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January 13, 2014 6:16 am

As the toxic atmosphere surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs reaches dangerous levels, infighting within the fanbase has begun to rear its ugly head. For the past few months I have been called many things by my fellow Leaf fans. Many of them stubbornly refused to admit the problems that existed. Like ostriches many of us sat idly by while excuses were made and heads continued to be stuck in the sand.

The common complaint has been that I am not a Leaf fan because I don’t believe in them and am too negative. The majority (if not all) have come around to the fact the negative comments I was making are realities. I’d like to stress, that this isn’t me saying, I was “right” all along and they were “wrong.” The beauty of this sport – and this fanbase in particular – are the open debates and passion from both sides. What I take issue with, is saying people who question the Leafs and don’t believe aren’t real fans. Believing blindly in the Leafs just because you support them doesn’t make you a fan. We’re allowed to loudly question the organization and be aware of problematic decisions. While thinking about this particular issue, the following tweet caught my eye:

If you look at the current incarnation of the Leafs and are frustrated over their lack of quality both at centre ice and on the blueline, then you are not someone who has jumped off the bandwagon. That is also the case if you can objectively look at the Leafs prospect situation and wonder where the reinforcements are going to emerge from. I have made this joke a few times: “player X sucks, I hate him. Wait, player X is a member of the Leafs? He’s the best.” Opinions on personnel should not based on what team they are currently playing for.

Am I frustrated? Absolutely. I don’t see how 7 playoff games last season gives this organization absolution for their awful decisions and their past performances. We don’t really ‘deserve’ anything as fans, but we can definitely demand more. We are allowed to be raged and vent when we can plainly see that management is focused on the wrong departments. I don’t know about you, but I tear up every year when the Cup is handed to the captain of the winning team. I have yet to experience my team achieve that goal.

Earlier in the season this situation occurred in Edmonton due to the levels of frustration that fanbase is currently experiencing:

I had no problem with this. It was that fans’ right to demonstrate his complete disgust at what he has been put through. Our voices exist, our devotion is not a given. We are not sheep. Feel free to be angry, that is your right. I love the Toronto Maple Leafs. I don’t think it’s a healthy passion, but it is one that is so ingrained that it will never die. Just because one doesn’t blindly swallow the spoonful being offered doesn’t mean they are not a ‘real’ fan.

Of course, there is always the Eric Prime angle which claims that all the problems are because of the fans. That’s always an interesting point to make:

I don’t know if Eric is aware of the talent on other teams. If he is, then he would know that what the Leafs currently possess isn’t as rare as he claims it is. Secondly, the Leafs really aren’t as young as he thinks they are. The core is currently either right in their prime or already on the downside of their productive years. ¬†Are the fans not allowing the players to grow? I’m pretty sure Carlyle is the one that is currently having issues with Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner causing them to be the focus of trade rumours. This is on top of his treatment of James Reimer. It’s pretty obvious who doesn’t appreciate the young pieces on this team and is driving them out of town. Finally, is this the first sign of trouble? As mentioned above, many have said that this shoe was going to drop and drop it has. This isn’t a little slump either, in my article last week I brought up how low the Leafs rank in most categories this season. This is on top of the fact that since November 1st 2013, the Leafs are last in the NHL in regulation or overtime wins. Maybe someone needs to wake Eric up?

Fans are not to blame in any way. That may be the most ridiculous thing I have heard someone who actually works in sports say. This is a pastime to some and an absolute obsession to others. In the end, we all love the Leafs in one way or another. Differing opinions is perfectly normal, but the infighting and questioning who is a true fan or not needs to stop.

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