By: Rossy Pasternak
Dear Auston Matthews,
This time of year is meant for thanks in Canada; as you may or may not have known, Canadian Thanksgiving was this past weekend.
I am sure this thank you note would be better after the countless Stanley Cups, Art Ross and Memorial Trophies you will bring to Toronto during your career. But, being a Leafs fan from Toronto, I tend to be a little impatient.
There are already so many things I can thank you for. First and most importantly is bringing hope to Leafs fans.
It has been a terrible 50+ years for Leafs fans. You and I are lucky, we are too young to have had to endure the full length of the Leafs’ 49 year Stanley Cup drought. With you in the lineup, Leafs fans now have a reason to believe that drought will soon come to an end.
Secondly, I would like to thank you for choosing hockey over baseball. Six years ago, you faced a difficult choice in your career path. Funny how six years later, you have become the hero the 6ix needs.
Leafs fans have suffered through many false “saviours”, from Andrew Raycroft to Phil Kessel, and everything in between. We came close once, only to lose on a terrible non-call by Terry Fraser. Mats Sundin tried, and those were some good years, but they always ended with failure.
Today marks the start of a new era for Maple Leafs fans. It starts your reign on the most hockey-crazy city in the world. As an 17 year old kid, I have lived through maybe the worst decade and a half of Toronto sports. The Leafs, Jays, and Raptors have all struggled mightily.
In the past few years, those other two teams have been playing exceptionally well. The Raptors played LeBron James and his champion Cleveland Cavaliers team to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals this past year. The Blue Jays are making their second straight appearance in the ALCS (coincidentally, against the Cleveland Indians) .
For the Maple Leafs, the bright future starts now. It starts with your first game in the Blue and White tonight against the hated Ottawa Senators.
Hopefully after reading this letter, you have a deeper understanding of just how much pain Toronto fans have been through. I hope you also can see how much this city is behind you and your team – yes, YOUR team.
I was there for Game 6 against Boston on May 12th, 2013. I sat next to Johnny Bower and in front of Darcy Tucker. The building was electric, ready to explode on a moment’s notice. It wasn’t just the fans who were that focused and excited. When Dion Phaneuf scored a goal to make it 1-0, and then for Kessel’s goal that stretched the lead to two, Bower, who was probably the oldest person in attendance, was the first one standing, clapping and cheering. It was cool to see how the Leafs alumni were turned into die-hard Leafs fans. I know what hope looks like in Toronto, and I know you have brought it to us once again.
So, Auston, thank you for inspiring hope in the hopeless. And thank you for the Stanley Cups and trophies you will bring down Yonge Street in the future.
A Finally Hopeful Maple Leafs Fan.
What do you think of Matthews? How will his first game – and season – go? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!