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OP/ED What does The Centennial Classic mean to Leaf fans?

STORY BY BROOKLYN FELL
PHOTO COURTESY OF SPORTSNET MAGAZINE

Rewind to 1917.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge began, Billy Bishop went beyond enemy lines which awarded him the Victoria Cross, and Walt Disney graduated high school.

All of which are all pretty significant moments in history.

On top of that all, in 1917 was the first official NHL season.

Who would have thought that the four teams who played on Dec. 19, 1917 would turn into the 30, soon to be 31 teams of today.

100 years is a long time for one human being and in comparison to other professional sports leagues like the NBA and NFL it’s equally as old.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have faced a Stanley Cup drought since 1967, 18 143 days to be exact. But who’s counting?

As an lifelong Leaf fan I can tell you exactly what this game meant to me. Sporting my brand new Centennial Classic jersey I received for Christmas I sat on my couch ready to watch a once in a lifetime game.

I see players like Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Reilly and I see hope. Hope I’ve never really experienced in my lifetime as a Leafs fan. I wasn’t even alive when Nikolai Borschevsky scored the OT game winner to defeat the Red Wings in 7.

The closest I’ve gotten to Leafs greatness was at Maple Leaf Square watching the infamous 2013 playoff loss to Boston. All I’ve ever known is heartbreak to be frank.

So when I saw thousands gather at BMO field to honour great players like Johnny Bower and Dave Keon to name a couple, it contrasts so well to the future of the Leafs.

I can see the greatness of the past, and how it provides hope for the future.

Whether it was the athleticism of Frederik Anderson, or the crowd belting out Livin’ on a Prayer, you had to admit that the air was electric.