Before I get started, please allow me to apologize to you both (Hi Mom!) for not posting the Creamy Middle of last night's 5-1 curb stomp of the Hartolina Whalicans. While I may get to it before tomorrow's game against Tampa, truth be told, it was a pretty boring affair against a rapidly tanking team, with very little to recommend it safe The Captain's wonky hip and Paddy Eaves' rather interesting follicular fashion statement (I hereby dub thee Ghengis Eaves! Or maybe Patrick Khan. Which would you prefer? Seriously, I had a whole riff on him all set to go, with furry hats and everything). I promise I will get back to my usual dick jokes in the coming days.
No, what I'd like to talk to you about this evening is something altogether more serious. More insidious. And really, really, really fucking infuriating. Gather 'round and hold hands children, as I take you into the dark and scary world that is the mind of the hard core fan of that most Evil of Empires, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
First a little background. Earlier today, I got into an increasingly heated email exchange with a good friend of mine about the nature of the Leafs, the Sens and their respective fan bases. Well, when I say "heated" I mean as belligerent as one can get when the only means of expressing one's outrage is the liberal use of CAPS, bold fonts and the ever popular @#^%$ you, you $%#@ing idiot!! We were using company email, after all.
Anyway, our discussion centered around an acquaintance of his (Leaf fan) who put forward an opinion (an opinion with which my friend agreed, I should add...hence the repeated use of the ampersand-exclamation point combo) about the nature of Sens Army which I'm starting to hear more and more often from the Nation as the Leafs' season swirls deeper into the shitter. Basically it goes something like this:
We're better fans than you, because we've stuck it out through 40 years of losing without abandoning our team. Everybody knows that Ottawa fans aren't real fans since they loved other teams, mostly Toronto, before the Senators were reinstated in 1992, and as soon as it gets bad in Ottawa, all the fair weather Sens fans will drop the team like a disease ridden Vietnamese whore. Therefore, we're still better than you. WOO! WE'RE THE BESTEST FANS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD !! (insert sound of two million packets of Kool-Aid opening simultaneously here)
In fact, here is a slightly edited transcript of what my friend told me was his paraphrasing of what his acquaintance may have said. Or something like that:
Will Ottawa fans still support their team when they end up not making the playoffs? They call for heads during three-game losing streaks in this town, imagine if they didn't make the playoffs? How would season tickets sell the following year? Imagine if it happened two years in a row, would the fans have the patience to endure it? My team is doing poorly now, yes they are and I admit it and they haven't been a very good team for the majority of the time I've cheered for them over the past 40 years. But I still support them. When your team meets this hardship, tell me who you are cheering for then.There are two things about this statement that should infuriate the living shit out of all right thinking Sens fans (or fans of any other Canadian team for that matter), the first tying directly into the second. The first is this: Where the hell does Leaf Nation get off thinking that their martyr complex somehow makes them better "fans" than anybody else, that they "care" more and therefore have the right to lord some twisted sense of loyalty over the rest of us? Why, because we won't put up with 40 years of corrupt and inept management? Because when we see something wrong, we don't act like fucking sheep, hand over our credit cards and say "Gee...I hope it gets better next year" knowing in our heart of hearts that it never will?
But here's the second half to that argument, and the rub that Leaf Nation doesn't want to hear. Maybe, just maybe now, if Leaf fans hadn't been so "wonderful" over the years, so supportive, so fucking loyal things wouldn't have sunk this low. Maybe there wouldn't have been the Ballard years (or at least they wouldn't have lasted as long). If the fans had stayed away, stopped buying the jerseys, for the love of God, stop being such almighty assholes, then maybe there wouldn't have been 40 years of wandering in a Cup-less desert. And maybe, just maybe, the current ownership abortion would have wised up long ago instead of using Leaf Nation as the passive cash cow it so obviously is. As it stands, why the hell should they do something to improve the team? As long as the Nation keeps opening their wallets in a masturbatory frenzy over everything and anything blue and white, the money just keeps rolling in. Here it is Leaf fans, as plain and direct as I can possibly state it: MLSE DOESN'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR TEAM and the quicker you all wise up to that, the quicker things will change. The only thing they want is your money. As long as your willing to give it to them, you will never, ever, come close to winning anything.
What you would call "abandoning the team" is, in actual fact more accurately labeled as "not putting up with stupid shit from management". Habs fans are notorious for getting on their team for the slightest transgressions. You call it "fair weather". I'd call it a higher standard. And those 24 Cup banners hanging from the Phone Booth's rafters win that argument rather convincingly.
Yes, we know, Leaf fans, there will come a day when the Senators won't be Cup contenders. There may even come a day when they won't be very competitive either. We know that. These things are cyclical, and lord knows we've been through it before (see: Expansion years; League sodomy). But I'm extremely confident we will never allow OUR team to sink to the same depths of craptacular ineptitude as you've allowed. And we'll do that by withholding our financial support if we don't like where things are going, confident that team management will hear our message and act accordingly.
But we'll keep cheering, Mr. Red Fonted Blockquote. And to the rest of you in the Nation, rest assured that if and when things go bad, we'll keep cheering for OUR Ottawa Senators. But what we won't do, will never do, is roll over and just take it up the ass for the "privilege" of having a pro hockey team. And if that seems utterly incomprehensible to you, well, all I can say is that I feel sorry for all of you. Oh, and suck it.