Maple Leaf parade planners – realists or wishful thinkers?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have cultivated a loyal following that repeatedly plans a Stanley Cup parade far too early each spring. But the fans believe this year will be different.

Shannon Jones

man with beard and glasses wearing a Toronto maple leaf's jersey holds a baby around four months old also wearing the same jersey.
Jason Duggan has been a huge fan of the Maple Leaf’s since he was a child, but he has never witnessed them win a Stanley Cup. He believes that this year will be different because of the changes made to the team. Shannon Jones/Kicker

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a strange track record.

The team has not won a Stanley Cup in over half a century. But, out of every team in the National Hockey league, they arguably have the most optimistic fans.

The Leafs have been in the NHL since the beginning in 1917, originally under the name Toronto Arenas. They have won 13 Stanley Cups, but 1967 would see the end of their Stanley Cup victories.

The team has been in the playoffs close to 35 times since its last finals win, most times making it only to the quarterfinals before being knocked out.

Even after all their failures to win another Stanley Cup, the Leafs have generated a cult-like following. It has loyal fans who have such an incredible amount of faith in the team that they start planning the Stanley Cup parades in advance as soon as anything good happens to the team.

In the past week, the Leafs have made several trades that brought in great players such as forward Ryan O’Reilly and defenceman Jake McCabe. These trades have caused fans to go into a frenzy; their hopes are up for yet another season.

“New trades always make the fans go nuts,” said Jason Duggan, who’s been a Maple Leafs fan since he was a child.

“Recruiting new players, especially good ones like O’Reilly, does cause us to get a bit delusional. We assume we’re going to win as soon as something slightly good happens. The parade planners really come out.”

What are parade planners?

Parade planner is a term, used seriously and as a joke, for fans who start to plan the Stanley Cup victory parade way before the season is even close to being over. Most of the time the parade planners end up being the butt of the joke because the parade does not pan out due to the team playing below expectations.

Many fans celebrate the victory of the team before the playoffs even start.

Jason and his wife Jill Duggan are passionate fans, going as far as to dress their first-born in Maple Leafs gear at just four months.

little baby laying on a blanket in an all-knitted Toronto hockey gear including hat, jersey, shorts, socks, and knitted skates. next to him is a sign that reads "matthew duggan, 4 months old. 10LB 8 OZ"
Jason and Jill Duggan’s son Matthew wears the Maple Leafs full getup. The married couple hopes he grows up to be a Leafs fan just like them. Shannon Jones/Kicker

They jumped on the bandwagon of parade planning, both understanding how foolish the trend was, but it brought them joy.

“Parade planning can be silly; we jump to conclusions every season and plan our victory in advance,” Jill said. “Ultimately, it backfires every time, but we enter the next season with a maybe-this-season attitude.”

The passion that Maple Leaf fans have for their team is immense. The way they defend and stand up for the team across the internet shows their loyalty. Even after constant season losses since 1967, the fans are still there for their team. With the premature celebration planners, it is endearing to see a group of people stick around for a team of underdogs.

The Maple Leafs are labeled the underdogs in the NHL by many sports media such as SportsNet, but their fans are convinced that this is the year they break out of that role. The parade planners are more than positive that this is the year the Toronto Maple Leafs will persevere and win the Stanley Cup.

“We [the fans] have hope in our team, our boys, that they will bring the cup home,” Jason said. “The parade is planned, and this is the year that it goes ahead, I can feel it.”

Shannon Jones is a student journalist at CNA who has a passion for writing and playing unusual sports.

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