Editor's Note: What happens when you take Working Class Howard's idiotic ramblings to the extreme? What about when you are reminded of his previous stances on issues? Well, whatever you get, it comes out pretty funny in this fanpost.
TORONTO (Jan. 7) – To my astonishment, fans that routinely and unconditionally fill the Air Canada Centre for Maple Leaf games haven’t been quite as sheep-like so far this season. Oh, they’ll show up to capacity in any situation, children in hospital or not, but such is the nature of the Blue & White – widely unanticipated by my insight light analysis – has made for a lively audience most nights, even when the video-board above centre-ice isn’t imploring the denizens to “make noise”. Yes, it is only in this overly hockey crazed city that we find such sheep like fans drawn to lively entertainment while, I should repeat, children are dying in hospitals.
The crowd for last night’s game against Florida, however, was a throwback in every sense of the word. The sheep from previous years, who still haven’t given up on this team after 41 years and continue to cheer for the home team, were in evidence all through the arena. It was considered fashionable to boo Bryan McCabe on his return to the ACC; after all, what former Leaf defensemen played his way to 5th on the depth charts with an albatross of a contract, refused to waive his NMC and suggested he’ll get booed on Monday. So, without fail, this collection of banality [I used a thesaurus to find this word] followed through and jeered a player that largely contributed to seasons in which the Leafs compiled 103, 100 and 98 points, seasons that I’ve always said truly mattered. It should also be noted however, that those seasons were still absolute failures, much like everything the team does, so why is it that these sheepish fans don’t applaud him is beyond me. Of course, there wasn’t a chirp of discontent aimed at the lazy, unmotivated, over performing members of the current team while Florida effortlessly recorded the game’s first 11 shots on goal. Not until the buzzer sounded to end the second period – with the Panthers easily in front, 3-0 – did the flock briefly turn its attention away from McCabe and towards the lethargic heroes in blue and boo their favourite team for their inability to be half decent night in and night out without any top talent to help.
What made this crowd particularly sheep-like was the reaction at 6:02 of the first period, when the Leafs – showing a great deal of class for a franchise that for the past 41 years has worn nothing but Velcro gloves and a Sherwood behind these sheep [take a moment with that one] – flashed a picture of McCabe in a Toronto uniform on the video-board, accompanied by the message “Thank-you Bryan”. Believe it or not, the same intellects that were booing McCabe seconds earlier actually let out a brief cheer… then went back to booing the next time he touched the puck. Its almost as if these fans were only trying to get under his skin, and boo him as a player rather than boo him as a person between plays.
Of course, nothing about this should come as a surprise. For as long as anyone can remember, fans that attend Leaf games react only when they are told to do something. Audio-visual stimulus is required at all times. No, these fans won’t site in an empty white room and cheer and boo arbitrarily like Sens fans. With the home side down, 2-0, and being out-shot 16-7, the image of Jason Blake suddenly appeared on the video-board with 41.6 seconds remaining in last night’s opening period. Summoning as much fervor as Blake is capable of, the veteran forward blurted out, “C’mon Leaf fans, get loud!!” Instantly, and on cue, there was about six seconds of forced enthusiasm, followed by more moments of weary silence as the Leafs went through the motions down below.
One can only dread the circumstances if the video-board operators were cruel by nature. Imagine what would happen if the board suddenly flashed an instruction for fans to “strip naked and deep throat your neighbour”. No less than 10,000 people would instantly be knee deep in ACC floor scum. A command to “donkey punch the person directly in front of you” would likely result in law-suits too numerous to mention. And, heaven knows the carnage that would follow an order to “stop reading Berger’s blogs until the Leafs win the Cup.”
The ACC flock is now loading up on originality for Mats Sundin’s return to the city with Vancouver on February 21st. Already, the lucky ticket-holders are practicing their cat-calls for a man that “didn’t do anything to help the Leafs at the trade deadline last season”.
That’s what happens among hockey’s “most knowledgeable fans” [as accused by a beat reporter who refers to sheep in flocks, not herds]… if your name isn’t Dougie or Wendel, who rode gracefully into the night when their time came, instead of denying us Grabovski, Higgins and a first rounder for the chance to miss the playoffs on a sinking ship.