Recently, a fragment of a lost sacred text was discovered in Toronto's old Maple Leaf Gardens, which is now a supermarket. Here for the first time, the prophecy found in Book of Leafs 5:21.
A great darkness had fallen over the land, even in the few weeks when there was no winter. The people wailed and gnashed their teeth, for the sacred game they worshipped lay in shadow. They tore their garments and threw them onto the ice, and took to their tablets – not the stone ones – to speak their anger. They beseeched the heavens for deliverance, and then left early to beat the traffic.
It seemed as if their sacred game had reached the end times, and no saviour would come. The ancient ones sang songs about the game, and told of the giants who once walked the land, Bobby and Bobby and Rocket, but the young people turned deaf ears. The young ones put wheels on their feet instead of skates, and loved strange European sports that did not value smiting, and grew beards not only during playoff times, and partook of the craft beer not the 50. They fell away from the great northern sport.
The priests of Tim's church came into the marketplace and declared: "Lo, the sacred game still binds us. It is what our children dream of. Here, have a French Vanilla." And, yet, the people did not believe them, and continued to rend their jerseys, and throw their phones on the ice, although each had cost many hundreds of dollars.
And in the great cities of the land, the people worried that foreign barbarians had stolen the sacred game. Toronto had survived the cruel tyrant King Harold, and revered St. Pat of the Mustache, and yet had not won a prize since Methuselah was in short pants. In Edmonton, people had once worshipped the sacred game, but now the people and the game mixed like oil and frozen water. Even as the players came off the ice, the people made noises like unto dying goats. And thus was their unhappiness known.
Into the darkness a saviour came, followed all around by a crowd of disciples and supplicants, each praying that a handful of goals and assists could be stretched to please the multitude. And it was known he was a saviour because of the sternness of his visage, so like the prophet Charlton of Heston, and because he had risen teams from the dead before.
The prophecy vowed that he would not drive his pickup across the bridge named for St. Gordie of the Red Wings, but instead alight at Pearson Airport, live on every major TV station. There, he would tarry neither for doughnut nor coffee, but take himself at all speed to the Air Canada Centre, known in the local tongue as the Temple of Blighted Hope and Costly Beer.
And the redeemer was named Mike, which is a goodly name for someone who would save the sacred game. As a reverent silence fell, he said to the gathered masses words that were familiar yet filled their hearts with hope: "I believe this is Canada's team, and we need to put Canada's team on the map."
This messiah spoke words that were as soothing as honey, as intoxicating as the fermented beverage that accompanies the sacred game: "I want to win," he said. "I have a burning desire to win." His speech suggested that he had studied the holy texts of self-help along the way: "It's about the journey, not the destination. It's about trying to maximize your potential."
He did not tell the money-changers in the Temple of Blighted Hope and Costly Beer, "You have made my house a robbers' den," because he knew which side his bread is buttered on, and because the money-changers were more successful than those on the ice. And yea, though the cost of a ticket rose so that only a man with a pile of gold could enter the temple, the angry people continued to pay, which was a miracle in itself, though perhaps a miracle wrought by the angel of darkness, not the angel of light.
For a moment, hope reigned, and the warring tribes that could not agree on the colour of the sky concluded that perhaps $50-million was not too much to spend on a saviour who might, one day before the apocalypse, bring home a big metal cup. Even the famed mad prophet of the sacred game, clad in clashing rags of stripes and plaid, who had been exiled to a far-off cave where few could hear, let it be known the choice was good. "He will be terrific," the mad prophet said, and the people nodded.
The people did dare not think about the many who had come before him, all drinking from the same poisoned chalice, who had also arrived as saviours and left as bums. No, this was the one. The man who would walk on frozen water.