Another day, another barb from Eugene Melnyk criticizing Jim Balsillie. Welcome to the new Battle of Ontario, where one billionaire rips on another in an effort to stay relevant and grab headlines. It’s just depressing that since 2004, the Battle of Ontario has faded more than Justin Pogge’s worth. What was once a fierce and bitter rivalry has been reduced to catatonic levels. (Think the sixth season of the tv show 24.) It’s not that I’ve lost interest in the two teams, it’s just that the spark’s no longer there. It says something when a Martin Gerber start against the Senators can’t pique my interest.
Obviously there are a myriad of reasons for this turn of events. For starters, you can blame the NHL. Instead of letting rivalries develop through playoff matchups or on-ice incidents,the League opted to take the initiative and oversaturate division matchups by forcing inter-division rivals to face each other eight times a year. (Note: This scheduling problem has since been remedied.)
You can also blame the lack of bad blood between the two teams. Since their last playoff victory, the Leafs have purged their roster of the veterans that personified our hate. Darcy Tucker? Gone. Mats Sundin? Gone. Tie Domi? Gone. Mark Bell? Gone. Bryan McCabe? Gone. Gary Roberts? Gone. (Even that first round victory over Roberts’ Penguins in ’07 rang a little hollow.)
As the salary cap era has fostered significant roster turnover, Daniel Alfredsson has essentially become the only activeplayer who’s unequivocally loathed by the other team’s fanbase. And it fucking sucks. I didn’t realize how much I missed hating the Maple Leafs until I saw this commercial on CBC advertising their new fall program Battle of the Blades.
Did Belinda Stronach walk by the set when Tie’s vignette was being taped? Why the fuck is he puffing his chest out like that? Ah, maybe he’s trying to fit in with the new Leafs mantra of toughness?
Thanks for rekindling my hate Tie. I appreciate it.
Crown His Ass
I was thinking, is there a more obvious early dark horse candidate for the Jack Adams Trophy than Cory Clouston? I mean really, assuming Heatley comes back and the team somehow manages to return to the playoffs, what other coach has a team with more adversity or uncertainty facing it than Clouston?