Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
The National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs are a storied team with a rich background and some of the most devoted fans in hockey. Why then does it suck to be a Leaf fan?
The team is one of the original six of the NHL. They have won eleven Stanley Cups as the Toronto Maple Leafs, unfortunately the last cup came over forty years ago in the 1966-67 season. The team is listed as the most valuable team in the NHL. They have sold out almost every home game since 1946. Are these just random facts or do they come together in some way?
Lets look at a bit of the lunacy involved with being a fan of the Buds.
When you are the richest team in the league with intensely devoted fans who stick by you even though it has been 40 years since you have won a championship, why would you need to do anything to mess with this? The team is a business. Businesses need to make money to survive. Most teams need to build championship seasons and have marquee players to draw people to the games. The Leafs, quite obviously, do not need to do these things to make money and keep the owners happy so now there is even talk of trading their best player and franchise scoring leader. Happy or not, the fans still come.
Don’t be led astray in thinking that these fans are happy. Oh no, they are, on the whole, not pleased with being the laughing stocks of the NHL, watching their team put together seasons of futility year after year. So, what do the owners do when the natives get restless? Well, fire the general manager or, perhaps, the coach. This gives the appearance that you care.
Clearly it is not the answer. Take a look at baseball. The richest team in baseball is the New York Yankees and money does buy them success – most of the time. Many will cite the salary cap as being the reason they can’t simply buy a championship. When you are the richest team in the league and you have sub par goaltending and only one true superstar (who, naturally, you will now want to trade) you are not concerned with winning a Stanley Cup.
Yes, it sucks to be a Leaf fan. But those same fans will still be around next season!