A Tale of a Heartbroken Hockey Fan

toronto maple leafs trade rumors

I do not usually write about my opinion or what I think about the Leafs or trades, but today I am.

It is never easy to see your favourite player get traded or leave your city. Growing up, my favourite hockey player was Mats Sundin. I can tell you now that Sundin will be my all time favourite NHL player until the day I die. I was heartbroken at the age of 10 when Sundin left Toronto and signed with the Vancouver Canucks. I remember crying when Sundin returned to Toronto in a Canucks uniform and got a standing ovation from the loving and loyal Leafs fans at the Air Canada Center. The game went to a shootout and Sundin scored the winning goal for his new team. I remember not caring that the Leafs lost that game, just because I got to see Mats Sundin  score at the Air Canada Centre one last time. It was almost as if Sundin was still playing for the Leafs as the arena roared and cheered him on just like any other time he had scored there for the Buds. I of course cried when Mats Sundin returned to Toronto for his retirement ceremony as well.

The words Sundin spoke on the night of his retirement ceremony have always stuck with me. “The number one thing I miss being retired and not living in Toronto is the people of Toronto. The spirit that lives in the city, the friendly warm people that care about each other and the beloved Maple Leafs. There’s no fans more loyal, passionate and commited to their team than you Leafs fans.” This quote always reminds me why I am a Leafs fan through thick and thin.

In 2009, Phil Kessel was traded to the Maple Leafs. Kessel instantly became my favourite player and was able to take away a bit of the sadness I was still feeling a year after Sundin had left Toronto. One of my older sisters knew someone who was going to be playing in a charity poker game with Kessel, so I wrote him a letter welcoming him to Toronto and telling him how excited I was to have him on my beloved team. I recieved back an autographed photo addressed to me and the words “Best Wishes” on it. I was so exicted! I was also very excited the night my father brought home a Kessel jersey for me. I loved wearing it during Leafs game while cheering Kessel and the rest of the team on. My all time favourite Kessel memory though, was when I went to a Leafs and Sens game in February of 2014 with my brother, who is also a fan of the Blue and White. I was fortunate enough to watch the Leafs come back from being down by two goals, win 6-3 and see Kessel get a hatrick.

I think the way Phil Kessel is leaving Toronto is truly unfortunate. Too many “fans” are happy about it. Several people have asked me why I am so upset about the trade. It did not matter who Kessel was traded for- it could have been for Sidney Crosby and I would be just as sad and frustrated. No passionate hockey fan ever wants to see their favourite player leave or get traded, even if it’s what’s best for the team. I wish Kessel could have had a real chance to win in Toronto, like he said he wanted. He also mentioned in 2013 that he wanted to finish his career here. Although it is unlikely, I would love for him to pull a  ”Wendal Clark” and see Kessel put on the Blue and White again one day.

I thank Phil Kessel for 6 great seasons in Toronto. He was a star here and he will definitely shine in Pittsburgh. I will miss Kessel and I now pass my “best wishes” onto him. It was truly a thrill to watch him play for the Leafs over the past several years.



Toronto Maple Leafs writer for Hockey Tracker. Born and raised Leafs fan, with an extreme passion for hockey.

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