CALGARY - Once upon a time, still years removed from their last Stanley Cup victory in 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs were lovable losers.
From the head clown Harold Ballard down to the on-ice product, you could still cheer for a colourful cast of characters, knowing full well they were never going to be a serious contender.
Then they got Doug Gilmour. From the Flames. For a whole bunch of stiffs. Game on. Ever since then, they have not been so lovable.
It doesn't help that they're from the self-appointed Centre of the Universe.
So unless you're one of those annoying blue-bloods polluting the Saddledome every time the Leafs come to town, please join us -- a committee of Anyone But Toronto hockey fans -- in celebrating 43 reasons why the Maple Leafs suck. Just because ...
1. Because of Leafs Nation? -- C'mon, at least be original with your catchy little catch-all catch-phrase to describe the foaming-at-the-mouth, rabid, raving fanbase. Insufferable doesn't begin to describe Leafs fans.
2. Because of Heist No. 1 -- Flames fans justifiably felt violated after Doug Gilmour, Ric Nattress, Kent Manderville, Jamie Macoun and Rick Wamsley were sent packing by Doug Risebrough for Gary Leeman, Craig Berube, Alexander Godynyuk, Jeff Reese, and Michel Petit. Thanks Doug.
3. Because of Heist No. 2 -- Deja boo for Flames fans as Brian Burke bamboozles Darryl Sutter into giving up one of his top three assets for a handful of extras. Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom, Keith Aulie for Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Meyers. Geez, nice one, Darryl.
4. Because the Flames have never fleeced them in a trade.
5. Because 'he's coming to Toronto!' -- Every single player in the NHL, has at one time or another, been rumoured to be heading to Toronto. Gretzky, Messier, Lindros, and on and on. Haven't you heard? Brad Richards is heading to Toronto.
6. Because LEAFS is not even a proper word. It's LEAVES. They can't even get that right.
7. Because of Darcy Tucker -- Yes, we know he moved on to Colorado and has since retired. But he'll always be that yappy little diver from the Leafs to us. Ditto Shayne Corson.
8. Because, snicker, snicker, they traded two No.-1 picks for Phil Kessel. Almost takes away the bitter taste from the Gilmour/Phaneuf robberies. We said almost.
9. Because they inflicted the titanium-skulled knucklehead known as Tie Domi on the rest of Canada. Instead of a bit player anywhere else in the league who could entertain with his fists, we got TIE DOMI THE GREATEST GUY EVER.
10. Because Curtis Joseph was always just a great goalie until he became THE GREATEST GOALIE TO EVER LIVE while playing for the Leafs. Oddly enough, Cujo didn't bring Toronto a Stanley Cup. Come to think of it, he didn't bring any city a Stanley Cup. Bad dog!
11. Because even their best players end up getting the short end of the stick and leaving the team with a black cloud hanging over them -- Dave Keon, Lanny McDonald, Daryl Sittler, Mats Sundin, etc.
12. Because the ongoing Tomas-Kaberle-is-going-to-be-traded soap opera. Nobody outside of Bakczech, Czech Republic, cares about Tomas Kaberle ... and even they are sick of hearing about it.
13. Because of three words: Bob 'Freaking' Cole! Watching the game with Punjabi commentators made more sense and kept you better informed ... even if you couldn't understand Punjabi.
14. Because, hey, Eric Lindros is going to be a Leaf! Too bad they had to wait until he was more broken than Wendel Clark, another GREATEST GUY EVER built from peanut brittle!
15. Because they now get HNIC's top broadcast team for play-by-play, Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson -- who used to be the West tandem.
16. Because their fans try to tell everyone how hockey should properly be played. And we know they've all grown up watching how hockey should be played ... if you want to SUCK!
17. Because they don't know how to build a team -- neither through the draft, nor through trades. And they top Calgary for dredging the bottom of the discontinued bin.
18. Because the first three hours of Hockey Night in Canada should be called Hockey Night in Toronto and it's often borderline unwatchable. Hey, let's go to the iDesk ... and be really unoriginal.
19. Because we're sick of being inundated with Brian Burke soundbytes. Yeah, we get it, he makes Darryl Sutter look like Mr. Rogers.
20. Because their logo looks too much like our flag and some people still believe they're Canada's team. But why the hell is it blue?
21. Because as soon as they draft a teen or sign a free agent, we have to hear about why he's the next coming of Gretzky, Orr or Dryden.
22. Because Toronto's golf season is usually longer and Calgarians are jealous the Leafs always get to take full advantage of it.
23. Because regardless of who's visiting the Saddledome, at least one idiot in the crowd is always wearing a Leafs jersey.
24. Because of the awful hockey scenes in the awful movie The Love Guru. And the man behind that steaming pile of crap, Mike Myers, is a diehard Leafs fan. He also hasn't done anything worth a damn in quite some time. Where are the frickin' lasers when you really need them!
25. Because after a couple of victories, they start planning parade routes ... and designing rings ... and gloating.
26.Because two of their best all-time players both wore the same number (27) and the Leafs haven't retired either of them.
27. Because Doug Gilmour won a Stanley Cup in Calgary. He didn't just drop out of the sky into Toronto. He was known to be a great player in big games long before going to his blue heaven.
28. Because of Harold Ballard. All these years later, he's still haunting the team. Wait a minute, that's actually a good thing!
29. Because of the non-stop belief every player from Southern Ontario would kill to play in Toronto, or do it for a fraction of the salary they expect elsewhere. Ain't true.
30. Because the blind faith of the so-called Leaf Nation. Grab a reality pill. Please.
31. Because even when they lose a meaningless game against Florida in mid- November, it's still the story TSN spends its most time on. And those TSN anchors are all ultra-annoying, too.
32. Because the fact every other Canadian team has won the Cup, or at least been to the final, at least once since 1967. The Leafs haven't been once, yet are still given credit as Canada's Team.
33. Because it's an organization so short-term greedy, it can't think of how another team in the area would benefit the Leafs. Hey, be like the L.A. Lakers with the second-class Clippers in their building.
34. Because owning the Leafs is a licence to print money, which you can then toss away on absolute mediocrity.
35. Because you traded us Nikolai Borschevsky, who was more at home with the Moscow Ballet.
36. Because that guy who did the Leafs' PA announcements for a hundred years -- including EVERY FREAKIN' SATURDAY NIGHT -- sounded like he was droning on in his sleep.
37. Because the overly ponderous Ken Dryden once ran the team. He was OK as just a goalie, but then he turned into the pontificating egghead and -- EVEN WORSE -- a Liberal. Tall drink of water but not our cup of tea.
38. Because of buffoon Don Cherry. Sure, he's always babbling about the Bruins, but we know he's a Leafs fan at heart. Plus, his act with the unfunny Ron MacLean has worn mighty thin.
39. Because they traded Bernie Parent before he became the most awesome goalie ever.
40. Because their disgruntled fans throw waffles on the ice. What's with that? Can't they find any bricks?
41. Because they actually make Flames fans cheer for Vancouver or Edmonton when they play them.
42. Because given the very unlikely chance they ever win the Stanley Cup, we will never hear the end of it.
43. Because if people from Toronto hate the Leafs, why shouldn't we? Why, yes we do!