Friday, September 21, 2007

UP AT 6: MEET THE NINETY-FIVE PERCENTERS

The 95 Percenters within Leafs Nation have probably already decided Vesa Toskala is Finnish for Allan Bester after seeing him get beat through the five-hole on the first shot of his first exhibition game with the Leafs.

Don't judge. If they knew how to think matters through and not overreact, they wouldn't be 95 Percenters. Toskala's shaky pre-season debut is as good a jumping-off point to get into the 95 Percenters theory a friend came up with back in the day. It's pretty basic -- 95% of Leafs fans submit to the worst kind of cliché-clouded, casual-fan groupthink.

It's not their fault. Life in and around Canada's counting room, the one-time Toronto the Good, has given them such a case of anhedonia when it comes just savouring a team, a game a sport for what it is, that they can't enjoy anything unless the team is close to a winning a championship and well, you know how that chapter unfolds. So yes, Toskala has a shaky start and already he's the worst goalie in the NHL.

The twist is the remaining 5% of Leafs Nation are the smartest, albeit self-loathing hockey fans alive. So they defend the 95 Percenters from any and all onslaughts from fans of other teams, especially expansion teams that have a lameass kitty mascot. Very few 95 Percenters know they're 95 Percenters, but they usually betray their status fairly quickly.

Five telltale signs:

  1. Went down to the Air Canada Centre when it opened in 1999, but have never actually been inside for a Leafs game.
  2. Have Nik Antropov in their hockey pool.
  3. Say 50 Mission Cap is their favourite Tragically Hip song "cuz it mentions the Leafs."
  4. Whining about how the Jays "haven't done anything since '93," never pausing to consider tthe baseball team is only 26 years behind the Leafs in this regard, baseball is 10 times more sophisticated than hockey (and thus several times harder to dominate unless you're the Yankees or Red Sox), and that back-to-back World Series should be worth a lifetime exemption. Besides, in a true sports city, you have your favourite teams and don't crap on the others. Yankees fans don't build themselves up by dumping on the Knicks.
  5. Coming from Oshawa.

OTHER BUSINESS

  • Senators 5, Capitals 4: Team 1200 cheerleader Gord Wilson is already in mid-season form, describing penalties against the Precious Team as "two minutes for being Brian McGrattan."
  • It's hard not to wonder if Canada's gut-wrenching early exit from the Women's World Cup over in China (needing a win, they tied Australia, giving up the tying goal in injury time) heralds a slow decline for the national women's soccer team. Even Pellerud is probably going to leave as coach and of course, the national body for soccer is a total gong show.

    Speaking of which: The footy fans who organized last week's Black Wednesday show of action have started a Facebook group -- 34 people have signed up.
  • CTV has already figured that what Global seldom did in its years carrying the NFL: Not everyone in Canada wants to see the Buffalo Bills every week. Even Bills fans don't want to see the Bills every week; they need reminders of what good football looks like.
  • Sort of good news for Canadian-based Syracuse Orange fans: Andy Rautins' ACL isn't as bad as it could be, although he'll still miss a year (hat tip to cishoops.ca).

About the pic: That's Mayko Nguyen, the hottest Canuck actress you've never heard of. The new season of Showcase's Rent-A-Goalie is only five weeks and two days away, and she's in it. Remember, if you support Canadian cable sitcoms, the sooner N. Sager gets one.)

7 comments:

Dennis Prouse said...

The Senators play-by-play team is so cringe-inducing it is sometimes hard to listen. I know that most NHL teams' broadcast crews are hired by the team, or at the very least the team gets a veto. As a result, the radio guys are going to be homers. I can deal with that to a degree, but Gord Wilson has to be the most over the top of them all.

Sometimes during the season, I'll listen to him after a play and I fear that a Senator player is lying on the ice with his spleen at his side. He goes on and on like this play is going to be the biggest controversy in NHL history. An hour later, I'll watch some real journalists discussing the game, and Gord's alleged war crime hasn't even made the highlight reel.

This is a great hockey city, with knowledgeable, dedicated hockey fans. It would be nice if the home team's radio broadcast would treat those fans with some respect, and not dumb it down to the lowest common denominator in such painful fashion.

Pete Toms said...

I don't listen to The Team but I do recall reading in William Houston's column early last season - when the Sens were floundering - that the Sens leaned on ( successfully ) the broadcaster to reduce the # of negative calls they were broadcasting on the post game show and to be more positive. I don't think this makes the Sens or The Team any different than anybody else in any other league though.

Dennis Prouse said...

Pete -- you are right in that this practice (leaning on the broadcast partner to be "more positive") happens a lot. The Senators, though, appear to be more thin skinned about criticism, and a lot more heavy handed in their reaction to it, than many teams. I was embarrassed for the club when they wouldn't put someone on Toronto radio due to some perceived on-air slight towards the Sens. Surely to God they are bigger than that.

Pete Toms said...

D, I do remember something about the TO ( The Fan ? ) thing, although I admit I had forgotten about it.

The collective mental health of Sens fans is very fragile, they / we are very sensitive to all things anti Sens. I think we all need to lighten up a bit.

P.S. Is Wade Redden a drug addict or is this an urban myth? I'm guessing the latter, discuss among yourselves ( anybody else old enough to remember Linda Richman?).

Dennis Prouse said...

Every Canadian NHL city has a collection of urban myths surrounding its players. There's always some gossip out there about who is sleeping with who's wife, who is allegedly gay, who is into drugs, hookers, blah blah blah. It's all a bunch of garbage.

In Vancouver, the mid-90s were full of rumours about Jeff Brown needing to be traded because he was supposedly sleeping with Kirk McLean's wife. The same stupid rumour was making the rounds in Toronto a few years previous regarding Gary Leeman and someone else. At any one time, I have heard people insist that Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, and Wendel Clark were gay, citing the usual iron clad source --a friend's cousin's co-worker's girlfriend who knew someone who knew someone who heard something.

Having worked in and around politics most of my life, I have had a belly full of this crap, and really don't care to give it any credence. All of this as a long winded way of saying I think the Wade Redden rumours are ridiculous.

sager said...

Yeah, until a guy gets caught flat-out, there's not much you can really believe.

Pete Toms said...

I'm with you guys, I have to guess that it's bunk. I think it is revealing though....I have encountered probably at least a dozen people in this region the past year or so that "know somebody who knows yada yada yada". These same people are all firm in their belief that it is fact. I even saw an Ottawan comment in a Globe & Mail chat room / conversation ( whatever the hell we call this ) that the Sens had a frontline player ( or however he put it ) that was an addict and had been in rehab etc. etc.

I'm curious to see who will replace Redden as the source of speculation once he departs ( which is soon, isn't it? ).