Hate 'em or Leaf 'em?

TIM BAINES, DON BRENNAN, BRUCE GARRIOCH AND CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDI

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

4 ON 1: OTTAWA SUN HOCKEY EXPERTS DEBATE THE ISSUES OF THE DAY

CHRIS STEVENSON: Of course it has. Who is there to hate on the Leafs now? Tucker is gone. Corson, Domi, Belak. All the guys Senators fans loved to hate. Pat Quinn, too.

DON BRENNAN: The only "hate" in the Battle of Ontario is in the stands or at the bars. But hey, let's not ever let facts get in the way of a good story.

BRUCE GARRIOCH: We're not letting the facts get in the way of a good story, Don. This is reality. I think the fans still hate each other, but I don't sense the same thing on the ice. It seems like without Pat Quinn, Darcy (Mother) Tucker, Bryan McCabe and, our hometown favourite, Garrrrry Roberts, it's just not the same. The games don't seem to carry the same drama.

STEVENSON: Since the Leafs started missing the playoffs, I think Senators fans even have trouble really hating the Leafs fans, many of whom have lost at least a little of their arrogant swagger at the bars.

TIM BAINES: The fact that Toronto is the centre of the universe seems to irritate Sens fans to no end. And the fact that the Leafs bounced the Sens from the playoffs three times still seems bothersome.

STEVENSON: I thought they knocked the Senators out four times, but what do I know?

BAINES: Three, four, five ... who's counting? Sens fans don't just hate the Leafs, they fear them. And they have to look up in the standings to find them these days. How sad is that?

STEVENSON: There was something special about those Leafs-Senators series. How about Ricard Persson's hit on Domi? That was the only time I saw Domi bleed. Turned that series around. Or Alfredsson's hit on Tucker into the boards, stealing the puck and scoring? Sadly for the Senators, the Leafs and their fans always had the last laugh.

BRENNAN: We need Publisher Rick Gibbons to jump into the fray here with his Pat Burns-Wendel Clark "as long as you don't poke me in the eyes" joke. When he tells it, he laughs so hard he cries like a Senators fan after a Toronto-Ottawa playoff.

GARRIOCH: People in Toronto will always tell you that Ottawa's trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2007 was tainted by the fact that the Senators didn't beat the Leafs. Jacques Martin probably wishes he had beaten the Leafs just once in the playoffs.

BRENNAN: Yeah Bruce, I'm pretty sure you're right about that one. I think Jacques actually did want to eliminate the Leafs. But Ottawa has never been a match for Toronto in the playoffs, and if I'm a Senator fan I would dread the next post-season meeting between them.

BAINES: The Sens could NEVER beat the Leafs under Jacques Martin. They played scared under him, cowering under their skirts when Tie Domi snarled in their direction. Some of the Sens were willing, but Jacques would get that cold look of disapproval and his players would cower in the corner, afraid the taskmaster might bench them if they even feigned physical play and a fist or two to the chops of Sideshow Bob Darcy Tucker and his gang.

GARRIOCH: Sideshow Bob was the best part of that series. It's still entertaining to listen to them boo Alfredsson every time he touches the puck. Don't think for a second that owner Eugene Melnyk doesn't dislike the Leafs. He'd like to swoop in and sign Mats Sundin just to show them.

BRENNAN: The Senators' interest in signing Sundin has nothing to do with the fact he played for Toronto. If that's why Melnyk wants to do it, he should get his nose out of the hockey part of the business. You think Bryan Murray cares whether Sundin played for Toronto or Los Angeles?

BAINES: They want to sign him just to show up Leaf fans, Bruce? Geez, are Borje Salming, Dave Keon and Johnny Bower not available?

GARRIOCH: No Tim, they want to sign him because they'd like to swoop in and take Toronto's former captain. Are you just playing dumb? I hope so.

BAINES: Yeah, George Armstrong and Darryl Sittler are available, too. Leafs fans don't want Sundin back. He betrayed them last year when he refused a trade that would have helped the rebuilding process. Melnyk wants to sign Sundin because it would hurt the Leafs? Now there's a bloody gem.

STEVENSON: It's not a debate until somebody invokes "bloody."

GARRIOCH: Does anybody else here think Tim is embarrassing himself?

STEVENSON: It happens so often, I don't even really notice anymore, Bruce.

BRENNAN: And you guys aren't even in the office. I don't have the heart to tell him he's been walking around with his fly down all day.

GARRIOCH: We need Publisher Gibbons to bring a fresh voice to this table.

BAINES: Publisher Gibbons wants us to bring new faces to the table. We need a celebrity, someone with an opinion, someone who doesn't state the obvious like my fellow panellists on this thing.

STEVENSON: We need a new guy to come up with topics that aren't so obvious to start with. Maybe something like "is Sidney Crosby a good player," eh, Tim?

BRENNAN: I hate spring without a Senators-Leafs playoff series. Just like I hate the long lineups for beer at Grey Cup games played in Toronto. In Montreal, the Grey Cup game didn't sneak up on whoever is in charge of the concession stands, as it did in Toronto the year before. And there was no such thing as the stupid two-per-person limit. Wait a second, what were we talking about again?

GARRIOCH: Tim, please keep Don on track. Nobody cares about how many beers he can drink.

BAINES: Don, you always seem to get off track. If we add a Molson or Labatt rep to this panel and talk about beer all the time, would that keep your attention? Or how about one of the red-hot waitresses from Moxie's?

GARRIOCH: Stop this: They don't like when we get off track.


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