In my little town, I grew up believing that God and the Montreal Canadiens were good and non Catholic girls and the Toronto Maple Leafs were bad.
But some of that has changed for me from then to now.
While I still believe that God is good, I no longer depict the Montreal Canadiens in a religious way. And while all girls — not just Catholics — are good, the Toronto Maple Leafs um, you know, still haven’t made it to my list of top favourites.
The last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup was back in 1967 and I was in Grade 8 at St. Mark school in the Sault where the boys either cheered for Toronto or Montreal; all except our teacher and principal, Mr. Orlando, who rooted for the New York Rangers.
But the Rangers were an also-ran back, leaving Mr. Orlando, aka Big Frank, to be rather amused by the opposing factions of Canadiens and Leafs fans in his classroom.
To be sure, the most passionate Canadiens fan in our class was Guy Fournier, who learned to love the Habs from his dad, Emile, who was — to put it mildly — loudly, boisterously and demonstratively supportive of his favourite National Hockey League team.
Anyway, it wasn’t easy watching the Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens four games to two to win the Stanley Cup in 1967 — especially after Montreal won the series opener in convincing fashion. For Fournier and I, we had to listen to the taunting and teasing of the Leafs fans of St. Mark as they boasted and bragged about the Stanley Cup triumph.
Who would have thought back then that the 1967 Stanley Cup championship would be the last for the Maple Leafs? Meantime, since losing to Toronto in the 1967 finals, Montreal has won the Stanley Cup 10 times.
Which brings us to this season and with quite the link to the Soo Greyhounds in the front office, behind the bench and on the player roster, the Maple Leafs are seen as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
And I will say that the thoughts of the Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup this year just might make for a refreshing diversion from COVID-19. But that just may be a case of me looking for any positive out there.
At any rate, when it comes to rooting for the Maple Leafs once this spring’s playoffs begin, I would like to think that I just might put my childhood disdain for them aside and get on the bandwagon.
I suppose it will all depend on whether the Leafs actually make it to the finals and if so, who their opponent is.
Meantime, in today’s seven-team, all-Canadian division of the NHL, Montreal is my favourite team followed by the Ottawa Senators (because of assistant coach Bobby Jones from Haviland Bay), the Winnipeg Jets (because of head coach Paul Maurice from the Sault) and then the Leafs, ahead of the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.
So, um, I guess you can now call me a Leafs fan.