There are hockey tidbits that pop into my mind every once in a while. There’s that time the Maple Leafs lost 9 something to the Predators. Of course PING! is a great one. The Adirondack Flames short lived mascot Scorch is a favourite. One is an unfinished story in my mind, though. It’s Lee Kirby - the man who sold his Maple Leafs fandom on eBay.
Many of you may not remember this, it was way back in 2009. The Maple Leafs were just four years out of the playoffs, but it was a dark time indeed. Brian Burke had just taken over as General Manager of the team. Just before that Cliff Fletcher had traded away Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo for shits and giggles (I mean Lee Stempniak) and signed Jeff Finger to a $16 million deal. It was a dark time. Many people wanted nothing to do with the team. Others started blogs to complain about it. We all thought “Well it can’t get any worse from here” [insert laugh track]. One man wanted no more. He was packing his bags and moving on.
Lee Kirby put his fandom up for sale on eBay just a few weeks into the 2009-10 season. from Yahoo! Sports:
His breaking point came this season, not only because the Leafs have one win in nine games but because he feels General Manager Brian Burke has mortgaged the team’s future by trading draft picks for former Boston Bruins forward Phil Kessel(notes), who is currently injured.
”We have no one in the system, no first-round pick and just to Kessel to show for it,” he said. “I don’t see any of those [Doug] Gilmour deals happening, and I don’t see a quick turnaround because of the salary cap. I think Burke overestimated how good this team was going to be.”
The bidding got all the way up to $25 before the auction closed. Lee’s new team? The Dallas Stars.
So where is this recap of history going you ask? Well, it’s a great time to be a Maple Leafs fans. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and of course, John Tavares must be awfully tempting to just sneak a peak at.
The new management team from Brendan Shanahan, who has turned around the team on the ice, in the front office, and even on the streets of Toronto; to Kyle Dubas and his weird ideas like “let the players be themselves” and “let’s look at the facts, not the feelings”; to one of the legendary coaches of our time in Mike Babcock.
The urge to put on some blue and maybe have the game on the background has to be strong, but he’s steadfast in his commitment:
Kirby’s honest about his loyalties. “I’ll always care for the Leafs. But Dallas is a fresh start,” he said. “I played baseball for many years, and I switched teams three or four years ago. You feel rejuvenated.”
Sure. But what if the impossible becomes possible, and the Toronto Maple Leafs end up having a Stanley Cup parade in Kirby’s lifetime as a Dallas fan?
”I probably wouldn’t go.”
I’m not saying that Lee has had a rough time as a Dallas Stars fan, looking at the two franchises over the past 10 years, Dallas has had the advantage for most of them.
But every so often, when the mooon is shining down on our road hockey nets, the window is open, the wind will whisper “Leeeeeeeee” and I’ll wonder......how is Lee doing these days?
Lee, if your’re out there, email me, let’s talk. I have questions.
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Enjoy your day everyone!