Sunday, November 22, 2009

A for Effort

It goes without saying that the Toronto Maple Leafs are a terrible hockey team. Yes I realize they won tonight but that doesn't change the fact that they are 4-11-6 and are headed for yet another year of missing the playoffs. Their team is filled with dusters and nobodies and some of the guys on their roster have no business being in the NHL. I mean Lee Stempniak is their pointman on the powerplay. This is not a team to be optimistic about this year.

Having said that there is one area where the Leafs excel, effort.

Say what you will about the team you cannot criticize their work ethic while on the ice. I have watched a number of Leaf games this year and while they may get beat worse than Forrest Griffin against Anderson Silva at least they try. Guys like Niklas Hagman aka Danglor, Blake, Kulemin, Mitchell and Orr work hard every shift fighting for loose pucks and working the forecheck.

Obviously effort can only take you so far. Eventually effort needs to be matched with talent for sustained success to take place. The Leafs may not be winning games but they are winning the respect of their fans, or at least they should be.

Effort is the one thing true fans appreciate. True fans are fans that have followed a franchise through thick and thing (with the Leafs it is A LOT of thick as they produce more shitty seasons than Greys Anatomy) and understand that you can't always be a winner but you can always try. This is why the phrase 'just do your best' is so true. If you give your best and leave it all on the ice who can be upset with you?

Fans can hate on management and coaches all they want but Vesa Toskala didn't sign himself to a huge contract. Someone gave it to him and he is working to earn it. He may not be doing a very good job but at least he is trying which is more that can be said for other overpaid Toronto athletes.

In a city filled with awful teams the Leafs might be the best team this city has, which is hard to say considering they are statistically the worst team in the NHL. It sounds crazy but hear me out:

Blue Jays: baseball is more of an individual sport than hockey so it is a bit harder to compare. Still there are some players on the Jays who could care less aka Vernon 'go ahead and Supersize that' Well. Wells is the most disinterested player in Toronto and does little to show he cares about the team. Alex Rios was the same way before he got released.

Obviously there are guys like Aaron Hill and Adam Lind who truly care and try hard every game. These guys became better players due to the effort they put in. Instead of laying on their asses and hitting the drive through with Vernon they put in that extra effort and became all-stars.

Raptors: Chris Bosh could care less about Toronto and has made it pretty clear by his actions he is going to leave at the end of the year. He is supposed to be the franchise player and captain of the team yet he does little to motivate the team and often appears complacent when facing a large deficit.

Jose Calderon is another guy who doesn't try. Yes he can pass the ball and can score but when it comes to playing defense he just doesn't care. His defense is as tight as Jenna Jameson. If he just put in the effort people would forget the fact he gets torched every night and is one of the main reasons the Raps lose games.

Argos and TFC: The CFL and MLS are the epitome of irrelevance. Argos quarterback Kerry Joseph is more concerned with making sure the game finishes on time so he can get to his shift at McDonalds without having to use a sick day.

As for TFC they needed to win the last game of the season to make it into the playoffs for the 1st time in franchise history. They were playing the worst team in the league. What happened? They lost 5-1. They suck and could care less that they suck.

This is why the Leafs impress me. They lose games but they care that they lose games. Unlike the other Toronto teams they don't make excuses for their losses like injuries or a strong division. They go out and play hard every game to try and win. They may not always be successful but at least they try.

Effort is becoming something of a rarity these days. People want to get in shape with pills and procedures instead of going to the gym or dieting. Hell people use pills to get boners now instead of just using porn like in the old days. No one wants to work for anything anymore they just want it handed to them. I mean God forbid you put a little effort into something.

I feel like Vince Lombardi said it best when he famously said, "the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary." This is a lesson the Leafs are learning the hard way. They won tonight based solely on their desire to win and the extra effort they put in. Ron Wilson needs to make his team watch the tape from tonight's game to show his guys what happens when you put in that extra effort. Show them that although they lack talent they can make up for that in other ways.

Fans may only care about wins but these aren't true fans. Sure a few ins here and there would be nice but a true fan just wants to know that the players on their favorite team care as much as they do. Going into the corner for a loose puck and diving to block shots are actions that real fans appreciate because it lets them know that they are watching a team that cares.

For all their hard work this season the Leafs get an 'A' for effort.

Note: Despite what was written above I still am not a Leaf fan and believe they have the most untalented team in the NHL. They just work hard.

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Anonymous said...

i am pretty sure that when people do something through thick and thin....the "thick" is the good times and the "thin" is the bad times.

Anonymous said...

what are you some kind of faggot?