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Leaf fans: comfort in numbers

Just the other day I was thinking about the Leafs and their fans. We all come from different backgrounds, some old, some young. Whether 10 or 90, Leaf fans are everywhere. Lots live in and around Toronto, of course. But you’ll find plenty of Leaf supporters in Quebec, in the Maritimes, in Newfoundland. And you’ll certainly find a ton of them out west to this day, despite the presence of the Oilers, Flames and Canucks (and the Jets for a few years).

Raised, as I was, in rural Essex County in southwestern Ontario, there were generally three teams that people supported: the Habs, the Leafs and the Red Wings, who were just across the border.

But the Leafs were my team.

We don’t always agree on what the team has done right or wrong over the years, or what Burke should do now, but that’s the fun, in part, of being a fan of a particular team. Back in the ‘70’s, for example, I was a Lanny McDonald guy. Others loved Darryl Sittler or Mike Palmateer.

But we were all Maple Leaf fans and at the end of the day, and we wanted the team to win. We’d get frustrated when Jim McKenny gave the puck away (again), but absolutely loved it when he occasionally did something not many guys could do, at a key moment—like his playoff goal in Game 6 against the Rangers in ’71 or his “floating breakaway” goal against the Bruins in the ’72 playoffs.

It’s no different, I guess, today. Leaf fans love to poke fun at the team (it’s so easy) and themselves, though that can get tiring. But just like a real family, if someone else takes a shot, that’s generally a different story. We will stand up for our team, because deep down we’re not Hab fans or Red Wing supporters, we’re still Leaf fans.

We live in hope—and believe—that some day soon, things will get better. In fact, I think they’re getting better as we speak. But better enough to warrant dreaming about a Cup?

Well, we can always dream. No harm in that. But while we want to tell Virginia there is a Santa Claus, we also know he’s not coming for a while, yet.

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