Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Maple Leaf Fans Classier Than Their Sportswriters

I was rather astonished to hear that Toronto sportswriter Damien Cox as well as a CBC Hockey Night in Canada round table commentator  (I can't remember who) take Toronto Maple Leaf coach Ron Wilson to task for not pulling goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the final 90 seconds of a 3-3 tie against the Montreal Canadiens last  Saturday night. The rationale behind the move was to score the winning goal in an attempt to put the Canadiens out of the playoffs.
"That's awful by Ron Wilson," the Toronto Star's Damien Cox scolded on Twitter during the game's final minute when it became clear Giguère wasn't leaving his crease. "Essentially conceding the point that puts the Habs into the postseason. Makes Leafs look even more pathetic." Montreal Gazette
Of course the Maple Leaf coach scoffed at the idea, showing a lot more class then the two dim-wit commentators calling such a move "fooling around with the integrity of the game."

Nobody in Montreal expected the Leafs to roll over and die so that another Canadian team could make the playoffs, it would be unethical. But certainly nobody would expect the Leafs to sacrifice their integrity by pulling a goalie for the express reason of putting another Canadian team out of the playoffs. The idea is sad and juvenile and says a lot about the type of person the reporter is.

I've been to the Air Canada Centre this year and enjoyed the experience, especially the fans. The team boutique was actually selling Montreal Canadiens hockey shirts. The fans were extremely nice to us as we rooted for the Canadiens and I felt empathy for the frustration that they felt, pulling for a team so bereft of talent. I don't think most Maple Leaf fans would consider it a great achievement to pull a goalie in a lame effort to drag the Canadiens down. As for Damien Cox, he must be a miserable person, someone who the Germans best describe as suffering from a dose of "Schadenfreude."

Mr. Cox fools himself if he believes that there is anything left to the The Canadiens / Leafs rivalry, it has long since died, a victim of expansion and more importantly the lack of talent iced by both teams over the last fifteen years.  Long gone are the days of bated anticipation of  Eddie Shack / John Ferguson confrontations and the coaching duel between 'Punch' Imlach and 'Toe' Blake. Yes, gone are the glory days.
Even the nicknames were better in those days- "The Chief",  "The Flower, "Rocket," "Pocket Rocket," "The Big M," and the "The Entertainer"  aaahhh..the good old days..

I can't imagine Red Fisher, Rejean Tremblay or any other Montreal sportswriter, English or French saying something so stupid and mean-spirited. The Green-eyed monster of jealousy seems to be alive and well in the Maple Leaf press room.

I along with other Montreal Canadiens fans look forward to meeting the Leafs in the playoffs someday. Until then I root for all Canadian teams to make the playoffs as I expect most Canadians do.

The Leafs and the Canadiens both deserve better teams, but the Leafs deserve better sports commentators as well.

 Here' s a reminder of the good old days........

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