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SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12:  Phil Kessel #81 Of The Pittsburgh Penguins Celebrates With The Stanley Cup After Their 3-1 Victory To Win The Stanley Cup Against The San Jose Sharks In Game Six Of The 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final At SAP Center On June 12, 2016 In San Jose, California.  (Photo By Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A Short Note to Phil Kessel

Dear Phil,

Congratulations! And, you’re welcome!

The Leafs Nation, and the fans of all Toronto sports, are pleased that things worked out so well for you because, that’s the way we are. We bear no ill-will or malice to those who once donned the colours of our professional sports teams, and always wish only the best for them. And, so it’s nice to see that you are finally happy, when it was so obviously clear that you were not, on so many nights at the ACC.

Although you left under difficult circumstances, you acknowledge that cutting ties here, allowed you to do something wonderful. That’s great. It’s been good for us too. It gave us the opportunity to make our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs substantially better, and gave us new hope, and optimism for their collective future success. And really, that’s all we want in Toronto. Collective success.

Hey, we’re used to having our hearts broken by the ones we love. Be it the ’71 Argos, the ’87 Blue Jays, or the 2014 Raptors. But if nothing else, we are resilient. Losses like those are forgotten, and forgiven in a heartbeat. Each season, the love affair with our heroes begins anew, and deepens once again, win or lose. Because, even though we know that a championship would be a wonderful thing, we also recognize that all we can do as fans is to offer our passion, and hope that it will inspire you to do your best. If you understand that, it can be an amazing experience to behold. So much so, that even another world champion, LeBron James, was recently left in wonder, and awe, to behold such adoration, even in the face of defeat.

Now, as you know Phil, there is no sport on the planet that means more to most Canadians than hockey, and so I ask you to take a moment to consider how truly magical it will be when our Leafs finally reached the promised land once more. And they will. We here in Leafs nation have no doubt of that. That you have allowed us to take a giant step toward that moment is something for which we will always be grateful. Obviously, we won’t be able to share it with you, but that’s okay. After all, you will always be able to look at your ring, on your finger, and bask in your memory, of the things that you did.

In closing Phil, I just want to apologize, as Canadians often do, for taking so long to get back to you, after seeing your notice in the Toronto Star. Perhaps it’s just the way we are raised here north of the 49th parallel, that gave me pause. Our traditions, our culture, even our government have long been built on the belief that the ultimate good of the majority always takes precedent over that of the individual. Maybe that’s why we were a little bit taken aback by your farewell missive. Canadians are a little bit uncomfortable with that kind of thing, and we generally feel truly embarrassed for anyone that is openly, and vociferously ungracious, and rude. But hey, I’m sure we’ll get over it. Just as I am sure that you, already have. After all, here in Leafs Nation, we’re always willing to forgive, and especially, to forget. In your case, it won’t be that hard to do.


I'm a veteran broadcast journalist, producer, writer, and talk show gadabout. I like to play bad hockey, drink good beer, take sporadic rides on my bicycle and generally annoy my family with Dad jokes and selective memory. ( Lois the dog, excepted. )

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