Welcome to the Game Day Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s 18th game of the season on Nov. 14, 2009.
Man, this has put me in an interesting situation. Being hockey starved as I was over the summer, I was seeking out professional hockey on television, settling for almost anything with what looked like a rink and a bunch of Eastern and Northern Europeans skating around with sticks. I was even watching the NHL Network’s replays of the Stanley Cup Finals from this year (by my count I’ve seen Game 6 close to a dozen times). These were dark times, and they called for desperate measures.
But then preseason games started and there was at least a game on the NHL Network or somewhat-legal internetty places pretty much every night. It wasn’t perfect, but it’d have to do. And given that the Maple Leafs are the only NHL team with their own dedicated cable network, a lot of Leafs games made their way into my life, and wouldn’t ya know it, they were always fun to watch even when they lost, which was often.
The way they played hockey was simply entertaining to the point that I found myself doing something I never thought I’d be doing: wishing the Maple Leafs did well. That has even continued into the season proper. They may not be very good, but they’re at least entertainingly not-very-good, which is more than you can say for some of the garbage teams in the West and certainly like half the East, and so who am I to sit here and wish them ill? I’ve even gone so far as to defend them on Twitter, mainly against Bruins fans who think the addition of Phil Kessel was and is going to backfire. Plus I picked them to make the playoffs (oops).
How can it be that I actually like a team coached by Ron Wilson, featuring several extremely punchable players, headed up by Brian Burke? That said, I hope the Flames beat their brains in tonight.
The Calgary Flames (11-4-2 for 24 points. Tied for third in the West, second in the Northwest) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (3-9-5 for 11 points. Fourteenth in the East, fifth in the Northeast).
5 p.m. Mountain time and 7 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should pop in and say hi.
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario. Calgary is 5-1-2 away home this year, having lost in a shootout last night. The Leafs are 2-4-3 at home, but were on a streak of seven straight games at least earning a point from an overtime loss as recently as last week.
What (to hate about the Leafs)
Vesa Toskala — Note: This only applies if you are a Leafs fan.
Phil Kessel — When covering the Bruins, I grew a healthy dislike for the kid. It wasn’t that he was a jerk or anything even close to like that. He was nice enough. But he is so remarkably dumb that his quotes were always awful and gave one the impression that he wasn’t entirely sure what had just happened. I can’t imagine there’s a reporter alive that finds him anything less than a chore to deal with.
They’re lovable losers — I hate myself for liking them. I can’t even wrap my head around it.
Because who doesn’t love a Leafs homer broadcast? Enjoy the game and keep the TV on mute in the comments section.