February 23, 2009

Idiots and more idiots

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

The title describes the two types of people that make the so-called “Leaf Nation.” It’s long been known that fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs are among the dumbest in professional sports. People become so proud of the sad-sack franchise that they’ll go to retarded lengths to defend its’ honour. In fact, I once met a guy in Montreal that was wearing a Philadelphia Flyers jersey and had a bloody nose. Apparently a Leafs fan didn’t like the fact that the Flyers bested their team in the previous playoffs – nearly six months prior at the day.

Well, just when I figured that the Leafs and their fans couldn`t get any dumber, their former captain came to town. Mats Sundin`s return to Toronto as part of the Vancouver Canucks was probably the most anticipated ex-pats return to the Big Smoke since Vince Carter`s banishment. But Sundin didn`t receive the Carter treatment (boos every time he touches the ball). No, he received a standing ovation.

WHY????

Sundin left the Leafs after last season and semi-retired, basically saying, “I don’t want to play for a non-playoff team. He picked up his things and left town as soon as he possibly could, leaving the team in the lurch, not knowing for sure if he’d be back or not. You might not think that would’ve been too bad, but this came after the Leafs a had a deadline trade in place to ship off the captain to a contender; too bad he refused to waive his no-trade clause because he didn’t want to be a “rental player.”

So what has he become after signing with Vancouver – who is a contender – halfway through the season? That’s right: A rental player; the very thing he didn’t want to become. If he had changed his stance on starting with a team midway through a season before the 2008 trade deadline, Toronto could have raked in at least some compensation. Instead, Sundin, who says he cared deeply for the Leafs and their fans, essentially screwed over the team.

And he got a standing ovation for the Air Canada Centre crowd on Saturday night.

Also, in another stunningly dumb move, the ACC staff put together a highlight package of Sundin’s time with the team and showed it during the game. Of course, this garnered much applause and even players on the Maple Leafs bench stood up and cheered. If I were running this team, those who applauded an opponent would be suspended or fined.

Then, far too fittingly, the game came down to a shootout and Sundin was the third Canucks shooter and had a chance to win the tilt for Vancouver. He potted the puck off a signature backhand and guess what: the crowd applauded the man who had just beaten their team. If that isn’t as idiotic as you can get, well I don’t know what you could do to achieve a lower IQ.

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