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Short Shifts

Married couple lets Maple Leafs-Bruins game decide newborn's fandom

With parents rooting for different teams, friendly wager on game goes viral

by Daniel O'Leary @DanOLeary25 / NHL.com Staff Writer

Paul Zarnett's faith in the Toronto Maple Leafs paid off in a big way.

Paul and his wife Leah, a big Boston Bruins fan, made a friendly wager. They attended the game between the two teams at Scotiabank Arena on Monday, with the winning parent earning the right to raise their newborn son, Jacob, as a fan of his/her team.

They made a sign that read: "The Bet: Tonight's winner dictates the team our newborn son will be brainwashed to cheer for as he grows up." After Paul shared the photo on social media, it went viral.

And Jacob, all of four months, may not know it yet, but he is going to love watching Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Co.

"It's certainly been a topic of discussion," Paul Zarnett told NHL.com about the light-hearted debate he and his wife have had over the subject through their five-year marriage. "I am thrilled now, but I was certainly biting my nails during the game (Monday)."

Instagram from @pzarnett: The stakes have never been higher @mapleleafs @nhlbruins @tsn_official @sportsnet @nesn @nhl @scotiabankarena #mapleleafs #bruins #thebet Open on Instagram

Paul is an avid hockey player and lifelong Maple Leafs fan, "bleeding blue," as he put it, since he was a young child. Leah fell in love with the Bruins, and all of Boston's sports teams, while attending numerous games with her sister, who lives in New Hampshire.

"I thought maybe I could change her, but that has been a colossal failure," Paul said of trying to convert Leah's loyalties to the Maple Leafs.

The couple made this wager once before, back when Leah was pregnant with their soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter, Avery. The Maple Leafs won that game too. After Jacob's birth and the subsequent Maple Leafs win on Monday, the Zarnett household is 3-1, Leafs fans.

"I'll cheer for the Leafs when they are not playing the Bruins," Leah said.

"But believe me after that (Eastern Conference First Round) playoff series (which the Bruins won in seven games), she rubbed it in," Paul said.

So as of now, the Maple Leafs gained two young fans in the past three years. Avery already tries to split the difference, her parents say.

"She'll wear a Maple Leafs shirt and Bruins hat," Leah laughed.

But as the Zarnett children grow, the right to pick their own sports allegiances will become apparent. Maybe they will switch to mom's team. Or perhaps even a different team all together?

"Let's hope that doesn't happen," Paul said.

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