(This month, Puck Daddy asked bloggers for every NHL team to tell us The Essentials for their franchises — everything from the defining player and trade, to the indispensable fan traditions. Here is Michael Forbes from Pension Plan Puppets — mforbes37 on Twitter — giving us The Essentials for the Toronto Maple Leafs.)
By Michael Forbes from Pension Plan Puppets
Essential and the Toronto Maple Leafs? Canuck please.
The only essential thing about being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan is patience, thick skin and a good sense of humour.
The Leafs are the only team that missed the playoffs through the entirety of a CBA. A franchise that went an entire decade without a single .500 season. An organization without a single Calder, Hart, Conn Smyth, Art Ross, Vezina or Norris trophy winner in the last 45 seasons.
With nearly 100 years of NHL history -- 85 spent as a strangely pluralized proper noun -- the Leafs are second in all-time Stanley Cups, first in revenues generated and yet they have never won three consecutive playoff series. Ever. For 99 years, it's been no more than two and out.
Essential and the Toronto Maple Leafs? That's a paradox, just like the club.
A rich tradition and a die-hard fan base with absolutely nothing to celebrate. An arena that consistently sells-out, where ticket demand is stratospheric and it's quieter than a morgue. A GM who challenges critics to fight in a barn while putting up a four-year run that rivals the worst four years in franchise history.
Essential? Well, if you must, take your pick ...
a) Syl Apps - Rookie of the year in 1937, five-time all-star, winner of three Stanley Cups and the Lady Byng (in 1942 he scored 41 points in 38 games and didn't take a single penalty). He also sat out two NHL seasons to serve in WWII
b) Dave Keon - smart, fast and talented. The last Leaf to win the Calder trophy (1960) he also won the Lady Byng in 1962 and 63 and the Conn Smythe in 1967. Run out of town by misanthropic former owner Harold Ballard in 1975, he would go on to play until 1982.
c) Mats Sundin - 8-time All-Star and all-time franchise leader in points and goals
d) Tie Domi — because, in the immortal words of @GoddTilll, "He sucked, yet ownership and dumb fans loved him."
a) 1942 - Down 3 games to none against the Red Wings, the Leafs rallied back to win the series and the Stanley Cup. The first time a professional team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the championship.
b) 1978 - A giant upset over New York Islanders before being eliminated in the Semis by the Habs with 2 games going to OT.
c) 1993 - A giant upset over the Detroit Red Wings before being eliminated in the Semis by the Kings with 2 games going to OT.
d) 2007 - The Leafs miss the playoffs by one point when, in the last game of the season, the Devils dress back-up Scott Clemmensen and lose a shoot-out to Wade Dubielewicz and the Islanders.
e) 2012 - Woo hoo! Playoffs here we come…uh-oh, that mid-season trend line doesn't look so good.
a) Leafs last Stanley Cup win, May 2 (sometime in the late 60s, the year is not well known).
b) Leafs - Flyers 1976 playoffs. A fight filled series that was investigated by the Ontario police. Game three, Sittler and Salming combine for two goals two assists to shed the chicken label and climb back into the series.
c) November 29, 2000 Leafs winning 5-0 with 15 minutes left in the game, lose 6-5 to the St. Louis Blues.
d) A routine Tuesday night loss at home to some team from the Southeast Division.
a) Defenseman Bobby Baun scores the 1964 Stanley Cup winning goal despite playing on a broken ankle.
b) Dougie Gilmour wrap around, second overtime, Game 1, division finals vs. the St. Louis Blues.
c) Mats Sundin's 500th PING! His hat trick goal, in off the crossbar shorthanded against the Calgary Flames.
d) A meaningless hat trick in game 82 by Boyd Devereaux, which drops the Leafs from 5th to 7th in the entry draft.
e) Brian McCabe's brilliant overtime winner against Buffalo:
a) Acquiring Mats Sundin, Garth Butcher, Todd Warriner and Philadelphia's 1st round choice for Wendel Clark, Sylvain Lefebvre, Landon Wilson and Toronto's 1st round choice.
b) Acquiring Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Kent Manderville and Rick Wamsley for Gary Leeman, Alexander Godynyuk, Jeff Reese, Michel Petit and Craig Berube.
c) Acquiring Red Kelly for Marc Reaume.
d) Kurvers for Niedermayer? Kordic for Courtnall? Rask for Raycroft? Toskala for Lars Eller? Greg Hubick for Doug Jarvis?
a) Paul Morris
b) Jimmy Holstrom
c) Mute button
d) Twitter filters that screen "#TMLTalk"
a) Kerry Fraser
b) Alan Frew
c) Brian Burke's impatience
d) Any 3rd or 4th line player born in the GTA playing against the Leafs at the ACC.
a) Forbes Kennedy v. the Boston Bruins and the Bruins fans
b) Felix Potvin v. Ron Hextall
c) Wendel Clark v. Marty McSorley
d) Former GM John Ferguson Jr. v. a childproof bottle
a) Roger Neilson
b) Pat Burns
c) Pat Quinn
d) Nick Beverley, who said his players were a bunch of "Nimrods" after blowing a playoff game in 1996. The next day he assured everyone that by "nimrods" he actually meant "mighty hunters".
e) Punch Imlach who built the Leafs dynasty of the 1960s (four Cups in 6 years) and then returned in 1978 to dismantle a promising outfit and launch a streak that would see the Leafs fail to hit .500 for over a decade.
a) Foster & Bill Hewitt
b) Bob Cole
c) Joe Bowen
d) Glen Healy's uninformed vitriol; Jim Hughson's painful affectations; Craig Simpson's I-don't-know-what (yet somehow he's an upgrade on PJ Stock).
a) Sitting quietly in the lower bowl reading your smartphone, eating sushi and ignoring the game.
b) Sitting quietly in the upper bowl sipping on a $14 beer.
c) "Getting Cloutiered" a.k.a. watching in horror as another Leaf goalie messes the bed.
d) Getting slammed by the local media for supporting the team in September (plan the parade!) and then getting slammed by the same local media for booing the Leafs off the ice when playoff aspirations are left for dead each spring.
a) $7 to $10 for a hot dog from Burkie's Dog House.
b) $12 for a deep-fried Mars Bar.
c) $14 for a large beer.
d) I have no punch line. You'd be better off eating $20 bills dipped in your favourite condiment.
Swag jersey, hat, shirt, gear, etc.
It's a toss-up. The most essential Toronto Maple Leafs swag is either
a) cycling arm warmers
b) a cuckoo clock
c) If you're better friends with the groom, you can't go wrong with a Toronto Maple Leafs grill cover as an engagement gift:
Previously On Puck Daddy