(CONTENT WARNING: Satire) Yesterday, Maple Leaf President Brendan Shanahan held a press conference to announce the findings of a five year investigation by the Maple Leaf organization into the cause of the Leafs’ decades of incompetence, ineptitude and simply lousy hockey.
Standing outside of the former Maple Leaf Gardens on Carlton Street – now Loblaws, a fancy fruit and produce emporium – and flanked by former Leaf legends Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour – Shanahan laid the blame for the Maple Leafs’ horrible decline since the 1960s on the notorious Catholic Church-sponsored residential school system.
According to the Shanahan, up until 1968 (1967 being the last year that the Leafs won the Stanley Cup) the Leafs had won thirteen Stanley Cup championships, second only to the twenty-four championship, won by their arch rival, the Montreal Canadiens.
But apparently during the 1968 hockey season, then Leaf captain George “the Chief” Armstrong (whose mother was part Ojibway) often spoke in the locker room about the experience of his distant second cousin by marriage. As a young Ojibway man, several decades prior to the 1968 hockey season, Armstrong’s cousin was a day student at the residential school near George’s hometown.
This school was run by Catholic nuns and they demanded that George’s cousin wear a jacket, shirt, tie and grey flannel pants every day to class, be on time, do his homework and study every night. The nuns would rap his knuckles every time he failed to do or complete his homework. Furthermore, the nuns would not let his cousin play his beloved hockey unless he successfully completed his studies.
According to Shanahan, Armstrong’s teammates were shocked by this blatant mistreatment of George’s second cousin. Over the subsequent years, Armstrong would retell this horrible tale again and again to his distraught teammates.
And after awhile, consistent with the Leafs’ oral tradition, even after Armstrong’s retirement as a Leaf, this apocryphal story would be passed on, season after season to subsequent Leaf teams.
According to Shanahan, the impact of this residential school story on the Toronto Maple Leafs has been profound, the damage seemingly permanent.
Since 1968 the Toronto Maple Leafs have never won a Stanley Cup championship. Since 1969 the same Leafs had never even made it to the final series of a Stanley Cup championship.
The Leafs’ historic culture of fishing for the puck around the net and aggressively hunting for goals has been dramatically transformed to a culture of defeat and dysfunction. A never-ending cycle of dependence on booze (beer commercial endorsements) and drugs (to deaden the pain of perpetual defeat and vicious cross-checks by opposing players,) especially among the younger players on the Maple Leaf teams.
Shanahan did admit that the white British colonizers (the Weston family, owners of Loblaws) brutally taking the hallowed lands of the Leafs – the Gardens on Carlton – in part contributed to the Leafs’ downfall.
The loss of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada dealt another blow to the Leafs’ fortunes.
Accordingly, Shanahan issued a set of 94 demands which must be implemented immediately by the NHL and the Wynne and Harper governments. Prominent among the demands:
A full apology by the Pope to current and past Leaf players and their victimized fans.
A full restoration of funding to the CBC and the return of Hockey Night in Canada.
The replacement of hockey host George Stromboulopoulos with the dynamic duo of Don Cherry and Rod McLean.
The press conference concluded as hundreds of Leaf Nation survivors gathered around Shanahan, Clark and Gilmour in healing circles, locked hands, swayed and chanted together: “Go Leafs, Go.”