I once sat next to Randy Carlyle on a flight from Toronto to Winnipeg. This was back when he was defence man for the Jets. He was a friendly guy, a bulldog on the ice, but an intelligent player, too, and now that he's a coach, I'm prone to cheer for his team — even if it is the Disney Ducks of Anaheim.
On the other side of the rink is Detroit. It's difficult for me to muster much enthusiasm for any team that has established a Stanley Cup "legacy" within my living memory, but occasionally I make an exception for Detroit. Detroit exists as a loud red rebuke to Toronto's inability to produce a hockey team that matters.
Toronto — the city that once proclaimed itself "World Class." Feh. If you can't produce a sports team capable of world class results, you don't deserve the moniker. Yet here are the Leaves ... sorry: Leafs — with the NHL's most reliable fan base, generating far and away the league's largest income from ticket sales and merchandising, and they can't even make the play-offs.
Toronto is a "nice" city — unlike Detroit which has never held any "world class" pretensions. Half of Detroit looks like a war zone, the other half looks like it wants to pick up and move somewhere nice. Class, race, architecture ... in the arts and entertainment and on any level you'd care to name, Detroit is a city that fights with itself. I don't know how such a scrappy city can produce a hockey team that's been equal parts muscle and elegance. By rights, Detroit, not Philadelphia ("City of Brotherly Love" — ha!), should have been the natural home of the Broad Street Bullies. On this side of the border Toronto lovingly feathers a nest for its brood of pampered hockey duds while the rest of the league fights to stay alive.
Where was I? Oh yeah: not sure who to cheer for, 'cos I love 'em both. Local Leafs fans are backing Buffalo, a team I'll cheer for only when they're playing against Toronto. So I'm quietly hoping to see Ottawa square off against Anaheim ... and bring home the Stanley Cup.