TORONTO (Lighthouse Press) _ A marathon talking session by millions of Maple Leafs fans across Canada remains on-going, as supporters of the struggling club try to block the start of tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Passing the 27 hour mark around midnight Thursday, the fan filibuster has been a non-stop steam of analysis, complaints, think-pieces, reports, blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts and incoherent ramblings about every aspect of the Maple Leafs. Beginning shortly after the Leafs' 9-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the filibuster has slowed down considerably, but continues unabated.
The game against the Lightning is never in serious jeopardy, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
"No NHL game has ever been cancelled or halted because of constant talking," Daly said. "The game will pass no matter how long we have to wait.
"Eventually, everyone will just black out from exhaustion and we'll move on with our business."
Clad in comfortable clothes and standing often for hours at a time for no reason, the fans have read from notes, told personal stories, referenced statistics, recited poetry and quoted hockey wisdom just to keep the talkathon going and prevent the Leafs from playing what will most likely be another disappointing and befuddling loss. The Lightning are one of the NHL's highest scoring and most-talented teams.
"We as a country, cannot allow this game into the record," said fan Mitchell Z. Hartness during an 8-hour filibuster on the phone to his father, Rusty. "For the benefit of the generations to follow, the Leafs cannot and must not be allowed to play ever again until they are fixed."
Multiple times during the endurance test, weary fans that seem ready to peter out have read articles from Maple Leafs beat reporters that put the blame for the team's up-and-down season on everything from the players to the coaches to the crowds. This seems to immediately re-energize even the most tired talkers and begins a new wave of shouting.
"I saw one guy reading aloud from the Torah standing next to two other guys acting out all of Airplane!" said Maple Leafs fan Gord McMasterson during a quick beer break around 10 pm Wednesday night. "Then they all go right back to talking about the Leafs. They just won't stop."
Toronto is a middling 9-8-2 this season but has suffered back-to-back blowout losses. The Leafs trailed the Predators 8-0 in the third period before scoring a measly two goals and losing 9-2. Two nights earlier, Toronto lost 6-2 to Buffalo, the league's worst team. A playoff team only once since 2004 and without a Stanley Cup since 1967, fans have begun to seriously question the franchise's direction.
Although the chances of the filibuster succeeding appear to be remote, proponents of the tactic feel it will call attention to a grave problem in the NHL: excessive spending of time on all things Toronto.
"This is really about all hockey fans, not just Leafs fans," said Calgary Flames fan Linda Forrestville. "By seeing others talking about the Leafs continuously for days on end, even when they're not playing, people will eventually learn how to tune the noise out and concentrate on other teams."
This is not true but it feels like it is. Don't forget to follow your local rules when filibustering.