Advice on how not to win Cup

MIKE STROBEL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

Sacre bleu! What are the Leafs trying to do, win?

All this talk about Cliff Fletcher and Scotty Bowman ...

Don't do it, please, please, Mr. Peddie.

We like our Leafs just the way they are. Lovable Losers.

On Sunday, I asked fans to advise team brass on how NOT to win the Stanley Cup.

Who needs cold, boring champions like, say, the New England Patriots, when you can have adorable, huggable chumps like, say, the Chicago Cubs.

Or the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This feeling is widespread, judging by the mound of e-mails.

So, how do the Leafs guarantee warm and fuzzy mediocrity?

A lot of you offered variations on the same answer.

"Do nothing," writes Bruce Legacy. "I mean, if it's not working, don't fix it."

Bang on, Bruce. As if Richard Peddie et al need any help keeping the "loser" in Lovable Loser.

'LET MOMMY PLAY'

But if we must meddle with imperfection, here's a few ideas:

"Let mommy play for the Leafs instead of Sundin," suggests Andrew Schjerning, 8.

Suit up, Mrs. Schjerning. You'll centre a line with my sister and her hairdresser.

"Let Mayor Miller and his gang run the team," opines John Cottle.

Good thinking. A team loaded with left-wingers is sure to go in circles.

Other personnel moves you'd like to see to ensure Losing Lovability: John Tory, Isiah Thomas or Alex ("The Answer") Trebek as GM, Conrad Black and Britney Spears on defence, Jiri Tlusty as team photographer.

Anna Kournikova as coach, says Michael Flowitt. "She knows how to lose and look good doing it!"

Mike Milbury seems a safe bet as Lovable Loser coach or GM. Mad Mike traded away Robert Luongo and once beat a fan with a shoe. But I'm nervous because Milbury coached the Bruins dangerously close to the Stanley Cup in 1990.

Jonathon Tobin suggests cloning Hal Gill, though I think the Leafs are sheepish enough these days.

Goal was a popular target, as it is most Leafs games.

Throw Carlton the Bear in net, says Ray Matson. At least the big furball will be entertaining.

"Ray Charles," suggests Perry Hammer from Tavistock, Ont. "And Helen Keller!"

Just one problem with those two as goalies, Perry. They're dead.

"Move the team to Singapore," writes Ann Spall.

"Move the team to Hawaii," writes Elizabeth Stewart.

Ouch, Liz, that's a luau blow. The only ice in Hawaii comes with frilly little umbrellas.

On the other hand, drinking by the pool with Jessica Simpson kept Tony Romo soft in the saddle.

I like Lindsay Leo's idea: "Seriously, wouldn't it be fun to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs and their opponents both play in the same uniforms?"

You ain't lyin', Leo. The refs would go cross-eyed.

Jill Davies, on behalf of her "broken-hearted" 7-year-old Cian, says "don't let (the Leafs) skate past their blue line."

Good, Jill, except they can still score on their own net.

"Make them skate backwards only," offers Melody Makinen.

"Ice their jock straps before games." This from Lorna "Grandma Hockey" Muslewski, a cruel, cruel woman.

One of the jewels among hundreds of entries was this Ode to Lovable Losers:

McCabe gets more money

Have Sundin be rude

Play Belak more often

Have Tlusty play nude!

It was penned by the winner of the draw for tickets to the game against Ottawa Feb. 2 at the ACC.

Janet Hoskin, of Acton, was 2 months old when the Leafs won the 1967 Cup, their last.

"They're the only team in the league that gets away with losing and losing and people still stand by them, still fill their arena, still wear their stuff."

Dammit, Janet. You've got it. They're our Lovable Losers.

It just wouldn't be the same if they won. We'd have nothing to whine about or dissect over coffee, no reason to swear at the TV.

I hope Janet's grandson Benjamin, 4, grows up to appreciate this unique quality of the Leafs.

She's taking Ben to the Feb. 2 game.

Already, he knows everyone's number, position, points, injuries. A budding Leafs diehard.

"He's a lifer," laughs Janet.

Well, maybe he'll get time off for good behaviour.


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