This is the beginning of an exciting time for most Canadians.
It doesn’t matter if your team is in or not (next year Leafs Nation) it’s going to be some exciting hockey nonetheless. The race for the final spots in the east was exciting with the Leaf’s being so close to breaking a playoff appearance drought. In fact all the games surrounding New York, Buffalo, Carolina and Toronto came down to the last few points and made every game a make it or break it event.
As much as I love my Leaf’s I wasn’t always a fan of the blue and white. Up until ’88 I was an Edmonton Oilers fan because of the one and only Great One. There are many people out there that don’t like Gretzky for many reasons but I love good ol’ 99 because of how much he made me love hockey. As a hispanic kid growing up in white school’s I wasn’t into hockey as much as my friends were. They played in rinks and in the streets but I never did. I did almost everything else except for hockey – it was too expensive at the time. But when I watched Gretzky take the ice I would get so excited that I didn’t think about anything else but how he could score. I didn’t follow stats, or players like my friends did – I just followed Wayne and when he left for LA I realized that even though he was a great player, I loved the game that he played more than I loved the Oilers.
This is when I came to my senses and realized that my loyalties could only lie in one place. Toronto (or if you live here then it’s pronounced Toronna) was where I was raised and that’s where I was introduced to the likes of Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk and my FAVOURITE goalie of all time – Felix Potvin. We started the 90’s with some really good playoff runs and I was even party to one of the greatest conference finals ever played for Toronto.
It was during a school trip to Quebec City in grade 8 and it was way past curfew (west coast game) when the Great one went up against my Leafs. When we scored the overtime winner to take the lead in the series all I remember was running up and down the halls of the hotel just ecstatic over the fact that I was sure we were going to win the cup that year. Gretzky came back to bite me in the ass and took away what would have been the greatest moment of my life. So now I’m left still hoping and waiting for that day to come
I know that my Buds will take it all the way one day soon and I’m not without happy moments in hockey. The Olympic gold won in Vancouver was one of the happiest moments of my life so far. It made me cry and made me proud to be Canadian. We shut down Yonge street and I screamed until I was hoarse. I can’t wait for that to happen again, but this time I’ll be screaming because my Leaf’s have finally won Lord Stanley’s Cup. Toronto’s population will explode and I plan on exploding with it!
Oh that day can’t come soon enough!