On January 10, in the Roman calender year of 2008, I, Greener, along with a select group of "friends", and 20,000 odd others will be the luckiest people on Earth. That is because, on that day, in a little barn we call Le Centre du Staple, we will be standing in the presence of some of the greatest men on the planet. Socrates? Aristotle? Da Vinci? Take a seat you immigrants, I'm speaking of The Toronto Maple Leafs.
This whole town has been waiting for the Leafs to come back for over 4 years. This is because up until last week, the unofficial schedule maker for the NHL was named Lou Lamoriello, who has been telling his bathhouse buddy Gary Bettman that he doesn't want to play any away games that aren't an afternoon cycling trip away from the Continental Arena (brisk cycling, I concede). You see in the NHL, the fans, the paying customers, haven't been allowed to see who we want to see, no-ooo. The Leafs? Please. Sidney Crosby? Why don't we just dream about ice-cream and rainbows. No, we in L.A. should consider ourselves lucky enough to see Dallas Stars sub-humans Jeff Halpern and Stu Barnes 20 times a year.
OK. Back to before. The year was 2003. The date, November the 14. And awesome Maple Leaf stalwarts Sundin, Kaberle, McCabe,
Nolan, Renberg, Mogilny came back from a 4-1 deficit going into the third to take it to overtime 4-4. There were so many Leafs jerseys in the rink that the "Go Leafs, Go!" chant was louder than whatever unimaginable chant the Kings fans said. McCabe looked shocked during warm ups at how many Leaf sweaters were pressed up against the glass, and when he skated past, he tapped his stick against it in appreciation. It was a magical night that concluded with people lauding each other from their car windows as we drove home down Olympic Avenue.
Which brings us to this:
This is a countdown to game time when the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Los Angeles Kings. This is as pure an expression of joy as I can share with you. Please become used to it. You'll be seeing it a lot in the next 26 days. I urge you not to fear its power or exquisite dimensions, but to simply embrace it to your large bosoms. I want you to see beyond its facade...to the perfect truth which it represents.