Love Guru Exorcises Curse: Toronto Maple Leafs Will Win Stanley Cup

Martin AverySenior Writer IJanuary 31, 2009

Has the curse on the Toronto Maple Leafs been exorcised by the hockey movie called The Love Guru?

Or has the Love Guru been cursed by the Leafs?

Comedian Mike Myers' movie called The Love Guru exorcises the ghost of former Leaf owner Harold Ballard and shows the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup.

However, The Love Guru got rotten reviews and has just been nominated for several Razzies, including "Worst Movie."

Not since 1967 have the Toronto Maple Leafs been the champions of the NHL.

The date “1967” is seared into the subconscious of every Leafs fan.  During that year, Red Kelly retired, Dave Keon won the Conn Smythe Trophy, and the Leafs stood for one last time as the victors in a hard fought battle against the Montreal Canadiens.

The following year, Frank Mahovlich was traded to Detroit, coach Punch Imlach was fired by owner Stafford Smythe, and defenseman Tim Horton said, “if the team doesn’t want Imlach, I guess it doesn’t want me”.    

The Leafs have been cursed, some say, since the loss of Tim Horton, Frank Mahovolich, Punch Imlach, and Dave Keon. 

“The Leafs Curse” is also connected to the death of the son of Conn Smythe in 1971 (the son of World War I veteran and founder of the Maple Leafs and builder of Maple Leafs Gardens).

The decades following Smythe’s passing saw the deconstruction of the Leafs dynasty at the hands of Harold Ballard.

The Curse can be traced to the mystery of Bill Barilko’s death and, more importantly, to the unscrupulous tactics of Harold Ballard and Stafford Smythe in the 1960s and early ‘70s.

William “Bashin’ Bill” Barilko played five seasons with the Toronto Maple Leaf. Barilko, who had scored only six goals in the regular season, scored the game-winner to win Toronto their fourth Cup in five years, back in 1951. Not long after that, Barilko disappeared in a plane crash near Timmins, Ontario, barely four months after that moment. The Leafs would not win the Cup again that decade.

Not long after winning the Cup, Bill and a friend, Henry Hudson (Barilko’s dentist), embarked on fishing trip to Seal River, Quebec, in Hudson’s float plane. After two days of fishing, the couple set for home with 120 pounds of catch in their pontoons, stopping to refuel along the Quebec/Ontario border. They lifted the single engine plane to the skies despite ominous warnings that a brewing storm was best avoided. That was the last time either of the two men were seen alive.

That was the beginning of “The Leafs Curse.”

It wasn’t until 1962 that Barilko and Hudson were found in the forests just outside Cochrane, Ontario.

During his 11-year absence, every major Canadian paper featured the story of his disappearance, search parties scoured over 500,000 square kilometres of dense Northern Ontario forest, stories began to surface that Barilko, the son of Russian descended parents, had defected to the USSR to join the ranks of the Soviet hockey squad.

 Toronto had been the most successful NHL franchise during the 1940s, winning four Cups in five years.

In May of 1962, Punch Imlach led a new crew of blue and white warriors to a Cup victory, after the discovery of Barilko’s body.

 Stafford Smythe, the son of Leafs demigod Conn Smythe, began to play an important role as a member of the “Silver Seven,” a group of individuals hired by Smythe, Sr. to run hockey operations for the Leafs.

 Stafford teamed up with former Toronto Marlboros (Leafs farm team) coach and eventual Leafs owner, Harold Ballard.

 After firing Leafs coaching legend and then GM Hap Day, and quickly extraditing the newly chosen Howie Meeker, Stafford forced the Leafs to enter the 1957-58 season without a general manager.

With secret financing from Ballard and media baron John Basset, Stafford purchased the Leafs in a shotgun deal in 1961 that bargained the company away from his father for $2.3 million, swindling his own flesh and blood with the insistence the financing came from him and him alone.

The change in ownership brought with it a new raison d’etre for the Leafs, witnessing the expansion of seating at Maple Leaf Gardens, increased ticket prices and the welcomed arrival of six Stanley Cup victories in seven years.

The franchise won their thirteenth Stanley Cup championships.

(They won eleven as the Leafs, one as the Toronto St. Patricks, and one as the Toronto Arenas.)

However, the books didn’t properly reflect the new profits being generated by the increased percentage of ticket sales and advertising.

It became apparent both Smythe and Ballard were “skimming off the top.”

Bassett tipped off the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who conducted a federal investigation which resulted in the seizure of documents from Maple Leaf Gardens and subsequent changes pressed against Stafford, claiming he avoided paying income tax and that he, along with Ballard, had used money from the Leafs parent company, Maple Leaf Gardens, Ltd, to pay for personal expenditures such as home renovations and other frivolous expenses.

Ballard and Smythe were promptly fired.

But the disgraced executives still had controlling shares in the corporation.

Ballard and Smythe regained control of the team.

Both men held controlling interests in the biggest hockey team in North America and, while up on federal charges of tax evasion and embezzlement, were able to stage a hostile takeover of the very corporation they swindled out of millions of dollars.

As legend would have it, succumbing to the stress of the situation, Stafford died of a stomach ulcer not long before his trial was scheduled to begin.

Ballard was found guilty of tax evasion.    

They say Smythe fell subject to the machinations of Ballard.

Since then, the Leafs have had some superstars and some great teams, but they haven't won the Stanley Cup.

Some say the curse of Davey Keon is why the Toronto Maple Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967. They say the Leafs have to retire his number, along with Mahovalich's, and Horton's, and a few others, to lift the curse.

Maybe the new Mike Myers movie has the cure.

The Leafs recovered from the Bashin' Bill Barilko curse. The Love Guru exorcises the ghost of Harold Ballard. Can the Stanley Cup be in the Leafs' future?

Or has Mike Myers been hit by the curse, too?

Mike Myers’ pet project The Love Guru has earned the dubious distinction of seven nominations for the 29th annual Golden Raspberry Awards. The infamous trophy, referred to as the Razzie, is bestowed upon the worst achievements in film.   

"Love Guru," in which the Canadian comic plays a spiritual healer, was nominated for worst picture, director and screenplay and four other categories.

Nominees for worst picture include The Love Guru.

Nominated for worst actor was Mike Myers in The Love Guru.

Worst actress nominees include Jessica Alba for The Love Guru.

Worst supporting actor noms went to Ben Kingsley for The Love Guru.

The worst director list includes Marco Schabel for The Love Guru.

Worst screenplay noms went to The Love Guru.

Mike Myers played Guru Pitka. Jessica Alba played Jane Bullard.

Justin Timberlake played Jacques 'Le Coq' Grande.

Verne Troyer was Coach Punch Cherkov.

Ben Kingsley was Guru Tugginmypudha. Jessica Simpson appeared as herself.

Rob Blake appeared as himself.

Mariska Hargitay appeared as herself, too.

The Love Guru even had singer Justin Timberlake as a French hockey player with a handle- bar moustache

Deepak Chopra appeared as himself and Oprah appeared as himself.

Not even Deepak Chopra could save this one.

Best-selling author and spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra has come out in defence of The Love Guru.

Before it came out, he posted an essay online in response to members of the Hindu community who said the comedy is offensive and mocks their faith.

Myers stars as an aspiring self-help guru who is a Chopra wanna-be. Protesters have said the movie seems to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and uses their sacred terms frivolously. Chopra's essay points out that the complaints were based only on the movie's 150-second trailer.

Chopra, who makes a cameo in the movie, says he has been friends with Myers for years and that the actor's character in the movie is based partly on him.

He said Myers has the most profound understanding of Eastern wisdom, traditions and spirituality. He pointed out that the movie is about self-esteem and love. It is about, in fact, love being the ultimate truth.

Avid fans of the characters that comedian Mike Myers has created in the past waited with baited breath to see what his next concept would be. He was the man who got us to sing along to "Waynes World, party time, excellent" and brought back "shag" into everyday speech.

The story is about self-help Guru Pitka, who helps a star hockey player win his wife back, falters considerably from saving the world as his Austin Powers characters actually managed to be funny amidst the lowbrow toilet humour and sex-jokes.

Guru Pitka is an American raised outside of his country by gurus who returns to the States in order to break into the self-help business. His first challenge is to settle the romantic troubles and subsequent professional skid of the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Darren Roanoke, played by Romany Malco, the star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is suffering from stress because his wife, Prudence Roanoke (Meagan Good), has left him for the Los Angeles Kings French-Canadian goaltender Jacques "Le Coq" Grandé (Justin Timberlake).

The stress causes his hand to shake, which affects his hockey performance.

Jane Bullard enlists the support of Guru Maurice Pitka to help Darren with his stress so that the team can hopefully break their losing streak.

In addition to getting a considerable payment, Pitka would be invited to Oprah Winfrey's show, which he hopes would help him become the #1 guru, a place currently held by Deepak Chopra.

Pitka succeeds, but feels no need anymore to become #1, more important is his love for Bullard.

If The Love Guru cannot exorcise the curse of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Leafs don't retire the numbers of their superstars, there appears to be just one other way for Toronto's NHL team to win the top prize, as is explained in The Official Canada - U.S. Temperature Conversion Chart:

50° Fahrenheit (10° C)
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
Canadians plant gardens.

35° Fahrenheit (1.6° C)
Italian Cars won't start
Canadians drive with the windows down

32° Fahrenheit (0 ° C)
American water freezes
Canadian water gets thicker.

0° Fahrenheit (-17.9° C)
New York City landlords finally turn on the heat.
Canadians have the last cookout of the season.

Minus 60° Fahrenheit (-51° C)
Mt. St. Helens freezes.
Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door-to-door.

Minus 100° Fahrenheit (-73° C)
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Canadians pull down their earflaps.

Minus 173° Fahrenheit (-114° C)
Ethyl alcohol Freezes.
Canadians get frustrated when they can't thaw the

Minus 460° Fahrenheit (-273° C)
Absolute zero; all atomic motion stops.
Canadians start saying "cold, eh?"

Minus 500° Fahrenheit (-295° C)
Hell freezes over.
The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.


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