I am having trouble understanding what the hell is going on with our fan base this year. The Leafs have been in first in their division almost all year and yet this team is criticized more than any other Leaf team in recent memory. This team gets criticized more by fans and media than the Kessle, Phaneuf and Carlyle team or the Grabovsky, Kulemin and Wilson team. When Peter Horacheck coached us to a last place finish just a few years ago, they were given a pass because we understood it was part of a process that would make us competitive for the next decade. Why have we lost sight of the process? Maybe Shanahan needs to tell us his Shanaplan because Leaf fans and media seem to be having trouble understanding that this is a process, not a now or never scenario.
I get the frustration, trust me, I want a Cup as much as the next Leaf fan, but I don’t feel like the Leafs owe us a cup this year. I feel like they owe us several over the next decade and I don’t want to do anything this year, that will hurt our chances in 2 or 3 years. This is a young team with tons of talent, but very little experience, they have a lot of lessons to learn before we can realistically expect a Stanley Cup. In fact, most teams that win the Cup, make it to the finals and lose before they get back there and win it. Can you imagine the shit the Leafs will take if they make it to the finals and lose? Instead of celebrating that we are competitive enough to make to make to the finals for the first time in 50 years, we will be demanding major changes that will probably hurt our chances of ever getting back there. Luckily we have a management team that is smart enough and patient enough to ignore our fan base and media. Losing in the finals is a very realistic possibility this year, if you think this fan base will handle it well, you're kidding yourself. We like to look down on Vancouver and Montreal for their behaviour when they lose but I have very little faith in Leafs Nation in that situation.
Part of the reason this team is taking so much shit from our fan base this year is because of our unrealistic expectations. If we take a step back and look at where we were just 5 years ago, we should be extremely happy with the progress we have made. Unfortunately, a lot of us are not capable of long term thinking when it comes to hockey. Maybe it is because so many of us have played or coached, we see the Leafs lose a game and it is usually pretty obvious why, but the question is why do so many Leaf fans feel obligated to educate the world and point out every mistake, never missing an opportunity to blame one player? I don’t understand this logic because if we have played or coached hockey or any other team sport, we should know rule number is you win as a team, you lose as a team. Rule number one for Leaf fans is blame everything that goes wrong on Andersen, Rielly or Nylander. We should know better.
Go to any Leaf fan page/forum, the place is quiet as a library (or the ACC) if the Leafs win. If we lose, there are several idiots in there trying to explain why we lost as if we didn’t just watch the same game they did. They think they have to prove how smart they are by pointing out the obvious mistakes and claiming that if the Leafs don’t start taking the advice they are posting online, they will miss the playoffs. These guys probably wear suits to games.
After decades of abuse from management, our fan base doesn’t exactly trust management to build the winner they have promised us for decades. After watching people like Harold Ballard, John Ferguson Jr and Dave Nonis fuck up our team, we all think we can do better. And we probably could do a better job than those guys, but this is a different management team. Shanahan has built a winning combo that has taken us from the basement to contender in just a few short years. Thank you Brendan, you are the hero this city needs, even if we don’t really deserve you. Even though we are finally watching a contender, a large percentage of our fan base can’t stop complaining, it’s all they know how to do now. I have said it a million times in various forums:
When the Leafs finally do win the Cup, a percentage of Leafs Nation will spend the summer complaining we won it the wrong way because Nylander scored the winning goal or because Hyman is going to want a raise.