Watching The Leafs Isn’t Fun Anymore

I remember the days when I couldn’t wait for the clock to hit 7PM. I’d run upstairs, put on my Curtis Joseph jersey, and plant myself in front of the television with my family. The Toronto Maple Leafs were on and nothing else mattered. If it was a school night, I’d watch the first period, sometimes the second as well, and then go to bed with the voice of Joe Bowen booming through my radio. It was fun. I was 8-years-old and loved every minute of it. This is how I grew up.

I didn’t hate any of the players. I didn’t question why someone was a healthy scratch. I didn’t watch the game and wonder why we couldn’t penetrate through a neutral zone trap. I just watched the game. I watched my heroes. I watched Mats Sundin put the team on his back when he needed to. I watched Curtis Joseph “tackle” a referee in Ottawa. I watched Garry Valk score a game-winning goal in overtime in Pittsburgh. I watched Mario Lemieux’s banner lowered when he returned to the NHL, right before he lit up the Leafs in his first game back. I was in awe with all of it. Wow, this is hockey. I love this game!

As I grew up, I consumed more hockey. I listened to the analysts on TV and the radio until I could predict what they were going to say. I learned about the business side of the game. I also learned about the dark side of the game. The side that isn’t about watching and cheering. But rather, the side of the game that is about watching and criticizing.

All of a sudden, I found myself immune from cheering for specific players. I can’t even remember the last time I had a favourite player on the Leafs. Sure, I own a Nazem Kadri jersey and his picture is my cover photo on my Facebook page, but is he my favourite player on the team? No. I don’t have a favourite player on the team.

I know too much. The game isn’t innocent anymore. I can spot bad players now. I can notice when Phaneuf is skating in quicksand, yet still receives the most ice time. I recognize that our 4th line is pretty much non-existent.

Not only do I witness this on my own, but I’m constantly reminded of it by the analysts on TV. The same analysts I grew up watching and made sure I never missed a word they said. Now, I couldn’t care less what they have to say. I change the channel at intermissions. I unfollow some of them on Twitter. I simply can’t take it anymore.

I’ve never heard people talk about “shots on goal” so much in my life. One more time and I may just vomit for half an hour. I’m tired of all the backhanded jokes the media make on Twitter that poke fun at the Leafs. No wonder everyone hates the Leafs, we’ve become a punchline to every joke. Leafs fans even hate the Leafs.

I wish I didn’t know this side of the game. I enjoyed watching the Leafs much more when I was a kid and had no idea there were people that criticized and over-analyzed everything.

I hate going on social media and seeing “fans” overreact to everything they see. Everyone has an opinion, I get it, and I’m not saying mine is any more right than others. But, it’s tiresome.

Listen, I know our team defence is terrible. I know that we have goalie problems. I know that we aren’t playing to our potential. I know all of this. I’ve watched over 1000 Leafs games in my life, believe me, I know.

It’s simply not fun to watch a Leafs game anymore. I find myself watching the Toronto Raptors on nights when both teams play. Call me a “fake fan” or a “bandwagoner” all you want, but I can assure you I am neither of those things.

I still care about this team. I’m just tired of the way I have to watch them. I watch them in fear, thinking that every shot is going to get deflected and find its way to the back of our net. I watch them and recognize everything that people will criticize them for. I listen to the commentators talk about every negative thing they possibly can.

I haven’t heard one analyst, all year, say that it was wise to bring back Tyler Bozak and get rid of Mikhail Grabovski, even though this is true. I guess that is too much of a positive.

I don’t want to hate the team I grew up loving. That is not an option. I just don’t want to know more than I need to about this team. I just want to watch and enjoy a hockey game. If they suck, then they suck.

But the game has become more than just what they do on the ice. It’s about what the coach says to the media. What the goalies say to the media. What people are, unfortunately, saying to Reimer’s wife on Twitter. All this baggage that has nothing to do with putting a puck in the net. This extra noise is deafening and nauseating.

I’ll always be a Leafs fan, and I’ll never quit on this team. Heck, I’ll be the first one on Yonge Street if they win a Stanley Cup in my lifetime. I just wish I could enjoy the games like my 8-year-old self did, Curtis Joseph jersey and all. The games were fun back then. Now, not so much.

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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86 Responses to Watching The Leafs Isn’t Fun Anymore

  1. markbialczak says:

    Welcome to life as an adult sports fan, Paul. Try to keep some of the joy, if you can.

    Like

  2. A true fan is one that sticks with the team through thick and thin. As a Ducks fan, we’ve had some thick days. Granted, not to the level that the Leafs have had. Chin up man. It’ll be fun again soon.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hey, thanks for the comment! I’m still a true fan, it’s just all the extra noise around the team I’m getting tired of hearing. The Leafs have struggled for a long time, I don’t have a problem with that. Congrats on your Ducks this year!

      Like

  3. awax1217 says:

    With time the passion is limited as the names come and go and getting steam up for the next season requires more coal.

    Like

  4. segmation says:

    Nice you are a Leaf fan. I just think in your case you should turn off all social media concerning them. Sounds like social media really bothers you. I think it is a great way to connect to one another for social media. Maybe this kind of social media it isn’t for everyone?

    Like

    • Paul says:

      I still like to know what’s going on with the team, but sometimes too much information is too much. Maybe you’re right. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  5. fireandair says:

    I finally got away from hockey for many of the same reasons although for a different team with just as insanely devoted a following (emphasis on insane). It just sucks up too much time and energy that I don’t want to waste watching other people do things, and the depth of the hatred that wells up related to it just creeps me out. The deep, uncontrolled, primal rage that it seems to stir up just makes me think of rabid animals. There came a time when I just sort of sat back and thought, “Why am I getting myself so worked up over something that doesn’t matter?” Entire weekends would be ruined by Saturday matinee games, weekends that could otherwise have been spent getting actual shit done.

    Like you, I will be happy if that team does win big, but … it’s become one of those things that can’t be unthought. I can’t get that worked up over it anymore, and when I see people who do, I feel sort of like Jane Goodall.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Well said! I think I’ll always watch every single game and I’ll probably still pay attention to all the media hoopla, but certainly not as much as I have in the past. I’d rather view my favourite team in a positive light. Then again, winning solves everything and all the negative comments around the team could turn positive in the future. We’ll see. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  6. Azure James says:

    Is there any reason Leafs fan fight with Sabres fans so much?

    Like

  7. itsteen0440 says:

    Coming from a HUGE whole life Buffalo Sabres fan I have to say I love the rivalry of the Sabres and the Leafs. Yes, you fill our arena during the matchups but that makes it more fun!! I grew up with football and hockey. My father taught us at a very early age about the two sports. We spent many nights with tin foil on the antenna of the TV just to see a game. And I, as you, enjoyed those days when it was just a game and at the end you heard from the coach but did not get all the baggage that comes with the team on social media. I DISLIKE greatly when they interview players and coaches during the game. Focus is the word my dad would probably use today if he were alive and seeing that take place. He was a coach for years for football (little league) and believe me during a game the last thing he would do is take a minute away from his focus on the team. He always felt during that time they deserved his full attention. Coming from Toronto you know the agony we feel in Buffalo. All of our teams are horrible, owners are great but teams just can’t seem to get out of their funks.
    Yet, still, there I am every hockey night racing in from our barn to see the last period of a game. My 9 year old son will DVR great plays (few and far between) so that I can see what I am listening to on the radio while in the barn.
    We are a hockey family. We split season tickets and complain every year why we do this…I guess the answer is regardless of the complaints we sure love the team/game. We are fans!! I will say I felt that same glimmer of hope this year watching our new player, Girgensons!! Love his game and now I have something to be hopeful for next season and while it probably won’t be many wins, I will enjoy watching him develop as a player!! So while I won’t be chanting “Go Leafs Go” at our next match up, I will enjoy the game and the devoted Leafs fans making their way to Buffalo!!

    Like

    • Paul says:

      I love the rivalry between our teams! The fans are what make sports fun. I completely agree with you about the interviews during the game. The players and coaches never say anything insightful and are normally just sniffling their way through their answers. The Sabres are at the point the Leafs were at about 4 years ago. Young players and few wins. But you guys have some nice young pieces that should grow into special players within a few years! As for football, I apologize on behalf of Torontonians that we keep stealing the Bills away from Buffalo once a year for a game up here. Toronto is full of NFL fans, but not necessarily just Bills fans. We don’t want that team here; we know it’s not right. I have a lot of respect for Buffalo fans. Extremely loud and loyal. Thanks for this comment!

      Like

  8. Well said. I too, am an anguished Leafs fan. I wonder if I even care anymore. It’s just tiresome to see the same old crap.
    Great post.
    Mark
    http://www.minimalistlifestyle.wordpress.com

    Like

    • Paul says:

      It’s tough, and with the season currently slipping away I have no idea what’s next. Although it probably means that the media won’t let us hear the end of this collapse for a very long time if we do miss the playoffs.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

      • Is it wrong for me to actually WANT them to miss the playoffs?

        Lose tomorrow against the Wings and it’s over.

        Sigh.

        Like

      • Paul says:

        Not wrong at all. It would probably force them to make meaningful changes in the off-season. I kinda miss Burke as the GM. He wasn’t afraid to make moves. Nonis was silent at the trade deadline.

        Like

  9. sitaatwal says:

    ‘If they suck…they suck’ Exactly! I’ve been watching them for about 20 years and I cheer/cringe/kick/scream/laugh/cry and skip all the negativity all the ‘important’ commentators make! I live in BC and get flack for not cheering for the Casucks and get to hear all the Leafs jokes and I’m fine we it. I love them when they on the ice…that’s enough for me 🙂

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Well said! That is exactly how the game should be enjoyed. I have a feeling bragging rights will be in your favour the next few years with the Canucks looking like a disaster of a franchise. Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  10. heybookworm says:

    Maybe I should be more sympathetic towards my husband during this tough time…

    Like

  11. Mike Andberg says:

    Paul,
    I really like your blog and the variety. Of course, what grabbed me the most was The Leafs post being the die hard hockey fan I am. I’m a Caps fan, so you can relate to my plight. I was young when they started in ’74 – it’s been almost 4o years without a Cup! Those first decades were tough, but like your seminal time rooting on the Leafs, they were magical. I even worked for the Caps as a statistician for 8 years and saw 350 home games over than span (of course, very few playoff games). As much as I don’t know what happened to the Caps this year, it’s hard to fathom how the Leafs have tanked lately (both teams are currently at 80 points and hanging by a net’s thread for the playoffs). May the best team win. Hang in there. Keep in touch (and tell ME to hang in there, too).
    I’m building my website and haven’t gone public with it yet. Will launch in mid-April.
    Mike
    http://mikeandberg.wordpress.com

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Hang in there Mike! The Capitals have shown glimpses of breaking through as an elite team but they’ve taken a step back in the last few years. The good thing is they have a legitimate superstar in Ovechkin. The bad news is their superstar doesn’t like playing defence. If that can change and they find a goalie to steal games for them, they can be a top 5-6 team in the East. Hopefully all this loyalty and struggle will pay off one day for one of us.

      Thanks for the comment and good luck on the website!

      Like

  12. dvdiva says:

    I enjoyed reading your post, despite the fact that I don’t completely understand sports fandom. I am more of a pop culture/TV/movie enthusiast but I refuse to be a bitter ender (some would call that a true fan). Your post reminded me of a favourite essay I read years ago and I am more in line with the Dad (your essay reminded me of the son).

    http://grantland.com/features/the-writer-sht-my-dad-says-why-your-team-give-damn-you/

    From one Canadian to another, congratulations on being freshly pressed!

    Like

    • Paul says:

      That is a great article! It’s very true, fans aren’t treated as individuals by teams. We’re just a group of people that continuously give our money to a cause that we think cares about us.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post and thanks for the kind words!

      Like

  13. worzelodd says:

    For pain and heart break, try being a lifelong Canucks Fan. I used to wish Orland Kurtenbach was my dad. I was a fan of Dave Bolon. I even have the Sedin tea-towells. But I will never give up hope.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Oh man, I feel bad for Canucks fans. You guys were so close and then Gillis messed up the team…or at least that’s how I see it. I never understood the Kassian for Hodgson trade. I think it was a knee-jerk reaction because the Canucks couldn’t handle Lucic in the finals. Meanwhile, the Canucks lost Hodgson – who would be a good secondary scorer. Then there’s the whole goalie debacle. I feel your pain. I think every fan of Canadian teams, except Montreal, are going through struggles right now. Doesn’t help that everything hockey related is magnified in this country.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  14. I’m a St. Louis Blues fan. You’re welcome to watch and cheer for them anytime you’d like! 😊

    Like

  15. I got a friend who always says; The Maple Leafs couldn’t even win an argument with a dummy. Hops this doesn’t offend anyone but this guy is right.

    Like

  16. There’s something wrong with a blue maple leaf.. yes.

    Like

  17. lmarks04 says:

    Hey they could make the playoffs. You never know. But I have heard the Toronto folks are huge hockey fans so good luck!
    dailyquizquestion.wordpress.com

    Like

  18. sarah says:

    As an Oilers fan, I feel your pain. It can be tough to just enjoy the game when there are so many negative opinions floating around… Like, yeah, we get it, they suck. If I have to hear about our terrible defence, or about how Yak isn’t performing, or waterbottle-gate one more time I might go bananas. I just wanna throw my jersey on, scream at the TV a little bit, & then get on with my life. I, like you, will be over the moon if the Oil bring Lord Stanley home in my lifetime. But at the same time, I don’t like how the politics of the game & the negative opinions of fans & analysts have taken some of the magic away. It’s tough to just love hockey these days.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      I hear ya! The Oilers are one of the secondary teams that I follow and want to succeed. I think the media put too many expectations on them calling them a possible playoff team before this season started. I think everyone forgets just how young all their good young players are. They’d all still be in college if they weren’t hockey players. In time, the Oilers will be good again. But yeah, all the negativity that surrounds our two teams is just getting annoying and makes the game less fun.

      Like

  19. worzelodd says:

    Hey Paul, the boy’s are winning at this time, thank you yes, I agree, Gillis rendered the Canucks. Good luck rest of the season man.

    Like

  20. Reblogged this on Michael Volkmanns Blog and commented:
    But it still is: go Leafs go 😉

    Like

  21. mikeladano says:

    Just shared this on Facebook for my mega-fan wife to read. Cheers!

    Like

  22. wishing your Leafs do well !

    Like

  23. michaelstokoe18 says:

    Reblogged this on Stokoe's Blog.

    Like

  24. omtatjuan says:

    Weren’t they up three goals with a minute to play and somehow they lost in a playoff last season.. Unbelievable. Go Sharks!

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Yup! That was the most gut-wrenching loss any Leaf fan has ever witnessed. Took us a long time to get over it. I love the Sharks! Great team, great depth, but the West is gonna be tough in the playoffs!

      Like

  25. Paul Gauchi says:

    As a fellow Leaf fan I agree with you. I grew up loving the leafs but once the game turned into a business and the media constantly talk about what is wrong witht he team I have had enough. I believe that Gary Betman ruined the game for me with all the lockouts and talk about money, the game suffered.
    Like what you said I am afriad to watch the leafs too. It no longer is a fun game to watch. I for one am now into baseball because I loved playing it as a kid. Now I run a baseball program at the school I work in, in TO.
    For me baseball still has that innocence that I remember. I am not a Blue Jays fan, I like the Yankees more because when I was small there were no Blue Jays. Yet I even though I like the Yankees I am more of a baseball fan than a specific team’s fan. Maybe that is why I like baseball more. I love listening ot the jays play on the radio, or the Yankees or the SF Giants. I just love the game.
    Like you I will always be a Maple Leafs Fan, but like you I am tired of all the negativity around the team. I too have stopped following them on twitter, facebook and on the Score apps. Maybe when they become fun to watch again I’ll do so and remember the day when I went to the Gardens and watched Sittler score 6 goals and 4 assists, or when the Leafs won game 6 in the playoff over the Sharks and I lost my voice cheering. That’s when watching the Leafs was fun.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for this great comment!

      I’m also a big baseball fan, specifically the Blue Jays since I grew up with them. I agree, the innocence is still in the game. Nothing better than just relaxing at the ballpark and enjoying a game.

      During the NHL lockouts the media would give us all these updates about the CBA and how far apart both sides are and interviewing guys in suits. To me, that isn’t hockey. That isn’t the game I grew up loving. That is interviewing business men who don’t lace up skates and are only interested in money.

      Lastly, that must have been amazing witnessing Sittler’s record in person! I wish I were alive for all the memories back then and Maple Leaf Gardens. I only got to go there once, right before it closed for an open practice – I was 8 years old.

      Again, thanks for the comment! Good to know fellow Leaf fans feel the same!

      Like

  26. Agreed I’m a Lakers fan.

    Like

  27. I’m not much of an NHL guy, but I dig your blog. Your honesty in supporting the Leafs qualifies you as an honourary Sydney Roosters fan.

    Like

  28. robertjhonathamsmith says:

    Reblogged this on Robert Jhonatham Smith and commented:
    robert jhonatham smith

    Like

  29. Kevibee says:

    Sucks to grow up, doesn’t it?

    It sounds like you have a problem with social media. Maybe give it a break during hockey season? It’s worth a shot to get that enjoyment back.

    Like

  30. Pingback: Freshly Pressed: Round 2 | The Captain's Speech

  31. lcarrll says:

    Try being a Sabres fan in Buffalo. Though its still fun to watch.

    Like

  32. I’m a Rangers fan, but in Major League Baseball, my team, the Mets, haven’t been in the playoffs for way too many years. I am tired of them losing. But I know that at one point, they will start winning. So I look at the upsides. He’s playing well. He’s making good catches. He’s pitching well.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Good point. If I’m not mistaken aren’t the Mets going to have a really great rotation in the next couple of years? As a Jays fan, Dickey hasn’t turned out as expected. You’re gonna love Noah Syndergaard.

      Like

      • Yah! But you see, at one point, the same will happen with your Leafs! And Syndergaard looks great. BTW, sorry about Dickey.

        Like

      • Paul says:

        Yeah Dickey complained at the end of the season that for his home starts we should have had or retractable roof closed since that helps the knuckleball. And fans are thinking…this guy won a Cy Young in an outdoor stadium! Be quiet and pitch! Frustrating times. Best of luck this baseball season!

        Like

      • Thanks. You too and your Leafs and Jays!

        Like

  33. It’s definitely tough to hear all of the negative talk against a team you love so much. I hate going on twitter after a Rangers loss to see people picking on them, saying they’ll never go anywhere. Especially when I can see how hard they try, and how well they played. It doesn’t matter how badly they do, I’ll always love them and root for them. I totally understand what you mean. Great post!

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for the comment! I’d imagine that the media coverage in New York is just as intense as it is in Toronto. Definitely feels better to cheer for the team and allow others to be negative.

      Like

  34. 1972italy says:

    I agree completely. I even tried to follow players as they changed teams (Cujo being one of them). I miss the old days when hockey was fun and you rooted for your TEAM. Well written! Thank you! 🙂

    Like

  35. Jean-Francois Ross says:

    It’s pretty much like the Canadians… they totally destroyed the team… ( My child hood ) I hate price and the fact that everybody likes him and hes not that good..

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Interesting perspective. As a Leafs fan I think Price is a really good goalie…then again I’m not watching him play every night. Why don’t you like him?

      Like

  36. Reblogged this on Lalakamamanzay's Blog and commented:
    TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

    Like

  37. jxanna says:

    Love this post. As I enjoyed today’s first three playoff games, it sucked that the Leafs were not there for me to cheer on. I became accustomed to always having and cheering for ‘back-up’ teams at this time of year, simply out of love for hockey and preparing myself for the constant disappointment that is my home team. But it’s not the same – can’t throw on my blue and white jersey and cheer and shout at local bars (of course, I could do that for the Marlies who have not disappointed this year, but once again, not the same). I agree that Toronto media is beyond ridiculous, and sometimes I feel that it’s that ridiculous pressure that gets to the players.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Watching the playoff games tonight was so hard! Of course I can’t cheer for Montreal so i had to cheer for Tampa, but their blue and white colours were almost mocking me that the Leafs weren’t in it. Then the Stars almost came back to beat Anaheim and the whole time I was wondering why the Leafs couldn’t have a team like that. Sad times being a Leafs fan. And you’re right, cheering for the Marlies isn’t the same. There’s always next year…

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  38. cloudyay says:

    I have made it a point to either go to watch the games at the coliseum or watch the games on television with the sound off. I refuse to follow any players on any social media, and I do my best to ignore that voice telling me not to wear my islanders stuff in public.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Ah the Islanders are moving to Brooklyn in 2015. Enjoy them while you can!

      Like

      • cloudyay says:

        the move is simultaneously annoying and good. the coliseum is home; familiar and cozy, trashy as it is. I live in queens, so Barclays is actually far more convenient, but oh the irony.. I am moving to ontario in October. go sens. 😉

        Like

  39. bluemonk1 says:

    Its good to know its not just premier league football fans like me an avid Manchester City Fan who thinks along the same lines. Too much media crap and pressure these days on all the sports I guess. Not everyone can win them all and be the best…so the media shouldn’t beat on teams because they’re not number one.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      Exactly. They make every game seem like a do or die situation when in reality, no team is ever going to have perfect season. Of course they’ll lose games, but the media make it seem like the end of the world.

      Like

      • bluemonk1 says:

        The only way to enjoy your team is to support them through the good and the bad times and not let the good times go to your head because the media will surely slap you down at the first opportunity. I have no expectation of any success when I watch City and I just try to ignore the hype. Just enjoy …..and scream your guts out encouraging them.

        Like

  40. Pingback: One Year Blogiversary | The Captain's Speech

  41. LosiLosLoco says:

    Can’t say I really get the whole sports thing since I’m not a sport person BUT I do understand the shift in perspective as you get older. Many things I enjoyed as kid I no longer do because I know take into account how the world sees them. As much as I try to ignore, I still can’t. :/ But regardless, it’s a great post. Thank you Paul.

    Liked by 1 person

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