Sunday, December 30, 2007

Calling All Avery Haters

I am calling you all out. All of you who came out strong at Sean Avery after the Blake incident in Toronto. You said that Avery was an immature and wothless player and that he "deserves everything he gets." You may have said that he did something bad IF he did it. You may have said that he did do it. You may have wanted him dead or severely injured. But you all came out and went after him in some way. I did too.

It was revealed that he never said those comments to Blake. That much is known. But did anybody come out like a man and say that Avery is innocent and that the writer who made up the story did a terrible thing. Did anybody say one measly word about his innocence.

One person did. Everybody else crawled into their little holes and "forgot" that anything happened. I wrote a blog about his innocence. No comments. No surprise.

Well, it seems to be too late to pay attention to that, but try to pay attention to this.

Last season, the Rangers were 17-6-6 with Sean Avery and 23-24-4 without him.

This season, they are 11-5-1 with him and 8-10-3 without him.

The streak that led to the playoff berth last season began when Avery came over from the Kings. The streak that began 10 games into this season, began when Avery returned from an injury suffered during the second game of the year. It ended when he left the ice against Dallas with a wrist injury. And when the Rangers are playing the worst hockey of the year, he returns. They play strong in a losing effort vs Ottawa and come back with two convincing wins over Carolina and Toronto.

I am convinced. You can usually predict the outcome of a Rangers game after watching a preiod or so. Disregard the score. Just see who is winning those battles along the boards, who is first to the loose pucks and who is winning the physical battles. Do that and you will pick the winner 90% of the time. And the fact of the matter is that the Rangers, as a group, hustle a lot more when Avery is on the bench. They play a lot more physical when he is in the game. He brings more than a mouth. He brings motivation for a team who's coach can't motivate the team and who's captain has trouble motivating himself. He has only 2 goals and 8 assists in 17 games this season. But he assists in much more than scoring.

I am a beliver. Jump on the Avery bandwagon.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Message to Leafs Fans

Your team is not as bad as you think. That being said, they were downright awful tonight versus the Rangers. After a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Rangers you'd think the finger would be pointed at the goaltending. No, I'm not talking about some drunken Leafs fans gesturing at Raycroft, I'm talking about the blame game. After games like these, the coaching staff has to relax, and analyze what exactly did they do differently in this game that led to such a terrible result. The defensive woes are clear, but I'm sure it has more to do with strategy and match ups than the goaltending. Were the Leafs prepared to deal with the Rangers powerplay? Were they prepared to contain Jagr? Sure it's easy for us to say they weren't because we've seen the result, but believe it or not, the Leafs have to actually take something out of this game. Maybe it's more video analysis, or just a better job at matching up. The possibilities are endless, and it's up to the coaching staff to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, and what they can do to prevent future collapses of this sort. The great thing is that these are all things that can be corrected. The old saying that teams are never as good as you think they are when they win big, and never as bad as you think they are when they lose big rings true. Raycroft was not at fault tonight. Even if he was on his "A" game the score would still have ended up 3 or 4 to 1. Toskala would have helped, but that is irrelevant because it is not their issue.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

World Juniors and Spengler Cup Begin, Bernier and Cujo Sharp

It's that time of the year again Canadians, the World Juniors and the Spengler Cup are both now under way. Both tournaments got off on a good foot for the Canadian teams, the juniors winning 3-0 over the Czechs, and the semi-pros winning 4-3 in a shootout over Pardubice. The win wasn't the only similarity between the two teams. Jonathan Bernier was flat out sensational in his first ever World Junior Championship game, which oddly enough comes after his first ever NHL game. Bernier, as most of you know, started the LA Kings first game of the year in London, England. He made 44 saves for the shutout, in a game in which Canada was actually outshot by the Czechs. On the Spengler side of things, Curtis Joseph was strong in his first game in six months, especially in the shootout. He looked a little shaky early on, but the Cujo of old was seen in various points throughout the game.

Bernier was fantastic, as usual, and he looks so much more in control than he did when he was up with the Kings. It showed me that calling him up may have been a bit premature by the Kings, but he will be there sooner rather than later. I would catch myself just watching Bernier, in awe of his strength and agility. TSN kept saying that the starter's role was up for grabs between him and Steve Mason, but after tonight I highly doubt that. Nothing against Mason, it's just that you can't deny how well Bernier played today. The coaching staff needs to give him the ball so he can run with it, much like they did with Justin Pogge and Carey Price.

Joseph looked strong in his debut, sporting a new butterfly style, rather than his usual Hasek-like style. It may take him a few more games to get back into the swing of things, but I fully expect him to be back to his usual self by the time the tournament ends. That will put him in the perfect situation, ready to be signed by an NHL team looking for an upgrade in net for the stretch run (Pittsburgh, what are you waiting for!!?!?!?!?) All in all, it will be an interesting few weeks up ahead, and I look forward to sitting back, relaxing, and watching some great international hockey!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Great Stick Debate

We’ve seen it time and time again. A team is on the powerplay, down by one late in the third
period. There’s a man wide open at the side of the net, the pass comes and... his stick shatters into a million pieces. Talk about anti-climactic. People may ask the question, “why in the world will players keep using these composite sticks if they’re prone to breaking so easily?” but the reality is that the pros of using these sticks far outweigh the cons. Players can now take shots at a speed and quickness never before seen, a necessary attribute with today’s butterfly goaltenders. The flex of the sticks, which allows for more whip action, and the lightness cannot be matched by the classic wooden sticks. Then comes the counter-point “but players like Shanahan and Stastny still use wooden sticks, and it seems to be working out fine for them”, to which I say this: they are only using wooden sticks because of preference. They have stated that they would like to switch to composite, but they just can’t get used to the feel of them. Since they are still having success with the wooden sticks, they see no reason to change. There is still an undeniable advantage to using composite sticks. The reality is, the sticks don’t break all that often. It just seems like they do because it stands out to the fan watching the game on tv, and I don’t have a specific stat, but I estimate that there is one stick broken for every game. That really isn’t a lot, because despite popular belief, wooden sticks weren’t indestructible either.

It’s even got to the point that goalies are now using fully composite sticks, mainly for the weight factor. I use one myself and I really don’t see a huge difference, but it noticeably weighs less which helps. My point is that all of the fans who complain and whine over these “new-fangled composite sticks that always break”, should realize that they aren’t going anywhere. Players will continue to use them until the next stick invention is made, so sit back, relax, and get ready to watch the sticks explode some more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Trip To Montreal

This past weekend, I was enjoying a snow filled, hockey inspired trip to the city that breathes... Montreal. Myself and three of my friends, one being a Habs fan, were all attending our first game live. What better place then the Bell Centre for a classic match with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens? The game is just oozing with intensity and pre-game gitters. Well, it appears the hockey gods had other plans and decided to ruin the party, well for the Blue & White amigos anyway. The game was pure domination by the Habs, they combined their solid play with a physical dominance at stretches throughout the game. They also took advantage of the Leafs and capitalized on their lackluster, uninspired, lazy plays. And, of course, a dash of luck was added to the mix. Three of the goals on burning hot Vesa Toskala were re-directs, and weird ones. Off our own players or off a Habs player's glove, it didn't matter, it just wasn't there. Oh and did I mention Bryan McCabe broke his hand in three places? Yikes batman.

With that said though, the atmosphere was absolutely incredible. The building was electric and would not cease to cheer ( with some random ''Go Leafs Go!'' chants in there as well). Because of this, I had a blast. The game did not match my expectations, but the Bell Centre surpassed mine. And the folks were downright classy. They yelled at me but it was all in good fun, a bunch of them came over to shake our hands and tell us ''good game''.....what a load that line was.

The city itself is absolutely breath taking. I was starring in amazement at the many facets of Montreal. I even visited the Montreal Casino ( and lost money, pf!) which was a new experience. I can't say I wasn't amazed by buying alchool in the grocery stores though... how delightful!

Now the trip takes a turn, which was still fun... somehow. To start, I ended up losing my voice shortly after the game from screaming like a mad man. Shortly after this, guess what decides to make its acquaintance? A snow storm. So we had to stay an extra day in Montreal... no big whoop right? Well, the following day we left the beautiful city of Montreal. We were off on the road and ready to go home. About three hours from Sudbury, we arrive in a little town called Mattawa. On our way through the city, we hit an ice patch on the road ( my friend was driving, and he's a Habs fan; figures) and the car goes berserk. The car swerves in the opposite lane, where there was luckily no cars passing, and then jolted back on the opposite side of the road. The car proceeded to hit a snow bank, going right through it, and flying at a fast enough speed through a gentleman's fence. Turns out the guy has, or had, barbed wire on top and two of the tires were popped. So now we get a local citizen to come help us out and push the car out of the guy's yard, after trying for nearly a half hour ourselves. But, it turns out my buddy ( reminder: Habs fan) locked his keys in the car by accident when he got out! So now the car is running and we can't get in.

After this, a police car got involved, and we had to fill out the report and what not. Now we had to call a tow-truck, but since we were four, he could only hold two of us with him. So me and the Haberoo got to ride in the police car. Myself in the back behind those dreadful bars, and an awkward amount of leg room ( seriously, they might as well cut off your legs). I was hoping the cop would bust a criminal so I could talk to him but no dice.

After all that, the trip ended. And it was faaannnnnnntastic!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

McCabe Breaks Hand in 3 Places, Leafs Nation Rejoices?

But seriously folks, I don't want to hear anything from the people who were ragging on him earlier this year. You wanted him gone, you got your wish. It looks like he'll be out for a while now. McCabe was hit awkwardly into the boards by Canadiens forward Andrei Kostitsyn in the third period, and looked severely injured right away. After the game it was announced that McCabe suffered 3 broken bones in his hand on the play and will likely miss over six weeks, more if surgery is necessary. Leafs coach Paul Maurice was livid with the play after the game, basically calling it a cheap shot. I'm pretty sure that it was just the emotions talking, but you still have to be able to control what you say. Kostitsyn clearly did not intend to hurt McCabe, and nothing else should come of this.

To add insult to injury, with McCabe writhing in pain on the ice, the Habs' Alex Kovalev was able to go down the ice and score his 14th goal of the season. The rambunctious crowd of over 21 thousand (our own Ron Guillet one of them) saw goaltender Carey Price make 28 saves for the win, the same night that Jaroslav Halak was sent back down to Hamilton because of Cristobal Huet's injury being over. When you really boil it down, the Leafs not only lost the game tonight, they also lost their top minute eater which could prove to be their biggest loss of all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Luongo Injured, MacIntyre Recalled

Roberto Luongo will miss the next few games due to an apparent rib injury which has been aggravating him for the past few games. The Canucks have recalled Drew MacIntyre from the Manitoba Moose of the AHL to replace him. If that name rings a bell, it is probably because I did a scouting report on MacIntyre earlier this year when I saw him play a game in Hamilton against the Bulldogs. He played very well, and I was thoroughly impressed by him and his style. I even stated that I would like to see him at the next level, to see how he would fare. Well, now may be his chance. We don't know yet if he will actually get to play, or if backup Curtis Sanford will play all of the games while Luongo is out. We know that Sanford will start their next game, against the Ducks tomorrow. I hope the Canucks give him at least 1 game, because he deserves it, especially after the start he has had in the AHL this year. In 16 games so far this year, he has a 11-4-1 record, 2.28 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. Like I said before, I like MacIntyre's style and overall confidence, and I really hope to see him get a shot in Vancouver.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Importance Of Fighting

In the wake of recent discussions regarding fighting in the NHL, I feel I have to voice my opinion on to why it is so important in this league. The action of throwing down the fist cuffs and landing some hay makers on another human beings' face is certainly violent and dangerous, but not to that degree in hockey. This sport has lain its foundation on selling an up-pace, aggressive, hard nosed, intensity game ever since the league began in 1917. The art of fighting in the NHL is not just two goons who pound each other senseless for the simple act of retribution. It's a cornerstone of the game that can define a team's turn around and gain of momentum. It is also a selling point to those who are new to the game. Despite what some may think, this violent and aggressive action is what most fans enjoy to see. It is what separates the NHL from other sports. It has defined itself... do not take that away.

While many complain of cheap shots, like hitting the head, intent to injure, hitting from behind, etc., these are situation that are often run on emotions of the players who seek revenge on a certain player. It's a gutless act, but can you imagine the impact of removing fighting after seeing this? Fighting is not only a momentum gaining tactic, it's a dance that also vents two players frustrations on one another. Without fighting, how do players react to plays they don't like? Well, you'd see an increase on dirty plays which many fear is affecting the sports popularity.

To touch back on the roots of the game, fighting is also a factor in a teams success. Without a ''goon'', so to speak, who defends the all-star player? Who makes players think twice about roughing up their players or most importantly, the goaltender? Fighting in hockey is a message, or a tool rather to better define what the game is about.

Also, let's not forget about the fans. An aspect of the game that can lower or higher the spirits of a team. When a home teams' player wins a fight, when does it not jolt a burst of energy to the fans, which then translates to the players? Like it or not, fighting is a big part in the great game of hockey, it affects the many facets that makes this game so coveted by hockey fans around the world.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Interview With Cedrick Desjardins

This morning I had the chance to speak with Cedrick Desjardins of the Hamilton Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum. He was kind enough to answer all of my questions, despite being put on short notice. Cedrick played Major Junior hockey in Rimouski for 3 years before being traded to the Quebec Remparts in his final year of junior. He was not drafted, but was signed by the Montreal Canadiens and sent to their ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones. With the injury to Cristobal Huet, Jaroslav Halak was called up, which prompted Cedrick to be called up to the Bulldogs. In 10 games so far this year in the ECHL he has posted a 6-3-1 record with a 2.01 goals against average, and a .924 save percentage. I would like to thank Derek Wills, the Director of Broadcasting and Communications and Play-By-Play Announcer of the Hamilton Bulldogs for helping me set up this interview, it is much appreciated.

Greg: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions before a game?

Cedrick: The past four or five years I've started the same, doing my sticks and stuff, and playing with a bouncing ball. I'll do stretching, I'll pretty much do it the same way. I've got a ritual before every game, like the day before I'll take a nap and the same day too. Pretty much the same way (every game).

Greg: Do you remember your first AHL game, and what was that experience like?

Cedrick: My first AHL game was last year when I got called up here (Hamilton), I played a couple of games in exhibition, but my first real AHL game was in February of last year, we were down in Syracuse.

Greg: You played with Sidney Crosby in Rimouski, he certainly brought a lot of attention to the team, what was that like?

Cedrick: We were excited because everywhere we were going was a sold out crowd, and he was a great guy. He wasn't selfish at all. After games he'd have thousands of people waiting for him, and it was like he had a security guard only for him. On the bus we'd be eating our little chicken (dinners), and he'd still be signing autographs. Good memories about him. He was always a great guy, and it was a pleasure to play with him.

Greg: In your last year of Major Junior hockey you got traded from Rimouski to Quebec, was that a difficult adjustment for you?

Cedrick: It's always difficult the first time you get traded, I had tons of friends in Rimouski, I had a lot of friends there. It wasn't too bad though, they were two great organizations, so I didn't feel lost by that, but it's different. You have to build new friendships, same for your teammates. I didn't know anyone in Quebec, I only played with a couple of guys before. You have to meet different guys, meet a different coach. They trade for you because they want you and they trust you, so you have to prove to them as well. There was a little bit of pressure that I put on myself, but yeah that's the way it is.

Greg: Do you still keep in touch with any of the guys you played with in Rimouski?

Cedrick: Yeah, a couple of guys. A lot of the guys are playing pro right now, so sometimes we'll just shake hands, have a couple of pops. If they're available in the summer, I'll skate with a couple of guys who I played with in junior. It's always good memories in juniors.

Greg: Which former teammate or coach has helped you the most so far in your career?

Cedrick: I learned a lot in junior when I was with Rimouski because I had a great coach there, atmosphere and family, it was great. It was the same when I was in Quebec, I had a great goalie coach there, and of course my coach was Patrick Roy, he was also a good helper. Everything in Rimouski helped me to be a better goaltender, and when I came to Quebec it was a good step to help me be ready to go to the pros.

Greg: Besides hockey, did you play any other sports growing up?

Cedrick: I always played tons of sports, but the main ones were Baseball and Golf. They were my favourite in the summer. Those were pretty much the sports I was playing in the summer time, but in the winter it was always hockey. I didn't snowboard or anything, it was only hockey.

Greg: Did you always want to be a goaltender, ever since you were little?

Cedrick: I was a player until, like, Atom? We didn't have any goaltenders in our district, so I asked my Dad if I would be able to be a goalie. He wasn't very happy, he told me that I had great skills to be a player, he always wanted me to be a player, but he accepted it, he accepted my choice and he's pretty proud of it now.

Greg: You obviously made a good choice.

Cedrick: Yeah, exactly (Laughs)

Greg: When did you realize that you had a shot at playing professionally?

Cedrick: I was a little disappointed to not be drafted, so I kinda thought that I may need to go to school, I might have to deal with that and get a job, just play hockey for fun. After that I was struggling a little bit, but I had a great year in Rimouski, a great end of the year in Rimouski, then I had a great year in Quebec. I think hockey is just a passion for me and my family, so I didn't want to quit because I still had a chance to go to a higher level. They gave me a chance with a contract here in Montreal, and I'm waiting. Everything is so far so good right now in pro, so I try to take it one step at a time. I'll take my chances, perhaps I'll be able to get there.

Greg: What's your opinion on making nets bigger to increase scoring?

Cedrick: I don't think we're playing soccer. You can change the rules about holding and interference and stuff, that's good because it'll make the guys play faster, and when they play faster I think I'm the kind of goalie who's able to adjust to that easily. You can try to change the equipment on the goalie instead, but make sure his security (safety) is still good. I tried it at rookie camp with Montreal, in Toronto, and they had the bigger nets but the scores were still, like 3-1, 2-1, so it wasn't a big difference. They were a little bit bigger, but it didn't change it that much. There are a lot of other things you can do to change the game, but you can't touch the base of the game really.

Greg: Who is the funniest guy off the ice that you have ever played with?

Cedrick: The funniest guy... (thinks). It depends, I remember many funny parts, but the funniest guy...

Greg: Too many to name?

Cedrick:Yeah, all guys have their own humour, but I know J.P Cote here is a funny guy, I like him. I'm always training with him and he always has this big smile, and always has the little jokes to make you happy in the morning. Those kinds of guys I like, from here. When you're in the locker room a lot of guys have their own humour that make everyone happy, so yeah, that's pretty much it.

Greg: Is there any significance behind your number?

Cedrick: Yeah, but not the one here. The number I always have is 30, it's my birthday, and 3 is kind of my lucky number, so that's pretty much the reason why.

Greg: Who was your favourite player growing up?

Cedrick: I was a Nordique fan, so Joe Sakic as a forward was one of the guys I looked up to, and Gretzky and all those guys. As a goalie I was a little bit of a fan of Patrick Roy and a couple of other French guys like Brodeur or Luongo, those kind of guys. Pretty much all of the French guys that are in the NHL right now and are doing pretty good. It's pretty much like they are my mentors to get better, because those guys are able to do it.

Greg: What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the next season?

Cedrick: Training. Now guys, especially goalies, most of them are European guys and they are in really, really good shape. You need to increase your power, especially in your legs. You have to do a lot of footwork, a lot of squats to get your power and your strength to be ready for the season. Especially to get less injuries during the year. After the season I usually take one month off pretty much, but after that it'll be two or three months of training, so it's pretty intense.

Greg: What do you do in your spare time in the offseason?

Cedrick: I try to go out with my buddies that I haven't seen for a while. When the season starts we are so busy, sometimes I'll be able to call them but I'll never have time to go back home and see them, so the month off I have is to pretty much see everybody, family, friends, old teammates, go to a couple of parties and stuff and just hang out with them, so it's good.

Greg: Thank you very much for doing this!

Cedrick: No problem, my pleasure.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Vesa Toskala Superb : Prepare For New York Rangers

In the night the Leafs played the western conference Nashville Predators, there was one shining light of hope throughout the night. It was none other then the man I was defending a couple of weeks back. Vesa Toskala was nothing short of sensational last night, he was shutting down the Preds all night and drove Jason Arnott to a severe headache, who told Toskala during the game '' How the hell do I get one by you?'' Vesa replied with a smile. And that smile transferred to the fans, who were cheering as loud as I've heard them for the Finnish net minder. Chants of '' We love Vesa!'' were echoing throughout the ACC... until Kaberle tipped one past Toskala to spoil the shut-out about 5 seconds later. Figures. Either way, we got the 2 points and are now on a run with 3 wins in a row. But Thursday night will be a huge test for not only Toskala, but T-Dot's team, and more specifically defense. The core has clearly bought in to Paul Maurice's defense first approach and it's working beautifully so far. Vesa Toskala has not let in more than 3 goals in his last 11 full starts. He has had six 2 goals against games, three 3 goals against, one goal against twice, and 1 shut-out. He's been superb.

In come the New York Rangers, a team who's now second in the east making the Ottawa Senators actually look back in fear. Lundqvist has been nothing short of superb with 4 shutouts so far this season. Shanahan has woken from slumber and provided the Rangers with some offensive help. Jaromir Jagr, another sleeping beast, has awoken as well and is one of the main primers for the Rangers recent success. It appears the gears are now in motion and the Rangers mean business. I pick them to the win the cup in the East Conference. I pick the Vancouver Canucks for the West. Would be a good Stanley Cup Final.

The Leafs will have to tighten up on D and force Rangers to take shots from the perimeter. Do not worry about Vesa Toskala and just play your game, do not take chances. Play a simple, defensive, boring game and the W is in reach. 4 in a row would be a huge statement for a comeback and would raise the spirits of many.

Keep on truckin'!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Recchi Placed On Waivers

Mark Recchi has been placed on waivers. This is intresting considering his cap hit is only at 1.75 mil per season. This allows many teams to swoop in and grab the struggling veteran. He's been a healthy scratch in 8 of his last 9 games and has only registered 2 goals and 6 assists in 17 games. Careful though JFJ, do not get your fingers greasy with this one. I think he'd be a decent signing to push for 7th or 8th place, but that should not be our goal. We need youth, and signing him would take a step backwards.

My prediction is Calgary takes him.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Flyer Suspended? That's New!

I know it may seem like I'm ragging on the Flyers, but it's kind of hard to ignore it when they are getting a suspension handed down every other game. The newest culprit: Riley Cote for his head-shot on Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars two days ago. Now I haven't seen it yet, so I'm not gonna BS my way through this, telling you how dirty of a hit it was. It was obviously bad enough to merit a 3-game suspension, because that is exactly what he got. My question is, "What is Gary Bettman waiting for?". Stick it to these guys already! Five suspensions already and we're not even half-way through the year. It's not like they haven't been warned yet, and these suspensions obviously aren't stopping them. Hit them where it hurts, either the pocketbook or the scoreboard. That's right, I'm suggesting that after a certain amount of suspensions the league should start to take away points from the team. Losing a goon for 3 or 4 games isn't punishment enough for the team, so the only plausible way we can rid the game of these cheap shots is to start taking away points after a certain amount of suspensions. Now we play the waiting game until the next Flyers suspension. What's the over-under on Ben Eager being next?

EDIT: Just so I don't look like a complete Flyer hater, Scott Nichol of the Preds has also been suspended for 5 games for his hit(s) on Montreal's Patrice Briesbois which I did see. Well deserved.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

What Is Being a Fan?

When I think of the word ''fan'' I immediately see a drunken fat guy painted in team colors yelling at the rink with pride. But what really constitutes a fan? In many occurrences in my life, I've been faced with people who allegedly cheer for a team, but when things go awry, they turn away and grab the reins of another club. Actually most of the people I converse with in person are like this, it is a frustrating affair. It's a fact that most of these people are the same one's who come crawling back when things are on the up-rise. This leaves me with the question of ' what is being a fan?'. This is an actual recognition to those I respect so much, rather than actually asking the question.

As a child, I was raised by my father to cheer for one team and one team only, I was practically constructed to be his third Habs supporter in the family. When I got older and grew an actual opinion on the game. These things really stuck with me and became my moto, so to speak, for this great game. To start my new found love for the game, however, I decided to part ways with my father and become a Leafs fan. A dastardly move considering my entire family tree consists of Habs fans. So, I was deemed the guy to rag on by the family. And this is what made me proud to be a Leafs fan. I endured it all, and this is what made me proud to cheer the Blue and White. The thought of proving them wrong and having superiority is what drove me. This eventually merged into an undoubtable, magnificent feeling of proud, excitement and respect for not only my team, but others who lace the laces of ice. Especially the Habs, who were the main contributor to my Leafs allegiance and ultimately, respect for the game.

So what is the point of that personal story? I believe this is what forms a true fan. Someone who endures the lows and highs all while thinking ahead. To truly appreciate the word ''fan'' we must first respect and learn the game as it was intended.

A sad but magnificent story when it touches your heart, is the story of Elgin Fraser, a child who had the unfortunate misfortune of cancer, but his pride, at a remarkably young age, for his team was apparent and heart warming. Here's a dedication video to the little guy, R.I.P Elgin, you've changed the lives of many and put life in perspective for myself and many other people.