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.
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…