From the desk of an MLSE Board Member

Norm

Dear Toronto,

I write this letter from my suite at the Air Canada Centre. It is nice and quiet, a perfect atmosphere for writing. Which is to say, I’m at a Toronto Raptors game. I didn’t want to come, but I’ve been told it’s the big scarf giveaway night and it looks bad if I don’t show up. I’ve been told our multicultural fan base loves scarves. Which is funny, because wherever I go in Toronto there are only white people. Fortunately, we don’t need to let these scarf lovers into Leaf games. I really don’t enjoy watching this Italian scarf lover walk back on defense and based on the attendance statistics and TV Ratings it seems you guys agree. To that end, I requested to Bryan that we remove him, but have been told he’s our only player of talent. Which I suppose means we’re screwed.

That may upset you, although since you’re a Torontonian, I suppose you don’t care much about the Raptors. Let’s talk Leafs hockey, and how we once declared we’d like a hockey team Toronto can be proud of. Well, we have the 20th best hockey team in the world, so Mission Accomplished! From the hockey I watch in The Platinum Club while having our new $100 dollar burger (you really must try it, it’s delicious!) we seem to be doing very well. Then again, I only watch the first few minutes, because that scotch just isn’t going to drink itself.

The other day I was just milling around the Air Canada Centre taking in our premium priced Real Sports Shop and sports bar, when a young gentleman came up to me. He told me he was a very big Leafs and Raptors fan. He said he watched all their games through thick and thin. He had just one question for me, how did I allow things to get this way? Taking into account that we obviously earned his future purchasing power, I decided that I owed him and other Toronto sports fans an answer on how things got to become this amazing, for me at least.

Well, the answer to that question is complicated, something only a rich man like me can truly understand, but nonetheless I shall try to explain it to you the common fan, because I’m told you exist. It’s a shame you haven’t been able to buy Leafs tickets for years, except for the fact that now rich people get to. In 1998, the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund assumed control of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. For the next few years, the Leafs and Raptors did incredibly well. They made the playoffs and led their sports in attendance. In basketball we had Vince Carter, and in hockey we had no salary restrictions as we spent our way into Stanley Cup contention. Then two things happened; a hockey salary cap and Vince Carter fleeing our great city. Just remember, it’s all Vince Carter’s fault, and that Bosh too, how dare they abandon this city.

After years of mediocrity and below average records, we turned hockey and basketball over to two true experts; the Phoenix owner’s son, and a lawyer who inherited a Stanley Cup winning team in Anaheim. Although improving the teams would have been nice, the true goal was to quickly win over the fans so they would be content and purchase our overpriced tickets. Because, as I’m sure you know our goal is to make money. To cut costs, we moved our AHL team to Toronto. The truth is, we’re hiding them in plain site. Has anyone ever been to a Marlies game? I know you haven’t because while we market their cheap tickets, the truth is they don’t exist. It’s cheaper to have a team that doesn’t actually play, which also explains our lack of young talent.

Also, we’ve aggressively chased mediocrity. There are those who say we don’t care, but that’s simply not true. Actually it is, we don’t care. We do care about customer satisfaction. I’ll tell you whose fault this is. It’s your fault, because we will strive to make the Toronto Maple Leafs as successful as it takes to earn your patronage. Fortunately all we need is a cheesy ad campaign like, “Spirit is Everything.” The truth is you content yourself with the quick fix and just want to feel as though we’re winning now. How do you like Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf? We’re doing just well enough, as it also helps to lower expectations. If you fans were realistically critical we’d be toast, but instead you think acting like a fan means being wildly optimistic. The Leafs are 10th in the Eastern Conference, but with the easily satisfied media and fans, you’d think we’re number one. As for the Raptors, they’re just there for the Leafs off nights, which seems to be how you Torontonians feel.

We may be mediocre at winning but we’re at the top in terms of money making. We’ve built condos, shops, sports bars, and we’re even considering monopolizing Toronto sports with our own television network. Don’t blame us for that, we are just doing what you would also be doing if you were in our position. You’d be charging the highest prices and making money in any way possible, so I ask you please don’t criticize us. Instead, please help yourselves to our new burgers, because buying them can show off your newfound status as a Platinum Club member. I’m assuming you can afford a Leafs game, because otherwise you don’t matter.

So in conclusion, to answer that young man’s question, it is you, the fan, in Toronto, who is at fault. Our goal is to make money, and the way we make money is by satisfying you. In accepting losing teams you allow us to produce them. If you want to see changes in hockey in Toronto, I’ll tell you what to do. If you stop working we’ll be forced to actually make a long term plan to build a winner. But we both know that won’t happen, because fortunately for us, in Toronto, “Spirit is Everything.”

Sincerely, Nameless Board Member

P.S. Toronto F.C. tickets are now available. They may be sub par, but British people and having to hold in your urine are fun. Or so I’ve been told, because after all, soccer is for immigrants.

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