The editor is laughing. He is laughing and holding his Habs belly. He is laughing and slapping his Habs knee and pointing at the screen with his Habs finger because he knew this would happen. He bet some friends that it would. He is filling his Habs wallet with his winnings. He is getting a beer. This is too funny. Way too funny.
The editor is laughing and I am writing, and that the Habs have struggled to find themselves over the last few days is beside the point. By contrast, the Leafs have completely lost themselves, and even though the writer knew that he would eventually be forced to write this column, he thought that maybe his instincts would betray him; maybe luck would sway and a new day would find him and the team and the land. But, after two losses—one goal for; very many against—the light of hope has shuttered and the sweetness of promise has soured and the Leaf defence sucks like the writer knew it would. Damien Cox wrote: “What? No one expected the Leafs would ever lose two games in a row?” But bluebloods, being bluebloods, did not think this would happen so soon and so wretchedly. Damien Cox is not a blueblood. He has too much common sense.
This blueblood told his children last Saturday night: this is the big one. Boston. Remember them? They won the Stanley Cup last year. Over Vancouver. What I didn’t tell them was that Brad Marchand out-punked Maxime Lapperiere before he out-punched Sedin 1 (or was it 2? or was it 1?). And then there was Tim Thomas. My kids remember Tim Thomas. Kids love Tim Thomas. Small and darting, with soggy hound eyes, and never in the net, despite making all of those saves. “Boston: ooohh!,” they said. So it was set: Saturday night at home. The best team in the league versus the best team last spring. Crack open the chips.
My family was excited, but not nearly as excited as Ben Scrivens’s family. The Scrivens clan came in from Alberta to watch their son play at home after defeating Columbus for his first win two days prior. Everything seemed fine, and then the game started. After 3-0, my daughter said, “That’s ok; they can come back.” After 4-0, she said the same thing, and she even held out hope at 5-0. But after 6-0, even the Friendly Giant needed a smoke. In the end, it was my fault, making too much of an early season game, and pumping it up as some Conference Final preview. Of course, this is the bluebloods’ weakness. We get way too high and way too low. The world has created prescription medications for this sort of thing. Invent one with a little blue Leaf on it and you could buy the New York Islanders.
A few nights later, the Leafs were back against Florida: the dreadful, and meaningless Panthers, despite their early season success under new coach Kevin Dineen. I once met Dineen in Quebec City. I asked him where he was when Henderson scored in ‘72. “Woodstock,” he told me. He is a good coach, but terrible with dates.
I let my kids watch Florida-Leafs, too. At 2-0, my daughter said, “Lots of time left.” At 3-0, she echoed her words. Then at 4-1, she announced that she was going to get a snack. “No,” I told her grimly, gravely. “You are going to bed.”
“Because this game is over,” I told her.
“They can come back,” she said, her eyes hopeful.
“They cannot come back,” I said, pointing to the staircase.
I could hear her socking feet as they reached the landing to her room.
Now, the season has started.