The Maple Leafs are back in the playoffs. For the first time since 2013 – and the first time in a full season since 2004 – the Leafs will take the ice for postseason action Thursdat night in Washington. And they'll do it with one of the youngest and most exciting rosters in the league, a team that looks like it's been built for sustained long-term success. For the first time in a generation, there's finally a reason for Toronto Maple Leaf fans to be happy.
And if you're not a Leafs fan, you're already sick of it.
I get it. I'm well into my fourth decade as a diehard Maple Leafs fan, but I recognize that collectively, we're not always the easiest bunch to deal with. Occasionally, we need to be knocked down a peg or two.
But like all good things in life, making Maple Leaf fans sad has to be done responsibly. You can't just belch out some half-formed insult and then look around for high-fives. There's an art to bothering Leaf fans, and if you don't put some effort into, you're just making the problem worse.
I'm here to help you, fan of one of the other 29 teams. Today, I present you with five key tips for dealing with the Maple Leaf fans in your life.
1. When in doubt, go with 1967. (But with one caveat.)
If you're going to insult a Maple Leafs fans, don't overthink. Just go with the classic: "1967". The Leafs haven't won a Stanley Cup in 50 years and counting, and we all know it. There's really no great comeback for a Leaf fan faced with a good 1967 bomb. It's simple, straightforward, and reasonably effective.
Now here's that caveat: 1967 only works if your team has won a Cup more recently than that. This seems like the sort of thing we shouldn't need to point out, but apparently we do. If you cheer for the Red Wings or Blackhawks or Bruins and some Leaf fan gets lippy, you just need to say "1967" and you've pretty much won the argument. But if you cheer for someone like the Sabres, Senators or Canucks, you need a different approach. (To a slightly lesser extent, this is also true if your team won their most recent Cup before you were born. Sorry, Flyers fans.)
And no, you can't get around that qualification by dropping an "At least we made the final" on us. That's a bad idea, for two reason. First, nobody cares that your team made it the final and then lost. Good for you, so did the 1996 Florida Panthers.
But more importantly, you have to think strategically here. At some point in the future, the Maple Leafs might make it to the final, come within a few games of ending their Cup drought, and then lose. That's going to be a prime opportunity to really twist the knife on devastated Leaf fans. But it won't work if you've spent years pretending that just coming close is a consolation prize worth celebrating. Think long term here.