Welcome to the Molson Canadian Rivalry Train, a rolling caravan of Leafs fans steaming toward the capital and tonight’s date with the Ottawa Senators.
The fans come in all denominations, with women well-represented and equally well-behaved.
A 6:45 departure has limited the tomfoolery but Maple Leafs announcer Joe Bowen, on board for his sixteenth year, assures me that the good behaviour has a best-before date of precisely 11 a.m.
The people on this train won a draw in their local tavern then answered a math question to cinch their seat.
They are nice people, most united in their love of the Maple Leafs. It’s a bit like a rolling church, right down to the theological debates.
Later on, I am told, there will be meditation sessions and hot rocks placed on our eyes. The federal government, ever vigilant of overspending has given us the train without sauna and whirlpool but the rugged individualists say nothing. Leaf fans are nothing if not stoic.
Take Tracey Rock, Rob Fleming, Devon Crowell and Travis White. The four share block of seats in front of the train and each has a story that led them to the train.
Tracy is the product of a mixed marriage: her mother was a Montreal fan. Her dad loved the Leafs. Tracey sided with dad and another name went on the rolls of Leafs fans.
Her consort Rob Fleming is an ambient Leafs fan. Living in North York, it was just what you did, as natural as voting for Mel Lastman.
“I grew up in Nova Scotia,” said Devon , now of Richmond Hill. The province, he said, is divided among Montreal and Toronto fans. The sad truth is he began following the Leafs “because I wanted to support the underdog.”
That left Travis, , a 32-year-old student who lives in Toronto. Travis likes the Oilers. “When I was a kid I decided I liked the blue team. T he Oilers were on television wearing blue.”
As Boxcar Willie often said, see you at the next junction.