I’m not a massive hockey man, but I know this, hockey is king. My most vivid memories watching sport involve the Leafs. Admittedly this moment is that ending that shall never be said, but still.
That’s what made the game yesterday so familiar. The Leafs were 2-0 up and cruising, with a core member of the last playoff team, James Van Riemsdyk grabbing two goals. Yet it never has been a Toronto thing to take your chances when you grab them, of course they were bound to let you down. For gods sake, they were down by the end of the 2nd period. They scored a shorthanded goal on the PK, in the last 20 seconds of the 2nd period, what is more Leafs than that.
This is the way the Leafs are, not just yesterday, or this season, but for the last 50 years. A failure to get the job done, doing the hard work but proceeding to let it all slip away suddenly. No title, no success, and for me, no hope.
I just want to beat the Caps once, I can take a lost series. Note I said this to my little brother last time the Leafs were in a playoffs series, When they went down 3-1, I could live with that. At least they gave it a go, at least there was one moment of joy. When they won Game 5, great, likewise Game 6, I still didn’t expect to win the series, and I didn’t really care. No pressure for Game 7, until they were up 4-1.
I grew up without the burden of Leafs failures, I knew about it, I’d read about it, but I’d never lived it. I think my parents might have sheltered me from this, maybe that’s why they’d never cared about hockey. I think though they just didn’t know, didn’t care how it felt to be a Leafs fan, couldn’t understand the torment they’d lived and will continue to live through. At 4-1, I expected a win, instead I’d live with that day for the rest of my life.
The rest of that 2013 series is history, if you don’t know the story, look it up, because it’s too painful to think about again for me. That is the life of a Leafs fan, it’s never meant to be. We’re like the Cubs, except hated and with a better history. That ended with a broken TV, a teenage kid in tears, a broken Laptop, my little brother trying to restrain me, and my parents dumbfounded about how a well-grounded kid could be unrepentant about the damage, only crying about the Leafs. That was all my money gone, having to repay the damage caused, and yet even now, all I can think about that day, is that being a Leafs fan isn’t about success, it’s about having your heart ripped from you, again and again, and witnessing history repeat itself. It’s about blind faith, and hoping that one day it’ll change. The Cubs were cursed, but the Leafs, we’re just chokers.
I don’t want a Game 7, I don’t even know if I’d like to win the series, I just want to win one game, but it won’t occur like that. One way or another, all Leafs fans know in their hearts, the tears and the heartache is about to begin all over again