The Leafs and the World Cup


The Stanley Cup playoffs are almost over. In fact, the Los Angeles Kings may be hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads by the time you read this article. With hockey basically done for a couple of months, we need a distraction. What better than a month long soccer tournament? Of course,  I’m talking about the World Cup. Its a magical time where people cheer for a sport they may or may not watch in the name of national pride, and drivers everywhere don’t know if they’re being honked at or with.
Anyway, James van Riemsdyk tweeted in support of the Netherlands National Team today. Van Riemsdyk,  of course, is a very Dutch surname,  though it conflicts with the fact the United States are in this tournament. Not surprising though; I’m Italian in background, and I’d probably be double cheering if Canada qualified. But what about the rest of the Leafs?

Using the standard roster on the official Leafs website, I did some research into the background of every player’s surname, and tried to get a vibe for their team of choice. For example, JVR isn’t the only Dutch-American; Phil Kessel joins him.
Some players are perpetually SOL in this regard. Tyler Bozak (Ukraine), Joffrey Lupul (Romania), Nazem Kadri (Lebanon), Jay McClement (Scotland), and Morgan Rielly (Ireland) are Canadians who are stuck with hopeless backup teams. Carl Gunnarsson is out of the running this time, but Sweden is a decently competitive team (when the Zlatan wants them to).
The easiest bandwagon for the “Good Canadian Boys” out there is England. Troy Bodie, David Bolland, David Clarkson,  Colton Orr, and Mason Raymond, all get to cheer for 58 years of Close Enough. Paul Ranger can identify as English or French, as can American Jake Gardiner.
Undoubtedly French? Jonathan Bernier can possibly brag about 1998. Sharing the crease, James Reimer is of German heritage, which he shares with Cody Franson.
Last, but not least, we have Nikolai Kulemin. The potential soon to be UFA is the only player with a name background and place of birth to match a qualifying team. He is the safest bet, probably cheering on Russia.

In any event, they’re all wrong. Italy is the best choice possible. Maybe the Leafs should focus on Maple, instead of Mimico. It even has a relevant name.