So, here we go again, one more year behind enemy lines with a less than favourable chance to win it all.
Being a diehard Leaf fan in Ottawa is not an easy thing to do. Everyone, I mean everyone, looks at you with a split second of distain when you mention your devotion to the Boys in Blue. The majority, not even hockey fans, just defend the sens in some form of passive aggressive attack against city of Toronto. Leaf fans here always get accused of being arrogant or annoying and even obnoxious simply by wearing a jersey on game night and cheering when their team scores. Cheer too loud, or dare to offer a counter argument to an outlandish statement (ie: no, fisher is not the greatest player in the league) and you get rebuked with the ever popular and original chant of ’67.’ This is because being a Leaf fan here is considered wrong by so many.
But I would not have it any other way, because I am not alone. Wear a piece of Leaf branded clothing in public and you will draw the ire of most, but through the hate you see the sly looks and half smiles of fellow Leaf fans as you make eye contact in the crowd. This is the greatest part of Leaf Fandom. Hundreds of kilometres from Leafs nation a sprinkle of Leafs Blue amid the red, white and black, a sprinkle that gradually becomes a torrent as you make your long journey out of town towards Scotiabank Place.
Then step into the building and see the multitude of Gilmour, Clark, Sundin, Schenn and yes, even the occasional Corson jersey. Entering the bowl multiplies this number seemingly to infinity, as you can almost feel the warmth of Leaf Love pounding from all sides. At this point you step away from the conveniently placed heater and feel Scotiabank chill as the sens fans slowly filter in, taking up 60 per cent of the arena. This is when the magic happens, as 13000 sens fans take to their feet to cheer it is drowned out by a mere 7500 Leafs fans as ‘Go Leafs Go’ fills the air, not only in the rink, by even the broadcasts as well.
That is when you know you are part of something big, something exciting, something larger than the distance. You are a part of Leafs Nation and that is something special.