Tim Hudak is the MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook, Leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and Leader of the Official Opposition in the Ontario Legislature.
Where were you born and raised?
Fort Erie, Ontario. Right across the river from Buffalo, New York.
Are you a hockey fan?
I am a hockey fan.
A Leafs fan?
Not really. I’m a Bruins fan.
Not a Buffalo Sabres fan?
When I was a kid, my family split season’s tickets with another family. We saw all kinds of Sabres games through the 1970s – glory days for the Sabres with the French Connection. My dad and friends were Sabres fans and I decided to rebel a little bit. The Boston Bruins were in the ‘Big Bad Bruins’ era: Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, Johnny Bucyk, Wayne Cashman. I was a Bruins fan and was thrilled that they won the Cup last year. No animosity to the Leafs. Not a big fan.
I’m probably one of the few politicians that says they are not cheering for an Ontario-based team. I will add that the Bruins have far more Ontario-based players on their roster than the Leafs.
What would it take to convert you to a Leafs fan? Brain damage?
You can’t swap your allegiance like that after 40-plus years.
I kind of see the Leafs like Justin Bieber. I respect their ability to make a lot of money, they have a lot of fans, but I’m not a big fan of what they put on stage.
When did the Leafs last win the Stanley Cup?
That’s an easy one for me: 1967, the year I was born.
How old will you be when they next win the Cup?
I’m a Buffalo Bills fan and I have an ongoing wager that the Bills will win the Super Bowl before the Leafs win the Cup.
Leafs GM Brian Burke has famously said he is building a team that is big and mean and “truculent.” Is that the way to go?
I like that. I like that style. I like a team that shows some guts. It still won’t make me a Leafs fan, but it will be more fun to watch.
How about as Premier? Is truculent what you would look for in a cabinet?
Sometimes, as Opposition Leader, those skills come in handy.
It has been nearly three generations since the Leafs won the Cup. How many more years will it take before die-hard Leaf fans throw in the towel – or their season’s tickets – and say, “Enough!”
This is part of life in Canada. It gets cold in the winter. We will complain about the weather. We love the pastime of getting our hopes up every season and getting them dashed by the Leafs. But people still buy tickets. Best damn hockey market in the world will do that for you. My suggestion is you get another team in Southern Ontario. A little bit of competition for those hockey dollars might force [the Leafs]to pull up their socks.
How many consecutive years can one say, “rebuilding year?”
They are setting a record for that every year. Rebuilding is another way of continuing to strive for mediocrity.
A prime reason given for the Leafs perpetual mediocrity is the pressure of performing under intense fan and media scrutiny. Is this valid?
Yeah, but the Yankees win World Series. The Celtics and the Lakers win basketball championships. I don’t believe that excuse. What I would like to see is a multimillionaire owner who puts the success of the team ahead of his grandkids. The kind of guy you see pop up in football and baseball from time to time in the States. Somebody who would put everything behind the franchise to put it over the top. [Former Leafs owner Harold]Ballard was kind of the opposite.
Presto: You are now Leafs GM. What is the first move you would make?
Do I get the money to go with it?
You put a management structure in place and leave them to do the job and you have a few dips to actually rebuild instead of being nervous. Look what Mark Cuban did in Dallas. Here is a man that is wealthy and dedicated to the team but he also put a strong management structure in place and developed the players that took them to the top.
Hope is a virtue. When does perpetually dashed hope become stupidity? How many seasons can you say, “Wait until next year!”?
That’s part of the fun, isn’t it? The Leaf culture. Hope always springs eternal every fall. There are two things that are certain: death and taxes. Add on to that the up and down roller coaster of Leaf fans as they head into the season.