So…the Leafs did a thing. You know, the thing that we were too scared to even say because, yes I love my team, and I believe in them, but they’re the Leafs. I have trust issues, okay? But because they did the thing, I can finally say, THEY ARE GOING TO FUCKING PLAYOFFS BABY!!!
I am a newly minted hockey fan. I knew giants played on frozen water, with knives tied to their shoes but I knew next to nothing about the sport itself. Then one day, for whatever reason, my youtube decides I should watch a video from one Steve Dangle. This was about a week before the World Cup of Hockey started, and Steve was talking about why he couldn’t root for Canada as they were the Goliath of Hockey, compared to (my forever and ever team, amen) Team North America, and the slightly insane person in me recognized a fellow lost cause, I guess. So I looked up the schedules and read a little bit about what Team North America was (Canada exists? And so does USA? But Team North America ALSO exists? Why? Who? What?). Fast forward to the first WCH Team NA game against Finland, and these little shits come out with guns blazing. And their goal song….the gimmick team, the one that was going to get schooled by all the Vets…these fuckers decided to play “Opposite of Adults” as their goal song, and I fucking fell, and fell hard. For the team, for the players, but most of all, for the game. The speed, the skill, the strategy, the beauty of every pass, every goal, the cellys, the heart palpitations and the emotional outbursts. I experienced every range of emotions while I watched the game, and I was hooked.
And to a girl who didn’t have any friends or family who were into any sports, let alone hockey, watching a guy on the screen scream back at me every single thought I had while I watched the game, was strangely enthralling. For a while back then, it was the only way to “share” the joy that this game was giving me, and that translated into me being tricked into rooting for Toronto Maple Leafs (Thanks, Steve!).
And my god, what a trip this has been! From the 4 goals by Auston Matthews in his first NHL game, to Mitch’s stunning first goal at the ACC, to Nylander’s dirty fucking snipes, to Hyman’s short handed goals, to Downtown Connor Brown’s amazing amazing season, to Zaits saving the team and my ass every single night, to Sosh’s chippy, fighty plays, to Kappy’s fashionably late, yet absolutely timely fucking first NHL goal. An absolutely ridiculous rookie crop! They broke so many records that the entirety of hockey media had a hard time keeping up with them. When else will you be able to experience such a team again? And I got to do it in the first fucking hockey season of my life. Talk about good fucking timing!
And the Vets were no less, of course. Naz, JVR, Bozie all having career years. Marty, Boyle and Leo, pitching in when needed and keeping the team afloat. Mo (Captain My Captain) jumping in like superman and making those saves. Gards, for all my threats to beat him with fishes, had some brilliant OT winners without which we wouldn’t be where we are. Connor fight me Carrick, with just relentless defense, tiring the other teams out. Hunlak, for as much shit as they catch, had some amazing moments towards the latter half of the season as well. And of course, Marchenko with that goal against his old team proving that it’s not just ex-Leafs that get that chance. Marincin, filling the defensive gap when needed. Leivo, taking every measly chance he was given to help this team out, and prove why he belongs on the team. And Fehr, of course, giving us a fehr chance against CBJ, maybe winning us that game, even.
And last but by no means least, Andersen and McElhinney. By his own team’s admittance, Freddie has been the heart and soul of the team, and I have no doubt that they wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for how absolutely amazing Freddie had been this season. Goaltending, so many times, is such a thankless job. You don’t get the recognition you deserve sometimes when your team keeps winning, but as soon as the tide turns, the entire focus is on you, but Freddie faced that challenge and fucking stared it down, and in the process won all our hearts. And Mac, put in so many challenging situations, called to relieve Freddie twice, during make or break games, asked to start in games that could have sunk us, and coming through for the team.
This was a team that wasn’t even in the conversation for playoffs when the season started. They defied expectations, they fought tooth and nail to get where they are, and I for one, am so so proud to be a fan of this team. And I cannot ever express how wonderful and lucky I feel to be a part of this amazing season that this team has had. This, I firmly believe, is once in a lifetime experience, and I am terribly glad I got to experience it first hand. No matter what happens in the playoffs, I am proud to calling this mess of a team mine.
PS: Callout to all the Leafs GC gang and the friends on tumblr for giving me someone to scream with, and making the experience that much more amazing and memorable!
waaaait is there a link of zaits destroying cherry??
i don’t believe and i’d have no idea where to find the post now but it was after he signed his 7(?) year deal and he basically just said that cherry was a showman and that based on the crap he said, it was obvious he never watched any leafs games and that zaits doesn’t care what he says anyway, it was pretty savage and i love him for it
(if i can find the post, i’ll reboot it again so you can see!!)
okay i love zaits n im glad hes back but the espn alert said he had a CONCUSSION and its espn so idk how accurate that actually is but……..i hope to god they arent pushing him because i need him to be okay for real because i love him