Imagine Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as the final taxis are evacuating the area, pulling away from that empty shoreline complex surrounding the Air Canada Centre. They’re wearing their Leafs jerseys. They’re huddled around a two-seat table at Tim Horton’s.
The Leafs have just lost their last game of the season. Game 82, because God knows they aren’t in the playoffs. It’s been eight years. Eight years without a postseason. 45 without a Stanley Cup.
Bogie pulls off his toggle toque and says, “We’ll always have a billion dollars.”
That has always been the mindset in Toronto’s (assumed) long hallways and maple desks with blue face paint blotted on them from fingerprints, and it hasn’t changed today. Forbes’s newest poll shows that the Leafs are valued at just over $1 billion, making them the first-ever hockey team to hit that mark.
You can be sure the KHL will now lie and say they have a team worth $1.1 billion but, for Wednesday, Toronto remains on top of the world in at least one way.
And, it’s all that’s ever mattered to them, isn’t it?
Remember that Forbes shoot where Richard Peddie stood like a tough guy with his arms crossed? The Leafs had just blown their season for the third straight year. And, there Peddie was, proud of it all.
The Leafs have always been worth a lot. They just haven’t been valuable.
Now, they’ve become the NHL’s first-ever billion-dollar team. They’ve been where nobody’s been before. All the way to the bank and back.
There is an accomplishment here. It’s just hard to see.
Well, it’s easy to see now because there’s a lockout. Toronto doesn’t have to worry about their inevitable fall from a strong to September into the limpest December you’d imagine. When winter hits, they shrivel up like the appendages we’re not all sure they have. They haven’t played like it since 2004.
Hopefully, the NHL lockout continues. That way, this might just stay a positive year for the Blue and White.
Of course, if today’s news proves anything, it’s that the owners don’t need any more money.