The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a time when any fan, given the right circumstances, can become a sensation.
The Green Men of Vancouver, supporting the Canucks. Tony X., the hilarious St. Louis Blues dude who discovered hockey last postseason. And now Jason Maslakow, the 37-year-old Waterloo, Ont., native and Toronto Maple Leafs fan forever known as “Dart Guy.”
He had a leaf painted on his face, his beard dyed blue, a Stanley Cup shaved into his head and, in the inspiration for his name, a Du Maurier Signature King Size cigarette dangling from his mouth. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post caught up with him at Game 2 between Toronto and the Washington Capitals, for which Dart Guy had driven down from Ontario to watch.
He asked why Dart Guy hadn’t smoked it yet. “It’s [bleeping] 3-3, for [bleep’s] sake!” was the reply. Classic.
Dart Guy became a sensation, with dozens of Leafs fans changing their avatars on social media to his image and a cottage industry of memes growing around him.
— Chemmy (@felixpotvin) April 16, 2017
The Toronto Maple Leafs, seizing on this, are hosting him for Game 3 of the series on Monday night.
For a fan base that’s been accused of being buttoned up at best and militant at worst in recent years, this was a delightful bit of messy whimsy.
People really, really loved it!
Which, as we know, means the backlash arrives in 3…2…ah, there it is:
Since when does a sweaty, over-weight guy with a ciggy in his mouth represent what the Toronto Maple Leafs organization stands for?
Did we all miss the ritualistic slaughter of Carlton The Bear and the coronation of Dart Guy as the new mascot?
Since when does the NHL and MLSE encourage and promote life threatening addictions as humorous or cool?
The Leafs organization could have handed out tickets to a single mother of two kids, who spends five nights a week driving her kids to hockey rinks across the GTA who simply can’t afford to bring her kids to a Leafs game, or perhaps reward a struggling university student with a 4.0 GPA.
Yeah, it’s about time the Leafs “partnered with Kids Up Front Toronto, the leading donated-ticket distribution charity in Canada” or donated tickets to mental health organizations instead of throwing free nights at the rink to sweaty overweight men with ciggys.
Instead, they have chosen to reward a man who can’t wait five minutes to inhale tobacco smoke into his lungs and provide a nice wave of second-hand smoke to anybody within 50 feet of him.
No, that’s not accurate, he literally told the Washington Post that he waited at least 20 minutes because the game was tied.
Maslakow may be a great guy to watch a game with and to share a $14 beer with down at the ACC, but he is a poor representation for what is supposed to be one of the more storied franchises in all sports. Rewarding his actions sets a very poor example for young people across the country.
I mean, considering recent alternatives…
Now because of his new found internet fame, Maslakow will likely be front and centre at the ACC on Monday night with the camera’s panning on him several times throughout the broadcast and he will no doubt have another cigarette dangling out of his mouth to fulfill his obligations as “Dart Guy.”
Honestly, we want him to sing the national anthem with a cigarette dangling from his mouth like Elwood Blues.
When the people of Toronto say they want the Leafs organization to do what it did in 1967, we’re referring to winning the Stanley Cup; not having a smoke filled building full of men hacking on cancer sticks.
Well, like Auston Matthews said:
Auston Matthews on Leafs Dart Guy; "I didn't know they let cigarettes in the building. I heard he's coming here tonight."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 17, 2017
Look, smoking is terrible and awful and as a society we’ve come a long way from 1967, when clouds of smoke hung over the ice and every airplane smelled like Don Draper’s esophagus.
But being concerned that the Leafs’ support of Dart Guy is going to turn the Air Canada Centre into a dystopian hellhole of lung-tarring plumes from cancer sticks is just misguided. Everyone knows that’s actually Maple Leafs Square…
Hey, maybe Dart Guy is following Will Smith’s advice: “I just bite it. It’s for the look, I don’t light it.” Who know!
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