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Sports This Week: Be a Leafs fan every day of year

Of course you need to look deep – very deep into your 60s – to have a personal recollection of the Leafs last cup win in 1967
Leafs 365: Daily Stories from the Ice by Mike Commito is a new book from Dundurn Press.

YORKTON - Being a Toronto Maple Leaf fan is not exactly easy.

The NHL team is of course a wonderful contradiction.

On one hand the team has won more Stanley Cups than all but the Montreal Canadiens – which in a league with now 32 teams – is rather impressive.

Of course on the other hand you need to look deep – very deep into your 60s – to have a personal recollection of the Leafs last cup win in 1967. No other team has been without a cup win longer, although the woeful Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks have existed for more than a half century without a league crown.

All that said, there are still lots of TO fans out there – even if many wear their jerseys only in the privacy of their own homes on game nights.

If you have a Leaf fan on your holiday gift list, you will want to check out Leafs 365: Daily Stories from the Ice by Mike Commito and Dundurn Press.

This is one of those fun books, with a Leaf story for every day of the year in capsule form – 175 words. It is an ideal quick read over morning coffee, a break at the office desk, or even secreted away in a room of porcelain fixtures for a read there.

As an example on a certain journalist’s birthday the headline is ‘Eddie Olczyk Completes Hat Trick in OT, 1988’.

“Following an 8–0 drubbing by the Detroit Red Wings on home ice in the first round of the playoffs, fans hurled jerseys, hats, and pretty much everything else they could get their hands on. Centre Eddie Olczyk later said the team was hurt by a display that, for him, seemed so out of place for Toronto. So when the Leafs looked to lick their wounds at Joe Louis Arena on April 12, 1988, Olczyk led the charge. . . Just 34 seconds into sudden death, Olczyk completed the hat trick, his first in the NHL, to stave off elimination and give the Leafs a chance to redeem themselves at home.”

And so the book goes, a snippet of history for the Leaf fan.

Commito said the book evolved out of his posting hockey history bits to social media and getting positive feedback.

The interest led to a couple of general hockey 365 books, and finally as a TO fan himself to the Leaf book just released.

Commito said he recognizes the book might fit perfectly as a ‘bathroom’ book, although he admitted “I’d prefer the coffee table.”

But he gets the idea of it being a quick read, which was by design.

“Each story is self-contained, so to speak,” he said, so readers don’t need to follow the calendar, just read what catches their eye on a given day.

Commito said putting together a book on just one team’s history was more challenging than earlier general hockey works, but at least the Leafs have a long history – even if recent Stanley Cup success is the stuff of jokes.

But, there were always player birthdays to fall back on which Commito said he could use as a bridge to telling a bit more about a player’s career.

At other times the 175-word barrier was tempting to ignore.

There were day stories, “as a Leaf fan I could have gone on for pages . . . So many tangents I could have gone on,” said Commito.

With the holidays ahead Commito said “hopefully it will be under a lot of trees and in a lot of stockings.”

And, Montreal fans can look forward to fall 2024 when Commito will be doing a ‘Habs 365’ release, keep an eye on