Here is my entry into the contest.
It was tough narrowing it down to just five. I really want one of those t-shirts.
V: EA Sports' NHL Series:
Ever since my oh-so-generous parents bought me a Sega Genesis I have been addicted to EA Sports' NHL games. (Let's forget the unpleasantness that was Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey.) I remember playing hours and hours of NHL 94, I can still hear the organ music in my head now. Since then I have been addicted. My heyday came in the early 2000s when Owen Nolan graced the cover of NHL 2001. I had an N64, so I was forced to play on my computer, the graphics were terrible but I loved it. I have been late to every video console, I currently own a game-cube. That has not stopped me from playing. I have spent hours with my buddy, former roommate, and fellow PPP member Fleet Fox (all the same guy) updating the Rosters on both NHL 05 and NHL 06. We have created every player on the Leafs team over the last three years and made the appropriate roster moves throughout the league. It was a treat finding Wallin and Shoestrings had already been made for us. All in all we've been able to mirror the current league fairly well, it has been time well spent. I plan on buying a PS3 as a graduation present to myself, so this summer I will be able to renew my love with the series once again.
IV: Witnessing History:
I think that it's safe to say that we all have at least one "Where you were when moments?"
For some moments the connection is to global events, something like 9/11. In Canada hockey provides the opportunity for that type of moment. Some are shared only by a team's particular fan base like when Gary Roberts scored in triple overtime to beat the Senators or when Sundin scored to send the game to overtime against the Hurricanes are two that come immediately to my mind. Others are shared by a nation, watching Joe Sackic win Gold in 2002, and most recently Crosby scoring in Vancouver. These moments are shared cultural experiences, they will bond generations of Canadians together. Hockey is the only thing in Canada capable of doing that, other than poutine.
III: I'm an Atheist:
I don't believe in god. I don't go to church. But I do believe that there should be a time every week set aside from the rigorous of daily life to relax, spend time with your loved ones, and drink beer and eat chicken wings. Sometimes there should even be 3 such nights a week. The Leafs really are like a religion to me. In this analogy PPP and the Barilkosphere act like the bible. Much like deeper understanding of the sermon is achieved by bible study; time spent on PPP helps make sense of seasons like this one. When you think about it they really are similar. I've invested a great deal of my time, energy, and faith in an object that I have absolutely no control over and can never fully comprehend. The only difference is that salvation is tangible as a Leafs fan. I'll take one Stanley Cup
over ever-lasting life in Heaven any day of the week, and twice on Saturday's.
II: Doug Gilmour:
My childhood heros were Bret the Hitman Hart and Doug Gilmour, I defy anyone to show me two better ones. One day in 1994 I got to meet Gilmour, suffice it to say I can remember the whole thing to this day. We had been at Maple Leafs Gardens early in the day attending a special event where we got to skate on the rink. We were also promised the opportunity to meet Doug Gilmour. I was elated. I even got to bring a friend. I brought everything I could find that was capable of being signed by him. Unfortunately the meet and greet was a handshake as the pushed you along the line and down one of the escalators. I can still remember looking back tears in my eyes because our meeting had been so brief. Dejected, I was not much in the mood for skating. We went across the street to "Gardoonies" or whatever the restaurant was called, I think he had some loose affiliation with it. The place was deserted except for Doug Gilmour and some blonde he was with. The next 30 minutes were spent taking photos with myself, my friend, and my sister. He signed about 15 different items for us. He was the nicest guy ever. My dad even wrote into the paper to say how nice it was that such a big star was so down to earth and friendly. It was the best day of my childhood hands down. Even now I have the picture of he and I on my fridge
I: Hereditary Fanship (or My Grandpa):
Everyone has a story of how they came to love the game. Most of those stories involve a loved one who introduced us to the game and nurtured our fanship. For me that man was my Grandpa. He was a die-hard Leafs fan who taught me everything about being a Leaf fan; mainly hating the Habs and Red ?Wings and drinking beer while lying on the couch. I can remember going along with him to his Old Timer games at the Thompson area at U.W.O. The place smelled like something fierce, and only when I was older did I realize that half of them were hammered while they played. My Grandpa played goal, his nickname was Leaky, his hero was Gump Worsely, and he kept a beehive corn syurp bottle filled with vodka and orange juice atop his net. Weekend visits to my grandparents meant a few hours of the Bugs Bunny and Tweety show followed by Hockey Night in Canada. I spent the entire time perched atop his bulging belly captivated by the Leafs. I will be a Leaf fan forever because of him. Watching the Leafs always makes me think of him. He passed away in 1999, I'm thankful he never had to endure watching Andrew Raycroft or Vesa Toskala stand between the pipes.