There are really only two kinds of hockey fans in Toronto, those who love the Maple Leafs and those who don’t. So if someone says they are from the Big Smoke and is a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, I’d take their pledge with a grain of salt.
Those who know me or follow my blog know where my allegiance is. I can also understand one’s dislike for the Buds. But let’s be honest, unless you were born in Montreal, or have once lived or worked there, there is no such thing as a Habs fan from Toronto. They are simply lying if they claim they root for the Canadiens and have not spent one minute in Montreal. They just hate the Leafs. It’s not just the Habs, this applies to all 29 other NHL teams. I know a few people from the GTA who say they are fans of Red Wings, Bruins, and Senators. They, too, should come clean.
Even if one does fit the said criteria, people hate the Leafs more than they do the team they claim to cheer for. This is why Toronto is the centre of the hockey world and there’s been talk in the past about bringing another NHL team to the Toronto area. People in Montreal, Vancouver, and Detroit only wish they can attract the same kind of attention. Just look at the number of Leafs fans in other cities when the Buds come to their barn. That to me is real compared to the fake Habs fans (et al) living in Toronto.
To further prove my point, Steve Simmons’ puff piece in the Toronto Sun gleefully highlights the Leafs’ dismal first day of free agency. Only a complete tool would be happy at the fact that there are NHL players turning down the opportunity to play for the Leafs. That being said, I thought Josh Gorges did us a huge favour by rejecting a trade to the Buds and went to Buffalo instead. Can anyone think of the last player that the Leafs got from Montreal that made an impact with the team? Neither can I. It’s more like the other way around — former Leafs players made Habs teams better. It’s not a coincidence that players who spent time in the Montreal system flounder elsewhere.
I can go into the number of reasons why people hate the Leafs. But I’ve discovered that they fall in the same group that don’t like fighting or tough, physical hockey. That flies in the face of those who want the Leafs to adopt a system that emphasizes more on skill and less on the rough stuff. True Leaf fans want to see their team play with a mean streak (you got that, Dion?).
So the next time you see someone in Toronto proudly wearing a Canadiens jersey, they better be fluent in French. Otherwise, they are as genuine as a Rolex bought from a briefcase at a street corner. Au revoir, mon ami! A la rentrée!