I read Maclean's magazine's very convincing piece on why the Leafs suck. I, too, blame it on the fans.
But while visiting Laurier House the other night, I hazarded to consult Mackenzie King's crystal ball (yes, tourists, it's in the third-floor study for public display. Laurier House is on Laurier Street about four blocks east of the University of Ottawa). The ball showed me interesting things: two previously unidentified sports curses.
The first, The Curse of Stafford Smythe, was placed on the Leafs by Smythe as he lay dying of a bleeding ulcer in 1971. Smythe was up on charges of income tax evasion and looting Maple Leaf Gardens. He was only 50 years old. The ball says Smythe, whose visceral hatred of the Leafs showed itself in 1968, when he fired Punch Imlach (Imlach laid a powerful pre-curse at that time) put a hex on the Leafs, the terms of which were that the Leafs would not win a Stanley Cup while Harold Ballard was alive. The curse would have been lifted at Ballard's death in 1990, but, instead, was supercharged by Yolanda Ballard, who hexed a Lanny MacDonald action figure and surreptitiously buried it near the creek at the back of Ballard's Thunder Bay Beach cottage. Yolanda, who had been Harold's sin-eater and punching bag, was cheated by Ballard's will. The curse will expire when a statue of Yolanda is erected in plain sight in Maple Leaf Gardens.
The Ottawa Senators, according to the crystal ball (and remember, this ball won six federal elections), were cursed by the ghost of One-Eyed Frank McGee. McGee, a member of the Ottawa Silver Seven, scored 14 goals in a Stanley Cup final, a record that is unlikely to be broken anytime soon. The game was held Feb. 7, 1905, at the old arena near the corner of Bank and Gladstone streets in what is now a seedy part of downtown Ottawa but was, back then, on the outskirts of town.
One-Eyed Frank somehow got into the army during World War I and was killed at the Battle of the Somme. Frank McGee apparently cursed any Ottawa hockey team that falsely claimed a link to, or ownership of, the Stanley Cup championships of the Ottawa Silver Seven and the original Ottawa Senators. That hex was automatically attached to the Palladium/Corel Centre/Scotiabank Place/Ugly Arena in the Car Lots.
The only way to lift the curse is to remove the offending pennants.
I'm just telling you what the ball told me.
Pass it on.