Leafs giving hope to long-suffering fans

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Municipal planners in Toronto are getting an early start on arranging the Stanley Cup parade route, which will be held shortly after the Maple Leafs win their first National Hockey League title since 1967.

“We don’t want to get caught off guard,” said one of the organizers. “We want to give our long-suffering fans plenty of advance notice about where they will be able to view their hockey heroes go by.

“We also expect Prime Minister Trudeau will want to have the Leaf team visit Parliament, and we expect he may want to give out a few Order of Canadas, too, depending on who scores the winning goal, etc.”

One day, the Leafs appear to be for real. The next, they look like the same ol’ Leafs that have endured a Stanley Cup drought since 1967.

Runaway leaders in the Scotia North Division, the Leafs got off to one of the best Western road trip starts imaginable in late February and early March. 

They skated into Edmonton, playing the high-powered Oilers three times in four nights, and not only won all three, but they won them with a combined score of 13-1. 

Oh, by the way, coach Sheldon Keefe was without his best player, Auston Mathews, for the first two of those games, and used three different goaltenders — Jack Campbell in the opener; Michael Hutchinson in the middle game; and No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen in the finale.

But when one sees Dr. Jekkyl,  you know Mr. Hyde is not far behind.

Four losses in five games followed, two in Vancouver and two of three games at home vs. Winnipeg. Parade plans, however, continued unabated.

 If nothing else, Toronto fans are true beLeafers.

Toronto is getting scoring from all four of its lines, but is led by Mitch Marner and Matthews, both rolling along at better than a point per game. 

John Tavares and William Nylander are also among the league leaders. 

Playing surprisingly effective roles are veterans Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton.

At one point, Toronto’s winning percentage was closing in on the .800 mark, considered either a) remarkable; or b) indicative of a weak division. 

Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal are also generally regarded as Stanley Cup contenders, so for the Leafs to dominate as they did through the first half bodes well for the rest of the season and the playoffs.

The millions of Leafs’ fans across the country are starting to get giddy, thinking about the championship possibilities and for the first time in a long while, their enthusiasm has genuine merit. 

As for that parade, organizers say it’ll start on Yonge Street and work its way ….

Slap shots

• Mike Bianchi of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, after Nets guard James Harden — who forced a trade out of Houston — said he hoped Rocket fans would show him ‘some love’ upon his recent return: “Yes, James, and I hope to have a pouffy head of hair like Bruno Mars, a sculpted physique like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and the entrepreneurial skills of Jeff Bezos, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “In honour of the (competitive curling season), the top five curling rock acts: 5. Kiss; 4. Crowded House;  3. Ice-T; 2. The Jam; 1. The Rolling Stones.”

• Patti Dawn Swansson, aka the River City Renegade, on animal rights activists’ opposition to declaring rodeo to be Alberta’s national sport: “They figure if you’re going to pay homage to a bunch of big, dumb animals that work for no more than eight seconds a day, why not the Calgary Flames?”

• Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post, on Twitter, after it was announced the XFL, fronted by Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, and the CFL were planning preliminary talks about a potential working arrangement: “Today’s news demonstrates that the CFL is caught between a Rock and a hard place.”

• Lou Brown, on Twitter, trying to analyze on-course woes of Rory McIlroy: “Rory needs to ditch his Peloton, his self-help reading list and his Trackman and get back to his roots. Because right now, he looks like Hendrix trying to read sheet music.”

• Headline at the theonion.com: “Duke Basketball Attempts To Lure Bronny James By Offering To Help Family With Rent, Utilities”

• Headline at fark.com: “Texas Rangers to open Globe Death Field at full capacity of 40,000 for season opener.”
•  Gary Bachman, via Facebook, on Russian bodybuilder Kirill ‘Popeye’ Tereshin facing a bunch of surgical repairs after injecting his arms with petroleum jelly to make his muscles bulge: “Wouldn’t it have been much safer just to eat lots of spinach?”
•  Patti Dawn Swansson again, on the remarkably intact, first-century chariot unearthed in Italy: “Although they don’t know what to make of the Tom Brady rookie card stuck in the spokes.”

Care to comment? Email brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca.

 

by Bruce Penton

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