What's with the change?

Make like a tree and leaf

May 14, 2013
Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if this was one of those fake 
maple leaves they accidentally put on the new $20 note.

There are a lot of grieving Leaf fans today. And an equal amount of people revelling in their misery.

You’re not Canadian?
What do you mean you don’t know who the Leafs are?
Huh? Leafs is a totally acceptable plural of leaf.

A quick summary for those who don’t know: Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey) were playing the Boston Bruins in game seven of the playoffs. In case you’re not familiar with the North American take-all-your-money style of playoffs/finals, each round is the best of seven games. If you’ve made it to game seven, both teams have had three wins.

So, Toronto were winning 4-1 towards the end of the game. They were going to be that 7% (the odds of winning the series from 3-1 games down). Boston scored twice in the last 30 seconds to tie the game. They won in overtime.

Hold up! Best of seven games?
Precisely. Talk about a cash cow! Particularly when the going rate for Leafs tickets were $300-400 for the nosebleed section. The maple leafs are the most expensive team to watch in the NHL. An average ticket for a regular game is $125 or twelve hours of work

It's almost believable that I went to a Leafs game rather than the lower division Marlies.

For an Australian comparison, the Leafs are kind of like the Collingwood of the NHL. Not because they’re the team you love to hate, but they are one
of the most popular and have the most money and about as many teeth as Collingwood supporters.

Ready to be wowed

I had an image of coming to Canada and falling in love with hockey. By the time the lockout ended and the shortened season started, I was ready to be wowed. 
I’d even learnt that you didn’t have to specify the ‘ice’ part. 
So, Saturday night, AKA “Hockey night in Canada” (unless it’s playoffs, then every night is Hockey Night) I was on the couch, beer in hand, rip raring to go. At the risk of being deported, it was pretty underwhelming. But the lengthy and slightly strange ceremonial torch prelude will be a highlight for many years to come.

The best thing about hockey: the random
dude who looks like the Sens' coach
It took me a period or so to realise what the problem was- I couldn’t see the puck. A friend told me that if you grow up with hockey, you learn that you don’t actually have to see the puck to enjoy the game. Perhaps it is the experience to be enjoyed– watching the blood scraped off the ice and teeth flying in slo-mo. It was more than the puck though. I realised that it was like in Aussie Rules when everyone scrabbles for the ball but no one can pick it up. Except it goes for a whole game.

Hold off the hate mail- something changed. Perhaps it was the all the Leafs merchandise being brandished around town (they’d switched back from the Blue Jays gear), or the over-saturation in the media about making the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Yes thank you, I do realise iPhones weren’t invented then (still aren’t in my pocket), and tweeting was something birds did. But I don’t really need to be reminded how long ago 2004 was, that it was a whole nine years since I started a degree in a career I’ve kind of abandoned.

Whatever it was, the playoffs made us watch hockey again. And what do you know, we could see the puck! Perhaps our eyes had grown accustomed through all those highlight reels. Maybe the quality of play was better. But we were drawn into the series that ended with me falling off the couch open-mouthed at the biggest sporting choke I've ever seen. I wasn’t on the Leafs bandwagon, but I was certainly following it down the street.