There is good quiet, when the only sound you hear is the crackling of a dim campfire. Then, there is bad quiet, when the there is only the sound of bus wheels on the pavement after a game seven loss. The Marlies endured the latter this morning. The playoff run ended as will every other team save one, with a loss. This one coming not in a sweep, not in a over-matched toss of the coin but in a tight series where the year long battle for first place int he regular season showed it’s benefits. This bus slid down the road mostly silent, three hours to the Dallas airport to meet a three hour flight back to Toronto. The usual chatter on the bus is absent. The quiet isn’t uncomfortable, it is simply the moment.
This year there was talk of rebuilding, growth, youth, and not much of a post season chance much less and run. there would be lots of luck for that to happen but it wasn’t luck at all. This team was about showing up to to work when there was work to be done. When a loss came there was only talk of more work and the enthusiasm for it.
You don’t reside for any amount of time in Leafs Nation before you recognize that there are diehard fans around every corner. They all wear their passion in the brightest whites and blues. Several have developed the protectionist stance of negativity so that when things go wrong they can be right about something. This Marlie team had no room for that kind of thinking and in this small town of the Nation the fans stay on the plus side of the street. The culture of the Marlies doesn’t provide housing for pessimists.
“Negativity is a waste of energy.” declared Steve Spott, the Head Coach, after a particularly tough game two loss in the conference final. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel the loss. Just the opposite. You learn and earn from it. Then you move on. Letting yourself feel what it is like to lose a big game means you were invested fully. It also means you’re likely a better competitor. This group of Marlies felt that game seven mineshaft deep.
It might take some time this summer but maybe one night when it is quiet, there will be thoughts about this past season, these past teammates, this gritty, hard working, fun team. Instead of letting that fire go out, the Marlies will most likely stoke it to get ready for another year of incredible hockey.