As many of you who follow me on twitter know, I have a huge soft spot for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It's confusing to some since the teams have such a huge rivalry on the ice, but honestly, it's not really hard to explain. The Flyers and Leafs are in fact, very similar. Let's have a look, shall we.
Both teams have a history of great goal tenders: Parent/Hextall in Philly, Belfour/CuJo/Potvin in Toronto. This was contrasted by terrible goaltending post lockout with some hot streak exceptions (Leighton/Boucher/Esche in Philly, Toskala/Raycroft in Toronto.)
Both teams have an insane drought since their last Cup win, 1975, 1967.
Both teams have demanding fans that throw things when displeased (waffles? batteries?)
Both teams hate the Habs and Bruins.
Both teams finally (hopefully) found their goaltender (Bryzgalov and Reimer)
Both teams are currently captained by big body D-men who are known for hard hits and big slapshots (Pronger and Phaneuf)
Both teams have to deal with a division rival who's won cups more recently than them (Boston/MTL for Toronto, Pittsburgh and NJ for Philly)
Both teams get to destroy a weak but once "great" team (NYI for PHL and OTT for TOR)
Both teams have an overpaid goon who occasionally scores. (Colton Orr and Jody Shelley)
Fans of both teams both hated a sniper for missing the net (Jeff Carter and Phil Kessel)
Both teams have very old school GMs who want physical teams (Homer and Burkie)
Both teams have NMC's driving them crazy (Muskoka 5 anyone?, what Pronger, Timonen and Briere will be in 2-3 years)
Both teams have exciting young defenseman (Gunnarson, Franson, Aulie in TOR, Carle, Gustafsson, Coburn in PHL)
Schenn and Kessel. Kessel and Schenn. Enough said.
Players with heart problems (Gustavsson in Toronto, Hartnell in Philadelphia)
GM's with close friends as coaches (John Stevens in PHL who got fired, Ron Wilson in TOR who almost got fired)
Each team picked up a hot goalie at the right time who gave their team a ton of hope moving forward (Michael Leighton in Dec 2009, James Reimer in Jan 2011)
Both teams traded multiple first round picks for an instant impact player (Pronger to PHL, Kessel to TOR)
Both teams employed a holey goalie (Leighton's 5-hole, Toskala's glove hand)
So, this is why, I always will be friends with fans of the Leafs. I know how they feel, because, Flyerdom, they are us.