Preview: Canucks vs. Leafs

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Vancouver (9-6-1) vs. Toronto (7-6-4)

As a transplanted British Columbian living in Toronto, I am particularly excited about the games – infrequent though they may be – against the Maple Leafs.

To begin with, the Canucks have been a much better team than the Leafs since I moved out here six years ago, making my existence within the heart of ‘Leafs Nation’ a rather comfortable one. Most importantly though, the Canucks have done well to beat the Leafs with some regularity over the last few years. Thus, these games provide me the opportunity to relentlessly gloat over friends and colleagues.

This game marks the first meeting between the teams since the Canucks dismantled the Leafs, 6-1, at Air Canada Centre in January 2007.

An interesting story behind the game itself, which has received much less media attention here in Toronto than in Vancouver (for obvious reasons), is the peculiar start time. While the 7:00 p.m. Eastern face-off is familiar to the Leafs, its scheduling for a game at GM Place is most certainly not for the Canucks. The other day, listening to the Team 1040 online, I heard Don Taylor and Rick Ball remark upon the absurdity of a 4:00 p.m. Pacific start-time. Much to their chagrin, not to mention that of myriad Canucks fans, the Leafs seemingly iron-clad hold over the powers-that-be at CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada evidently shows no signs of abating.

Taylor and Ball noted something I am often at pains to explain to Leafs fans here in Toronto when they invariably question why the Leafs are hated so much in western Canada: more than anything else, the shameless bias and favouritism toward the Leafs exhibited by our putative ‘national’ broadcaster and, in particular, the Saturday night hockey broadcast.

First, the historical context. When I was growing up in the 1980s – and certainly before then – in the days before the Saturday night doubleheader, Canucks fans (indeed, fans across the country) were force-fed a predictable diet of Leafs games. On many Saturday nights, we were not even able to watch our own team play on television. Even since the inception of the doubleheader, the one inescapable reality of Saturday night hockey is that the Leafs game must be televised, without fail – even if this means displacing a game that fans of other teams in other regions of the country would prefer to watch.

Second, the persistent problem. For reasons many non-Leafs fans have difficulty ascertaining, Leafs fans are apparently incapable of watching their team play, particularly on a Saturday night, at any time other than 7:00 p.m. Eastern. As Taylor and Ball noted, fans of the Canucks (and likely other teams in Canada) would stay up until 2:00 a.m. to watch the team. (As a person who watches all the games in Toronto on Centre Ice, I can attest to this as I am usually up until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. to watch the Canucks.) But not the Leafs, so it seems. Heaven forbid the denizens of Leafs Nation having to stay up until the inconceivable hour of 10:00 p.m. to watch a hockey game – on a weekend.

To all you Leafs fans out there: this is precisely why you are hated in all corners of this country. As much as you and your supporters at the CBC might wish, many Canadians are fans of other teams; the Leafs are by no means ‘Canada’s team.’  (I’m not even going to get started on shameless Leafs homer, Don Cherry.)

While I can appreciate that the Leafs do, indeed, have the largest fan base and the largest viewing audience in the country (Leafs games are unquestionably the highest rated), what I fail to appreciate is why our national, publicly-funded broadcaster, insists (at the urging of Leafs Nation) on bending over backwards to accommodate one team at the expense of all others.

That is one of the main reasons why I – and many other western Canadians – despise the Leafs and their entourage.

Oh, by the way, as far as this game goes, I predict a resounding Canucks win. Let’s say a Luongo shutout and a goal and two assists for Kyle Wellwood against the team that gave up on him.

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3 Responses to “Preview: Canucks vs. Leafs”


  1. 1 Emmett November 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    “Wellwood comes back to haunt Leafs in Canucks victory” – TSN’s headline.

  2. 2 Mike Hawk November 17, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Glad to see you still identify yourself as a “British Columbian” and a “western Canadian”, sir.

    On that note though, you do realize there is a certain limitation period in effect here. The longer you reside in Trauma, Onterrible, thousands of km away from the Motherland (aka Land of Milk and Honey aka Beautiful British Columbia aka Greatest.Province.Ever), the closer you get to the day when we will be sadly forced to revoke your membership status.

    There is, of course, an obvious solution to this problem: http://www.moveit.ca/

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