The Leafs are currently mired in a tough 8 game losing streak. With the Predators coming into town on Tuesday for a date with the Blue and While pundits and fans alike are calling for changes in Leaf land. Whether it be bringing up Nazem Kadri from the Marlies or shaking up the lines I give the buds management a lot of credit for doing everything they can to turn the ship around.
While these changes to the team have yielded less than stellar results, there is still one thing the team can do that will almost certainly inspire the boys to at the very least snap the losing streak. It’s a solution so simple, so true, and so well tested I’m disappointed it took 8 losses before it occurred to me.
So you ask how do we pull the boys out of their losing streak and put them back on the road towards contention for the 8th and final playoff spot? We call their Dads.
The idea dawned on me this morning in my men’s hockey league. We play once at week at 7am before work at an arena near the office. It’s an 8 team league, and for the most part it's decent hockey with a couple of former junior and NCAA players taking part.
I was at the end of a long shift, probably 2 minutes in – I turned to head towards the bench for a line change when I heard one of my line mates behind me say “Darren, go get in there.” The voice of course, being pretty much the most recognizable one I’ve ever known in hockey, was that of my Dad (We are playing together in the same league for the first time in our lives; a real pleasure given that we’ve watched each other for over 15 years, and to finally play together has been an absolute blast).
I was clearly tired, but given the prompt from Pops, I of course took a few hard strides and headed down into the offensive zone. I battled hard along the boards down in both corners and eventually behind the net before generating a decent scoring chance. Exhausted, I then struggled to the bench for a much needed rest. It was sitting on the bench, hunched over catching my breath from a much too long 3 minute shift that the solution to the Leafs woes occurred to me. We simply call all their Dads, invite them all to the game on Tuesday and set them up comfortably in one of the luxury boxes.
There is something very special about hockey players and their Dads – maybe it’s because as a player you idolize your Dad growing up, or because at 5am on a Saturday morning he would drag your butt out of bed for practice, or because he would spend an entire Sunday afternoon in January cleaning off the local pond so you could play shinny with your childhood buddies. I can’t describe it completely, but I know for a fact that a hockey player has just a little extra kick in his game when he knows his father is watching.
If we can get all the Leaf Dads together in one place, for one game, this Tuesday against Nashville the result would quite simply be magical. 19 guys playing the game they love under the watchful eyes of the men who taught it to them. Of course long term trying to get all the fathers to every single game would be logistically impossible – but for one game, to snap one of the worst losing streaks in recent memory there is only one thing left to do...