Whatever triggers our interest may happen later for some, but the bottom line is, for all of us, at some point, something happens that makes us fall in love with hockey—and with a particular team. It may have been sitting with your Dad on a Saturday night watching the Maple Leafs until it hit you that, hey, I like the Leafs, too. Maybe you developed a fondness for a particular player because of the way they looked, the number they wore, or something they did that caught you eye and made you watch a bit more closely.
So as many of us long for a return to the good, old NHL hockey that we love and appreciate, what I’m wondering today is: when did Toronto Maple Leaf hockey click in for you? Was there a play, a game, a particular moment where and when you realized that you were hooked, that hockey was something you really wanted to follow—and that the Leafs were your team?
Some of you who have followed VLM for a while will know it happened for me back around 1958. I was driven to cheer against the team my Dad and two older brothers rooted rabidly for—the hated (to me) Montreal Canadiens. Meanwhile I fell for the Leafs, and Eddie Chadwick, Dickie Duff, Marc Reaume (right, a young player who lived in the small southwestern Ontario town right next to me when I was a kid in the 1950s), Frank Mahovlich and others who were part of that late ‘50s Leaf squad that took shape so nicely—and went on, ultimately, to win those three Cups in a row in the early 1960s under legendary coach Punch Imlach.
Yes, times have changed since the Maple Leaf ‘60s “hey-day”. We've had some good years since, but no championship to hang our hat on.
Regardless, we’re all still here, still supporting the blue and white for a reason. We love hockey, we follow the Leafs with a certain level of passion and/or desperation/hope/belief—whatever word most closely describes our own rooting interest.
But it would be fun to hear exactly what is your earliest Toronto Maple Leaf memory. Whether it was actually going to a game, reading a particular hockey magazine or newspaper article, watching a game on television, getting a Leaf jersey as a present or listening to an old transistor radio under your pillow to follow a Leaf game in the “good old days”, everyone started on this bandwagon somehow.
This site usually gets hundreds of (sometimes more) visits every day. I know not everyone who stops by will be able to leave a comment, but I’d like to hear from as many of you as possible.
Thinking happy thoughts can only be a good thing as we wait for NHL hockey to return at some point.
I look forward to your memories...