Just a little over 24 hours since the Game 7 letdown, it’s become clear to me I am way too emotionally involved with a damn hockey team; so much so that I start to wonder about myself for being this brutally devastated over a game. But I want to say that Leafs Nation is a special, special thing. I enjoy the fans of this team almost as much as I enjoy the team itself. That’s a weird statement to make, but for those that don’t live here or haven’t experienced playoffs in Toronto, it’s a beautiful, crazy thing. Just as the weather seems to turn a corner, sun dresses are dawned, beers consumed on patios, car stereos are cranked a little louder (mandatory windows down) and Leaf flags start appearing everywhere you look.

@mORRganrielly’s piece yesterday cut to my core. I read it with my French Bulldog Lucy looking up at me head on my lap, knowing how upset I was and trying to make it better. My downstairs neighbour is an Indian lady in her 60s that runs a weird novelty shop. She hugged and cried on my shoulder yesterday morning. She nearly got me going, too. I was really close. I barely talk to this woman, but she knows I’m big hockey fan — scratch that, Leaf fan — and was watching and cheering this team along. My other neighbour came out and gave me the “palms up, WTF” look through the window while on the phone with a customer. I live next to a school and most the kids had Leafs clothes on running around at recess or lunch. That made my heart sing; it’s been Crosby jerseys or Ovechkin jerseys for too long. Supporting a losing team for this long is emotionally exhausting, but I think it only galvanizes the resolve and fortitude of Leaf fans. They are stronger, more resilient and more obnoxious than ever and I absolutely loved every minute of this last month.

The undying, loyal, crazy voodoo trance that this team has in this town is flat out mind blowing. I was at Maple Leaf Square with Alec and I was paying special attention to the Sportsnet and TSN booths behind us. You could see that they were in shock from what they were seeing. It was round 1, Game 4 of the playoffs and it only got crazier from there on out, if that’s even fathomable. I had to bribe a security guard with an MLHS t-shirt to get in. There was hardly an inch of space within view of the big screen.

Leafs Nation is heads and shoulders above anything else in this league. It’s not even close. I find it overwhelming sometimes and MLHS really brings that sharply into focus for me; Leaf fans are like nothing else in any sport. Perhaps I don’t follow enough of “The Big 5” in sport closely enough, but I have a strong enough understanding of what each of those franchises mean to their fans. I know the Leafs’ players were floored by what they saw for the first time this Spring and it’s only making Leafs Nation all the more ravenous.

This is a special, special team that goes well beyond a traditional sports market. I take great pride in that. There’s lots of room on the bandwagon, and you’re welcome with open arms, but diehard Leaf fans are a breed apart. I love Leafs Nation.

Thank you MLHS’ers for a great season. It was a pleasure sharing the experience alongside the real diehards.



Some morning links…

MLHS: Claude Loiselle Interview
MLHS: Those Seven Games…
VLM: The car flags will come down, but what a series
VLM: 24 hours later, sober reflections and 10 questions moving forward
TLN: The Morning After, and Beyond
TLN: marlies-assignments-and-you”>Marlies Assignments
PPP: Summary of the night’s emotions
CBC: Maple Leafs players tweet mixed emotions

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Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited independent team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast). Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide-ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, and a weekly feature piece entitled "Leafs Notebook." MLHS has been cited by: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBC News, USA Today, Fox Sports, Yahoo! Sports, NBC Sports, TSN, Sportsnet, Grantland, CTV News, CBSSports, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun, Global News, Huffington Post, and many more.