Simon Widdifield is a third year Sports Administration student at Laurentian University who will be completing an internship with SudburySports.com this summer. With a keen interest in blogging and a creative view of the sports world, in general, Simon will be offering some thoughts on a whole variety of topics. We hope and trust that you will find some of these stories of interest.
Editor’s Note: Full disclosure of a potential conflict of interest - the writer is a Habs fan. He claims that conflict has been avoided because he studied an objective truth, namely, his roommates’ emotions. It should also be of note that the writer is, at best, indifferent toward the Maple Leafs, so should he really be considered a Habs fan at all?
While Game 7 earlier this week is worthy of countless editorials and analytical breakdowns, other writers are far more adept at handling those than I. I am completely qualified, however, to breakdown and recap my roommate’s experience of the events that unfolded.
It started that morning: no matter what side of the bed he got out on, he was going to be anxious until puck drop. It’s the same sort of anxiety you would feel standing in line for a drop tower. You know what is coming, but you keep praying that it’s not going to be as bad as you think.
Work provided no relief and finished several hours before the start of the contest, leaving my roommate with nothing to do but think about the inevitable. He made the controversial game-time decision to watch on Sportsnet’s YouTube stream of the game (0-1) instead of the CBC broadcast (3-2) - controversial given the fact that the Leafs had a winning record when we watched the latter.
With the puck dropped and the game underway, all he could do was watch. I knew it was going to be a rough one when he got nervous every time the Leafs were in their defensive zone. Thankfully, both teams played uneventful nerve calming hockey in the first period. He had now stepped on the drop tower and was starting to believe that everything might be okay. If only he had known that we just reached the top of the tower.
Early in the second, the scoring dam opened like a Jack Campbell five-hole as Brendan Gallagher got the Habs on the board. The descent had begun. My roommate’s faith in Campbell shattered, every minor misstep the Leafs goalie made that had previously been allowed to slip was now under scrutiny. He was still holding on to the assumption that the brakes would kick in any second. Corey Perry’s goal late in the period snapped him out of it, as he turned stone faced and silent. My roommate now believed that this ride would never slow.
That intermission, he tried to calm his nerves in various ways - though few provided any relief. “I’m starting to think I should have two favourite teams: the Leafs and my favourite playoff team so I won’t get heart broken,” he said, half jokingly. My other roommate and I tried to cheer him up, mentioning that the Leafs had come back from two down before. His response was non-printable.
Unfortunately, twenty minutes of free fall remained. At this point on the drop tower, one might blackout, but all my roommate could do was stare blankly at what was to come. As the clock ticked away, he began praying to Matthews and Marner, as if they were deities in a new pagan religion. As he justified that a third overtime loss would feel like a knife to the heart, it was clear that he was losing hope. At one point, he had his hands around his mouth, like an air mask on a crashing plane. He then assumed the tuck position on the couch, rising and sinking with every touch of the puck.
When the ride finally did brake, at least momentarily, and William Nylander scored with less than two minutes left, all he could muster was “I guess”. The buzzer sounded and he was free to get off the ride, but he couldn’t move. “Why did I become a Leafs fan?” he cried.
There are a number of takeaway one can learn from this game, I suppose:“At least Sisyphus reached the top of the hill” comes to mind ...
or perhaps “Hockey is hockey and when you’re the Leafs, hockey hurts”
But the main reason I wrote this was because I knew it would be a familiar experience to any Leafs fan, or anyone who watched the game with a Leafs fan this week. Perhaps the only appropriate ending is no ending at all, since we’ve all been here before. Many will be back; some might not.
For those who do return, we’ll see you at the tower of doom, er I mean Scotiabank Arena, once again next year.