I’ve written before about the love and mostly hate relationship with Toronto and Buffalo. Besides our love for hockey and tolerance for the cold weather, I tend to believe both entities are more different than some would like to believe. Canadians pride themselves on being a boastful bunch that takes their values seriously. They are proud of their heritage and you can just sense it whenever they blurt out “O Canada” during a hockey game. As for us, we tend to be a self-depricating bunch who mostly use our hands to massage the frustration off our faces. We are constantly down on ourselves and take any criticism to heart.

However, for today, we can add misery to the hockey love and tolerance for cold weather to the mix.

That was an awful way to lose a series. To be down 3 games to 1 and pretty much have the entire hockey give up on you after not being in the playoffs since the 1st lockout, is a big kick in the nuts to start with. Then, to rise from the ashes and be 2 minutes away from a series win, and to lose like that?

Welcome to the club, Toronto.

To wait 9 years for that? Maybe there’s something toxic in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

I can only imagine what it would be like for Buffalo Bills fans to go through that by making the playoffs finally and then lose in a monumental collapse like the Oilers/Bills game. We would die. Sometimes, when you’ve been gone from the playoffs for so long like the Leafs have, you just want to get in it. Yes, for any fanbase, you obviously want a championship, but when you’ve been deprived for so long of meaningful postseason games, you take what you can get.

I know as a Sabres fan, I don’t think just making the playoffs is good enough because I’ve been there a few times over the last 7 years and the novelty tends to dry up after 1st round loses. But when it comes to the Bills? Forget it! I’d take a heroic run to the 6th seed or winning a division with a 8-8 record followed by being decimated by the Broncos/Pats. After 13 years, you just want to feel like your team matters. I have a feeling that’s how Toronto fans felt going into the post season.

But when you end it like that? Man, maybe you end up wishing to be out of the playoffs for another year. It is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all? Tell that to a fan who gets their heart ripped out like that during a playoff game. Losing in 5 might have been better than blowing it in 7 when you had a 2-goal lead with 2 minutes left.

I know I’m suppose to hate the Leafs, and I assure you, when they play our boys I can’t stand the sight of them. However, a small piece of my heart has always felt bad for Canadians when it comes to hockey. It has been 20 years since the country won the Stanley Cup and we’ve done our best in stealing their sport like Citibank outsources jobs to India. That country has gone through a lot when it comes to the NHL.

I remember when the Canadian dollar was worth about the same amount as monopoly money prior to the lockout and Canadian teams were scratching and clawing their way to make payroll and compete with the American markets. From Gretzky to the Nordiques leaving, they have dealt with a lot of adversity. I think that’s why I feel bad for them because I can relate to them in the sports spectrum of being a disappointment. Misery doesn’t love company in my case when it comes to the disappointment in sports. I don’t wish misery onto other fanbases..unless they are the cause of my own misery.

When the Sabres are eliminated or not making the playoffs, I always count how many Canadian teams are in the playoffs.  When the 1st round starts, I’m normally optimistic, “Hey, they got a bunch of teams left. Maybe they can win.” Then they start playing and falling… until the last one is eliminated and I say, “Poor Canada. They don’t deserve this”

Yes, I’d rather have a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup than an American squad (Excluding Buffalo) because it is their game and they love it way more than we do.

As of now, there’s only one Canadian team left in the playoffs. The Sens are CBCs, the Prime Minister, Kevin Snow and Bret Hart’s only hope. Not exactly great odds to end the 20 year drought with Pittsburgh coming up.

Hope of making the playoffs was all that Leafs fans had to cling on. Sadly, once they got in, it was just another chapter in the nightmare known as Canada losing out in the NHL playoffs.