Kovacevic: Move over, Toronto: It’s our game
Imagine when the NHL finally, formally returns to Pittsburgh on this fittingly wintry Wednesday night, with the Penguins playing host to the Maple Leafs amid the game‘s two brightest stars, 18,387 of its most dedicated fans and about a half-million more near local TV sets.
If you ask me, it‘ll look like hockey‘s coming home.
Not just our home.
The sport‘s new home.
See, with all due respect to our Ontarian visitors in town, I dare say it‘s now plenty safe to posit that this golden little triangle, this most fortunate magnet to four of the greatest talents in NHL history … this is hockey‘s new Mecca.
Well, that‘s the consensus choice across Canada, but let‘s be real: It‘s based on black-and-white footage. The Leafs haven‘t won the Cup since 1967, the sport‘s longest such streak, or even reached a final. Just one division title in all that time, too. No playoffs since 2004.
Personal favorite: No scoring champion since Gordie Drillon in 1938.
Yes, that Gordie Drillon.
Look, don‘t misunderstand. The Toronto metro area is three times our size, and its passion for pucks is unrivaled. The Maple Leafs are the NHL‘s most lucrative franchise and, fact is, the league could put a second franchise there and it would be the second-most lucrative.
But sorry, no road to Mecca can have four decades of failure and Phil Kessel at the other end.