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Poll: Two-thirds don't expect to see the Leafs win the Cup in their lifetimes

The Leafs haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1967. About two-thirds of readers in an online poll said they didn't expect to see that change in their lifetimes
Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong accepts the Stanley Cup on May 2, 1967.

If the crackly black and white TV footage from Maple Leaf Gardens looks like it's from another era, that's because it is. 

The players, and more or less everybody else (there are very few women in view) have crisp, fresh buzz cuts, the kind that takes a visit to the barber every ten days or so to keep looking sharp. The men who aren't players are wearing neckties, and, in a few cases, fedoras or horned-rim glasses. 

It's May 2, 1967, Lester Pearson is prime minister, Canada is eight weeks or so from being 100 years old and has a controversial new flag, and the Leafs are on a roll, this being the evening of their 13th Stanley Cup win, which is their fourth of the 1960s.

Leafs fans, this is your cue:

The league was smaller then!

This is true, yes. Still. 

From the distance of more than half a century it looks like a happy night, so perhaps it's just as well that nobody knew then just how long the Leafs' coming Stanley Cup drought would be. We don't either, having not yet reached the end of it in our own era. 

As the NHL's site unkindly points out, the Leafs' Stanley Cup drought is now the longest of any team in the league, at (I will update their math) 57 years. 

Leafs fans:

Only five other teams in the league are old enough for that to be possible!

Well, yes, this is also true. But: as my children like to remind me, I now have a grey beard, and I have not yet seen the Leafs win the Stanley Cup. 

So, as the years roll by, and the seasons come and go in their course, the question arises: can any of us expect to? 

We ran two related polls over the last week or so: one asked whether or not readers were Leafs fans, while the other asked whether you expected to see the Leafs win the Cup in your lifetime. 

By a nearly two-to-one margin, you did not:

Men are more pessimistic on this issue:

Interestingly, there was almost no difference by age, which is unusual in our polls.

About a third of readers under 40 said they were Leafs fans (see below) so that means there is a meaningful group who, assuming normal lifespans, are expecting the drought to last something closer to a century, or something in that range, and are fans anyway. That, my friends, is dedication.

Around 40 per cent of readers said they were Leafs fans, another 40-odd per cent said they weren't a fan of any NHL team, and the remainder were fans of other NHL teams. That graph is here.

Men and women are Leafs fans in about the same proportion. Men are more likely to be fans of other teams, and women more likely to be not be fans of any team.

This graph is revealing in relation to changes in hockey fan culture. Across age groups, about the same portion are fans of some team, but younger readers are more likely to be fans of other teams, while older readers — perhaps hearing the long-faded trumpets of a distant glory — are more loyal to the Leafs.

What happens if you put the two polls together? It's hard to know whether Leafs fans are optimistic because they's fans, or fans because they're optimistic.

Ontario PC voters, interestingly, are both more likely to be Leafs fans and also the most pessimistic about their Cup chances. We see the reverse pattern on the centre/centre-left/left.

There is a more or less perfect relationship between hockey fandom, in general, and Cup optimism (for the Leafs.)

There seems to be at least a mild connection between Cup optimism and a traditionalist position on some other issues (the separate school system, the monarchy and tattoos):

Also in the make-of-it-what-you-will corner, there is a clear relationship between Cup optimism and views of Justin Trudeau, but no inverse relationship when it comes to views of Pierre Poilievre.

And cat people are more pessimistic about the Leafs' chances than dog people:

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Patrick Cain

About the Author: Patrick Cain

Patrick is an online writer and editor in Toronto, focused mostly on data, FOI, maps and visualizations. He has won some awards, been a beat reporter covering digital privacy and cannabis, and started an FOI case that ended in the Supreme Court
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