I've never been one to actively root against any NHL player...
Ok that's not quite true, I do root against some of them. In fact if your last name is Tootoo or Avery, I believe I've called you out by your full names many times. (Just to be sure for future reference, both of their first names are "F#*! You" right?) But as far as wishing ill will upon them? Of course not. I would never hope for any person let alone any NHLer be severely hurt or distressed in any way.
But I may have to change that attitude soon for the sake of my own sanity. Not because I have an unquenchable blood lust to see something like a torn MCL should it happen, but because my pride as a Stars fan may not be able to handle the idea that Jonas Gustavsson coulda, shoulda, woulda been minding the Dallas net instead of doing what he is now which happens to be becoming the next Turk Broda of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I don't want to wish ill will on the kid but I may not have a choice if current preseason trends carry over into the regular season...
It'll be one thing if kid dubbed 'The Monster' has a Calder worthy type season for the Leafs. That'll be tough for me to deal with but if it was just that, then I am sure I could deal and be happy for the kid and maybe even happy for Leafs fans. (Maybe.. but probably not.)
But it's not just that is it? It's that the Leafs got Gustavsson and the Stars got Fabian Brunnstrom. Ya know Fabian right, the guy who we just pointed out has "a long way to go" ... Remember all the hoopla and pomp around that kid in 2008 and how the Stars fought off the challenges of three other teams to land the kid? If this trend of a great season by Gustavsson and a very average (or dare we suggest a below average?) season by Fabian continues through, I'm sure I won't be the only one openly asking if the Stars snagged the wrong Swedish hockey playing YouTube sensation.
So Fabian is not turning out so well and Jonas is setting the world on fire... These things happen with scouting all the time right? I could live with that if it was just that.
But it's not just that either is it?
It's Leaf fans... Especially for us Canadian Stars fans (to which I am one of course).
You have to understand the last great Maple Leaf superstar for them to fawn and preen over was Doug Gilmour and his greatest moment as a Leaf was being high sticked by Wayne Gretzky in a playoff game. I guess what I am trying to say here is they haven't really had much to brag about, but this kid Gustavsson may change that and heaven help us if it does! It'll be damn near intolerable! Toronto is already the so-called center of the hockey universe - and that's with a team that hasn't seen a Stanley Cup in it's hands since Lyndon Johnson was in office. If you think Red Sox fans are bad in their obsession of David Ortiz or Yankee fans with Derek Jeter, you haven't seen anything until you've seen Leaf nation proudly boast about a player that is under the age of 55 and has less wrinkles on his face than on his sweater.
The constant media coverage... The onslaught of nightly Monster highlights on every network that features hockey coverage (meaning ESPN viewers will be spared)... The soon to follow Gatorade commercial with him morphing into a cartoon monster that devours half of Montreal while Don Cherry rides his back shouting "I love this Swede!" ... You start to understand that we'd have to put up with all of it if he does even remotely well this season. As it is, they practically want to throw a parade for him now because his name isn't Vesa Toskala.
But if it was just that.. we Stars fans could deal right? Toronto is a major hockey market, so of course we're going to get all Jonas all the time if the kid plays well for the Leafs. Besides, let the Leafs fans have their fun. After all, it probably kills their soul a little bit each time they realize that since that last Leaf Stanley Cup, the North Stars joined the NHL and took part in four more Stanley Cup finals than the Leafs have.
But no.. It's not just that is it?
What happens if Turco struggles again like he did last season?
I know it's preseason and really I've tried to keep reminding myself that it doesn't mean anything yet... But this past weekend may have been a scary-as-hell preview of what Stars fans may get to look forward to this season. There is Jonas in Detroit putting on a goaltending clinic in his debut helping his Leafs pick up a win on Friday... in Detroit! Then he does it to Detroit again in Toronto the next night. Meanwhile there is our Marty Turco at home on that same Saturday night giving up five goals in a single game to the St. Louis Blues.
*gulp* I can't take a full season of that.
I tell you in all honestly, I could handle ALL of the rest - the Calder worthiness and the mass media and fan fueled hysteria and the comparison to our own prospect Swede that may or may not turn out as well - but I don't think I can put up with all that AND deal with another sub-par season from Marty Turco and or Alex Auld who happened to to be the goalie we ended up settling on instead of Jonas. In fact I know I can't. Last season was bad enough and I doubt I can handle that kind of disappointment again let alone having to also see nightly the great goalie that got away from us help lift another - and lets be truthful here, far less deserving - franchise into the playoffs.
Hopefully Marty does have that rebound season that we are all hoping for and makes us forget that Gustavsson was ever a possible Dallas Star. Because if he doesn't, I fear I am going to have to look up the number of a good witch doctor and start thinking thoughts that I don't even use on Mr. F.U. Avery.