In early December, waffles were thrown after a Leaf game. Since then, waffles have become a bit of a statement in the Maple Leafs community. The media has called it â€œThe Year of the Waffleâ€ and â€œWaffle-Gateâ€, and at a mid-December meeting between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Atlanta Thrashers, one fan in particular felt the need to express his disapproval of the on-ice product. That man is Joe Robb.
Robb, a 31 year old Leafs fan whose favorite player of all time was Doug Gilmour, was ejected from the game after throwing waffles on the ice in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. His comments about Leafs TV sum up his frustrations with his favorite team. â€œ[Leafs TV] will be canceled soon. I think itâ€™s a slap in the face to charge fans money to watch a few games on Leafs TV for a losing product.â€
Robb felt that his actions were simply to motivate the team to be more successful, and that the attention the Leafs receive from a mega-fan base is almost embarrassing. Quite simply, he feels the teamâ€™s play compared to its dedicated following does not even out in the end.
â€œI did not do this to start anything, I just want people to stop making excuses for this team,â€ said Robb. â€œThey need to do something about the product. We all talk about it all the time, but no one does anything about it. Cheering on the Leafs is like a joke now. Every time they have one decent game itâ€™s like ‘oh, okay, now I have to cheer for them.’ At the end of the day, if I can contribute to something thatâ€™s going to help them be a better team, thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m going for.â€
I came into contact with Joe Robb through a facebook page created by TheCheckingLine.com called â€œLeafs Waffle Guyâ€. There, Robb and Leafs fans alike discuss the Leafs current play and how waffles directly relate to the Toronto-based NHL team. During an interview, Robb shared his experience with Aldred.
Aldred: What do waffles mean to you?
Robb: (Laughs) The first guy who did it, a few weeks back, I just did the same thing. To me, it means to â€˜eat some breakfastâ€™ or something, you know? Wake them up. Start playing better.
Aldred: Is there a specific player that stands out to you who needs to improve their play this year?
Robb: I think every player needs to show more passion. I donâ€™t think anyone plays for the shirt anymore. Since Sundin, players come and go, and I donâ€™t see the same passion anymore.
Aldred: What was the reaction from MLSE during your removal from the arena?
Robb: While I was taken up the stairs, a lot of fans were cheering me while others were calling me an idiot. Quite a few people tried to free me from the security. Then they took me into a room in front of about 20 police officers and security guards.
Aldred: Do you regret throwing the waffle during the game-play?
Robb: No. Not at all. It needed to be done. I couldnâ€™t do it during a commercial, and if the play wasnâ€™t in that end, it would not have received the reaction it did.
Aldred: What was the reaction you were hoping for?
Robb: Exactly what itâ€™s getting now. I didnâ€™t think it would get this big, but it did and Iâ€™m glad it did. A lot of people are glad and have told me they liked what I did because itâ€™s finally a chance for fans to speak out.
Aldred: How do you feel about the reaction youâ€™ve received?
Robb: I think itâ€™s awesome. I feel that Iâ€™m speaking up for a lot of people.
Aldred: Do you feel that throwing waffles is a freedom of expression?
Robb: For sure. Hats are objects and people throw them to express excitement. Why canâ€™t we express our negative feelings? They have been a bad team for my life-time. I think you should be able to express negativity towards a team that is playing badly. Enough is enough.
Aldred: What player do you feel is most deserving of being waffled?
Robb: (Laughing) You know what, I donâ€™t target anyone. I wasnâ€™t targeting anyone in particular, just the organization as a whole. I hold no ill feelings towards any of the players. I think they all try their hardest, but the product that is on the ice is not good enough for MLSE to not care about any of the fans. They just want their money. Thatâ€™s what I think, anyways.
Aldred: Are you going to defend yourself from the mischief charge?
Robb: Yes I am.
Aldred: Is there any timeline on your ban?
Robb: As of now, I was told itâ€™s a lifetime ban.
Aldred: If and when the ban is removed, will you be returning to the Air Canada Centre to cheer the Leafs on?
Robb: Oh yeah, for sure.
Aldred: Phil Kessel or Tyler Seguin?
Robb: Thatâ€™s a tough one. I just donâ€™t think Kessel has what it takes to be a superstar. Seguin is alright.
Aldred: How do you prefer your waffles?
Aldred: Aunt Jamima or Mrs. Buttersworth?
Robb: Aunt Jamima.
Aldred: Do you have anything to say to potential future waffle throwers?
Robb: Go ahead, express yourself!