My name is James Tanner and you might know me from such films as Todd Gill Comes to Town and Stop or Jamie Macoun Will Shoot. Also, perhaps from Hockeybuzz where I cover the Coyotes as a secret fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Which brings me here to my new gig as a blogger/editor on Editor in Leaf. I will be covering the Leafs and giving my opinion and analysis on whatever comes up relating to the Leafs.
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Also music. Lots and lots of music.
I figure the best way to begin here, in this introductory post, is just to take stock and acknowledge that it’s actually fun to be a Leafs fan, for once.
Being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs has often felt like an affliction instead of what it is – something to be interested in, for fun, to help you get through life without thinking of serious things all the time.
If you’re reading this, you don’t need a recap of why.
Two good years with Gilmour, Three or Four with Sundin and Quinn, maybe one or two with Kessel and Phaneuf (If we’re generous). I’m 34. I probably became a fan when I was four, so that’s about 26 years when being a fan of this team was not really all that fun – which is about the nicest way you could put it.
That being said, if you care about hockey enough to get mad about it, you’re probably doing all right. Plus, being a perennial sad-sack makes winning that much more special.
For an example, I can’t really get into International Hockey anymore – Canada is just too good, and it isn’t fun to cheer for a team that has to get horribly unlucky just to have a chance to lose. The Leafs though, when they win, if they win…..hell, if they even do something as an organization that isn’t a complete disaster, it feels great – because you are conditioned for failure.
That’s what makes this team, at this time, so great. In the past, if the Leafs had even one rookie like Connor Brown or Connor Carrick (side note: people who had babies in the mid-to-late 90s went a little nuts with the ‘Connors’) I would have been crazy-excited. Hell, I remember being excited that we had two prospects as good as Kent Manderville and Dmitri Mironov.
Not to mention Jeff Ware, Lanny Bohonos or Kenny Jonnson.
Today, we’re spoiled. Brown and Carrick – both awesome – are afterthoughts on a team that can’t even find room for NHL ready AHL Allstars Brendan Leipsic and Kasperi Kapanen. We’ve got Nylander, Marner……….and Auston Matthews.
It is insane. It’s the complete opposite of what the Leafs are supposed to have. I mean, I half-expect the NHL to call a do-over on last year’s draft, just because the Leafs aren’t supposed to get their own Lemieux or Lindros.
I can’t ever get bored of that. That’s the best play I’ve seen in the NHL this year, maybe one of the best ever. I can watch that play a million times.
To have a player on the team who can do that is something the Leafs have never had. Sundin was good. Gilmour was good. Kessel was good.
Matthews is better.
I can’t speak knowledgeably on any pre-Gary Leeman Leafs players but I don’t ever hear anyone putting Syl Apps, Frank Mahovlich or Dave Keon into the conversation about Lemieux, Gretzky, Orr and Crosby…..and I am confident that there is at least the chance that we’ll be putting Matthews into that conversation sooner or later. (Probably sooner, given the tendency of us Leafs fans to act calmly and avoid hyperbole).
Time to Celebrate
Basically, what I’m trying to say here, as the team continues it’s remarkable December/January streak of at-least-getting-a-point, and as they approach a playoff race, and face-off for the first meaningful Saturday Night game against the Canadiens in recent memory, is that it’s the best time to be a Leafs Fan in the 100 year history of the NHL (I’ll assume; can’t really account for 70 of those years, but cut me some slack!).
We’ve got great players, great prospects, the best coach, the scariest GM….win, or lose, it’s a great time to cheer this team.
And the best part – other than Auston Matthews – is that it finally feels like we’re being paid back for being loyal to a team who couldn’t ever get it together despite being the richest, most popular, most powerful team in the sport.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to this new gig and hopefully we have some fun.