter for the latest trade rumours? Definitely. Just as Atlanta couldn't give a toss for the Thrashers, so too do Leafs fans eat, drink, and breathe Leafs talk.

    Second, I think your Commenter is WAY off the mark in lumping VLM in with the hysteria that exists elsewhere online and in the 24-hour news.

    I think the content here is thoughtful and well-written, and the comments are some of the best of any Leafs blog I've seen. Folks here take the conversation seriously and act maturely.

    So I say keep up the good work, Michael! Don't change a thing. The mix of Leafs history is invaluable, and I suspect the ongoing discussions about the current state of the Leafs will be JUST as invaluable to future generations of fans. VLM, to me, is a kind of living scrapbook of the team. A great job carving out a much-needed niche.

  56. Howie Young? What a great old name, RLMcC. (I think I posted a bit about Howie a while back. I remember him as a talented guy, but a fighter and someone who seemed to be dealing with issues throughout his career...)

    Thanks for reminding me about the name of the owner of the old Junior Red Wings. I do remember that, even when I first moved to Toronto as a University student in 1972, CHCH was still showing Junior games on Thursday nights, I believe.

    You're so right about the fans in Detroit compared with MLG. So staid in Toronto. In those old U.S. arenas (I was only in the Olympia, but I gather Boston, Chicago were the same) there were, as you mentioned, those great balconies. Fans would hang over and yell at opposing players and those players could hear every word. In Toronto the seats were great for viewing, but were built sort of up and away, if you know what I mean- no over-hangs!

    I have to think on the forum idea. Thanks again, RLMcC.

  57. Michael,
    I can rarely comment on your articles because I don't know enough to contribute but I can say something today... I have learned much about the Leafs and about hockey from reading your work on this site. I also enjoy reading the comments of others to see the different perspectives. Please continue your work here and keep asking the questions people are interested in and want to debate. I have learned the fans in Leaf nation will never agree on most things but it is interesting to see them trying to defend their views. You give people a place to do just that. I also like to read about what your opinion is because you obviously know the ins and outs better than most and you bring up issues I would have never thought about. I also enjoy reading about all the people/events/facts from the past that I might never learn about anywhere else. Thanks for your work and this site.

  58. I nodded along with every word of your opening paragraph, SteveW. You captured it perfectly. I do understand why the poster I mentioned today, and many others who feel similarly, get frustrated- for exactly the reasons (and likely others as well) that you cite.

    But my response today in asking the question was in part to determine if there was a broader perception that VLM was part of that, as you put it, "hysteria". Because, I've aimed for this site not to fall into that category.

    Thanks very much for the re-assuring and supportive comments, Steve. I hope people will keep visiting because the comments here are, for me, the difference-maker.

  59. Merreee1....Thank you for the very kind words, Mary. You're absolutely right, there will always be differing views and that's more than fine. That's as it should be.

    Today's response from those who make this site special for me is why VLM has, I hope, carved out a small niche. That's good enough for me.

  60. Don't change a damn thing Michael. We can't afford to lose people who have a long view perspective of Leafs history. I just hope we're around when they do win the next one ;)

  61. Thanks for that shot in the arm, Hogie. I always look forward to your contributions here....

  62. You shouldn't let the negative comments affect you, or make you change.

    I enjoy reading your posts. Sometimes I agree with you, and other times I don't.

    If a reader has nothing better to do than slag you that says a heck of a lot more about them than it does about you.

  63. Wow, I think anonymous needs to lay off the coffee.

    Michael, I started coming to your site just over a year ago and I was hooked because of your BALANCED, well thought out comments. You construct an argument like a novel and from my perspective, it always comes across as a good read – regardless if I agree with you or not.

    Another reason why I visit this site on a daily basis is your readership base; so many of your regulars have fantastic insight; are RESPECTFUL where someone can disagree with the argument and not be called some kinda name. I gave up on following the large (media) web sites because of the immaturity of the comments. In a DEMORCACY everyone has a right to their voice – it’s how you present that opinion that counts - and Michael the reason your site has been a hit for 3 years is your presentation. Please don’t go changing.

    I like to follow your site because of your analysis of today’s team – but like you, I’ve kept the autographed photo and letter that Jacques Plante sent me as a kid when he was with the Leafs. It also brings back good memories.

    Keep up the great read!

  64. Jacques Plante! It's amazing, David, how many players in those "olden days" took the time to sit down and write out personal notes to fans themselves- they didn't have someone else sign for them. Jean Beliveau wrote my Dad a personal note back in the late 1960s- and I know he did the same for tens of thousands of other people.

    Thanks for your comments, David. It's great to hear from you.

  65. Michael, Sorry to be late to the party today. Golf day! I just finished reading your post and the comments of all your supporters. I can only add a heartfelt "keep up the good work".
    VLM is my favorite Leaf site by far. I too am of the "Olympia" vintage as I grew up in Windsor and attended many games there and I still have my collection of Bee Hive photos.
    Don't change a thing!

  66. For those that don't know, Ed is a Leaf fan who has memories from the '50s that pre-date mine! (I was able to pick up the game as a youngster in a household of Hab fans around 1958...Ed goes back even further.) I always appreciate Ed's dropping by here!

    Thanks Ed...

  67. Michael I've been reading VLM for a while and truly enjoy your take on the state of the nation with the Leafs present and your reminiscences of Leafs past. I've never posted a comment on one your articles before, but I felt compelled to this time. Don't change VLM. You offer a take on the Leafs that is difficult to find elsewhere. You also offer a respectful place for a thoughtful interaction and discussion of whatever topic you have written about. Keep up the good work.

  68. Thanks very much Aaron O. I hope you'll find the time to post again down the road....

  69. Hi Michael,

    Let me join the chorus: disregard such baseless criticism & carry on! Haters, as they say, gonna hate. Contrary to what the commenter said, here is no reason that a reasoned, free-thinking blogger like yourself can affect the fortunes of a hockey team just by writing what you think.

    I find VLM to be a refreshing perspective &, as a youngish Aussie, an invaluable insight into the history of this team I have grown to love over the past 10 years. Keep it up!

  70. One of the amazing things about the Leafs is that they have fans from so many different places. It's great to see- and thanks, Peregrine, for taking the time to drop by and post today.

  71. I will concur with the those who already have commented. Do not change a thing. I am unsure of why Anonymous (the original Anonymous, that is) seems adamant that this site is clumped in with the overall limelight of the media. Unlike the media, this blog certainly offers a refreshing, intelligent, objective view. I also do not understand how Anonymous manages to conclude this blog - or any blog, has a profoundly negative impact on the play of the team. If players don't like it, I'm sure they won't read it.

    That said: do keep up with the overall focus on this site - the history. As a 20 year old, I haven't exactly been around to experience much of many years the Leafs have been in existence. It's always great to read about how things used to be and how the game has evolved over the years.


  72. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, RJ. And it's good to hear from a "younger" generation Leaf fan. The legacy is in good hands...

  73. Well I couldn't let you finish with an Aussie now, could I.

    I drop in now and then as you know Michael, having loved the Leafs since a 3-year stint living in Canada. I come back for all the reasons already highlighted above and far more eloquently than I probably could.

    Truck on, old chum, it's always a pleasure.

  74. U.S.-Canada, Australia-New Zealand- aren't friendly rivalries wonderful, KiwiLeaf!

    Thanks for dropping by- I look forward to your next post...

  75. Don't change a thing, I just started following the blog and enjoy the articles. It is also one of the few places where I actually read the comments. I'm impressed that you take the time to respond to the comments with a little more insight.

  76. Thanks for that, Doug. The conversation with the readers who post thoughtfully here make this a great experience for me. I hope you'll visit again.

  77. Steady as you go, Michael! This blog is a beacon of objectivity and professionalism, and a forum for intelligent exchanges of ideas. It also shows a measure of writing accumen sadly missing from even the most informative and insightful of Leafs (and hockey in general) blogs and fora. To say that I thoroughly enjoy it is an understatement, but more objectively putting my tastes aside, it is a much needed alternative to the other non-mainstream outlets, both In format and quality

  78. Thanks for stopping by, Gnashings. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  79. As the saying goes, I liked you from the start. I am a bit late in posting this, but I want you to know how much I look forward to reading your wonderful writing. I would never consider myself an expert, or as up to speed as most of your readers are, but I do know about spirit and I know it when I see it. You have the heart of a true Leaf. Keep going.

  80. Thank you so much for the kind words, Elizabeth. I am especially touched, coming as they do from you- a member of the Smythe family, where the Leaf legacy all began decades ago. Thank you.

  81. Michael, been a while since I've posted--been a bit lax at it but try to read your GREAT insights and unique topics. So after reading this post, I had to stop by and say a resounding NO, you and VLM are not missing the mark. You provide a great perspective for a diverse fan base. Appreciation for the 'glory days' but at the same time, keeping it real for the current climate. And no harm in holding the management accountable, as you do, but do rather fairly, I think. We have all had disagreements here, but again, it's great because they're respectful.

    Keep up the great work. I will keep reading and as much as I can, will keep participating.


  82. Thanks very much Caedmon. I had indeed noticed you had not been by for a while (at least to post!) and I'm glad to connect again. Take care.

  83. I miss being able to discuss the Leafs with a knowledgable fan or 2 over a beer at my local watering hole. As I write this I'm sitting in a pub in Kyalami, South Africa reading your blog and wishing I had someone to chat hockey with. Thanks, Michael. I don't know what I'd do without you!
    Mike Stroud, Johannesburg, South Africa.

  84. I wish I was with you at that pub, Mike! We'd have lots to talk about when it comes to the Leafs. Stay well, and stay in touch....