Leafs bloggers respond to being called losers

Toronto Maple Leaf fans across the blogosphere are responding to a recent Howard Berger post in which he called Leaf fans ‘losers’. In a coordinated response several Leaf related blogs have responded with the following post:

Dear Most Valuable Losers

Yesterday, continuing a long-standing trend, another Toronto reporter took his shot at Leaf fans. This time it was Howard Berger calling us “losers” but we’ve seem the same cookie-cutter article before from virtually everyone who covers the team.

Quite frankly, we’ve had enough.

As fans, we believe that those most deserving of our praise and our scorn are directly inolved in the game, whether it’s on the ice, in the press box or in the executive corridors. Fans don’t pencil in the starting five, make bad trades, or write the headlines of the day and shouldn’t be blamed (or praised) for the totals in the wins and loss column.

Hockey may be just a game but it’s also a passion. If you’re looking for passionate hockey coverage that offers insight and humour and you’re sick of being blamed for supporting a team you’re passionate about, you have a better option.

It’s time to leave the media superstars behind. There’s compelling, timely, wide-ranging content waiting just for you online in the Barilkosphere.

Many have found this better way of following the Leafs, but not every Leafs fan has been so lucky. Please send this message to your fellow Leaf fans via e-mail or postings on message boards and let them know that they do have a choice.

We hope you’ll join us here in the Barilkosphere and become regular readers.

I have been very critical of the media from time to time in the past but this is one of the first real coordinated responses to the media. It’ll be interesting to see how it develops and whether Howard Berger posts a counter response.

This article has 13 Comments

  1. Funny, but I highly doubt there would have been any backlash if he had fawned on the Leafs, and their fans rabid support. Relax, it’s a game, and if anything, this “co-ordinated response” only serves to reinforce his claim, then attack it.

  2. Though I agree somewhat Howard is clearly blatantly ignorant of reality when he states “Arguably the worst team in the National Hockey League since the lockout..” There is no sane semi-intelligent person that would argue such a thing knowing that there are 5 teams that have never had a better record than the Leafs in any season post-lockout and at least 11 teams that have a combined record over the past 4 seasons worse than the Leafs. And then he had the gall to go and write “over the always-accurate appraisals of the team in the media” when he clearly wrote something completely inaccurate.

    Saying the Leafs are arguably the worst team in the NHL is like saying the Dallas Stars are arguably be best team in the NHL post lockout. It is simply not true.

    He is is either completely ignorant of reality or is simply attempting to incite the Leaf fan base, neither of which I believe is an example of good reporting or journalism.

  3. That line was odd, but I took it as tongue-in cheek.
    Pay role to points, I suspect the Leafs probably have been the worst since the lock-out, and being an article based upon team income, it is fair comment, albeit inflammatory.

  4. I am guessing that Gerald is of the opinion that when Berger writes that Leafs fans are lemmings that buy whatever they are sold that he is being always accurate.

    I would also guess that he’s not a Leafs fan which basically sums up why he loves swallowing the garbage that counts for Leafs’ coverage in this city. Obviously, in light of his obliviousness this effort does just seem like sensitive Leaf fans pushing back against the Fair and Balanced writing of a paragon of journalism.

    It is just a game. By the same token maybe Berger should come off the ledge over fan loyalty. God forbid fans not be bandwagon jumpers like they are for almost every other fanbase in the country.

  5. Gerald – Sure, if he was arguing that and provided some proof then maybe you could believe it.

    However, nowhere in that article does he say that he is arguing that based on average payroll over the three seasons since the lockout the Leafs are the worst team in the NHL.

    He also said that the recent 3 wins out of 4 games will set the Leafs up nicely to finish in their habitual 11th or 12th place in the conference. Here are the Leafs’ finishes in the Eastern (Western before the move) Conference standings over the past decade:
    2007-2008 – 11th
    2006-2007 – 9th
    2005-2006 – 9th
    2003-2004 – 4th
    2002-2003 – 5th
    2001-2002 – 2nd
    2000-2001 – 7th
    1999-2000 – 4th
    1998-1999 – 4th
    1997-1998 – 10th
    1996-1997 – 11th
    1995-1996 – 4th
    1994-1995 – 5th
    1993-1994 – 2nd
    1992-1993 – 4th

    So what was Berger really trying to say? That if you took payroll, divided by Pi, times the number of trades means that the Leafs were habitually in 11th or 12th?

  6. One other point — staying with a team even when they are down and appreciating the little things has historically been viewed as a good thing all across sports. Those people who because fans just before the championship banner is raised are known derisively as fair-weather fans who have “jumped on the band wagon.”

  7. PPP,
    Berger said it could be argued…I pointed out how it could be argued. Hence, his comments were fair. The fact you dislike them is fair too, but at least admit that your disagreement with Berger is rooted in his negative commentary directed towards the Leafs, and, seemingly, their fans. I doubt you could reasonably argue against the spirit of his comments, so instead focused on the specifics in an attempt to discredit his views.
    Fair enough, but when it can be shown that these same “fans” are being taken advantage of, the line between “fan”, and “mark” becomes blurred. I believe there is a critical and implied contract between “fans” and their chosen team. This contract includes the true fans commitment through the tough times, in return for honest dedication by the team to reward their fans with a primary focus on winning. The Leafs fans have held up their end of the deal, the franchise on the other hand has not. That is not right, and all the imagined die hard pride in the world can’t change this reality.

  8. Gerald, you really have to stretch your imagination that when Berger wrote “Arguably the worst team in the National Hockey League since the lockout continues to be the most lucrative commodity on skates” he really meant ‘Arguably the worst team in the National Hockey League for teams that spend to the maximum since the lockout continues to be the most lucrative commodity on skates.’ He talks about the team being the worst team in the league but still making oodles of money because fans in Toronto support losers. He starts off with the false premise that the Leafs are the worst team in the league to criticize Leaf fans for supporting such losers. He falsified that statement because his argument isn’t the same if he tries to argue that Leaf fans are losers for supporting a mediocre team than it is if he argues the Leafs are losers for supporting the worst team in hockey.

    Now that I think of it, it is actually worse than just being too stupid to realize the Leafs haven’t been the worst team in the league. At least then he would have an extremely soft premise for suggesting Leafs fans are losers for supporting the biggest losers in the league. But to go out of your way to make something up just so you have justification to call Leaf fans a bunch of losers takes his negativity and hatred of fans to a new level.

  9. It’s not a stretch, considering the entire premise of his article is that, not withstanding enormous financial success, the team has still failed to deliver a winning team.
    Remember, this is a team who, until this season, either had an ability to outspend all but a few teams, or spend to the cap, yet still has failed to deliver even a single Stanley Cup final game in 41 seasons. This is pathetic, when compared to fan support.
    Hate Berger, fine. Love the Leafs, fine. But, at the end of the day, the facts remain the same, and the good faith between the fans and the franchise is decidedly one sided.
    I think Berger hates this bad faith on the part of the Leaf franchise, not the fans, but it is so much easier for these same delusional fans to continue refusing to look behind the curtain, and instead shoot the messenger.
    As this team is owned in part by CTV, who owns TSN, and the Globe and Mail, do you really think because Berger is one of the few repeatedly making these statements that he is wrong? Or maybe, unlike the others, he is in fact a true fan, not a sycophant.

  10. First off, I don’t hate Berger. I actually like him when he sticks to reporting. I have exchanged several e-mails with him and although we don’t always agree the e-mail exchanges have been cordial and generally based in facts.

    But this is one area where I really disagree with Howard and I disagree with his whole premise that so long as Leaf fans continue to support the team the team will never win a Stanley Cup because the team is only interested in pocketing big profits.

    I disagree with this premise because:

    1. Winning is good for business.
    2. Boston Red Sox fans didn’t have to stop showing up before they won a World Championship.
    3. If the Leafs only cared about profits why would they have spent so much money on a high priced coach and will spend so much money on a high priced GM when they could have kept JFJ and Paul Maurice on for probably substantially less than Ron Wilson makes himself.
    4. MLSE has shown they have no problem spending big bucks to get a premier GM for the Raptors.

    Howard Berger, and others, love to gravitate to the whole ‘have not won since 1967’ story but honestly, it is completely irrelevant. There have been several ownership changes since then and Berger really should only be evaluating the current ownership group. The 41 year thing is only used by media and anti-Leaf people to get Leaf fans riled up. Negativity sells and this is nothing more than that.

    As this team is owned in part by CTV, who owns TSN, and the Globe and Mail, do you really think because Berger is one of the few repeatedly making these statements that he is wrong? Or maybe, unlike the others, he is in fact a true fan, not a sycophant.

    He is not the only one making these statements nor do I think he is a true fan. He makes these statements because it generates controversy which generates readers, viewers and listeners. That is his job. Without readers, viewers and listeners he is out of a job. I understand why he does it, but it does not make it right or fair nor is it good reporting and journalism.

  11. Fair enough, to a point. It is certainly Bergers job to garner attention, but, it is never good to bite the hand that feeds you. You can nip at it on occasion, but an outright bite rarely yield positive results, in any profession.
    As for the whole die hard fan concept, I couldn’t disagree more. If a business is ruled by making money, and there exists more risk of losing money by taking the necessary risks to win, then by not taking these risks, why would you? It is well known that player scouting and development is key to success, yet until recently MLSE has not spent money (or rather lost money) in these pursuits. Instead they have made safe choices by signing marketable commodities via free agency. The same can be said for their choices in GM.
    Comparing the Raptors to the Leafs is a non starter, unless you can prove the Raptors have the same “die hard” fan support, which they do not. In fact, MLSE’s willingness to spend more, and make a more consertive effort to win with the Raptors only further supports the claims that MLSE is resting on its fans heads when icing the Leafs.

  12. Well it wasn’t until the last year or two that the Raptors decided to go out and pay big bucks for a GM so it is not like they have been doing it for the Raptors forever and ignoring the Leafs.

    If a business is ruled by making money, and there exists more risk of losing money by taking the necessary risks to win, then by not taking these risks, why would you?

    I agree. But if the question comes down to spending a couple million dollars on a top tier scouting system and ensuring they make the playoffs or skimping on scouting making it far more difficult to make the playoffs, the Leafs would pay for the scouting in a heart beat. That is because they can make a huge amount of money (upwards of $2 million or more) for each playoff game they play that it would make the cost of the additional scouting almost irrelevant. The problem was not that the MLSE board chose not to spend money on scouting but rather their GMs did. That is if they skimped on scouting and I am not convinced they have.

    If there has been any problem with the Leafs upper ownership it is not not being willing to spend the money to make a good team but in how the team was run. It was always run for short term gain, trading away prospects an draft picks to make the playoffs or go an extra round in the playoffs. It worked for several years as they had some pretty good success in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s but eventually it caught up to them and now they are suffering. But they will turn it around and they will soon be a playoff team and probably a contender at some level for the Stanley Cup because ownership will demand it. They will demand it because the playoffs are their gold mine.

    The Leafs can make a lot of money by skimping on scouting, player development, GMs, coaches, and even players, but they will make a whole bundle more by not skimping and making the playoffs and going deep in the playoffs.

  13. Until the salary cap, the Leafs were making the post season. It isn’t a commitment to winniing or the fans that has the Leafs re-tooling, it’s accepting that they can no longer purchase mediocrity.

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