Once a Leafs fan always a Leafs fan

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Maple Leafs fans, you have a defector.

A Leafs fan has put his loyalty on eBay.

Yep, for 67 cents US an anonymous fan was willing to sell his or her affections.

You should know that this isn't so unusual.

Feelings are by far the craziest items offered up on eBay.

One woman used eBay to sell the advertising space that we know as a forehead. Someone once paid $1,035 for a Nutri-Grain bar that looked like ET. A grilled cheese sandwich that its owner said bore a likeness of the Virgin Mary brought $28,000. It is a compelling world we live in.

But you had to give it to the mystery fan. He did it up right.

"After a lot of soul searching, I have come to the conclusion that I will never see the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup in my lifetime," wrote the fan who included a photo of the 1967 championship team on the webpage.

He wasn't around for the 1967 win. That puts him at less than 40 years of age.

This is a very Toronto thing to believe. How deep must your cynicism be that you can confidently say your sporting team won't win over the next three decades. It is as if God is against you. Last I looked, he's not picking sides, although there was Harold Ballard.

Suffering is central to the self-image of Leafs fan, as if they don't suffer in Ottawa, site annual playoff disasters or the lost teams in Boston and Chicago.

Every franchise could use a Leafs fan, wrote the salesman. "We have very low standards so any appearance in the playoffs will be such a thrill that it will result in parties and planning the Stanley Cup parade route.

"We're extremely loyal and truly believe that our team is God's team."

The guy on eBay won't be missed.

It's a rule of thumb here that if you filled every page of the paper with news of the Maple Leafs, you'd still fall short of feeding the enormous hunger for news of the club. I have observed Maple Leafs fans for years. I don't know that I get it yet.

The Leafs pull is so multi-generational, so potent, they are the crack cocaine of the Toronto sports world.

Leafs fans are like addicts. They summon up all available indignation and talk bravely about swearing off. By the time the first Zamboni idles, all eyes are returned to the Air Canada Centre.

In the wake of the lockout, the message along the blue lines in 29 NHL markets was "Thank You Fans."

In Toronto, it was "Thank-You Leafs Fans."

There is a difference between Leafs fans and other fans just like there is a difference between the second and 10th station of the cross.

For Leafs fans, time is measured by invisible but omnipresent meter that keeps rolling from 1967 to today.

I guess I'm trying to tell you that I don't think you can quit the Leafs.

Maybe it's because most everybody's dad was a Leafs fan. In the hard years, the Leafs are one of the few currencies the generations share.

Maybe it's because the sheer size of the colossus, the presence in the media, the way they transform the city when they are rolling in the spring.

Maybe there is something in the sweater and the nobility of a Mats Sundin, a Darryl Sittler, a Dave Keon.

Maybe they're just the best thing going in the winter.

Whatever the reason, the anonymous eBay salesman can go where he pleases. There always will be someone to take his place. The worse the times, the deeper the griping, somehow, the stronger the bond between team and fan.

They kill you, the Leafs do, but you always come back for more.


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