One of the best ways to get into an argument is to announce that you're sick of a team and its players/management/owner/whoever/whatever and are abandoning the team. I did so myself a few weeks ago when I renounced my fanhood of the Toronto Maple Leafs. My reasons, expressed in more detail below, had to do with the lack of effort on the part of Leafs management to improve. That is, with the financial resources that Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, Ltd. (MLSE) has, the team should be much better. It should be able to attract top-shelf players and top-shelf management. They should be hiring the Crown Royal of general managers right now (and they should have done that before they hired the disaster that was John Ferguson, Jr.) instead of settling for second-hand Canadian Club (personified by Cliff Fletcher). But I'm digressing. The point is that some people think that criticizing your team or advocating staying away is being a disloyal, not die-hard, fan. I strongly disagree.
Fair-weather fanhood is bad. Any Yankees fan knows this because they deal with it on a regular basis. I'm sure Lakers fans are experiencing many aggrivating conversations with fair-weather fans at this moment. In general, I think you should stick with your team. I'm positive that the vast majority of people here will agree with me. With that said, divorcing yourself from a team is not being a fair-weather fan. Some say that I shouldn't blame the suits. I disagree: the suits make the decisions and put together a team that doesn't play well together. The suits control the money and decide who gets paid and who doesn't. The players themselves are also to blame because they can't make it work. Their job is simple: play hockey with their teammates. Clearly, the Leafs are failing on levels. And this is not a short-term failure. It is an epic, decades-long failure. There is a pattern here: Leafs owners use the team to make money, not win championships. And the point of being a fan, and suffering through the bad times, is to thoroughly enjoy the good times. Most teams have these ups and downs; the Leafs just have middles and downs. For a team that considers itself hockey royalty, it certainly acts more like hockey's court jester (when Nashville isn't playing that role, that is).
The problem with MLSE is that they know they don't have to actually try to win but just give the appearance of trying to win. Hence the stupid and short-sighted Blake and Kubina contracts. There are also the numerous stupid trades that give the team a veneer of decency (i.e. the Raycroft deal) while actually hurting the team in the long run. The best example of a team winning today and planning for the long run in hockey is the Detroit Red Wings. But MLSE doesn't follow the Red Wings model; it instead chooses mediocrity. I would not describe any trade or personnel decision the Leafs have made in the last 10 years as boldly challenging for the Stanley Cup. In fact, the last move I can think of that fits that criteria is the Doug Gilmour trade in 1993. Cliff Fletcher deserves full credit for swindling the Flames in that deal. Unfortunately, it was the last move of its kind.
Fans have a right to demand the team be run properly. They have a right to demand that the Leafs invest in first-class scouts. Perhaps hiring better talent evaluators would prevent them from wasting so many draft picks. But that would be smart. And MLSE has proven the only thing they're good at is making money. I'm fully aware that MLSE is a diversified company. But what is the crown jewel in this empire? The Maple Leafs. And if I'm trying to make money I want my biggest, most recognizable, most important asset performing at the highest level. This goes for General Electric or AEG as much as it does for MLSE. The fact is that MLSE knows it can sell out every single Leafs game without having the Leafs be anything above average. The fact that MLSE spends the max every year shows how stupid they are. The fact that they don't (a) hire a top-shelf GM and scouting department and (b) make any effort to fix their stupid mistakes only reinforces my theory of idiocy at the top. (And suggestions that Doug Gilmour or Mark Messier would instantly fix everything are beyond silly, IMO.) Leafs fans, the true fans - the ones in the Coke Zone or the Sprite Zone or whatever it's called now - deserve better. And they should demand better. But they don't. And This makes them sheep, not die hards. (I grew up in the GTA so save the comments that I don't know what it's like in Toronto or Canada, please.)
I guess, even after renouncing them, I'll never fully get the Leafs out of my life as long as I watch hockey. I suppose I'll have to live with my new favorite team beating the tar out of them.