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Honesty Wouldn't Be Such A Bad Thing In Toronto

Honesty is the best policy, unless you're a professional athlete.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last week I went to a show for the first time in forever. It was planned far in advance, as everything has to be these days. Arkells are my favorite band, and I didn't know what I would encounter in terms of opening bands until I arrived.

I went in fully prepared to have a great time listening to Arkells play the first of three sold out shows. I was treated to a different experience when Adam Baldwin walked on the stage without his band and let everyone know this wasn't supposed to happen. The plan, of course, was he would have his band with him to perform but he was flying solo. He was uncomfortable, admittedly scared and waiting for the hook.

The fascinating thing was how much he doubted himself when he was on stage. He's a wonderful songwriter and musician, but he did not feel comfortable or confident without his band. He played a wonderful set and showcased his voice in a way he never wanted in the first place. This was a good thing for Adam, but in many circumstances when things get tough people run.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs sink into the inevitable valleys each NHL team goes though, the ridicule is endless. For a team that is often out of the playoff picture before others clinch, the expectations they have for performing at a Stanley Cup level are outrageous. Yet, they come around every season. This is the year, the problem is goaltending, the problem is defense, the problem is Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, and on and on. It's a tiring cycle.

Salute-gate was an absolute nightmare. It's quite insane how the people who buy tickets and watch the games care about a 5-second raise of a piece of composite. In the same respect to how Adam went on stage and did his best without his linemates, the Maple Leafs spent 60 minutes playing a game not for the fans anymore considering the score, but for themselves.

If things were thrown at Adam when he was on stage, would you expect him to say "Thank you, have a great night" after? The Maple Leafs took a stand and thought, they've booed, which is their right, but interrupting the game to throw things? Let's not thank them for their presence.

Absolutely fair. It is the entertainment industry and if the players don't feel like they should thank you for attending a game, they don't have to. It goes both ways. If you paid for your ticket and you don't enjoy yourself, go ahead and boo but don't expect a thank you.

The disconnect resides in management telling the media and their players they believe they have a good team that can get themselves to the playoffs. Right off the bat putting those expectations on a team that likely won't get there is a bad place to start a season. A lot of honesty goes out the door when things like egos and feelings are taken into consideration. If the general manager tells the media his team isn't going far, the players don't want to play there and they want out. I get that part. But to continually give the same responses when nothing much has changed with your team is setting yourself and your fans up for failure.

Wouldn't it be nice if players, coaches and general managers said, "Listen, we all know we're screwed until player X comes back." That'll work. It's the idea that men are humans who are unbreakable, strong, detached athletes that can work through anything without showing some emotion that dehumanizes them altogether. Without the element of relatability the people who paid to see you play will only want to see the best.

Injuries happen, not every night is going to be your night. Sometimes you have to go it alone and give it all you can because your band couldn't make it. Sometimes letting media or others know you're hurt, sick or dealing with a personal issue can go a long way in determining how high the bar is set for your performance. Since that won't happen in sports - there are facades to keep intact - seeing brutal honesty elsewhere inspires.

Maybe, just maybe, a little honestly would go a long way in this city.