OTTAWA - Rejoice, Maple Leaf Nation.
You can put the sweat-stained, tear-soaked crying towels into the laundry.
While you, the so-called fans of the knights of the blue and white, let Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul down by not voting them into the NHL all-star team starting lineup, the NHL added both to the roster Thursday.
And it makes perfect sense. The NHL couldnít ignore the hue-and-cry-created stormfront emanating in the centre of the hockey universe. They had to add some Leafs.
Before a steamed Leafs fan pulls my wrinkly collared Perry Ellis shirt over my head and Tie Domis me ... I will yell from the rooftop that Kessel and Lupul are deserving visitors to the weekend celebration of the NHLís elite in Ottawa Jan. 26-29. And we wonít even begrudge an appearance by Dion Phaneuf, voted by his peers the NHLís most overrated player in a Sports Illustrated poll.
And maybe more startling to fans who have their blue and white briefs in a knot ... and Iíve tried to explain this before ... Iíve been a Leafs fan since I can remember.
And since my feet have been planted on this planet for more than seven dog years, that memory is selective. I remember the 1967 Stanley Cup win. I grew up with photos of Ron Ellis, Johnny Bower and Dave Keon on my bedroom wall. I would later appreciate Borje Salming, Darryl Sittler, Tiger Williams, Wendel Clark, Dougie Gilmour and Mats Sundin.
I also remember Harold Ballardís reign of error, a non-call on Wayne Gretzky that may have cost us the Stanley Cup and the unconscionable trading of Sittler in a one-sided transaction which is a bit clouded (in return for Darryl The Great, I think the Leafs got a Bobby Clarke bobblehead, a Philadelphia cheesesteak and a couple of cases of Rolling Rock).
So donít tell me Iím not a Leafs fan.
Since the NHL couldnít fill out the all-star roster with the David Steckels and Clarke MacArthurs of the world, a bunch of the NHLís elite players were added Thursday to an already Senators-centric roster that includes Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson.
Way to go, Claude
Good for Claude Giroux, who is having an awesome season in Philly.
Good on Brian Campbell, who was run out of Chicago.
And Dany Heatley probably has better things to do ó maybe plot his way out of Minnesota ó than come to Ottawa, where he would be met with thundering applause ... or something like that.
Guys like Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne reportedly asked permission to skip the game. No problem. We understand.
Others like Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, certainly among the top 25 or so players in the league, were snubbed. Patrice Bergeron, Patrick Sharp and Jaromir Jagr, also left off the guestlist, have played well enough to be stars.
Say what you want about the NHL all-star weekend.
The elite players wonít have to worry about being cheapshotted by Matt Cooke or trashtalked by Sean Avery.
Itíll be a glorified game of pond hockey.
Lots of goals. A goalieís nightmare. But it is still a celebration of the best of the best. A weekend to remember.
And itíll be right here ... in Ottawa.
For at least one weekend, this will be the centre of the hockey universe.
And Toronto wonít like that one bit.