Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leafs Save Their Season (Possibly My Soul)

kaberle leafs versteeg
The Leafs just saved their season. Facing a daunting eight game losing streak (not to mention 11 losses in the last 12 games) and quickly down 3-0 to the Nashville Predators the Leafs stormed back and scored four power-play goals in the second period to take a surprising 5-4 lead. The Leafs won the game by the same margin, but not before making things interesting. They took a couple of penalties in the third which could have easily broken them. An ice-cold Jonas Gustavsson even had to relieve an injured J.S. Giguere. The Monster made some great saves and the Leafs preserved the win to halt their losing streak at eight.

This certainly saved the Leafs’ season and possibly Ron Wilson’s job. But, more importantly, I think it saved my soul as a Leafs’ fan.

After the Leafs went down 1-0 to the Nashville Predators I worried. The Leafs are a team that has trouble scoring goals which makes erasing even a one goal deficit arduous. The Leafs have already been shut out three times this season and have managed to score only one goal in three other games.

After giving up two more goals in a span of only ten seconds I was despondent. Joe Bowen described the Leafs’ start as disastrous. I began to write a bit of a eulogy. Not for the Leafs’ season, but for my passion.

All that went through my mind was at what point do I say enough is enough. At what point do I stop and refuse to watch the games. When do I realize that watching the Leafs’ find various heartbreaking ways to lose a game isn't actually fun - it's torture? When do I stop abusing myself in this manner?

The Leafs have found various ways to torment me since the lockout. At points I deluded myself into thinking they were good and they would come up just a few points short of the playoffs. At other points I knew they were horrible, but management didn’t care. At other points I knew they were bad and still watched losses mount with the “satisfaction” of knowing there would at least be a high draft pick (they still fucked that up too, going on mini runs over the last few weeks to drop their position). And, at the worst points, they tricked me into believing they were competitive and proceeded to lose every game – without the luxury of their own first round pick.

It’s been tough. I once described the Leafs as being able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I don’t know how I’ve managed to keep going.

But then something funny happened as I was eulogizing my faith. The Leafs scored a goal. And then they scored another goal. I was slowly being drawn back in. I was wary that this was a trick, but by the time the Leafs scored their goalie interference goal I was jumping up and down and yelling at the refs for disallowing that goal. I was back.

That called-back goal was the best thing to happen to this Leafs’ season. The Leafs haven’t won a game since Colton Orr blatantly interfered with the Panthers’ goalie and caused a minor stir across the league. The Karma Police definitely went after the Leafs hard for that. The Leafs scored a referee assisted win and they would pay for their transgressions.

And then the losing streak happened. Three weeks later we’re at this moment in time and the Leafs get a goal called back on a dubious call. Alright, that’s it, we’re even. The Universe can stop fucking us over.

The entire game I worried that the Leafs would blow their lead and I would have to post my depressing piece about how I no longer cared about the Leafs. Thankfully, I won’t have to.

This is my 100th post here and I was working on something a little longer and exciting to celebrate, but the Leafs don’t turn their season around every night. And they certainly don’t restore the faith in their long-suffering fan base every night.

I consider myself a loyal man. I pride myself on my willingness to forgive. I try to stay level throughout a tumultuous season. But even I was at my breaking point. I already pushed the panic button on the Leafs’ season in Florida last week and I was ready to admit that all was lost tonight. When I’m about ready to say it’s enough, it means it’s pretty bad.

But tonight changed everything. It’s only one win and the Leafs still need to fight the whole season just to sneak into the playoffs, but, once again, there’s hope. And sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.


Anonymous said...

great post. i felt exactly the same way... after 3-0 i said it was over but when schenn scored i had hope. then another amazing thing happened, lebda screws up (please bring back gunnarson) and they scored 4-1 when leafs were on a pp (i think). im glad we won and tomorrow we have to take advantage of the devils bad season.

ClaireBear said...

{snif} That was beautiful! I was listening to tuesday's game, and the thought of "oh god, i'm turning this off!" crossed my mind when it came to 3-0. I'm glad I resisted. Luke Schenn's goal came at a crucial time in the game. It made Leafs fans say with big goofy grins, "wait, what? oh my god, are you sure???" If the first period had ended with Nashville leading 3-0, I'm sure tons of televisions and radios would have been turned off during intermission.

btw, excellent point regarding Orr's "goal".

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