Canadiens' Magical Run Is Salt in the Wounds of Maple Leafs Fans

Jonathon AustinContributor IMay 11, 2010

PITTSBURGH - MAY 8:  Brian Gionta #21 of the Montreal Canadiens handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Mellon Arena on May 8, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Penguins defeated the Canadiens 2-1.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The saddest part of all for Leafs fans might be that the Buds had a golden opportunity to eliminate the despised Montreal Canadiens from playoff contention.

Over a month later, euphoria is the order of the day in the hockey hotbed of Montreal. Fans are done lamenting the nightmarish centennial season and crowds are as raucous as ever. The clocks have turned back for the hallowed Habs.

But this isn’t a team or fanbase that is eking out a meager existence by choking on the toxic fumes of nostalgia. New memories and new heroes are born every game, it seems.

Jaroslav Halak’s stunning performance between the pipes has evoked memories of Dryden and Roy.

Mike Cammalleri’s baseball goal is likely to be played out in the driveways of Montreal for years to come.

The story lines and the intrigue are all present. Perhaps the lumbering Hal Gill will make a triumphant return in Game Seven to join the fight against his former team.

Weeks ago it was a pipe dream. Now, as the saying goes, anything can happen. And while there has been no degree of automatism or predictability in the run the Canadiens have made, perhaps the magical fate of it all is invisible.

Are they a team of destiny? Probably not. But nonetheless, I find the prospect of another upset series victory, thrilling and refreshing all at once.

Meanwhile hope in “Leafland” is but a vague futurity. Sure there might be reason for optimism, but it’s hard to stay faithful, let alone excited, for over 40 years. The relationship between the Leafs and her fans has evolved into a marriage that is beginning to lose its sizzle and romance.

Sure the love may be unconditional but patience has been spent.

And the once unwavering loyalty has slowly become swallowed by apathy.

Seventeen years is a long time, but weigh it against 43.

As a young but longtime Leaf fan, I shall continue to console myself in the very same manner I always have.

“There is always next year.”