It will come as a shock to pretty much no one, but a lot of people in Western Canada hate Toronto, and, in particular, hate the Leafs.
Me, I was born and raised in Toronto. I left after high school and ended up only a few hours down the 401 at Queen's. It was pretty easy to be a Leafs fan at Queen's; sure, you've got a pretty even mix of Habs, Sens, and Leafs fans there, more often than not we were classified as in the Ottawa region and stuck with Sens games, and Cogeco refused to let me have LeafsTV in my apartment, but still. Leafs information was easy to come by. Then, it happened.
I moved to Edmonton so that I could do my MA. I've been here just over two years now. And in those two years, I've heard more comments about my Leafs fandom than I can even count. I get it from my supervisor. From my students. People who see me wearing a Leafs hat, or the license plate on my car. We had to do an observational study in one of my methods classes - I did mine on reactions to me wearing a Leafs jersey in Edmonton. During that time, I got booed by a child while waiting for the bus, booed in a Boston Pizza, booed in the Student Union Building...let's just say there was a lot of booing. One guy did, however, congratulate me on having at least partially decent taste, since the jersey I chose to sport was a CuJo from back in the day (everything old is new again!)
The guy who sharpens my skates hates my Leafs hat and makes fun of it every time I come in (I make fun of a mannequin in his front window every time I come in, so I figure it at least evens the score a little bit). I reminded him when I was in on Monday that Thursday was a big day. He bet me $2 on the game.
The game. The game I've been waiting for all season.
Last year, the Leafs came to town in the pre-season. It's testament to how much I miss the team that I was willing to pay for pre-season "action". I wasn't the only one. As I looked left and right, up and down from me, it wasn't hard to pick out a whole lot of Leafs jerseys in between the copper and gold.
Tomorrow is the one day of the season where all of us Leafs fans trapped in Edmonton come out of the woodwork. I've got the jersey ready, the hat, the flag. My roommate is wearing a Marlies jersey. I've got my tickets in hand. I am counting down the hours.
If there is one game this year I want to see won, it's this one. This game is my ticket to gloating. People can 1967 me to death every other day of the year; I just want one.
Although, realistically, win or lose - I'm hoping for a 2008 Leafs kind of game. The kind I've been watching on TV, spamming about with you guys here. Something fast, something crazy. Something I wouldn't expect. I'd be happy with that.
A win though...I'd be even happier with that.
Well that, and some Frogurt.
And maybe a fist pump, just for good luck.