You know, for all the bitcching people do about how much press the Leafs get by TSN, The Score, Sportsnet and other national outlets, there should be some mention at just how popular the Leafs are.
How many teams will cause a sell out in San Jose? Fact is, the Leafs went to west-coast America and were greeted with "Go Leafs Go" chants. I know people hate the Leafs, but in all fairness it's easy to see that the Leafs are both the most loved and hated team in the NHL.
It's not all that surprising. The Leafs are hands down the most popular team in this country. If you're a transplanted Canadian living in California and the Leafs come down only once or twice a year, are you likely to make the trip down the road to see them? I wouldn't, but I imagine most would. They're like the Yankees on a smaller scale; regardless of their success they have fans everywhere. The Leafs are the hockey equivalent.
I don't think the bitching is because the Leafs get a lot of exposure. There's no doubt they're more popular than any other team up here. The problem is that a lot of the time they get treated as the only team in Canada. I'm a Flyers fan so I don't take it personally, but I can certainly sympathize with fans of teams like Ottawa or Vancouver, both of whom have a lot more going for them at this point than the Leafs do but neither of which get any notice.
I remember in 1994 when the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup Finals and lost to the Rangers. The front page of the Vancouver Sun (which I still have) read ... "At least we beat T.O.!"
My hatred of the Leafs has cooled because they haven't done anything productive in years. The only hatred I have or had is in reference to what BigVitoMark said. The fact that they still get like double the coverage of any of the other Canadian teams regardless of their lack of success or our success. At least Sportsnet's regional coverage tries to correct the imbalance set by the Toronto Sports Network.
The big problem for your Flames is not so much that they have to catch the Oil, but that they also have to leapfrog six other teams to do it. It seems pretty unlikely...Maybe its time to give the younger guys (Kobasew, Saprykin, Leopold etc.)