It's been one year since the Maple Leafs did not waggle their sticks in the air half heatedly after a game. I'm going to look back on the event that made me hate everything.
The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on November 20th, 2014. After the game as the players celebrated the win, there were words between players and the team skated off the ice, with out the tradition "salute to the fans". This tradition, remember, began as an attempt to pay thanks to the fans for returning after the THIRD LOCKOUT of Gary Bettman's NHL. Here, take a look at this calm, rational video explaining what happened:
Remember: Leading up to this game the Maple Leafs had seen multiple jerseys thrown onto the ice at them, and the Toronto Media...well, was acting as they do and Phil Kessel told one reporter to "Get away from me." The Leafs took a drubbing from both the Sabres and Predators losing 2 games 15-4.
Lupul also had this to say about the salutes:
Forward Joffrey Lupul, who hopes to return soon from a fractured hand, said he wasn't a fan of the salute to begin with.
"Personally I feel it feels kind of fake," Lupul said.
Steve Buffrey didn't care much:
Anyway, the Leafs decided to give their fans the finger (metaphorically speaking) after Thursday’s win and, frankly, I don’t have a major problem with it,
Mike Toth from Newstalk 1010 however, was really, really, angry about it (and yes, he's an adult).
"How does this help the hockey team?" asked Toth, when Phaneuf explained that they were hoping that, by not saluting the fans, it would help them win hockey games. "Why don’t you just get it over with and bite the head off a chicken?"
Toth’s point being that Phaneuf’s explanation was absurd.
"Next question please," Phaneuf answered.
"No," Toth continued. "How does it help the hockey club? You’re saying you’re changing your routine to help the hockey club. How could that possibly help you win a hockey game?"
"Next question," Phaneuf repeated. "I just answered that question for you sir."
The fact that Phanuef still called him sir seems like a passive aggressive move, and I liked it.
"There’s no requirement for them to salute the fans, just like there’s no requirement for the fans to cheer for them," life-long Leafs fan Jim said, as he and his family prepared to go inside to take their seats.
"They choose not to salute the fans, it doesn’t change my opinion, I’m coming to watch the hockey game," he added.
Darryl Kingma, in town with his seven-year-old son Kobe from London, Ont., said he didn’t feel slighted by the team’s decision.
"They got booed off the ice the night before with the 9-2 loss, so I don’t blame them for anything," he said.
"It didn’t bother me at all," said Mike Carstensen, 27. "I think it got really overblown by especially the media
Mike's a smart guy.
No one in the room—at least no one in the leadership group—said, "Shut up, you idiot. All that's going to do is upset people, and it's not going to help us win." Another possibility is someone in the leadership group, perhaps Phaneuf, was the catalyst.
Here's where it gets even stupider.
The Leafs' obviously thin skin may work in their favor.
"I can't believe they did this."
The headline says it all.
It turns out the Leafs were just eager to get back to the locker room to enjoy some delicious spaghetti casserole prepared by Carlton.
Did the Maple Leafs salute? You better believe they did.
Although, for those who really care [morons] about the issue, it may be worth noting the Leafs did not skate all the way to centre ice for their salute. Some did the bare minimum, raising their stick for only an instant before trudging off the ice.
The End Result
After taking all season to think about it, Brendan Shanahan did what he thought was necessary for the protection of the fans, the integrity of the franchise, and traded noted rabble rouser, salute and fan hater Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Okay, it probably had nothing to do with the salute. The end result of this is we identified the media and fans who are complete babies. We probably already knew this, but it's nice to get more confirmation. Remember: the salute is not a decades old tradition. No one complains that the NHL doesn't still paint THANK YOU FANS on the ice, like they did after Lockout #3. It's a meaningless gesture if you do it after every single game. After the final game of the year, sure. But some game in December vs the Carloina whosits? Whatever.
Reflection after one year
This is still the stupidest thing I've ever seen and I saw Death to Smoochy in theatres on opening weekend.
The media obviously thought that Leafs fans would be incapable of surviving this affront. Trust me, media, Leafs fans have seen much worse, and most of it is from you.
Still, it's worth wondering what would happen if such a thing occurred this year under Lou Lamoriello's watch, so I'll pose you that question:
What Would Lou Lamoriello Do (WWLLD) about Salute-gate?