I’ve noticed that the Globe’s hockey blog is pretty much arid when it comes to comments. Despite a few explicit attempts to get some feedback going, the feedback pages are as empty as the Leafs win column this month.
I’ve also noticed that I’m reading less and less mainstream media coverage of the NHL – I can get far better insight, funnier jokes and more robust two-way communication from the sea of hockey blogs out there.
What ties these two thoughts together?
Well, look no further than Ken Campbell’s embarrassingly bad entry at Globe hockey this week.
I haven’t missed Cambell's coverage in the Star, I haven’t read him at the Hockey News (is there a less relevant sports paper these days?) and if his entry at the Globe is anything to go by, he’s either in desperate need of an editor or desperately trying to get the comments flowing. (Campbell did manage to drum up 3 whole responses, which might tie the record for most feedback on that page.)
Mr. Campbell’s poorly written piece closes with this wonderfully original, much-needed, timely, groundbreaking insight - he writes of Leafs fans:
“And then they wonder why people in Edmonton and Montreal laugh at them all the time.”
Oh do we wonder. Of the five or six Leaf Blogs out there, I can't think of any other topic we have covered more.
Consider PPP's five part series on the laughter coming from Alberta. Or Ninja's disturbingly prescient piece at Raking Leafs on what formal recognition of the Quebecois could mean for Habs fans who laugh at Leaf fans "tout le temps/ ce n'est pas une perte de temps" - amazing stuff coming from an American. And then there's the biggest one of all - Wardo's off-shoot blog the.fans.who.laugh.at.Leafsfans.club - far more popular than all of our sites combined.
For Leafs fan is there a more powerful or damning symbol for all of this than that famous La Vache Qui Rit label with the cow photoshopped into a Habs jersey? As Leafs Nation, we can't stop asking - the herd is clearly laughing at us, but why? WHY!?!?
Well, I certainly can’t speak for Leafs Nation, or my fellow Leaf bloggers, but I’ve never wondered why people in Edmonton and Montreal “laugh at us all the time" (if they even do). But I can give you a pile of reasons in about as much time as it took Campbell to assemble that mess of a post (i.e. about 45 seconds).
- There’s a tremendous amount of provincialism in this fine country of ours. When I lived in Alberta (’98?), I was categorized as an “easterner” and was routinely assigned the blame for the National Energy Program (enacted when I was nine; I must have been the most powerful grade 4 student in North America – hell, if I had that kind of power I wouldn’t have messed around with Trudeau and federal price controls, I would have been far too busy that year making sure the Leafs drafted Jari Kurri, Steve Larmer, Bernie Nichols, Kelly Hrudey and Craig Ludwig); I was also nearly tossed from a cab for my alleged role in fixing federal elections; lectured on my ability to keep the masses from reaping the benefits of an elected senate and took heat for the majority of the CBC’s bad programming decisions. And people who had never been east of Lloydminister would often tell me how much they hated my home town (just imagine what they must think of Hamilton or what they might have shared if we knew each other better).
- Folks resent having the Leafs on their TV every Saturday night and the blathering media machine that follows. (Bob Cole reminds me of my poor grandfather who, in his old age, often mistook replays for live action and would be amazed that teams could score identical goals back to back to back).
- There’s an inverse relationship between MLSE's on-ice success and the strength of the franchise that many find disturbing. The Leafs haven’t won anything and likely won’t for some time, yet there we are, the dazed members of Leafs Nation, week-in week-out following the team like some sort of zombie convinced that this is the year the Leafs will win the cup. Really, this is our year.
- When the Leafs are on the road, Leafs Nation can be a troubling house guest.
- In all sports, there’s a team or teams that everyone loves to hate (Cowboys, Yankees, Bosox,
LiverpoolMan U) and in hockey for most of the world it’s the Leafs.
Now, introspection isn't a reporter's best friend, but if the media ever wonder why the IBP are laughing at them all the time, they need look no further than Mr. Campbell.