Several fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs expressed their frustration with the team's current five-game losing streak by throwing their Leafs jerseys on the ice during last night's 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
As reported by CP24.com, charges were laid against the fans who acted out in this manner.
To me, this is a classless act by an organization that is reeling from a sudden collapse after a promising start to the season.
While I don't condone throwing anything onto the ice—particularly while the game is in play—does someone in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment honestly think that filing criminal charges against the people who pay their bills is a good idea?
These fans are beyond frustrated. Having lived in southern Ontario for a number of years in my youth, I've seen first-hand the enthusiasm and passion people in that region have for their Leafs. Decades of disappointing performances have not driven Leafs fans from their team, and as noted in ESPN's Attendance Report for the current season, the Leafs continue to sell out the Air Canada Centre nightly.
So when a couple of fans have finally seen enough and feel the need to fling expensive merchandise onto the rink, you know that these are people who have been through the ringer with their team and have had enough.
To me, the correct response from the club shouldn't be to file charges. It should be to do something to address the ongoing problems with the team. Obviously firing head coach Randy Carlyle earlier this month hasn't fixed anything. A shakeup of the team itself is probably long overdue.
This isn't the first time a fan has thrown their jersey onto the ice when they've seen enough. Oilers fans have made a tradition of it in recent years, and this certainly wasn't the first time a Leafs fan had done it either.
But if an organization wants to do right by its fans and keep them around, does it answer their hurt feelings by having them arrested?
This just strikes me as another misstep in a long list of missteps that goes back to the late 1960s, and that's not a good sign for the future of this organization. While I have no doubt that they'll continue to sell out the Air Canada Centre—there will always be diehard Leafs fans to fill the void left by those who have finally given up—actively chasing fans away can't be good for business.
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