The Playoffs are on, and, like every other year, my team, the Maple Leafs, are out. Although, it must be said, the Leafs left the playoffs in the most spectacular fashion, providing lots of entertainment, if not entertaining hockey, along the way. Hey, if you’re going down anyway, go down in a fiery crash I say: or as Neil Young put it, better to burn out than fade away.
But frankly, the way the Leafs treated the one goalie who has gotten them into the playoffs in my now 16-year old sons memory, the moronic bait and switch of hiring Brendan Shanahan and pronouncing problem solved, just the overall uselessness of the organization, have me rethinking my life-long affection.
But then, who to cheer for? I’ll tell you who it won’t be, it won’t be “the only Canadian team in the playoffs,” as I’m regularly told it must be. To set the record straight, I will cheer for the Taliban before I cheer for the Montreal Canadiens.
Boston wouldn’t be high on my list either. It wouldn’t, at least, until this winter.
My son’s senior football team, the Jacob Hespeler Hawks, had their best season ever this year, winning the WCSSAA championship, after losing that game the two years previous. They came within’ a game of the all Ontario Championship (CWOSSA final).
The team is coached by teachers Greg White and Mark Hatt. Mr. Hatt is also one of my son’s teachers and a good one. In chats with him through the years, both formal and informal, he is obviously one of the good ones. And now, he’s sick.
Mr. Hatt had a bad cough in February - well, who doesn’t. After a couple of days off work, he went to the doctor to have it checked. Precautionary stuff, maybe get a script, that sort of thing. By the end of the day he had a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer which had metastasized to the lining of the heart. It was not good.
The school rallied around. A “Hatter Strong” campaign was organized and one of the students had the idea to make supportive t-shirts and sell them to raise some needed cash for treatments &tc. The shirts were to be black and yellow in the colour of Hatt’s favourite team, the Boston Bruins (he is a known Bruins fanatic). They created a logo based on the Bruins with a stylized “H” where the Bruins “B” would normally be. T-shirts sold out in a day. Then someone contacted a friend who knew a guy within’ the Boston Bruins organization. The Bruins responded.
Last month Mr. Hatt and his family were guests of the Bruins at a Maple Leaf game vs. Boston at the Air Canada Centre. He has had regular phone contact with their captain, Zdeno Chara, whom I have previously rather not liked, and has also had regular phone calls from Bobby Orr, his childhood idol. Paul Henderson, who has been fighting his own cancer battle, has been in daily contact.
So this year, and maybe future years, will be easy. The Boston Bruins and their big, hard hitting captain, reached out to a good, very sick man. If it was Leafs vs. Bruins this year, as last, I might just cheer for the Bruins. Boston and Detroit start their first round play-off series tonight, and I’m all in for Boston.
As for Mr. Hatt, his cancer had a “ALK mutation.” There is a 2%-5% chance the cancer will have this mutation, and it is very good news. Chemotherapy can now be given orally (which is much milder) and his prognosis improves considerably. Along with his wife and two young sons, Mr. Hatt, Hatter as absolutely everybody calls him, they were thrilled by the news, calling it “a gift from God.”