There are three things guaranteed in my life; death, taxes and my eternal diehard love for the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club.
Now, you might think I’m crazy for loving a team that hasn’t won a championship in (cough, cough) 50 years. You might think I’m insane for cheering on a team from over 2,500 miles away. You might even call me out of my right mind for worshipping a kid younger than me, dubbed as the savior of this franchise.
Hear me out, I was basically born with a Maple Leaf on my chest.
The first thing I received out of the womb was the warm embrace of my mother and a completely oversized Toronto Maple Leafs jersey from my dad.
When I was able to wear the jersey properly, I grew up spending my Saturdays in Los Angeles doing the same thing my dad did when he was a kid in Toronto; watching Hockey Night in Canada on CBC via NHL Center Ice.
I saw some great players like Mats Sundin, Joe Nieuwendyk, Alex Mogilny, Gary Roberts and Curtis Joseph to name a few.
The Leafs, led by legendary head coach and general manager Pat Quinn, put together some unbelievable teams in the pre-salary cap era, but time after time they could never get it done.
Now, you might think I had it rough seeing my team get so close and lose year after year. To put the bigger picture of my favorite team’s longtime struggles into perspective, they haven’t won a Stanley Cup Championship since 1967.
My dad was five-years-old when that happened. He’s 55 now.
I have struggled with this team, but growing up seeing my Dad’s ability to stick with a team — that became absolutely atrocious after the 2004-05 NHL lockout — for his entire life must have inspired me. He was the most excited when the Leafs put together good games and the opposite after losses.
Like my Dad, I have lived vicariously through this team.
Through the horrid seasons Toronto displayed from 2006-2015 I rarely missed a game. But why would I do this?
In the words of Toronto’s own Drizzy Drake, “Man, I love my team.”
But in all seriousness, there is something about growing up and sticking it out with a team, a person, an artist or anything for that matter, that becomes second nature after a certain amount of time.
There’s something thrilling about travelling to away games in Anaheim or Arizona or even Brooklyn to catch a glimpse of the an extremely mediocre team over the last decade. Despite continuous failure in the franchise for years there is a ‘sea of blue’ anywhere the Leafs go.
Finally after living basically my entire life loving a burden of a team, they are finally good. It is now an absolute joy to watch skilled players skate for the blue and white.
When my team does well, I’m happy.