The Toronto Maple Leafs – Forever Losers?

Jeff Gesner is the owner/operator of a small sports apparel/memorabilia business
called “The Stadium”. He spent some time in the scriptwriting business for film. The transition has been satisfying for Jeff being a sports fanatic.

Forever losers?

I’ll assume this title has garnered the attention of Leaf fans. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the face of the NHL, they are Canada’s team, and always will be. In Canada we pride ourselves on the beautiful scenery and outdoor activities that are offered, we have sparkling lakes to rugged mountains, the Calgary Stampede, Niagara Falls, and diverse cultures. Canada has something for everyone, it’s a beautiful country, but above all the great cities and landmarks, we have hockey, and above hockey, we have the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Maple Leaf fans can be found from coast to coast, cheering on a team that hasn’t won in 42 years. I’ve lived in both British Columbia and Ontario, and the one thing I found constant in the citizens that call themselves Leaf Nation, is the lack of knowledge and total disregard for the actual game of hockey itself. Leaf Nation enters each season with the belief of “this is the year”. I’m supportive of loyal fans, even the ignorant ones, which in my opinion is most Maple Leaf fans, but here’s the problem I have with supporting Toronto’s quest for the cup – – They don’t ever have to win, and the reason why, is because of the fans themselves. Huh? No matter what the Maple Leaf franchise does, it will never be wrong in the eyes of Leaf Nation, they can suit up gorillas, triple ticket prices, and lose all 82 games in the schedule, and somehow Leaf Nation will still buy the merchandise and still support the club. I stated that I support loyal fans, in fact I admire passionate sports fans, but I do not admire stupidity.

The next time you’re watching a game that is being played in the Air Canada Center, take a look at the people sitting in the first half dozen rows, they are generally well dressed business people, generally on business dates. A Maple Leaf game is trendy, it’s a great place to take a client, these people are the other portion of Maple Leaf fans, they are the “bigwigs” that can afford front row seats on a regular basis. They aren’t what you would call “hardcore” hockey fans, but they do know big name players, and being able to look onto the ice in between their conference, and know the names on the back of the Leaf jerseys is important to them. Here are a few examples of players that Leaf management has signed representing my theory. Eric Lindros, Ron Francis, Ed Belfour, Jason Blake, Joe Nieuwendyk, Michael Renberg, and Owen Nolan, these are just the ones off the top of my head. These weren’t poor hockey players, but they were players that the Leafs acquired long after their prime, players that were “Big Names”. You may think I’m contradicting myself because I stated above that Toronto fans would buy tickets if gorillas wore the jersey, yes, I stand by that assessment, but with being the richest NHL franchise, they are forced to spend money, and by signing expensive stars from the past, you then make your wealthier fans happy too.

The Maple Leafs has the highest ticket prices in the league, and still they increase their profit each year with a losing record. They are the most valuable NHL team, and they never win, does this make sense? Other teams in the NHL are forced to win rapidly or they might not have a team playing in the same city the following year.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd are certainly winning off the ice, not so much on the ice after four straight seasons out of the playoffs. Maple Leaf fans cheer for a potential eighth place seed from mid-season on. Is that really worth cheering about? How unfortunate that your ambition and hopes are to be an eighth place team.

I’m very comfortable voicing my opinion on the Leafs franchise, I’m not a Leafs fan, but I am a hockey fan, and I sit by watching Leaf Nation cheer louder each season in hopes of finally succeeding, it’s become sad. The Leafs will never win, and it’s their own fans fault, you feed into their marketing system, and in return you get nothing. I’m confident it will be yet another season out of the playoffs for Toronto, at the same time, I’m certain that the ACC will sell out every game this year, and that is the problem.