For the last few years now, since the lockout ended there has been a steady growth of fans for one particular demographic of Leafs Nation. I call them the "Patient Leafs Fan".
Last year, at least seemingly, the number of people under this banner doubled, and I myself was even tempted to join their ranks. These fans proclaim the need to rebuild on and off the ice, and the need for patience among fellow Leafs fans, which seems all fine and dandy. However, they also proclaim the need for the Leafs to produce an uncompetitive team in order to secure a 1st or 2nd overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft in hopes of securing John Tavares.
Now, I have no problem with fans who believe in a rebuilding process that requires patience, but what I do have a problem with, is a fan base with a losing attitude.
I find it ridiculous and disgraceful that the same people who call for the Leafs to tank, in 2008-09, can call themselves true Leafs fans.
Personally, I don't want a team that's the laughing stock of their conference. I don't want a team that every team in the NHL looks forward to playing because they're a team whose only hope for success lies in obtaining last place in the current season. I want a team that will go out and fight to the bitter end, a team that, if losing, keeps it close for the full 60 minutes.
Sure, if we don't tank we'll miss out on Tavares, but I'd rather have a team that misses out on the playoffs by one point in an exciting end of the season stretch than a team that looks like the LA Kings (sorry Kings fans), even if for only one season.
In the new NHL you can still be competitive and rebuild for the future.
Sure it's fun for all of us to play "Leafs GM" every now and then, but isn't it more fun to cheer on an underdog who you had more patience for as a kid than you do now - a team that you never gave up on even for a single game.