Monday, September 29, 2008

Do the Leafs include this stuff in their media guides?

As Leafs fans, we're used to reading the same sort of repetitive dribble from the Canadian Sports Media. Like it or not, Torontonians love to read about Toronto, the rest of Canada likes to read bad things about Toronto, so naturally combining the two in an area of journalism generally devoid of standards or factual basis seems like a great idea.

The 1967's, the concept of the Leafs fans as the root cause of the ills of the team, the idea that an organization hellbent on profit would somehow be content to miss out on an insanely lucrative post-season, the concept that the very readership is deaf dumb and blind, the hypocrisy from day to day, and the false assertion of the franchise as perennial losers are just a few of the cliches bandied about by most major organizations in Canada. Then re-hashed and remouthed by the mouth breathers that believe them while lacking basic research skills.

I like reports on the Leafs by American institutions, whether it's simply watching a game on a yankee feed, a news article, or a blog post. It makes for a refreshing change of pace, while clearly not unbiased it's a different take over the pump-you-up over the top coverage by TSN and CBC or the I-hate-you-and-my-job hackery published by more unsavory elements.

PPP over at his great Leafs blog gave props to Puck Daddy yesterday on a surprisingly fair assessment of the upcoming season, albeit in his usual ascerbic style. I was then informed by Puck Daddy's readers that he needs to work on his personal hygiene.

I don't usually read Ross McKeon over at Yahoo! Sports, he usually makes strong assertions and predictions without any sort of basis and I'd never listen to him about my fantasy team. It's basically "X matches up against Y, X will prevail" and "N will fare poorly this season", as a fan I don't count on the merits of win/loss predictors. Most people, including Ross, were expecting the Habs to finish last season where the Leafs are expected to finish this year.

But he did a Leafs preview and some things caught my eye:

"this season general manager Cliff Fletcher and new coach Ron Wilson have suggested the team might have to take two steps back to take one forward.

That may not appease the passionate fans that make up the self-proclaimed center of the hockey universe, but there is no other way to take shortcuts. The Leafs have to strip it back, go young, be patient and hope to improve."

Wait a second here, something seems familiar about that sentence. I've already discussed this, but the passionate fans are not the ones upset that nobody's declaring us as cup favourites, and revoking their die-hard cards. The passionate ones are the ones who are supporting this team even though every indication points to it being a stinker. The ones jumping ship because the team is finally rebuilding after all the false hope? Losers.

Also, the "self proclaimed" center of the hockey universe? Funny, the last time I saw a Leaf fan say that they were being sarcastic. In fact, the only time I ever really see that phrase is with "self proclaimed" in front of it, which makes me wonder who's really doing the proclaiming here. Americans seem to love going along with the "Toronto = hockey" thing, Toronto's the biggest city in the biggest hockey country in the world, with both the headquarters of the NHL and the Hall of Fame. But come on now, it's not like we're waging war on Detroit for the ridiculous title of "Hockeytown" with titanium sticks and depleted uranium pucks.

The thing is, McKeon puts together a perfectly decent and detailed article, stressing the need for patience, youth, and drafting into the future. He doesn't bash the signing of Finger, he acknowledges the difficulty a rebuilding team has in luring top free agents. He says what everyone needs to say to themselves, Leaf fan or no, that it's probably best to cut ties with Sundin. Finally he stresses that defense and hard work are what's going to make this team down the stretch.

So why the need to toss off one liners about the fans? Even better, if Toronto is the center of hockey then shouldn't we know when a team needs to come down? Where is this stuff coming from?

Ross and Yahoo! have no axe to grind with the Leafs, so I can assume that no real malice is being added here, he wrote that because he believes it to be true. Or... he believes that we believe it to be true. Or something.

So is our media so pervasive that it's causing international ripples, that soon people in Argentina will believe that Torontonians all hate to see a listless organization given direction at the expense of false promises? That there's some sort of overarching belief in Toronto's superiority and destiny as a hockey city? Or, even worse, is the vocal base of Leaf haters who believe in the Coxs and Bergers of the world spreading their message to people who shouldn't even care?

We're sports fans, we want our team to do well, and we get a little down when they don't. There happen to be a lot of us in one place for the relatively small game of hockey, but please stop trying to make our fanbase out to be something different because of that.

No comments: