Thursday, 4 October 2007

Leafs, Scotty & John

And so it begins, another lengthy Toronto Maple Leafs season, with blanket Toronto Sun coverage, all leading up to the inevitable letdown and hopes for "next year."

There have been 40 years of "next year" for Leafs fans since T.O. last claimed the Stanley Cup in 1967. The annual excuses and cliches have worn thin, while player pay cheques, along with ticket prices, have grown fatter.

Growing up glued to the radio for Foster "The Voice of Hockey" Hewitt play-by-plays, each and every Leafs game was exciting, a theatre of the mind with ice. Then along came Hockey Night in Canada's televised games in 1952. In the mid-1950s, thanks to the Toronto Star, carriers were occasionally treated to live games at Maple Leaf Gardens.

With Hewitt at the mic for edge-of-your-seat "he shoots, he scores" broadcasts on radio and TV, winning wasn't everything.

In those days, the Leafs won a Stanley Cup, or two, or three, or four, so we were forgiving when the boys didn't win it all now and again.

But 40 years is one long, frustrating dry spell.

Hewitt is long gone, as is his generation of celebrated Canadian hockey writers who added to the enjoyment of every game with insightful locker room banter and game analysis.

Canadian hockey writers with flare and original, cliche-free prose are a rare breed, but two influential Toronto Sun Family members fit that mold.

They are Scott Morrison and John Iaboni, both hired by the tabloid in the 1970s. John (1971-1984) and Scott (1979-2001) made the Sun a better newspaper and left their mark.

John, a multi-talented National Newspaper Award nominee, left the
Sun in 1984 to become director of media and public relations at the Canadian Football League. Since 1989, he has been involved in a variety of sports-related ventures, including Olympics coverage for CBC.

Quebecor lost Scott as sports editor in 2001 following a 22-year run at the Toronto Sun and it was a big loss for Sun readers and colleagues. He has since become a Hockey Hall of Famer and a CBC commentator.

But Scott has returned to the Sun after six years by way of Quebecor's purchase of Osprey Media and he will be writing two columns a week.

Two Scott Morrison columns a week are better than no Scott Morrison columns.

We're not sure how often Scott's columns will focus on the Leafs, but whatever ink he devotes to our long overdue team will make next spring's letdown easier to accept.

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