Editor's Note: Here is another installment in our quest to find a third contributor to the site. Please e-mail us your frank feedback even if you hate something. It'll help us come to our decision and since you folks have to read what the newcomer writes it behooves you to help. However, you do not get to benefit from their coffee runs.
We've passed the half way point in a very long season. We fans were promised by Ron and the gang that come December, we'd know what kind of team we had. As December is now in the rear-view mirror, I've had some time to assess our team. Our real team. The one our coach was preaching patience for. I've come to one conclusion.
I don't like the team we have.
Actually, that's too strong a statement, I "nothing" the team we have. I've searched the roster for a player of such overwhelmingly redeeming hockey qualities, that his mere existence helps pass the time, a circa 2008-2009 Wendel Clark.
As good as some guys have been, none of them have been Wendel-esque. I know all about OLAS, and the steal Grabovski appears to be, but neither of these flickers of hope have burst, supernova style, into a bright light. Not yet at least.
Holdovers like Kabby and Kubina have been either maddeningly inconsistent, embarrassingly ineffective or some undesirable combination of the two. Our new players like Mayers, May and Hollweg have been as advertised. Which is to say, nothing special.
Let's not even talk about goaltending. Seriously. It's non-existent. There's nothing to talk about.
That's not to say, all is bad. New winger Niklas Hagman found some magic with Grabovski and Kulemin. However, injuries, suspensions and inconsistency have befallen these three at one point or another.
So, why watch?
I ask myself this question just about every game lately. Maybe you do to. Maybe you sit in your usual game watching spot and find yourself wondering, why? Why do you, an upwardly mobile, achingly handsome/beautiful man/woman continue to subject yourself to such piss poor hockey facades?
For some, it's the hope. The promise of better tomorrows keeps them safely planted in their seats. When our beloved Buds finally turn the corner, they want to bare witness to the moment. They want to tell their children's children that he/she was there. They stuck with this team through thick and thin. When our team finally tastes the grandest victory from Lord Stanley's beer stein, they will be able to appreciate the moment in such a manner no Ottawa Senator's fan could ever comprehend.
For others, they continue to watch out of habit. Be that a generational proclivity, passed down through eons of Leaf fans, or for lack of nothing better to do (as a side note, should that be the case, I take back my previous "upwardly mobile" comments.)
There are even more fans who watch for the camaraderie that can only be found in the fandom of certain teams. I don't write this to imply other team's fanbases are lesser than that of the Leafs (they are, no implying necessary) but to say that being a Leaf fan is a unique experience. Only the Canadiens approach the level of scrutiny and devotion the Maple Leafs are subject to.
It is in that melting pot of adoration, we find our sameness. It is there, that I find my reason for cheering, night after night.
In this most hopeless of seasons, I've found reasons to be joyful. Reasons like this blog and it's (rapidly becoming notorious) game day threads, among a whole host of other equally entertaining, thought provoking and well informed Leaf centric blogs (aka "the Barilkosphere.")
Though this season is a complete write off statistically, as a fan, it has been a beacon of hope and a boon of good times and nonsensical catch phrases. It's fitting then that, although my "assignment" was to write about some thing Leaf-centric, it ends up being about you: the fans.
The reason I enjoy watching this team is because of it's fans. Not the numerous All -Stars on it's roster (a generous count of one) or the championships (an actual count of zero in my lifetime) but that certain Je ne sais quoi that connects us.
So, although half of me is apathetic towards this team, thanks to you, the fans, the other half just doesn't care.