This Entire Salute Thing is Stupid, as in, the Opposite of Intelligent

Who doesn’t love a hockey controversy that has little to nothing to do with what’s going on while on the ice? Most people? Whatever, let’s make this into a big deal! The Leafs won a hockey game and then skated off the ice, which apparently is the worst thing ever. It’s been the talk of the city for the past day. It’s really stupid.

What Happened?

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost a bunch of hockey games by some bad scores. The fans started getting really angry about it. Then the Toronto Maple Leafs faced the Tampa Bay Lightning, at home. They won by a rather good scored. When the game ended, rather than skate to centre ice and raise their sticks, the team headed straight to the dressing room. 

Despite a much-needed turn of events on the ice, this was now the hot button issue.

What’s The Reason?

The reason given by the players, for the most part? It was a pre-determined change in routine. After all, hockey players are arguably the most superstitious of all pro athletes, so it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that they felt that even clipping out something like the post-game salute was just enough weight off their minds to give them an edge. Once the game was over they could have obviously done it anyway, but then hey, maybe you’re cursing the thing that gave you the edge, right?

Is That the Actual Reason?

To be honest, I hope not. One, because I’m not big on superstitions. We all have routines, but generally that’s for simplification reasons, or natural reflex. I still try to avoid stepping on lines when I walk, but that’s only because I thought it was cool when Patrick Roy did it, not because I think I’m going to explode if my foot makes contact with a different colour of paint. Hopefully a group of several dozen individuals didn’t come to the mutual agreement than not raising their sticks to the fans will help them avoid having their hockey winning powers sucked out of them.

Besides, the other reason for the “snub” would be a response to the response they’ve gotten from the fanbase. If that’s the case, it’s bad Public Relations, but can you blame them?

Does It Matter If It’s The Actual Reason?

The tone of the Leafs fan-base, not to mention the mainstream media, is arguably at the most volatile that it’s ever been. Fans have been throwing their merchandise on the ice, an attention-seeking method of protest that puts them out of something they’ll probably re-buy and disrespects the entire history of the franchise. They’ve booed the team out of the building a couple of times this year, despite not being horribly out of the picture. While there hasn’t been the hot start of last season, the team looks a bit better than last year’s on the average.

The leadership of the roster has been questioned repeatedly. There are concerns about whether the team is trying or even cares about winning hockey games. We’re back to hearing that management doesn’t want to spend money on success.

The collective eyes have always looked for a excuse for the team’s failure that avoids the simpler, blunter, yet somehow less harsh reality. Questioning character and devotion, attaching “curses”, and lying to themselves about MLSE’s commitment is more comforting to them than accepting that the Leafs are, as the sum of their talent and their systematic execution of that talent, a bubble team, and that these demands to find the character and supernatural reasons for failure keeps the team tend to lead to moves that prevent growth.

If the Toronto Maple Leafs are a religion, a lot of people still believe the world is a flat, 6000 year old planet. We’re starting to veer off topic a bit, but the main point is that if the players have every right to be annoyed with the feelings they’re getting back from the city, and if they wanted a night where the game could be just for them, I’m okay with that.

It’s a Stupid Routine Anyway

Joffrey Lupul mentioned yesterday that he felt the salute was kind of fake and forced anyway. As you can see in the header picture, he doesn’t seem particularly enthusiastic; this coming from a player who is beloved by the fanbase. I tend to agree with him here.

A lot of people fail to remember that the “saluting after every game” tradition is a very new one in the National Hockey League. It’s actually only nine years old! 

The New York Rangers were the first team to do it, and it was a public relations move from a team that was in a similar situation to the current Leafs. Despite spending about eighty bajillion dollars on players (remember the year they had Lindros, Messier, Holik, Bure, Leetch, Kovalev, Nedved, and Kasparitis?), the team had missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons. Ticket prices were the highest in any US market. Fans were getting fed up, and a season lost to a lockout didn’t help things.

So in 2005/06, the Rangers got into the habit of lifting their sticks to the crowd after every game. Suddenly, Rangers fans were happy again. Great move, right? I guess so, but I have to imagine the fact that the team went 44-26-12, lead by a 123 point scoring Jaromir Jagr and a wonderkid in net named Henrik Lundqvist was probably a bigger contributing factor to that.

That said, all the other teams thought it was neat, and now all the pro hockey teams do it. To me, it feels like a waste of everybody’s time – it’s an empty gesture if it’s something that you’re required to do. It’s cool at the end of the season, or if the team had a particularly awesome game and the fans were really into it. But it feels like the encore at the end of a concert – the special feeling has been sucked out of it. 

I’d be okay with the Leafs ditching it entirely. Or replacing it with Leo Komarov doing this every game:



  • CMpuck

    Just seems if the leafs are not losing, they are still horrible players. That is what the media is trying to make it seem like. I agree with you and steve said it best in his last video. Who cares.

  • CMpuck

    Just seems if the leafs are not losing, they are still horrible players. That is what the media is trying to make it seem like. I agree with you and steve said it best in his last video. Who cares.

  • FlareKnight

    Yeah, I don’t think a salute matters much at all.

    Though it is interesting in the sense of the Leafs picking a fight with their fanbase. Those people have waffles, I’m not sure it’s a good move to further antagonize the situation.

  • FlareKnight

    The fans and media handling of the whole salute issue reminds me of the stupidity of the few fans that pester players online and force the players to “block” them on twitter. Human nature at it worst.

    The reason we have Bozak as a centre is that no other player willing to sign in Toronto if fans treat him like that.

  • CMpuck

    You know when you go to a cashier and their too socially inept to greet you with a hello, that’s what this Maple Leaf roster kind of feels like. Is it a big deal? Nope. Does it reflect poorly on them? Yep.

  • jimithy

    I always thought the salute was a cheesy thing to do after a win but figured that peoples kids are probably the ones that enjoy it the most along with the 3 stars of the night. Having said that, it’s not a big deal at all that they decided to end it, but it’s the timing that’s awful. Whatever mastermind came up with that in the dressing room is a real bonehead. I mean, if that group in the locker room really thinks that their defense is going to magically improve by changing something so stupid as a fan salute ritual then holy crap is this team in trouble.

    Which leads us to what probably is the real reason behind the snub, (the jersey throwing and excessive booing) OK fair, but how many fans do the leafs have? and how many have thrown a jersey onto the ice? 6 – 8? definitely less then 10 and somehow the rest of the fans are awful? Fans have every right to boo a crappy team, the leafs don’t lose close games, they lose games by large margins and that’s a problem. This team just quits and that’s the real issue with the zero support they appear to get. Who feels safe watching them with any third period lead now after that Boston game? Myself, I’m never comfortable watching this team with ANY lead in any period. I love the Leafs but I’m tired of defending this sad group.

    Unfortunately, this whole stick thing is a silly distraction to something not clicking among this group of players. You should really be questioning Sportsnet who I believe broke out this “news” piece early in the morning yesterday. I mean, who was truly upset by this? Steve Simmons? did these guys personally interview every fan after the game? I didn’t even notice the stick thing until the next day on twitter. So good on the Toronto media for making the Leafs fan base sound more pathetic then we already are. I often wonder how does this team still has SOOOOO many fans left with their track record in the last 10 years. Baffling.

  • Dawgfan1980

    Can I please just follow a team that doesn’t have an adversarial relationship with the media in its town? Actually, let me rephrase that:

    Can I please just follow a team that doesn’t have a media base that crucifies players at the behest of the organization and does nothing to protect the players? Between Toronto and Tottenham, I swear the media does its best to drive a wedge between the players and fan base, just to drive circulation, especially in the face of degraded circulation.

    This is so far beyond a non-story.

  • jasken

    If the gesture is forced and they really dont want to should they? No I dont by the change routine crap because everything they said says otherwise. I applaud them finally they done something that says shove it to the media and the Leafs fans base that carry on like a bunch of idiots.

    I got say I am embarrassed and ashamed for the first time in my life to be associated with these types of fans even in mentioning.

  • BubbaLou

    You know what stories like this do? They help you weed out which of your fan friends and media personalities are too “fanatical” for their own good.

    You have people like Kypreos, MacLean, O’neil, Simmons, Healy and others collectively losing their minds, grown (but bitter) old men they are.

    On the other hand, you have people like McKenzie, Friedman, Masters, Mirtle, Ferarro, and others wondering what the hell we’re talking about and how this in any way relates to their job – analyzing hockey – and being stubbornly drowned out by insane people.

    To the bitter old men who can’t handle people not-waving at them: Christ, I don’t even care when the Queen of England waves. I’d tell you to grow up, but everybody’s told you this already. Let’s start with shut up and move from there – the sooner this town stops talking about this, the better.

    To sane people: Overblown reactions like this make me so ashamed to live in this crazy city. This is Quinn-CuJo-Olympicsgate. This is Kessel doesn’t talk to us(and if you’ve heard some of the scrum questions to the players recently, you know why)-gate. This is Dion Phaneuf-wears-a-Red Bull-hat-gate. This is the state of sports reporting when the Leafs win a game playing very average, and there’s nothing to write about.

  • Dawgfan1980

    I’m glad that the Leafs players decided to stick it to their ‘fans’. The suits suck – ACC is a morgue and the platinums don’t care for the team or the sport or the city. Hopefully, this wakes some of the fan base up and they start watching the games a little bit and let out a cheer every now and ten. Kessel and Phaneuf are showing leadership with this in my opinion. Maybe, they’ll start playing better now that they’ve made the statement about the fans. This could be a good thing all around.

  • Dawgfan1980

    Hopefully Santa can bring Jeffler a proofreader. Simple oversights like this detract from the message and limit the post’s effectiveness. Doesn’t take much to correct and is worth the extra effort.

    “They won by a rather good scored.”

    “for simplification reasons”

    “While there hasn’t been the hot start”

  • Jeremy Ian

    I agree it’s a dumb issue. But for a team with PR issues (not to mention on-ice ones) giving a freebie to the shallows is a dumb move. Here’s where I think the leadership needs to have more control over even the banalities.

    If you are going to get rid of the silly gesture, just get rid of it. Don’t yo-yo around.

  • Jeremy Ian

    The salute is a stupid gesture and should be discontinued as should the fly by the bench after a goal.

    That said the flap about salute gate isn’t about the actual stopping of the salute its about the players being dumb enough to do it now. Did no one actually think thru the action and the inevitable result? Why give the media and fans more low lying fruit? Who is the adult in the room that stops and thinks maybe this isn’t a good idea right now? Why dig yourself a deeper hole than the one you are already in? What happens now if tonight the Wings score a couple of early ones? Do the players think they have made it easier on themselves? We should be talking about the great effort and the win on Thursday but instead we are talking about a self inflicted wound.

    And please can we stop blaming the media for every little woe and thing that happens the Maple Leafs. This wouldn’t be a story if the Leafs hadn’t done it. The players decided to do this, not the media. After the start the team has had this year, following three straight collapses and two historically bad losses the timing of this move was bound to be scrutinized. For the players to not realize this begs the question, who the hell is running the asylum?

  • BubbaLou

    The reason for the great popularity of alternative sports media like this is in large part due to the main stream media.

    Guys like Simmons, Cox, Feschuk write drivel, tweet drivel, and somehow still get hired to go on TV and radio and speak drivel. Just listening to the inane questions they ask at a presser, I feel embarrassed FOR them.

    Old biz models die hard but they are fortunately on their way out. I want to read informed and even handed commentary with no agenda to be `controversial`(read idiotic) so I come here for information and entertainment about all things Leaf.