Chris Gudgeon is a bestselling author, award-winning screenwriter, and recovering Leafs fan. He has written twenty books, including Behind the Mask (with Ian Young), The Naked Truth: The Untold Story of Sex in Canada, and You’re Not As Good As You Think You Are: A Demotivational Guide. He’s contributed to numerous magazines, including MAD, National Lampoon, Playboy, and Hockey Illustrated.
What’s that sound? Are the Leafs about to suck again?
We’ve all heard it. The sound of one team sucking. Our team. The Leafs. It usually starts this time of year. And while everything seems rosy for Leafs fans, just wait. The panic will soon set in.
Building in intensity with each defeat until, sometime after the All-Star break, the sound explodes — an internalized shriek like the noise a star might make if you ripped its heart out.
It’s a ritual for us.
We start the season with cautious optimism, and as training camp approaches we promise ourselves that, this time around, we won’t get carried away. The season starts and the Leafs win a few games, maybe even put together an impressive winning streak. It’s still early, we tell ourselves: let’s not get too excited.
But we slowly get swept up, and even as the losses pile up and the playoff prospects grow dimmer and dimmer, we are confident that this time the team will turn it around. And then things come unhinged. Our scorers stop scoring, our goalies turn into human Swiss cheese, the power play looks more like a power failure.
When the inevitable happens and the Leafs are mathematically eliminated, once again, we hit rock bottom. Another season, which began with such promise, has ended in heartbreak.
The Leafs are not going to let us down again, we tell ourselves.
We endured Harold Ballard . . .
We put up with countless bad trades and ill-advised free agent signings.
We have survived the longest-standing Stanley Cup drought, almost half a century of futility.
The time has come to stop caring, stop wearing our Maple Leafs underwear to work, stop checking the blogs for reports on pimple-faced prospects playing for Yunost Minsk or the Notre Dame Hounds, stop worrying about which players are overpaid, who should be traded and why.
And we’re fine . . . for a while. But then it happens, usually around draft day: we open our minds and hearts to the possibility that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. And the cycle begins again.
Let’s face it, we have a problem. Fact is, being a Maple Leafs fan is a kind of addiction: irrational, compulsive, dependent. We can’t just stop cold turkey. We need help.
And that’s where The Sound of One Team Sucking comes in. Think of it as your own, portable support group, designed to stand by you through another disappointing season, help you maintain your focus and perspective, and guide your recovery as — in the face of the Leafs’ certain futility — you strive to live a more emotionally and spiritually balanced life.
It’s a going to be a long season, but with this book, you’re going to make through . . .