This article is inspired by the latest waffle-throwing incident at the Air Canada Centre, but I am not actually going to discuss the “waffle incident.” Instead I want to send a message to Leaf fans. For those of you to whom this does not apply – those of you who are unfailingly loyal to the Leafs – I apologize in advance.
To get to the meat and potatoes, the Toronto Maple Leafs have not been successful over the past half of a decade. They haven’t made playoffs in, hell, I don’t even remember how long.
I feel for Leaf fans, I really do. I understand what it is like to go through your team losing constantly. After all, I have a life outside of writing, where I am a diehard Buffalo Sabres fan who went through the dreaded early 2000’s. It was an era of ownership troubles and, worst of all, a whole lot of losing.
Being a fan is a lot like getting married. Through thick and thin, through sickness and in health, and ’til death do us part. I am fed up with Leafs fans constantly wanting to be the center of attention by putting down their team worse than their rivals do. A team cannot be great all the time. If your team isn’t playing well, it means they need you more than ever. You’re fed up? So what! Things will change, but change takes time. By constantly harping on your team, you’re not making it any easier for things to improve.
It’s the fans who love to see when Phil Kessel screws up, giving them an excuse to berate management: “What a terrible trade, he doesn’t have 80 goals yet!” Get over it and learn how to cheer for your team. Throwing waffles at games and booing the players at home puts the team in a vicious cycle where suddenly the fans wake up on July 1 in a state of misery, wondering why no free agents want to sign with the Leafs and no young player (in his right mind) wants to begin his career in Toronto.
Now this turned out to be quite the rant, and for the sake of being a calm writer I did take out the unrated directors’ cut version of this article. The inspiration for this came from a long list of people who were canonizing the waffle thrower. That’s pathetic.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be a playoff team, when? That will depend partly on the fans. A player cannot develop when every move he makes on the ice falls under constant criticism. A team cannot focus on playing as a team – and most importantly, winning – when they have to worry about fans throwing waffles at them.
I am ending this with one more point. Consider the following, and I really hope I get through to at least one Leafs fan. If you hate your team when they are losing and love them when they’re winning, than you are nothing more than a pre-teen bandwagon jumper.
Writer for The Reed Review & Inside Hockey