The modem konked out on us last night, internet-less for the next several days as we await a new one in the mail from our “provider”, we’ve taken a step back, doing a few other things we normally wouldn’t be doing on a Sunday, such as this, putting thoughts to paper, something I haven’t done in a while. So as I sit here, glancing out my living room window at the remains of a blue bird, early spring day, I can’t help but feel satisfied about one thing in my life. The Toronto Maple Leafs are back!
While this topic has been written about on blogs and by the MSM many, many times over the last couple of years, I really haven’t had my chance to formally say thank you to the man who, in my opinion, is responsible for the blue and white being back, Brendan Shanahan.
I love watching the Leafs Blueprint series, love watching the behind-the-scenes goings on, how the players interact with each other and the community that surrounds them when off the ice. I also love listening to the personal feelings of management, how they feel the organization is growing and where it’s headed. By far my favourite though is Brendan Shanahan, who on a few occasions, has talked about how he feels about the team and how he’s felt about them “since someone put a stick in my hands”.
I’m half Irish (mother’s side) and for those like me, you can admit that being so adds some serious diversity to your personality. It makes us hard-headed and a tad wild at times, in good and sometimes not so good ways, we rarely fail to have a good time when good times can be had. We wear our emotions on our sleeve, love deeply, laugh outrageously, cry uncontrollably, all the tell tale signs of the passion cursing through our veins for the things we love. And all these traits I share with Brendan Shanahan when it comes to our love of the Leafs.
Brendan Shanahan is just like all of us. Sure he’s the President of our favourite team, but that’s the only thing that separates us. First and foremost, he is a fan. He was born a fan, a predisposition that occurred while in the womb from his parents watching and talking Leafs hockey. He grew up a Leafs fan, watching on Saturday nights, playing street hockey, collecting cards and playing flipsies and closeies in the school yard, leaping to his feet and raising his arms in elation when the winning goal was scored on New Years Day. Yep, just like all of us, once again, the only difference being the title on his door.
It wouldn’t surprise me one bit that when Shanahan was playing his way around the NHL, he sat in dressing rooms telling team mates what was wrong the Leafs and how he would fix things if he was in charge. The most frustrating part of it all was what needed to be done was so simple, just plain, common sense. The hardest part was finding someone with a stubborn Irish nature to walk into the MLSE board room and tell them what all fans have been begging for decades. We don’t need to review what the plan was, it was clear and all of us would have done exactly the same if given the opportunity. But for the first time, it was a passionate fan that was sitting across the table from the owners and it was that passion that finally made them wake up.
So as the Leafs prepare to play playoff hockey for just the second time in 13 seasons, I want to raise a glass to Brendan Shanahan for returning to his roots, following his boyhood dreams, to lead the Leafs back from the wilderness. Though he has a much higher profile, he is after all, just like all of us, a fan.