By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Oct. 12) — The nimrod that threw his Toronto Maple Leafs Winter Classic jersey onto the ice Saturday at Air Canada Center – and, yes, thank-you Nick Beverley for such an enduring term – couldn’t possibly have been so tormented by the second of an 82-game schedule.
Beverley, subbing as coach for the deposed Pat Burns, consigned himself to legend by uttering the famed syllables after a particularly vile Leafs effort at St. Louis during the 1996 playoffs. Which is a more relevant juncture, if any, to launch such a protest. Oct. 11 in a season that ends Apr. 11 comes off as a tad premature.
Or does it?
Were this weekend’s nimrod interrogated, he may have acknowledge an aftereffect. For it surely seemed, at the Hangar, more like Game 84 of last season than Game 2 of the current schedule. Perhaps the National Hockey League standings today should reflect the Maple Leafs as having a record of 38–38–8 rather than 0–2. And a death-spiral of 2–14 in their past 16 games. Such numbers would indicate a furtherance of the 2013-14 season, which has technically been in the books for four months. But, try telling that to the bedeviled soul who went home wearing a T-shirt after the Pittsburgh Penguins toyed with the Maple Leafs Saturday night.
THE CRUMPLED EVIDENCE: A MAPLE LEAFS JERSEY IS HEAVED ONTO THE ICE AT AIR CANADA CENTRE DURING THIRD PERIOD OF 5-2 PITTSBURGH ROMP SATURDAY NIGHT. CBC/ROGERS
For sheer amusement, I listened to Andy Frost’s post-game radio show on AM-640. Had Orson Welles invited callers to his War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938, it would have sounded roughly the same. Welles panicked the northeastern United States on Oct. 30 of that year with a fictional account of Martians invading the land. Listeners tuning in to his radio “bulletins” ran amok. Patrons of the Andy Frost show on Saturday appeared to be calling from elevated ledges. Andy’s soothing demeanor saved lives. “Mike in Buffalo” was particularly distraught.
On TSN’s post-game panel, ex-Leaf Jeff O’Neill had James Duthie in a choke-hold before Bob McKenzie intervened with a flying drop-kick. Duthie survived.
In the medical industry, it is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it’s primarily an acute ailment. Hockey fans in this region have been suffering a chronic version for years and it clearly flared during and after the Pittsburgh debacle. Paramedics were summoned overnight by parents of young children thrashing uncontrollably in bed. Intravenous injections of Diazepam were futile. One such toddler could be overheard wailing “Dion… Deeeon… Deeeeeeon!” while en route to therapy.
Local hospitals and walk-in clinics have been put on alert for tonight’s Leafs-Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Extra doctors and nurses are on call.
“Oh-and-Three Syndrome is relentless; it cannot be taken lightly,” explained an Emergency Room spokesperson. “It happens when the Toronto Maple Leafs struggle early in the season and television viewers are subject to Mark Messier every five minutes. With such a cruel combination anticipated by our staff again tonight, we’ve ordered extra restraints and moved the elderly to an upper floor.
“I’m confident we’re ready for pretty much anything.”
The spokesperson was asked what might happen in the throes of a December or January slump by the local hockey team.
“I’ll have quit well before then.”
Oh Leafs Oh!
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