Contrary to many, I don’t hate or even dislike the Maple Leafs.
I resent the disproportionate amount of coverage this second-rate squad got through their years of awfulness. I hate having their games consistently on HNIC at the expense of the Canadiens and Senators.
I used to hate the Leafs when they had criminals and psychopaths in their lineup: Darcy Tucker, Tie Domi, Wade Belak. I hated them then. Now they have a good roster, and quite a few players I’d like to have on my team. I don’t mind this team.
The whole Toronto-Montreal ‘rivalry’ is a Toronto media creation anyway. Growing up as a French Canadian kid watching hockey in the 70′s and 80′s, the only teams that mattered were the Islanders, the Oilers, the usurpers who were trying to break the Canadiens records. We hated the Bruins and the Flyers. We hated the Nordiques very quickly after they joined the league, and hated them with white hot intensity. I still seethe and clench my fists when I see Dale Hunter. I still think he should be in jail.
When I started speaking English and having to watch hockey on CBC, I was dumbfounded to hear that we were embroiled in this great rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs. I had never heard a peep about that on La Soirée du Hockey. I never had an inkling that this ridiculous team with Tiger Williams and Mike Palmateer and Harold Ballard that we swept two years in a row in the opening series of the playoffs was one of our rivals.
So I want to win the game tonight, I want to beat the Leafs, but I’d trade two wins against them for one against the Bruins anytime.
If the Leafs are successful and do well, good for them. They’re a hard working team, I won’t begrudge them their good fortune, but I’ll change the channel when TSN goes on a 12 minute elegy on how awesome they are. Unless Jennifer or Natasha is talking. Whatever they’re selling, I’m willing to listen.