Shhh—don’t tell anybody, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the playoffs after 13 seasons of Leaf players cashing in on discount early-bird green fees.
Granted, they face what is arguably the best team in the league, so the euphoria could be short-lived. But either way, the Leafs will see the post season for the first time since May 4, 2004 at the Air Canada Centre which ended in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game No. 6 of the second round. Mats Sundin scored the last Leaf playoff goal with Pat Quinn behind the bench. And as far as actually winning the Stanley Cup, it has been a 46-year Cup drought. Cree, George “The Chief” Armstrong from Skead, Ontario, was captain that year.
The fact is, no one has ever tweeted about a Leafs playoff game. There was no such thing the last time they were there. In fact, the smart-phone was still three years from development.
For us longsuffering Leaf fans, even a first round appearance is like a drink of cold water after wandering in the desert for ‘oh so long’.
But here we are, April, 2017, and the Leafs have secured a playoff spot. That is worth a case of Canadian and few pounds of wings at least four times this spring.
How pathetic us ‘be-leafers’ are when playing in the post season is as exciting as it is. If “we” can survive Game No. 1 and maybe Game No. 2 without embarrassment against the Capitals, the faith level of most of us diehards will be pumping at the level of the resurrection of Lazarus.
This is good for the psyche of the entire nation, giving us something to hope for without fearing the antics of our southern neighbours will some somehow drag us into that whole mess.
Washington has a Russian captain. That is kind of ironic in itself these days, but that is the nature of sports. It is more than man against man or woman against woman. Even that isn’t a sure thing either; it’s country against country. Not for oil or territory or political will, it’s all about being the best at that single thing at that given moment.
As years of disappointing season after disappointing season, the expectations of the ticket buying audience begin to erode into hope, then into acceptance of a grossly priced ticket for a substandard product, and then finally into a kind of daze when the appearance of the blue and white uniform itself has the affect of a strong hallucination, causing those infected to believe that it is 1967 all over again and the Leafs are going to win the Cup.
Usually, I stop watching hockey about this time of year, but this playoff season, I have a plan “B” thanks to Brandon Montour and the Anaheim Ducks. Go Ducks Go!