We are a city of more than two-and-a-half million Canadians.
Yet there is another nationality that for many exceeds that identity in terms of importance.
That is Leafs Nation – and after one trip to the playoffs in 10 seasons, Leafs Nation is pissed.
Last weekend, the boys in blue lost to the Buffalo Sabres, the worst team in the league, by a three-fold margin, 6-2.
They followed that with an abysmal 9-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Nov. 18.
During that game, a fan fed up with the underperformance of the team he once idolized threw his blue and white jersey on the ice. It was far from the first time that’s happened in the league or on Toronto ice.
That action drew the ire of the Leafs’ star forward Phil Kessel, fed up with the fans who are fed up with him and his teammates.
“It’s disrespectful, right?” Kessel said in an interview. “Not just to us but to the organization, to all of the Leafs players that have ever played for Toronto. If you want to boo us (that’s fine) – but you’re disrespecting all of the great players and the great teams that they’ve had before us (by throwing jerseys) here. That’s the way I look at it.
“I think that’s pretty classless to throw your jersey on the ice like that.” He is right; throwing your jersey on the ice is a disrespectful act.
But why should these fans continue to hold their team in such high regard when the team walks all over them?
Tickets to see the Leafs play at home are the most expensive in the league – averaging around $380, nearly $100 more than the Vancouver Canucks.
If you’d blown $400 or more to see your favourite players and they don’t show up to play, you’d be pretty ticked off too, possibly ticked off enough to throw another $200 in jersey form over the boards.
How else are fans to show their disgust?
If they stop buying tickets, the team won’t notice. Someone else will step up to buy them.
They could send an angry letter or take to social media, but what impact will that really have?
Throwing a jersey over the boards can get your name on the permanent ban list, but it’s the only vote fans can visibly cast in the dictatorial Leafs Nation.
Yes, it’s disrespectful. But what’s truly classless is publically maligning the citizens paying your $8 million salary that you collect just for showing up.