I have lived in the Greater Toronto Area for all of my 29 years, but it wasn't till this decade that I became interested in hockey. Truthfully, it's not just hockey; I was one of those kids who didn't get the appeal of professional sports, especially team sports leagues. To me they felt too cold, mechanical, and businesslike. I didn't watch a lot of sports, but when I did it was mostly tennis and golf.
Except every two years, for a few weeks, I would reliably become obsessed with the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euros, and the two Olympics. Vancouver 2010 was a huge deal for me, and despite being in the midst of my final semester of undergrad, I spared all the free time I could to watch those events. Obviously, hockey was a big part of that. And one of the most exciting times I've ever had watching sports came from the gold medal game and Crosby's OT winner. That was the exact moment I became a hockey fan, having resisted doing so throughout the 90s and early 00s when the Leafs Were Actually Good, surviving all that peer pressure. It was amazing and something I'll never forget.
Still, in spite of my burgeoning interest in the game of hockey, I was not a fully invested Leafs fan. I lived in this city but felt no particular attachment to the blue and white -- nor to any other NHL club. Being a casual fan, however, I'd watch whatever was on TV when I felt like it, and in this market that was mostly the Leafs. It wasn't until the shortened season and subsequent playoff series when my Leafs fandom took hold. Seeing and experiencing the surge of excitement in Toronto that Spring, I knew I'd want to support the Leafs because of what it would mean for the city and all the die-hard fans who resided here. Why would I ever want to be a fan of any other team?
I'd go on supporting the Leafs in the subsequent 2013-14 season, albeit still somewhat casually. I watched maybe half of their games. Expletives may have been uttered during the final few weeks of that season. But it was at this time when my interest in hockey would veer onto Twitter and the blogosphere. I'd never truly appreciated the analytical side of the game before, and learning about all of that from intelligent and interesting blogs like PPP, and from mainstream writers like James Mirtle is when everything fell into place for me as both a hockey and Leafs fan. This was a whole new world which tugged at the strings of my science background, and eventually sunk its hooks in me. I haven't looked back since.
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