I was thinking more about what I wrote today about how little TSM doesn’t know any of the Maple Leafs. Of the Raptor playes, the only one he has been interested in was TJ Ford. On the Blue Jays side little TSM loved his BJ Ryan until he got hurt. We all know the lack of success the Toronto teams have had, since, ummmm, well a long time, the question tonight is, forget the losing, or the lack of winning, did our teams fail us by not having players we could “idolize” for lack of a better term?
I still love sports. I am as nutty as I was way back when. I still know all the Leafs and the Jays, and I really try with the Raptors. So, I don’t think in this situation it is me. I really think our teams have failed to provide the fans with type of players that we can really endorse as our own. Part of that may simply be because we don’t really draft any of our own talent (at least in hockey). I mean, every player that the Leafs draft is the next coming of Wayne Gretzky, but in reality we are left with more Jeff Ware’s than anything else. Leaf fans for the most part adopt every player who wears the blue and white as one of our own, yet still , over the years we have failed to have that one player we really call our own. Yes there are lots of Sundin jerseys and lovers out there. I saw the same number of Mccabes and Tucker’s too. Since the first Gilmour era ended, or even before that, have we had the player here that we really identified as or own? I don’t think we have- certainly not in hockey.
The last winning team we had was the Jays. That team was stocked with guys we loved, I don’t recall how many were drafted as our own, but those teams, those players people loved(and YES winning certainly helps). Since then there is but one guy really, Doc who people really marvel at. Who else has played for the Jays that people have really gone gaga over since the winning days? People loved Hentgen. When he came back they really wanted it to work out. Unfortunately it didn’t. I got the sense that Reed Johnson could have been one of those types of players before JP cut him loose.
On the Raptors, we had Damen. Then Tracy, then it was Vince and not Bosh. We have such the inferiority complex about playing for the Raptors that we are desperate for someone to say I want to be here. Truth be told, we don’t really attach to any of the players.
Who knows, maybe I am totally full of shit. All I know is that my 6 year old dances around talking about Crosby and Ovechkin. Whom on the Leafs should he be talking about? Who over the last 10 years should he have been talking about? I think our teams have failed us not by not winning (winning is hard), but rather but not providing us the fans with the types of players we deserve. Has sports gotten so big, change so common that we truly will never have what we did years ago? I don’t think so. I think the Toronto teams in general, and I mean the big 3, have failed to provide the best that there is in their sport. Doc is the exception. He has always been amongst the best players at his position in his sport. Has he been, therefore amongst the best players in his sport overall? I am not sure on that (and I am not saying he hasn’t been).
I think it’s too bad. I look at our teams today, again, with the exception of Doc, and I don’t see a player who i would rush out to watch perform. That isn’t to say that they aren’t good athletes nor good at what they do. They aren’t exceptional, or extraordinary. I don’t think the players have to be the best to earn that attention, but if they aren’t they need to be “special” in other ways. The Toronto teams haven’t really produced that over the years. As a parent these days, I am watching more and more sports with my kids as they become more and more interested. Their mother is from Detroit, it’s a hell of a lot more intriguing for them to root for the Red Wings than our Maple Leafs. the talent is superior and the characters more engaging.
I hope our teams improve in that way. I think that is one of the reasons Burke really wanted a Tavares. It’s pretty hard winning without that franchise player. We have none right now and it’s hard to see any on the horizon. So many people assumed that Rick Nash would be a key target for Burke next season. That isn’t happening. Burke’s job just got much, much more difficult. I think my ability to turn a Red Wing fan into a Maple Leaf one too has become more difficult as well.