Toronto Maple Leafs: 5 Reasons Their Fans Are More Passionate Than Montreal's
They also share another common bond: crazy fans.
Both cities have fans who will hate their team after a loss and parade in the streets after a victory the next night. They sell out games, and they dissect every move the organization makes.
However, Toronto's fans are better.
Yeah, I said it. And here's why.
Despite Losing Seasons, Fans Sell out Every Game
When Maple Leaf Gardens was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team sold out every game from 1946 until 1999.
Let that sit for a second...
That's right, 53 years of sellouts.
I know what you're thinking. Back in '46 they were a great team! Well that's true, even until the early 1970s, but that wasn't the case all the way through until 1999.
Also, in the Leafs' new home, the Air Canada Centre, the team has sold out every game since October 2002 and currently has approximately 2,500 fans on a waiting list for season tickets. Considering the fans who are already season ticket holders (like my dad, thank God), those waiting for a spot could be waiting a long, long time.
Despite Crazy Costs, Fans Sell out Every Game
Fancostexperience.com does yearly research on the most expensive tickets and fan experiences in sports.
Every single year Toronto tops the list in the NHL for having the most expensive games to attend. In this year's index, Toronto topped ALL SPORTS for the most expensive ticket at $123.77 USD, and the highest FCI (fan cost index—which calculates a night out for a family of four at a game including tickets, food and a souvenir) at $622.08.
The team hasn't made the playoffs since the lockout in 2004, and it costs over $600 to take a family to see them. And yet the games are still sold out every night. Amazing.
The Fans Know Their Team Isn't the Best (and Keep Coming Back)
ESPN does an annual ranking of the best teams in all of the big four North American leagues. The ranking is based on several criteria including ownership, ticket affordability, player quality, championships and overall "bang for your buck."
In the 2011 list, Toronto was ranked 120th out of a total of 122 teams. Essentially, at the bottom.
Toronto hasn't won a championship in more than 40 years and hasn't made the playoffs in almost a decade. They sucked for a long time, it's true.
Despite all this, the fans keep coming back and have faith in their club. No matter how long the Leafs keep losing, the fans will always be at the games, even if that means they show up with bags over their heads.
Toronto Fans Don't Just Get Upset, They Get Breakfast Involved
One way to prove that Toronto fans are more passionate is how they don't just boo their team in the midst of a season where the Leafs were sitting in 13th place, they throw waffles at them.
Yes, that's correct. Waffles.
A number of upset fans threw waffles (and an Eggo box) onto the ice last December in a fit of frustration during a season that seemed to be heading nowhere.
I believe Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger put it best: "Who brings waffles to a hockey game?"
Crazy awesome Leafs fans, that's who!
The best part about the waffle toss is that the Leafs had posted a 2-5-1 record in December including the 4-1 loss to the Flyers when the waffles were launched onto the ice, and then the team started to turn things around.
Toronto won their next two games and, over the course of the season, fought for a playoff spot until the very end.
Maybe the fans knew that the team just needed a boost, because they do say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day...
The Fans See in Blue and White Not Black and White
My extended family lives in Montreal, and I know my share of intense Canadiens fans. To them, even when Montreal is sitting in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and Toronto is second place, the Habs are still better than Toronto.
Leaf fans know when their team is playing like garbage, and they definitely voice those feelings. They do not however have delusions that a 12th place team will win the Stanley Cup.
Sometimes Montreal fans are too intense for their own good and then have a difficult time dealing with early playoff exits.
Toronto fans are realists, and while they do flock back every season, they know that the team isn't winning it all any time soon. Doesn't mean they're not hoping for that day even more than the Montreal fans.