So it's no secret we dislike the Leafs, and their fans, and the sometimes sketchy treatment they receive from the NHL. But you can now definitely add another group to the list. We hate Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the Leafs, Raptors, Marlies, and Toronto FC.
Easy, right? Not really. We quite enjoyed the falling on their own sword act that MLSE was playing out over the past few months. We liked it when they hung their own GM out to dry. It brought back memories of the good old days of Harold Ballard, the MLG bunker, and dissing the Queen. I could almost hear Milt Dunnell and Jim Proudfoot losing it all over again. It was glorious. We let other commentators at the Star, the Sun, the Globe, the Post, and all over the internet hammer the Leafs and their ownership over record profits and the seeming disinterest in actually building a championship team at the expense of lining their pockets. Life was fine.
But MLSE couldn't leave well enough alone. They had to sink deeper into the muck. In the words of Inigo Montoya, "let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up":
Last Sunday, I attended a charity event in support of an organization called World Playground Project (interesting concept, great cause, dedicated volunteers ... check out their website for more details). It was a great event, highlighted by a raffle and silent auction full of great stuff ... his and her Fossil Watches, wine tastings at Niagara Wineries, an iPod Nano, Tom Thomson Group of Seven Paintings, Theatre tickets, stays at the Royal York and Drake hotels, etc etc etc. Sponsors and donors came through in spades. MLSE donated something too.
Leafs tickets? No.
Raptors tickets? Uh, nope.
Tour of the ACC? Hell no.
Toronto FC tickets, maybe? No.
Hats? Sweatshirts? Maybe an autographed stick? Guess again.
The all powerful, richer than rich, we-make-money-hand-over-fist parent company of the Leafs donated one (framed) 8x10 autographed photo of Toronto Raptor backup Joey Graham.
Ahem. Joey. Fucking. Graham. Joey "I average 6 points a game for my career" Graham. (For those of you who aren't fans of Dr Naismith's game, 6 points ain't good. At all.)
Not Mats Sundin, or Darcy Tucker, or Tomas Kaberle or Bryan McCabe or even Wade Belak. Not tickets, or a stick, or even a poster sized shot. Nothing from the team that owns this city like no other. MLSE could have stepped up and made this charity a fortune with one simple gesture, because anything with a Leafs logo would have resulted in a bidding war of epic proportions. Can you imagine the checkbooks flying as people tried to get an item with Mats Sundin's autograph three weeks before Christmas? Instead, MLSE tossed a picture of Joey Fucking Graham to the little charity and turned back to its big pile of money.
I know they didn't have to donate at all (insert "they pretty much didn't donate at all" joke here.) I know they probably get requests like this everyday. But an organization that big, that rich, and that important to the city needs to do better, and it doesn't. MLSE acts like it doesn't care. Shame on them.
Not to compare (oh, who am I kidding, this is totally to compare) MLSE and Les Canadiens, but back in school we had a charity event called SkitNite that also featured a silent auction. The Habs sent a jersey autographed by THE WHOLE FUCKING TEAM. Granted, it was possibly the worst Habs team in the past fifty years ... but still:
MLSE: Autographed 8x10 of Joey Fucking Graham.
Habs: Jersey autographed by whole fucking team.
Advantage: Canadiens. Goes to show that whatever happens on the ice or the boardroom, form is temporary. Class is permanent.
If only we had such a decided advantage on the ice.