It has finally arrived! The 2001-2002 NHL season is upon us. No more tennis, no more golf and especially, no more baseball. With these boring summer sports coming to a close, it is now time to focus on the better sports events. The sports that involve action and hitting — and I am not talking about a ball hit by a bat.
I am talking about bodies hitting bodies as two teams declare full fledged war on the battlefield of their choice. At the snap of the ball or the drop of the puck, you know you are in for several hours of pure adrenaline pumping sports unlike those small amount of adrenaline you may feel from the crack of that bat or the swing of a club. The NFL and NHL are back for your viewing pleasure and along with these great sports, comes the thrill of watching the Toronto Maple Leafs in action. Wait, wait, I know what your thinking. Thrill and Maple Leafs all in one sentence, this girl must be off her rocker and maybe I am but talk to any Maple Leaf fan and they will tell you, this is the year. As with every other year since the 1967 victory, Leaf fans from all over have been waiting for the chance to say there team is number one again. And as usual, every Leaf fan believes the time is now.
Thirty-three years without a Stanley Cup win may seem like a long time but Maple Leaf fans are still one of the most optimistic groups of people you will ever meet. The feeling of pride hangs in the air of every local sports bar as Maple Leaf fans join together to cheer their team on and more importantly, to provide support to those fans who just can’t take the disappointment any longer.
It’s going to be a long season and every fan knows it. Based on the dire performances of the Maple Leafs in the pre-season along with their fine showing Wednesday, Oct. 3 against the Ottawa Senators, it would appear that Leaf fans this year, have their work cut out for them. Many have not yet fully recovered from the great disappointment of last year where the mighty Leafs stormed their way through the first round of the playoffs, defeating, in four straight games, the one team which had managed to defeat them all five times they met during the regular season, only to have their dreams squashed by Scott Stevens and his whining team of Devils.
Anyone with even a small amount of hockey knowledge knows that the Leafs should have won. Why you ask? Well, simply put, the Maple Leafs were cheated out of a spot in the final four because of some bad officiating. Throughout the entire series, the Leafs were pounded with hits from all angles. Players were being injured left and right but still, the whistle remained silent. It was only until Tie Domi landed an unlucky high stick that the whistle came to life. Players screamed, coaches screamed louder and Tie Domi, who was having a great series with several goals credited to him was kicked off the ice for eight games. From that point on, the momentum switched and the Leafs were denied for yet another year.
Worry not Maple Leaf fans, the end is near. With this year being the 75th anniversary of the Leafs, some believe this really could be the year. Sure, they started out slow but with a little work and some last minute trades, I firmly believe that this team is going to get better. In fact, this team could go all the way! Many still reminisce about the ‘93 and ‘94 seasons when the Maple Leafs capped off great years with spots in the playoffs followed by some great post-season hockey. The ‘93 season was outshined only by the ‘94 season in which the Leafs reached the quarterfinals. If this pattern should repeat itself for the ‘01 and ‘02 seasons, we are really going to see something special this year. Sure, the defense is looking bad and Joseph didn’t have the best few games of his life, but the team is new, some old players are gone and some new ones have arrived. With time and patience, which I know every Leaf fan possess, I am confident the Leafs will turn it around. All they really need now is Tie Domi back to add that special little touch of whoop ass only he can bring to the game. With his adorable smile, which he uses only to antagonize already upset players further, Tie is truly the heart of the Maple Leafs team.
So, in conclusion, I would like everyone to join in with me and say, Go Leafs Go!! Go Leafs Go!! (And remember, in the event that something terrible happens and the dream must die again, just keep the faith. There’s always next year.)
Andrea D’Amario is a second-year Brock student and is likely to have a rough winter.