My passion for the Toronto Maple Leafs began at a very early age. I breathed, ate and slept all things Leafs. From my first game used Leaf stick to my first live game, it was all the same feeling. Of course this obsession followed me everywhere I went in my early years (still does).
Growing up in the 60’s, the Argos and Leafs where the only professional sports teams we had. Toronto also had a minor league baseball team. All my school projects centered around the Leafs. Finally, after years of writing every English essay and oral presentation about the Leafs, the school decided they had seen and heard enough. Furthermore, numerous comments on my report cards stating that “Michael should expand his universe outside of the Toronto Maple Leafs”, didn’t seem to resonate with me.
One day my grade 6 teacher Mr. Morris kept me after school. He went on to explain, that while it wasn’t terrible I was so focused on the Leafs, I just needed to broaden my thoughts. His reasoning was that once I entered high school in a few years, I would be penalized for my intense focus.
That evening he had the same conversation with my parents.
Mom and dad sat me down. They reminded me what the teacher said and had repeated to them. Did I understand that while it’s good to have the Leafs to look up to, I needed to expand my interests. I nodded that I did but I couldn’t understand all the fuss.
As luck would have it, a week later I had an oral presentation to present. So with a new subject in mind, other than the Leafs, I wrote my new piece out and memorized it. I was more than ready to recite it to the class. I remember to this day that I was pretty proud of the presentation I was about to deliver.
When my turn came up, I proudly stood in front of the class and gave my presentation flawlessly. The subject? Bobby Hull of the Chicago Black Hawks scoring his 51st goal, to set an NHL single season scoring record.
Of course, I couldn’t understand why Mr. Morris was smiling and shaking his head.