In case you haven’t heard, the Toronto Maple Leafs are 2 wins away from winning a playoff series for the first time in
1000 years over a decade. However most fans are only cautiously optimistic about their chances. Allow me to explain why with this brief history of Leaf fandom.
From 2005 – 2012 the Leafs missed the playoffs, every. Single. Year. What made this time challenging was the fact that the team was not only awful but ignorantly awful. You see, they began every season by telling the fans that the team wouldn’t be awful.
That unfortunately was never the case. After one playoff-free season the team’s GM Brian Burke compared the Leafs season to an 18 wheeler driving off a cliff. He was truly a master of subtly.
By the end of 2012 fans were so distraught they hit back at the team, not by ignoring them but by throwing waffles on the ice.
Admittedly, it was a bizarre strategy. But it succeeded in getting the message across as the Leafs not only banned ego waffles from the ACC but in 2013, they also made the playoffs.
And so anger turned to happiness, day to night, sadness to joy.. And that joy turned to pure jubilation as the Leafs seemed poised to do the unthinkable; eliminate the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. Up 4-1 in game 7 that jubilation quickly turned to shock, then to embarrassment and ultimately back to anger.
I can’t bring myself to type what happened, so if you don’t already know, you’ll have to watch this:
The next 3 seasons saw the Leafs make a grand return to awfulness. That anger turned to self-loathing as some fans began showing up to games wearing paper bags.
The self-loathing eventually turned to apathy as the Leafs tumbled to the bottom of the standings. Funny thing, that’s when it started to get good again. You see, Toronto got so bad they began drafting good players. Like Toronto kid Mitch Marner and American born Auston Matthews. Slowly, that apathy drifted away as fans of the team felt something weird… For the first time in easily a decade the fans actually liked the players on the team.
How could you not? They’re young, talented and the team’s two sensational 19 year old rookies were caught singing along to Bon Jovi during a game once.
What’s more? The team, in it’s 100th season has once again returned to the playoffs.
While ticket prices for Leafs home playoff games may cost you the deed to your home, fans have taken to gathering outside the rink to the watch games at “Maple Leafs Square.”
Now that the Leafs are once again doing the unthinkable and leading their first round playoff series against The Washington Capitals (2 games to 1), being a Leafs fan is not just fun anymore… It’s also becoming kind of cool.
But despite the impending coolness, true fans; those who have cheered, waffled and cried with the team, are only cautiously optimistic about their chances of advancing to the next round. After all we’ve seen, can you really blame us?