|An old hockey card kinda like this|
kindled the fire of hockey love
in yours truly's little heart
I recall being so intrigued by this card. (Remember, I was no older than 7!) First, it was hockey. Not baseball, not football. Hockey. There was this big guy, flying on the ice with a stick in hand. So different. Then the city. My little worldview was still shaping, so the idea of a team from Toronto - a funny-sounding city from a foreign country - playing teams from America fascinated me. Lastly, the team itself. The "Maple Leafs". They had the name of the team on the front of their sweaters! And leafs all over them! I'd seen nothing like it. (And then dad flooded the backyard so my brothers and I could flounder around on the ice with our poorly-utilized sticks and skates all winter long. Good times.)
I've seen the Leafs play live once before - two years ago, December 3, 2009, when the Blue Jackets were shellacked by the Leafs, 6-3. That particular game became a little tough to swallow despite the fact that I had to maintain an upbeat mood to entertain my guests from work.
At the same time, I found time to sit back and enjoy the fact that I was indeed watching the Toronto Maple Leafs playing right in front of me. They were getting cheered on by their legion of road-tripping fans (and surely one or two locals who can't give up on their team). Kinda cool.
As frustrating as the game was, there was something to be said about the legitimacy implied in the game. The long-time (storied?) franchise was playing here, in Columbus, on our ice against our team.
The Toronto Maple Leafs return to Nationwide tonight for a 7PM tilt with the Columbus Blue Jackets. I'll be there - wouldn't miss it for the world. And while I surely hope for a win for the Blue Jackets, I hope you'll excuse me if I offer a little smile at the thought of seeing that team in blue and white that I'd viewed from afar playing right in front of me.