"The goalie jumps, and the players bump, and the fans all go insane"
Spring is here in Toronto. The snowbanks have begun to melt, uncovering long forgotten cigarette butts and a unreasonable amount of dog shit. In other NHL cities, hockey fans are gearing up for the playoffs. On-the-fence fans suddenly become die-hards, and people's allegiances take on a whole new level of insanity. But not here. Not in the Centre of the Universe. This year's demise of the Leafs, perennial also-rans, has taken on a new feel of despair bordering on shame. In a province that was once the economic engine of the nation, where Maritimer's migrated just to get a decent paying job so their kids could have some bologna to eat, we are left with little hope. Leafs' fans everywhere are doing some deep soul searching about the Blue and White.
It's been about decade since the TML's had a decent playoff run, and in about that amount of time the provincial debt has effectively doubled to just under $300 billion. This decade of demise has battered the soul of once proud fans from Oshawa to Thunder Bay, to the far reaches of Leaf Nation forgotten by condo-dwelling Toronto Elites. In other economically battered cities, having a successful sports franchise is paramount to the cities identity, to it's cultural back bone and to it's pride. Detroit, a bankrupt heap of memories, at least can count of the Red Wings to put some joy into spring. Not so in Leaf Country. The Buds have become something of a sideshow, and the bush league sports journalism in this city has not helped one iota. Fans have, perhaps with good reason, thrown their once beloved jerseys onto the ice as a final act of frustration.
Your average Leaf's fan likely doesn't give two flying hockey pucks about the state of the province's finances, likely because they are stuck dealing with their own. The frustration with the Leafs seems to have been equalled by the frustration (and disgust) of Joe Public with Queen's Park. Scandal after scandal, deficit increase after increase, they've given up on any facade of public accountability, with even the Mounties investigating the OPP in the latest display of Sun-cover worthy corruption. Scandals have followed this province's government around like a dangerous ex-boyfriend, from E-Health to ORNGE, from gas plants to MARS. But I digress.
In times like these, the province needs a decent hockey team to cushion the blow to the collective psyche, and no Ottawa, the Senators don't count. At least if we had a successful hockey team it would be a worthwhile distraction to fiscal mess we're in, but that certainly wasn't the case this year.
If nothing else, Leafs fans are incredibly loyal and eternally optimistic. According to many of the die-hards, each new hockey season comes with hopes of the Parade down Yonge. The best case scenario this year would be for them to tank fully completely and land a Messiah in the draft. If only fixing our province's pathetic government was that easy. At least hockey fans can hold out hope for next year. Let's hope somebody turns things around, and soon.