I never realized that the Toronto Maple Leafs were Canada’s most storied and richest sports team. I learned this while I read the WSJ at Cindy’s last night, after a night at Spoleto with the lovely pair of Cindy and Stephanie Jones. It’s funny because despite having the most fans, being featured on Canada’s Hockey Night 24 out of 37 times a year, and charging the NHL’s highest ticket prices, the team stinks.
No matter how much this team is adored by Canadians, this team that’s majority owned by the Ontario teacher’s union is going nowhere. Forty-one long years have passed since the Leafs have won a championship. Now they’ve decided to bring a tough Bostonian named Brian Burke in to kick a little Canuck ass.
“Mr Burke has a Harvard Law degree and the broad face and meaty chin of a bouncer at the corner pub,” writes Matthew Futterman. He told the interviewer that it was time for more hitting and less loving. When the Calgary Flames opened up their new Canadian stadium in 1980, eighty percent of the fans in the arena were cheering ‘let’s go Leafs!!’ Despite the problems with overpaid, underachieving veterans, the Leafs traded away their top draft picks seven times, giving them no chance to rebuild under the league’s salary cap.
But Burke said he’s determined to make a winner out of the hapless team. “We’re the beneficiaries of unbelievable fan support. At some point we’ve got to reward them with success on the ice.”