HiR:tb Toots (@warwalker)

Welcome to the Tribe, Little Guy

Somebody has a brand new Leaf fan in the family.

Somebody at this Brantford Garden Centre has a brand new Leaf fan in the family (Click image for larger version).

I was rushing home from the office with a hot meal for a sickly Spouse (I cook only the best take out dishes), late for an appointment at the bank to clean up the latest of my absurd little financial disasters.

It was Tuesday night.  The Leafs were set to face off at 7:30 (ed. showing my age here) 7:00 that night against the Capitals, needing to claim all the points left on the table, and further needing the Sabres to go oh-fer, in order to have a shot at the playoffs.  On April 5th, with three games left on the schedule, the Leafs were – for a change – playing a game that mattered.

I was excited, I was tired, I was harried.  I was charging along possessed by that momentous urgency that develops, seemingly of its own accord, out of the need to get too many things done in too short a period of time.  In addition to my pending nutritional errand and the dollars and cents issues, my mind was idly grappling with any number of a series of problems I’ve been trying to solve in this enormous and rapidly approaching assignment at work.

As I sped along Park Rd. north of Brantford, having relegated tasks concerning the operation of a motor vehicle to the hypothalmus, I was jolted from my near automatic state by a glimpse – just out of the corner of my otherwise occupied eye, mind you – of the sign pictured at left.

The car charged further north along the road, and I found myself glancing in the rear view mirror trying to make sense of the incomplete image of the letters left in my mind.

“I’m sure,” I told myself, “that the sign contained a message addressed to Brian Burke.”  And I was pretty sure that part of the message was something to the effect that our “prayers have been answered.”  I had to fight the urge to turn the car around and go back for a second look.  “I am a grown up person,” I told myself, “late for a meeting and with a starving and sick wife at home.”   This last bit, staring at myself sternly in the rear-view mirror, as I very determinedly did not slow down.   Willing myself to let maturity prevail over juvenile excitement and curiosity.

I am as shocked as you are to report that my car did not slow down that night;  I really wasn’t sure I had that in me.

The following morning, however, it was amazing how easy it was to talk myself into the naturalness, the reasonableness – no, the necessity of taking a slightly adjusted path to work.  One that took me past the sign, with my cell phone camera armed and ready.

Of course, most anyone who’s reading this is well aware by now that the jerkstore Tampa Bay Lightning were unable to conquer the Sabres that night and the Maple Leaf playoff dream died with about two minutes remaining in the Leafs/Caps 3rd period.  The game was tied, the issue between those two teams not yet sorted, but the conclusion of another season foregone and unhappy.  Still, with the play of James Reimer leading the way, there is much to be hopeful about among Leafs fans.  It is possible to believe that the team may have turned a very important corner since the All-Star break.

We’re not in the playoffs again this year, but I am happy that this team has instilled in me a sort of hope and excitement that feels youthful.  My love for the team has been re-invigorated over the last two and a half months.  There is a freshness for me about the idea of being a Leafs fan again; I’d say I’m not alone, judging by the sign pictured above.

2 comments to Welcome to the Tribe, Little Guy

  • Mysterious, but probably not referring to Burke divesting himself of ownership in the Chiliwack Bruins and their hearty moving-drama mess (WHL playoffs are reaching the second round; am pleased to note that the Spits have reached their second round as well, though not without some struggles on their own).

    Reimer looks very promising and I can only say as a hated Red Wings fan that’s the one area we’ve always lacked: always goaltender by committee, or some other team’s castoff (we had Bob Essensa, Bill Ranford, and Mike Vernon in quick succession while the likes of Fuhr and Potvin toiled in net for the Leafs) where we usually spend most springs in a fetal position praying that no soft goals get in to deflate momentum. Even Hasek would turn into a model of inconsistency come April, so there’s some good hope for the Leafs next year.

    • I take it you’re not of the “Chris Osgood is a legitimate Hall of Famer” crowd?

      I think I told you once before how Bob Essensa has become (and remains) a running joke for my buddies and I as a result of his spectacular flame-out for the Wings one of those years in the late 90’s, after one of our group (not me!) loaded up on Wings in the annual pool and pledged undying faith in Essensa’s abilities. Good times, at Essensa’s (and our buddy’s) expense.

      Reimer does look promising. I know that statistically, it’s not a good idea to try to evaluate whether he’s the real deal before a couple of seasons are up but I do love the way he plays, full of enthusiasm and determination, and with an incredibly even keel.

      For now, I just hope for one more Leafs win this year. Against the Habs tonight.