A Salute to Our American Players

William Wilson September 11, 2012 9

There’s no denying Uncle Sam’s strong presence on the present day Toronto Maple Leafs.

Several of the team’s biggest names (figuratively and literally) are American, including Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Tim ConnollyJohn-Michael LilesMike Komisarek and Jake Gardiner.

Management has a decisively American flavour as well. It’s led by Providence, Rhode Island’s loudest son, Brian Burke.

Mike Brown at workPhoto by Abelimages/Getty Images

Many people criticize the Leafs’ lack of local talent. This charge was most (in)famously raised by Don Cherry, but it’s shared by many others.

In this, I agree. I believe the Leafs need more Doug Gilmours, not Phil Kessels.

However, such criticism only tells half the story. It fails to say that sports in general are able to unite people of different origins, characteristics and perspectives unlike anything else.

I fully support this aspect of sports.

Sports unite people through the simple joy of engaging in one’s favourite activity or watching one’s favourite athlete/team. They also unite people around the common objective of winning. Fortunately, a basic level of respect among most participants keeps the winners and losers in connection.

The recent Olympics in London are a great example of this, but hockey is no exception.

Detroit and Vancouver are known for their connection to Sweden; Washington is known for its connection to Russia; and Carolina is known for its connection to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Add to this list the Maples Leafs, who have opened their bench doors to our North American cousins. I’m proud to say Chicago native Mike Brown is one of my favourite Leafs.

He shows the same level of determination that drove Doug Gilmour to success more-so than any other member of the current team, American or Canadian.

It’s with this connection in mind that many Leafs fans from above the 49th parallel and beyond would like to offer their support as Americans spend the day remembering the horrific events of 9/11.

Sports aren’t normally political, but this is a small sacrifice we can make for our North American brethren.

After all, they’re also members of Leafs Nation.

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