Don’t worry Leafs’ fans, you aren’t the only ones who’ve felt the pain of a tough loss.
Ask a fan of the Oilers, Canucks or Flames about their recent heartache. The Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup final in 2011, the Oilers did the same in 2006 as did the Flames in 2004. Sure, none of them had a 4-1 lead with 10 minutes to play, but your collapse came in the first round, not the 4th so it likely evens out.
What I respect most about hockey fans, is that despite having felt your own pain at one point or another, you rarely feel much empathy for the fanbase that just experienced a devastating loss. I love that.
Sports is the one aspect in life that fans shouldn’t take too seriously, but it does require an extensive amount of passion to be a "true fan." You can’t half-ass it. You need to be invested. That doesn’t mean you need to read the Nation five times a day, or listen to every minute of a sports show like mine, although you should, but the best part of being is fan is the feeling the highs and the lows.
When the Leafs went ahead 4-1 and CBC panned to Maple Leafs Square, I loved watching the unbridled enthusiasm. There are few things where men will openly showcase their emotions. We should do it more often, but we don’t, except when it comes to sports.
I watched strangers hug one another with pure joy after an Oilers goal during the 2006 Cup run. Some of those same people would struggle to hug their aunt at a family reunion, but the euphoria of watching sports brings out real emotions in many of us.
It is awesome.
What is equally awesome is watching a team you don’t root for crash and burn. I’ll admit I jumped up off the couch and celebrated when the Bruins tied the game. I don’t even know why. I don’t cheer for the Bruins, and they’ve never been one of my favourite teams, but I was caught up in the excitement of watching an epic collapse.
My wife isn’t a huge sports fan, but she loves watching the playoffs in any sport. She told me last week that I’m not great to watch the game with because I usually don’t show any emotion. The Miami Dolphins haven’t been in the playoffs for years, neither have the Blue Jays or Bengals. Those are three teams I cheer for, and she was correct that I haven’t allowed myself to get caught up in a game in awhile.
I did, however, get amped up during the final 10 minutes of the Leafs/Bruins game and it felt great. I had no vested interest in who won, but I was cheering for the Bruins in OT. It made for a better story, sorry Toronto fans, but it’s true. Had the Leafs won, there would be no collapse or comeback story.
Sports needs good stories, and sometimes many of them contain heartache.
Sometimes the outcome will make you cry, and sometimes the euphoria of a big victory will last for months or years. Either way it awakens our senses and allows us to truly feel and capture the moment.
Maybe the Leafs will learn from their collapse and become a legitimate Cup contender in the next few years, or maybe those final 10 minutes will go down in history as the greatest collapse in franchise history. Either way, that game will be talked about for years, both positively and negatively, depending on which side you were cheering for.
In honour of the Leafs, I looked up a few other epic collapses that might make you chuckle or cry depending on your connection to them.
I love how the guy who ends up winning still celebrates early, despite watching the other guy crash while doing the same thing. It’s a subtle jab, but it made me laugh.
GREG NORMAN AT 1996 MASTERS
I didn’t use the english version, because his actions told the story. An epic meltdown.
Jean Van de Velde, 18th hole at the 1999 British Open
This video is great because Van de Velde tells you what he was thinking during this meltdown.
MIRACLE ON MANCHESTER, OILERS/KINGS 1982
The Oilers hold the record for surrendering the largest lead in an NHL playoff game. They led 5-0 after 40 minutes, before giving up 5 goals in the third and then losing in OT. The Kings made it 5-3 with 5:22 remaining in the third, so the Oilers meltdown was much worse than the Leafs when you consider time on the clock. The video is great because it includes Mark Messier and Marcel Dionne giving their team’s perspective on what happened.
What sporting collapse (one game/event) was the most memorable for you?
I’d be lying if part of me isn’t hoping someone has a small crash and burn on the Karaoke stage this Friday, but I don’t see it happening. The competition will be fierce, and hilarious. You only have three days left to get your tickets to the King/Queen of Karoake party at On The Rocks this Friday. I’d like to sell 50 more tickets, and raise a bit more money for MS. So if you don’t have plans, get your tickets here and come out for a great time. Strudwick is confident his performance will be talked about years. I wonder if his dance moves are as epic as this guy’s.