An Open Letter to Loaf Fans

Item:  Toronto Maple Loafs fail to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 7th consecutive year.

Memo to Loaf fans in the so-called ‘Loaf Nation’: it is SERIOUSLY time to get a life. Believe this: the team will not win a Stanley Cup in your lifetimes; heck, it might not even make the playoffs. A proposed cure – anytime you want to root for the Loafs think of 300 pound+ Toronto Mayor Rob Ford naked. Then move on.

PS If you are a self confessed member of Loaf Nation and you voted for Ford, there is probably no hope for your recovery.

Truculence & Head Shots

Brian Burke is enough to bring a smile to my face on the grayest of November days. His “truculent” Loafs are once again the worst team in the NHL. His coach Ron Wilson is showing signs of serious brain wear. But that’s not ‘Burkie’s’ greatest achievement these days. No, it’s his response to the truculence of others that gives pause.

Burke’s acolytes among Toronto sports “journalists” are now commending him for taking charge in a recent NHL General Managers’ meeting. The panelists and scribes now assure us that there will be action against dangerous “head shots” because of the efforts of Burke and like-minded NHL hockey brainsters.  Puh-leez!

Perhaps taking a blind-side run with an elbow or cross check at an unaware opponent might merit a tougher penalty in future. How much does that really matter in a league that encourages fighting? Would any neurologist suggest that allowing, indeed inciting,  a 220 pound man to grab his opponent by the sweater and punch him in the face does not constitute a dangerous head shot? The blindness of the sports “journalists” in this regard is mind boggling.

The networks, with public broadcaster the CBC in the lead with Don Cherry basically waving pom-poms every time he sniffs a fight, are all complicit.  I shudder to think of the hypocritical sanctimony the CBC, TSN, The Score and Rogers Sportsnet will affect the first time an NHL player lapses into a coma or worse after a fight. In the meantime, the GMs and the broadcasters are equally hypocritical in feigning concern over head shots unless they’re delivered with a fist.  Ask Steve Moore whether he thought Todd Bertuzzi delivered legal fist shots to his head.


The Marvels of Testosterone

The worst start in the history of the franchise. That would be ZERO wins in seven games to date. That’s what big Brian Burke’s injection of “pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence” has wrought for the pathetic Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club. Pugnacity, male hormones and idiotic fighting on skates aside, the ‘Loafs’ just plain bite. Their goalkeeping is sub-standard. They have no scorers. (Woe to them if the next promised saviour Phil Kessel turns out to be another Jason Blake.) They have a defenceman Tomas Kaberle who would star for most teams, but Burke and his coach Ron Wilson spent the best part of a year denigrating Kaberle for his sophisticated approach to the position. Kaberle now appears confused. Last year’s promising rookie Luke Schenn is this year’s dull-witted, slow-footed sophomore. Maybe the startlingly handsome Schenn’s modeling assignments during the off season wore him out.

It has been a rude awakening for The Loaf Nation. The collective boy crush that the ‘sports media’ of Toronto had on Burke during the pre-season led many to predict that the Leafs were playoff bound for the first time in five years. A Toronto daily even ran a feature with admiring photos of Burke  surrounded by the supposed worthies with whom he has filled the executive suites at the ACC. Perhaps that brain trust will produce a win before November.

I’d bet that the likes of Don Cherry is delighted that almost all Leaf games feature a contrived display of fisticuffs at some point. NHL management is no doubt quietly satisfied that such displays often lead the highlight package in what passes for sports broadcast journalism. (Gary Bettman is sufficiently cynical to know that selling fighting is in fact a critical part of marketing the NHL.)

Hey, let the testosterone flow! This hockey fan will eschew the Loafs and the absurdist,  fight-riddled NHL while looking forward to some real hockey when the women’s Olympic tourney begins in February.