In case you have been living under a rock, which in turn is under a carpet, which in turn is located on a desert island with no phone reception, you may have noticed that the NHL and the NHL Players Association are discussing the next collective bargaining agreement. That is to say, Gary Bettman and his cronies are making unreasonable demands, and Donald Fehr and a group of 31 players will shortly make unreasonable demands of their own, and hopefully someday they'll meet in the middle.
But why are none of those 31 players members of the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Forgive me if this topic has been covered in comment threads somewhere before. I'm just a little anxious about the whole thing, is all. Humour me.
I have been a Leafs fan for ten years, ever since I spent six months living in Peterborough, Ontario during the conference final run of 2002. But I never had a chance to go to an NHL game before I returned to my native Australia. I've listened to the excitable voice of Joe Bowen, I've bought the merch, I've watched the Games in Six while covering part of the screen with my hand with hope of avoiding finding out who won. I've had my Tucker jersey stolen.
More recently, I've forked out quite a considerable of money on airline tickets, booked for this November. After ten years, I thought my wait was over. The awkwardly muted confines of the Air Canada Centre beckoned.
This was before the NHL made its initial offer, one that had bloggers and broadcasters quailing. Before the dark times. Before the empire.
There are former Leafs: Dominic Moore and Brad Boyes. There are players who could have been Leafs, if you believe the rumour mills: George Parros, David Backes, John Tavares, Jamie Langenbrunner, Shane Doan, and probably most of the rest of them at some point (thanks, internet). But no Leafs.
I'm reluctant to draw any broad conclusions.
One could wax lyrical about the decline of T.O. as a go-to market, lack of stars, blue and white disease or whatever else one wished. But my only point is this:
To whom do I whinge? Which Leaf will stand up for his team's fans?