Dear 2009-10 Leafs. You have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I hate you.I tweeted that after the Florida loss. It was an throwaway comment, a little bit of online venting. But it apparently struck a chord, because it became the most retweeted thing I've ever posted. The National Post even picked it up, using it in their weekly power rankings. (It's in the Leafs' section, so you have to scroll down. Way, way down.)
The irony is that I was only half right. This year's team does indeed have no redeeming qualities. But I don't hate them. I hated the JFJ/Muskoka Five teams. But not this current team. I can't. Hatred requires passion.
This current team doesn't inspire passion. They inspire something far, far worse: Boredom. There is no reason to watch this team. It's the same story, every night. They give up the first goal. They blow a lead at some point. They have a bunch of breakdowns. They outshoot the other team by a mile but you can't remember them having any actual scoring chances. And then they lose.
I'm tired of watching them.
The team looks like they've quit on the coach, but he's not going anywhere. Home games are depressingly quiet. There's a handful of decent young players, but nobody that makes you feel like you're seeing the early stages of something special. For all the talk of truculence, the team isn't remotely difficult to play against.
They have no identity. No passion. No point. They're just... there. Drifting their way through year five of The Rebuild That Refused To Start.
So I'm going to do something about it: Quit. I'm tagging out. I'm done with this team. I'm not watching the Leafs anymore.
For a month. Then I'll be back.
Yes, I'm going to try a little bit of a Leafs cleanse. I'm not going to watch a game until the end of February. For the first time since I was four years old, I'm not going to watch any Leafs games during the regular season for a full month.
The idea came to me after the Kings game. I didn't get to watch the game, and afterwards I realized that I hadn't missed it at all. I kept up with what was happening on twitter, reading updates while nodding and muttering "Yeah, that sounds about right". But I was happier. Or at least less miserable, which is a start.
The timing seems right. Obviously the Olympics will eat up two weeks anyway, so I'll only be missing seven games. And the next week brings three games against Brodeur and the Devils and one against Luongo and the Canucks, so it's not like I'll miss any Leaf goals.
If all goes well I'll be back in March, re-energized and ready to enjoy the Leafs again. It will even be just in time to catch the current team's last gasps before Brian Burke blows them up for good at the deadline. (You know, assuming the CBA doesn't mean that making the occasional trade is too much to ask from the highest paid GM in the history of the league.)
I realize I'm opening myself up to charges up bandwagon hopping here. I don't see it that way. I'm a diehard Leafs fan and always will be, and that hasn't changed. I'll still be a fan. I'll still follow the team, I'll still read the blogs and the columnists. I'll still write about them here, and in fact I'll probably have time to write more.
I just won't watch. I don't see any need to suffer through almost three hours of misery every few nights.
What will I do instead? I have no idea. I might try to introduce myself to these other people who seem to live in my house. The blonde girl is pretty cute, so maybe I'll try listening when she talks to me, which she seems to do quite a lot. Maybe I'll even get to know that tiny one who always follows me around crying and waving an empty food bowl as if that's somehow my problem.
I'm also going to catch up on my reading. I used to spend a lot of time with those... what were they called... you know, the things with the pages and the words. Pizza menus! That was it. I've got a backlog of those to work through.
And I'll keep watching hockey. I'll be following the Olympics of course. But I'll also watch other NHL games. Whichever one seems most interesting, I'll watch. But not the Leafs. It will feel like the playoffs.
But mostly I'll probably watch old youtube clips and play some NHL 94. After all, I'm still a Leafs fan. I just need to find a version of the team that's worth caring about.
*Offer null and void if the Burke somehow lands a star defenceman and cup winning goalie without giving up much of anything.