Where Is Your Toronto Maple Leafs Tipping Point

This is a hockey only city we are told. Our newspapers, television and radio stations cover hockey and the Maple Leafs almost exclusively. While the ACC may not be entirely sold out every single game, it certainly is close. Corporate tickets, sponsorships and advertising for the Toronto Maple Leafs are second to none in this market. We know more about the Maple Leaf players on a given day then any politician, actor and in some cases likely even our family and friends. The number of blogs covering hockey and the Leafs in this city is incredible. I swear when Al Gore created the internets the markets he envisioned were porn, travel, spam and of course Toronto Maple Leafs hockey.

I, like many of you weren’t alive the last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. I was in Maple Leaf Gardens when they los to Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. I am told I was there in (was it 1978) when we did battle with the Montreal Canadiens. I spent most of my Saturday nights at the Gardens during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. While I am not a Gord Stellick stats guru, I never missed a game.

So, here’s the question for you fellow Maple Leaf fans: How low do they have to go? Where is your breaking point? Are we all so delusional that we will just keep coming back for more, year after year? Or do we have a tipping point. How many times have you turned off the tv at the conclusion of another year and said ‘That’s IT!- I won’t watch again. Yet you follow every off-season move. Come training camp, you’ve read every article and you even listen to the call in shows after the exhibition games.

We’ve seen it with the Toronto Blue Jays. I know, baseball, it’s not our game. I went to so many Jays games as a kid. I was there at exhibition stadium. I was at the game when Windfield hit the seagull. I was there opening night at the dome. All those years, the not so good and the good I went to games. I knew every stat and useless tidbit about every player on the Jays from inception until the time they canceled the World Series. After that it wasn’t nearly as fun. Ownership changed, Gillick and Beeston left and suddenly it wasn’t the same Blue Jays. That being said- my tipping point moment was JP. From the get go I hated him. He just reminded my of Montgomery Burn’s pesky little sidekick on the Simpsons. Every time he opened his trap I wanted to smack him. What did it for me as a fan was his attitude when he used to talk to fans. When he undressed the player on the other team and then when he made the comment about it not being a lie when the teller of the lie knew the truth. I was done. Now, I pay attention, but I am not certain I am going to go. I asked my son today if he wanted to go to a game and the 7 year old said no.

Like JP, I didn’t like JFJ either. I suffered through every miserable move and interview the guy gave. I bent, but I never broke. No matter how frustrated I’ve been, no matter how many times I’ve turned off the television – I always come back. WHY? I have no idea. I used to joke that my blood was blue and white. What is it about the Maple Leafs that captures our attention and our hearts? Why do we keep watching. I know the lovable losers thing. It’s got to be more than that though doesn’t it?

I’ve just turned 38. I said to a friend the other day, 2 years. The Maple Leafs have to be back on track to respectable by the time I’m 40 or I’m done. “Done?” he laughed, “You will never be done”! Personally, I hope Burke gets this team back on track in 2 years so I don’t have to decide. But, I ask you- what would it take for you to write them off? If the Maple Leafs finish dead last next year and win the lottery for the Boston Bruins, will that do it for you? Will 5-7 more years of non-playoff teams do it? If they play so poorly this year that they are a lottery team, missing the playoffs and Brian Burke loses his job (as Greg Brady predicts would happen if they are a lottery team next year) – are you done? If Phaneuf, Schenn, Kessel don’t improve, if Kadri can’t score and Gustavsson is the next Toskala- will you throw in the towel????? What would it take for you to walk away? Is there nothing so bad that could happen that you find another team?????????

I’m not hoping for any of this to happen. I remain helplessly devoted to the blue and white. I’m just curious where your tipping point is, if it exists at all.

TSM

@yyzsportsmedia

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DurtyBurt
DurtyBurt
April 19, 2010 9:22 am

Here’s the problem with the Leafs and us Leaf fans, every time it gets so bad that we’ve lost all interest they so the slightest little thing to regain that interest. For example, by the end of the JFJ years I was done, not watching games and publicly declaring that I was finnished. Then they fired Maurice, Then JFJ (thank god). When Burkie came into town that was someting to be excited about. This year is also the case, by January I wasn’t watching games, then Burke pulled off that big trade(s) and suddenly I was all about it again. Just when you think you’re out they pull you back in…;

DurtyBurt
DurtyBurt
April 19, 2010 1:24 pm

i honestly don’t know if thats even possible, its a very strange relationship we have with this organization….. maybe a respectable team in hamilton?

Daniel
Daniel
April 19, 2010 1:50 pm

I’m not really a ‘typical’ Toronto sports fan, I think. For me, for whatever reason, the Jays have been the team that I will follow and go to games no matter how bad things get.

The Leafs on the other hand, have lost me a little bit over the past five years or so. But certainly not for good. I’m still a fan, but my interest is sort of on pause at the moment. Once good things start happening at the ACC, I’ll definitely start taking more of an interest. (Something tells me they’re not exactly missing my support in the meantime).

In that way I think I’m actually the exact opposite of most T.O. sports fans. Most love the Leafs no matter what, but are frustrated by the Jays and waiting for them to turn it around before caring again. Not sure why I went the flip way, but there you go.

Rob Janssens
Rob Janssens
April 19, 2010 5:03 pm

The breaking point would be this ludicrous scenario: they finish 2nd-last overall but without a lottery pick, miss the playoffs 5 years in a row, win 1 playoff series in 8 years, build around college free agents, trade for the most over-rated player in the league (according to his colleagues) and likely name him captain, and go 43 years without making it to the Cup final. If this tsunami of events ever happened, I’m sure the fans would permanently bail.

lt67
lt67
April 19, 2010 5:40 pm

I support my local teams no matter what….I would not change the number of Leafs games I go to per year (~6-8) no matter what…and I’d still watch the same number of games…

Sad perhaps, but that’s my story.

Nealio
Nealio
April 19, 2010 6:00 pm

I’ve been taunted, rediculed and verbally abused by every Leaf Hater this side of the Maritimes since I moved here from Toronto almost 10 years ago.

In fact, out here it’s especially bad with the amount of Habs & Sens fans there are compared to Leaf supporters.

But I would never, ever, consider completely giving up on the Buds. Lord knows some seasons have been really really hard on us, but yet somewhere buried deep inside there is always that glimmer of hope. And I find it seems to re-appear just when it looks like there is nothing left to hope for. So many things can trigger that feeling and for me once it’s lit again I feel like something that was missing is back. The only problem is, it’s so damn fleeting these last few years. It comes a lot less, and lasts for shorter lengths of time. Or at least until Burke came on board and even though it hasn’t yet translated into the Wins column, I still feel like maybe this time it might stick around just a little longer.

Hope…faith…healing, the cycle goes round and round. My allegiance to the Leafs is honestly like religion to me. Is that a bad thing???? lol

Capn2patch
Capn2patch
April 19, 2010 9:45 pm

I moved to Toronto in my mid twenties, and had spent my youth living on a steady diet of Canadiens hockey. After being here for a while, I was turned off by the mindless loyalty of Leafs fans and only saw the same in Hab fans back home after I recognized it here. That was the tipping point for me.
I see much less of it here now, I can only assume because the Leafs have been horrible for so long that expectations from the fan base have also simmered.

I will always be a hockey fan, Leaf or otherwise. At this point I’m from Missouri, you need to show me. And not just talk, Burke is the Master of Talk, but I need to see results to believe in this organisation.

BlueBuds
BlueBuds
April 21, 2010 11:58 am

“ok- so the question is- what would they do – if anything to lose you for good?”

Other than folding as a club there really isn’t much they can do to turn me totally away. I mean if they continue to suck and get worse and continue onward like that for years to come, well my interest in the team, news on the team or any team related stuff dwindles down to a state where I barely even notice it gone or there. Like the teams in the 80’s, you just find something else to fill those cold winter nights besides the nightly let downs those teams gave us. Its not giving up on them, but rather there is only so much losing one should take.

Brett
Brett
April 23, 2010 4:21 pm

No tipping point! I am afraid I will watch until the day I die. I was born the year after they won the last cup. I lived throught the horrendous 80’s watching the Leafs. I still get sick to my stomach when I think about the 93 playoffs. I cried when Wendel was traded. But there is still something that draws me back. I will watch a game where they are getting blown out and I will turn off the TV. Then subconsciously I will be looking at my watch to make sure I turn it back on to see if they made a comeback. Again, this year, my leafs finished 2nd last in the entire league and I am telling everyone about how optimistic I am about the coming season. With all the turnover last year and a few free agent signings or trades (for some top line forwards) we are back in the game. Go figure

ontrains
ontrains
April 23, 2010 4:46 pm

Moved to B.C. from Ontario fourteen years ago and have never been insulted,trashed,ridiculed more in my life for being a Leafs fan than here.I like the Canucks cause I live here but the Leafs will always be my team!!I was two when they last won the cup and I’m waiting for cup # 2 in my lifetime still to this day.I’m a realist:it’s gona take a while!My last hope was back in the early 90’s.Lets see what happens next.:-)

Kokomo
April 24, 2010 3:31 pm

I have loved the Leafs since I was a young kid. Saturday nights were spent glued to the TV watching hockey and sharing a huge bowl of popcorn my Mom made. I agonized through the lockout. I will be a Leafs fan forever.

Rob Janssens
Rob Janssens
April 25, 2010 7:44 am

Kokomo:
You’re a longtime Leafs fan and what agonized you was the lockout?! You may have been too busy sharing popcorn to watch the actual performance on the ice where the true agony has laid for lo these 4 decades

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