I wrote this piece a few years back, maybe 2006, about my life-long disagreement with Toronto Maple Leaf Fans. Believe it or not, some of them are actually my friends. The piece below was written before John Ferguson Jr was fired, before the last season of the "McCabe experience", and before Brian Burke became GM. I just believe this old essay of mine is relevant because the NHL preseason is starting soon and the Leafs have not made the playoffs since before the Lockout. AND the smart money is that they will suck yet again this year, draft another top 7 pick, and that Burke may want to run the team with the objective to lose a few extra games. He could never come out and say it, but if you are a Maple Leafs fan looking 3 years down the road, tanking the season may be the best hand that you can play in 2009/10. Somebody should market a "Taylor Hall 2010 Toronto Maple Leafs" hockey T-shirt and sell it, though they will look silly when Taylor Hall is wearing another team's NHL jersey on draft day.
Anyway, what bugs me about Leaf fans...
Diagnosing Larry Murphy Syndrome
I should perhaps explain what it is that makes me allergic to Leafs Fans. Generally, they are excellent “fair weather” fans, who act proud and passionate. Perhaps a little too mouthy for the lack of hardware the Leafs have collected in recent memory, but that is generally accepted, often encouraged fan behavior. And no, they do not pass out team rings to the team that eliminates Ottawa from the playoffs.
The nuisance of Leafs Fans comes when the weather turns foul. When the team starts losing, Leaf Nation becomes afflicted with a pandemic that I like to call “Larry Murphy Syndrome” after a great player chased out of town. Rewind to 1997, when the Leafs finished second to last in the Conference. That season, I had the privilege of attending a Leafs vs. Red Wings game at Maple Leaf Gardens. Larry Murphy, then the top scoring defenseman for the Leafs was condemned by Leafs fans, and each time he stepped on the ice or touched the puck, the fans erupted with booing and jeering. Leafs fans blamed him for their futility, forcing the GM to unload him on the Detroit Red Wings for future considerations. Mr. Murphy laughed all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, drinking from Lord Stanley’s Cup while the rest of the Leafs were hard at work on the golf course. He was the missing link for the Red Wings, collecting 11 pts that year in the post-season.
You see, in Leaf Country, nobody will say “we simply got beat by a better team.” Somebody is always to blame. I define Larry Murphy Syndrome as “a concurrent characteristic combination of opinions and emotions of a large group of fans that believe they are qualified to run the hockey team.” When a fan base becomes afflicted with Larry Murphy Syndrome, more often than not it forces the General Manager to make bad business decisions to appease the fans who believe that they are smarter than the qualified manager. This Syndrome is spread through over-exposure to a media machine that also believes itself to be of superior intelligence to team management. Having grown up in Ontario, I am painfully aware of the “media bubble” that has engulfed the province.
Toronto has now missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons and the amount of negative energy and anger simmering through the collective consciousness of “Leaf Nation” is on the verge of going Super Nova. Wikipedia defines the most common type of Super Nova as “the core of an aging massive star ceases to generate energy from nuclear fusion, it may undergo sudden gravitational collapse into a neutron star or black hole…” Sound familiar? If the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t turn things around soon, this is going to get ugly. Security will have to start patting people down for rotten vegetables at the gates, John Ferguson will need bulletproof glass for his suite in the press box, and Leaf fans will ultimately choose one or more players that are personally to blame…and then comes the booing.
Just ask Larry Murphy about his last season in Toronto.