Toronto and the Leafs

I had forgotten why I disliked Toronto so much. Then TSN reminded me. The Leafs played the Habs awhile ago on TSN and the network had six people (At least six that I counted) covering the game. A setup guy, a post-game interview gal and the ‘panel’ consisting of another four guys. All this for a regular season game.

Sure the Leafs were .500 (they’re even better than that now) and in the GTA I get why that’s cause for celebration. Anytime they string together two wins someone from Mayor Rob Ford’s office is planning a parade route down Yonge Street. (Unless they’re coaching one of his football teams or rerouting streetcars to shuttle them out of harms’ way). And yes, one of the Leafs bit a Canadien player’s arm in their previous match causing much salivation amongst the sports mandarins in Hogtown. All of them verging on Pavlovian glee in anticipation of a game filled with fights or an old-fashioned bench-clearing brawl. None of which happened at all.

And, now that the Habs are on a sweet run of their own, the nattering sports nabobs in T Zero have given the Leafs the credit for that too. See, the Habs started their run after losing to the Leafs 6 – zip. So it’s the beat-down from the Leafs which caused the Canadiens to play better.

But here’s the thing. After having lived in Toronto for three years – and continually coming to the defence of the Prairies – I came to realize one thing: We’re not even on their radar. It’d be one thing if they consciously thumbed their noses at us or willfully schemed to circumvent us. In actuality – as a good and wise friend pointed out – Torontonians don’t know of any existence west of Timmins. It’s not that they don’t like us, it’s just that when you’re living there, there’s entirely too much going on in the GTA to acknowledge anything/one else.

I moved there about 10 years ago for work and intended to sing the praises of the Prairies. Despite our Mosquitos and occasional (three month) cold snaps I was going to extoll the virtues of our warmth. Our hospitality; our cheap housing prices and our cheap hydro prices. Salisbury house on the bridge, Kelekis and a gay mayor. (Okay, this was 2003) The point is that no one cared about what I had to say. It wasn’t like I could change their minds; they simply hadn’t even considered us. How can you change the mind of someone about something they’ve never thought of? That’s like someone coming up to me and trying to convince me that the Canadian government is wasting more money on the promotion of the war of 1812 than actually making sure our war veterans are taken care of. Okay, bad example. That does seem ridiculous.

So it’s like someone trying to convince me that Elon Musk is really a better bet to further space exploration than Felix Baumgartner. I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea and, more importantly, I’ve never thought about it. (Although my brother, in his infinite wisdom would point out that, by virtue of the fact that I mentioned it, I have actually thought about it. He’ll say things like, “Have you ever thought about making out with a guy?” And when I answer no, he says, “Just the fact that you answered that question proves you’ve thought about it.”)

You see what I’m getting at here? Not only to Torontonians not care about us, they don’t care that they don’t care. You wouldn’t be worried about a neighbour having a better swimming pool than you if you didn’t think he had a swimming pool would you? Exactly.

To be clear, I don’t hate the Leafs or the Leafs media. It’s the pretend fans who drive me nuts. The pretty people who don’t show up until half way through the first period and who leave half way through the third. And in the interim, spend most of their time drinking $20 martinis in the Platinum Lounge. They aren’t real fans. The real fans are the ones who can’t afford to go to the games, let alone $12 beers.

It would be nice to gloat about the Leafs – after almost 100 years they’re still not much better than the Jets. And it’d be nice to gloat about our quality of life, minimal traffic, small town feel, etc. But you can’t brag to people who aren’t aware of you. If I tell Justin Timberlake my wife looks better than his, he won’t care. He doesn’t know I exist.

They drive me nuts without trying, knowing or caring. And that makes it even worse.


Rick Loewen writes sports for Spectator Tribune. He spent a year writing for the Free Press before being replaced by Lindor Reynolds; spent two years co-hosting 2 Sports Guys before being replaced by ‘The Red Green Show and spent four years hosting the morning show on AM talk radio before being replaced by… well the station died. Who will replace him next?

Follow him on Twitter: @rickloewen