(PRELUDE: The season's comin up quick and i have some built up excitement and Leaf pride so i've tried to put it into words...bit of a rant...no stats...hope you enjoy it)
Why do we do this? Why do we stand behind our team year after year, win or lose, playoffs or no playoffs, draft or shmaft? Other franchises, decades younger than ours have won cups far more recently than the Leafs. Other franchises can stake claim to having rabidly dedicated fan bases.
So, why do we cheer for our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs every year? I thought about it and i'll give you my answer...
It's because we have heart.
(yes, I elaborate after the jump)
I've grown up around my fair share of "bandwagoners". You know the type. The guys who before every season would stake claim to their new "favorite" team, buy a new hat or jersey and cheer for the most likely team to win the cup...heck, some even wait 'till the trade deadline and switch sides because their team made a stupid move like picking up Olli Jokinen or doing nothing to supplant Patrick Lalime as their starting 'tender.
We are not them. We are fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
We have the courage to stand behind the Buds through thick and thin, failures and success, draft or shmaft, and for richer or poorer (lets talk talent, not money). We wear our Blue and White from training camp till the final seconds tick off the clock in our last game, whenever it may be. We cheer for our team because its just that...OUR team. The players know it...they know they answer to the fans night in and night out. Whether its Matt Stajan or Mats Sundin as our #1 Center or The Eagle or The Rayzor as our starting netminder, we expect the best they have to offer every night and nothing less.
We do not riot. We do not relentlessly remind those franchises who have never won a cup of that fact just because we have 13 (well..unless they push our buttons). We do not put up with divas on our team. We let it be known that if you work hard night in and night out, you will be hailed as a hero, but if you take shifts off, you'll never make it in this town. A momentum swinging hit is as good as a goal for most of us and our hockey heros reach legendary status by shear will of the fan-base.
We have not won a cup since 1967...we know that...thanks for chiming in.
We also know that every season since, we have sat in those stands or in our recliners and cheered our team on regardless of who they're playing or how far they are out of the playoff hunt because we know that one day, they're going to do it again. One day the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the most hallowed trophy the sport has to offer and we will want nothing more than to just be able to witness it as a die-hard fan that has been there all along.
There will be those who jump on our bandwagon but we won't care because deep down we know...we have heart....we were there through it all...we saw the darkest days and we pulled through, surviving hecklers and Habs fans (you know they're different), sometimes having to drag our Leafs along with us with another sold out season to show we still care.
THAT my dear Leaf fans, is why we do it. Because one day, it's all going to be worth it and the ride is half the fun anyway. Where else would you rather be this October 7th than watching your Leafs despite all the "expert" predictions of another rocky season? Nowhere...thought so. Wanna know why? Because we have heart enough to believe this team of ours can and will show us something amazing right when we least expect it.
Anyway, that's my take on things....If you made it this far, i'm thoroughly flattered hehe. The season's right around the corner, take a sec let me know what you think in the comments.