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Good Hockey Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Posted: 04/11/2012 11:27 am

Love is blind. Love gets in the way of the critical thought, and can suck you into a cycle of abuse that you mistake for normality.

Love allows someone to err, say they are sorry over and over, reflexively, ad nauseam. You forgive, forget and repeat the pantomime. What does sorry even mean?

Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On Tuesday MLSE, the Leafs ownership group, took out a full page open letter in Toronto papers apologizing to fans.

They were regretful for "falling short of everyone's expectations." They claimed to "not take for granted" their "passionate and loyal fans."

What a bunch of nonsense.

There is a big difference between mouthing the word's "I'm sorry," and actual sincerity.

For years the Leafs organization has played its fans, and the media for that matter, like a finely-tuned Stradivarius.

Each year it is the same promise of success, and then subsequent vow of improvement.

What many fail to realize is that this is not about selling a winning hockey franchise at all. They are simply peddling hope.

This is a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in seven seasons. They haven't played in a Stanley Cup Final since the sixties. Yet they still find a way to sell out the Air Canada Centre, and dub themselves the "NHL's most valuable team," (worth $521 million in 2010).

They deserve credit for the snow job they have pulled on the general public to be sure. Constantly inflating fans' spirits in September with flowery language, talking about how they are a few pieces of the puzzle away. Later, in April, comes the inevitable explanation of what went wrong. They know you'll be back next season. You'll buy their jerseys and pay exorbitant amounts of money to watch them lose live and in person.

And like sheep, you don't disappoint with your need to follow, trusting that they wouldn't steer you wrong "this year."

They also prey on your love of tradition and nostalgia.

The old banners of Johnny Bower, Frank Mahovlich and King Clancy all hang from the rafters of the ACC.

Along with sentimental favorites like Wendel Clark, Borje Salming, and Doug Gilmour...aka three guys who never won a damn thing in Toronto.

They know that doesn't matter to you though, because it is a feeling they are selling...not playoff hockey.

When asked about their post season drought, General Manager Brian Burke proclaimed that, "I'm not interested in making the playoffs unless it's part of a championship." He continued by telling the assembled media that his goal wasn't to "get in the eighth spot, get your ass kicked and then stand up here and say 'Yeah but we were in the playoffs.'"

Somehow I don't think many Toronto sports fans would mind getting a taste of the playoffs, even if it was short-lived.

But if you want playoff hockey, even championship hockey, it's time to breakup this one-sided, abusive relationship.

Walk away.

The Leafs franchise is not trying to hurt fans, but just know you are getting played. If you love the Leafs, it may be time to let them go.

Blind faith is an enabler and so are you. Maybe it's time the team spent a little time alone. Call it "a time out," call it penalty time, but in the end what Toronto fans deserve is some genuine repentance.

 

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