As the Leafs move up in the standings (last night’s aberration notwithstanding) and the Senators continue to show their true colours and lose, it seems each team’s fans are also making a parallel divergence: my last piece about the ACC needing more“fury and balls” was contrasted sharply and hilariously by Ottawa writer Wayne Scanlan in yesterday’s National Post, “who wrote about our rival needing “civility.
Scanlan takes up the cause of a “die-hard” senator fan, and season-ticket holder, who wrote to him saying she was disgusted by the behaviour of ottawa and Toronto fans, “but mostly Toronto fans.” She didn’t feel safe attending games alone, as the corridors were bedlam before and after games. “Thugs and hooligans are ruining senators games.” No. Her senators game was ruined by the senators who couldn’t handle the Leafs relentless speed, crisp and elegant passes, and bar-down snipes. If the halls were an insane asylum it was because the senators were crushed to an insane degree. 5-0! Would any die-hard fan in a rival’s building seriously keep their glee to themselves? Can this woman ask that of us?
And besides, what exactly happened? Thugs and hooligans are those who broke windows and looted stores during the G20. If there was violence at the hockey game it would surely be mentioned somewhere, as no writer excludes the main story from their story. It sounds like this fragile woman was upset Leaf fans were loud before and after trouncing her team. If the senators destroyed the Leafs in the ACC and I had to listen to their fans gloat, and no doubt they would, I’d be in despair too. But I’d blame it on the Leafs. Fans all want to cheer and brag and gloat, but it’s impossible when you lose. So while I understand perfectly well this woman’s misery, I hope she continues to suffer it for years unabated.
This “die-hard fan” should save her disgust for her team. As their losing continues she will need all the reserve she can get.
But why did a writer take up this woman’s cause? He writes, “can both sides of this Battle of Ontario clash please grow up enough to lift this debate to the high school level?” What “debate?” We hate your team, you hate ours. The players debate who is best by playing, and we respond with cheers and boos.
Scanlan is sneaky: he spends the first half of his article praising alfredsson without ever qualifying Leaf fans’ hatred. It’s disingenuous to posture like alfredsson’s booing doesn’t have origins in a catalogue of historical provocations. Yet he uses highly charged words without ever describing what Leaf fans did wrong.
And, what’s childish is the Sens’ fans desperate grasp at symmetry, who, without a villain to offset all theirs, “mercilessly” boo Lupul, who has never done anything to deserve their ire aside from score goals.
Scanlan speculates that Leaf fans were in payback mode, avenging senator fans “behaving badly” during the all-star fantasy draft. Yes, the relentless booing, however predictable and banal, had to be innocuously redressed in the same terms–by booing back. All standard fare, and anything but surprising. But what really got Leaf fans, and what Scanlan scandalously leaves unacknowledged (omitted?) is the senator fan who suggested during the all-star fantasy draft that Lupul’s team should select Wade Belak, the ex-Leaf who was found dead in a hotel room last summer. This vile, morally indefensible outburst, more than any booing or juvenile “Leafs Suck” video created and screened by the organization, was a new low for senator fans, a group never exactly held in great esteem.
To be sure, that person was an idiot and wasn’t acting as the team’s official representative. No doubt most senator fans, Scanlan included, would distance themselves from this moron. But Scanlan’s plea for increased civility between the teams’ fans shouldn’t leave such an atrocious breach of basic decency unacknowledged. Either this is negligence or bias.
Anyway, to complain about Leaf fans cheering on their team and booing their hated rival is totally futile. Not only is this not news, but, as I argued just before reading this article, hockey arenas are the rabid hockey fan’s should natural habitat, and nobody should be told how to pray in their temple. Also revealing, while the Leafs proudly exalt “truculence, belligerence and a high threshold for pain”, die-hard senator fans submit tear filled letters about the volume of their arena’s corridors causing them high anxiety. Their writers apparently sympathize.
The last thing I’d like is to relieve senator fans of their misery, but can they lend to us for our home games these detested Leaf fans to teach ours how to act?
That would be civil.