I have been in a tumultuous relationship with my hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, for most of the last decade. After years of disillusionment and heartbreak I have decided it is time to break up with the team and move on with my life.
Why I broke up with the Toronto Maple Leafs
The lead up to each season was like preparing for a blind date. Coaches and columnists would describe the new players that were going to be part of the team. Most of these players were strangers, toiling in the minors with little media coverage. Alternatively, they had been playing for other teams and had received little Toronto media coverage.
The best qualities of these new players were always promoted by the media and excitement would build for the start of the new season and the blind date would be revealed. The weeks before the big reveal the excitement would build and I would begin to plan my schedule around the evenings I would be spending with my new and improved team. When the preseason would roll around and the team revealed itself, I would be giddy with anticipation. The preseason games invariably showed a team that would dominate their division. My team’s best qualities would be on display as the season opened and one victory followed the next.
Just like any new relationship, I would become totally invested in my team. I would spend untold amounts of money paying outlandish prices so I could be close to my team as they showed off just for me. And then of course there were the gifts I bought to show my undying support, the home jersey, the away jersey, and of course the numerous ball caps showing every facet of my devotion.
But then the true colours of my relationship would start to appear. There would be some clues that my team was not the team that was advertised when I accepted the blind date. Leads in the third period that turned into losses, soft shots that squeezed by a goalie who had been impenetrable, and gimme goals that could not find the back of the net. And then just when I was starting to plan the wedding, I mean the Stanley Cup parade, my world would come crashing down.
Loss would follow loss and I would become embarrassed to wear my jerseys, afraid people would be snickering at my persistence to support a team that was not keeping its part of the relationship contract. And then there would be that fateful day when the ability of my relationship to move to the next level would be determined to be mathematically impossible. There would be no scheduling around best-of-seven series, there would be no late night sudden death overtime nail biters, and there would be no parade.
Instead, there would be fits of jealousy as friends boasted about their blossoming relationships with their Hawks or their Bolts. From my depths of despair I would entertain thoughts about watching the basketball playoffs or even worse, regular season baseball. But invariably I would begin to think about the possibilities of next season, who would be traded to my team, if we would pick up a top free agent or get the number-one draft pick, then my relationship would be saved.
But this year is different. I am not entertaining thoughts about next season. Instead I am thinking it might be time to go on a blind date with another team and see if a new relationship will be more successful.