Dear Hockey Gods,
I refuse to start this letter by asking “how are you?” For if I did, I wouldn’t be able to write the rest of the letter until I hear a reply, right? Wouldn’t that be the noble thing to do? If I ask, “how are you?” and then march on to something else, I’m proving that I don’t really care how you are at all and I’m just trying to butter you up before pushing my own agenda. I’ll spare you the fake, small talk.
Instead of dilly-dallying around the elephant in the room, I’ll attack it head on. Without hesitation.
So uh…the NHL season starts tomorrow…and uh…well…I’m a Leafs fan. Don’t laugh! Uh…I’m thinking long-term…as in the playoffs…and…well it would be cool if the Leafs were in them this year. Unless that’s not in your plans. Oh, it’s not? Okay, I’ll be leavi…wait, no. Please let the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs this year. There, I said it.
I’m not even asking for the Stanley Cup. That will be next year’s letter. I’m just asking for the playoffs. Eighth place in the East will suffice. Or seventh. Or first. Whatever you choose, as long as it’s a playoff spot.
I was spoiled as a kid; the Leafs were always in the playoffs. It didn’t even cross my mind back then that missing the playoffs was an actual thing that could happen.
In 2004, the Leafs were knocked out of the playoffs by the Philadelphia Flyers. I didn’t even watch the game. I was away on a Grade 7 field trip out in the middle of nowhere for four days. They told us the Leafs lost the game and were eliminated.
I brushed it off. Okay, I’ll see them make the playoffs next year. Only, they didn’t. There was a lockout. It took nine long years to return to the postseason. I went through high school and university without the Leafs in the playoffs. That stung.
I didn’t get to see my favourite hockey team back in the playoffs again until 2013. TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN. It was magical. The passion in the city was back. The unconditional love for the team was back. Then something happened in Game 7 in Boston that I’d rather not talk about and it was all over. Who coaxed you into doing that to us?
Though the season ended on a sour note, there were a lot of positives and optimism was at an all-time high heading in last season.
…they missed the playoffs last year because they actually had to play all 82 games of the regular season, rather than 48 in 2013.
Listen, I’d like to say that this has been an “emotional roller coaster” because that’s a snazzy phrase, but I cannot. Roller coasters eventually go up a few times. I haven’t seen the Leafs win the Stanley Cup in my short lifetime. And honestly, I’m okay with that. There can only be one winner every year. Their time will come. That’s what I tell myself.
Then I think about 1967 – the last time they won the Cup. And I think about how much it must torture fans who were born the day after the Leafs won the Cup. They literally missed the presentation of the Stanley Cup by a few hours. I don’t know if those people are out there, though I’m sure they are. They deserve to see the Leafs victorious moreso than I.
Personally, I just want to feel like I’m cheering for a team that has a chance to do great things. I watch the playoffs every year and sometimes forget that the Leafs are in the same league, competing for the same trophy, as teams like Chicago and Los Angeles. Mainly because the quality of play is so drastically different and I’m jealous.
When the word “playoffs” is mentioned in conjunction with the Leafs, people laugh at us. Pretty soon, we’ll be able to use it in text messages when people make us laugh. Instead of replying with, “HAHA” or “LOL”, we could just reply with “Leafs, Playoffs” and the other person will know we’re laughing. I’m sure the abbreviation would be “LPLPLP.”
That’s how bad this has gotten, and could get.
I think I speak for all Leafs fans when I say, we’ve been through enough. We want our time in the sun, or snow, whatever.
So Hockey Gods, it’s up to you. I’m not asking you to be biased towards the Leafs, I’m just asking you to make sure they win as many games as possible and secure a playoff spot. Alright, I’m asking you to be biased. But it’s for a good cause. The fans deserve this.
And maybe I’m being selfish right now, but that’s what most requests are – selfish.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
P.S. How are you?