A couple of things we learned about the Toronto Maple Leafs in the past week:
i. From Roy MacGregor, reporting in The Globe and Mail, we know now that people in Montreal not only stop GM Brian Burke in the street, they park their cars so they can get out to yell at him profanely.
ii. On Hockey Night in Canada, Burke told Ron MacLean that the Leafs’ “organizational motto” is “No complaints, no excuses.”
Had we heard this before? Since when? Last time I remember talk of a Leaf motto it was — what? — okay, so it was 2008, a while back, when the team announced that “Spirit Is Everything” was replacing “The Passion That Unites Us All.” Does a motto, like a filter on your furnace, need to be changed every year?
None of those three quoted really — is it just me? — reaches out and seizes the imagination. Of the three, “No Complaints, No Excuses” might be the least inspiring. It has a bit of a sullen side to it. It doesn’t have the lift and the verve of a — I don’t know, what’s a great motto? “Who Dares Wins” is pretty good. That’s from the British Army’s elite Special Air Service. The U.S. Marine Corps has Semper Fidelis, “Always Loyal.” Our own excellent Joint Task Force 2 has, like the Fort Garry Horse and other distinguished units before it, Facta Non Verba, Latin for “Shut Up And Play” or (more traditionally) “Deeds, Not Words.”
Non Querelas, Non Excusat is a bit better. Maybe that’s how Burke should be selling it to the Toronto media.
But — hey — also — just a minute. What happened to “The Price of Success Is Hard Work”? That’s the motto that adorns the walls of the Maple Leafs’ dressing room at the Air Canada Centre. Or, sorry: “THE PRICE OF SUCCESS IS HARD WORK” Is that not the team’s motto? Maybe just a slogan? A quick reminder? At Maple Leafs Gardens, starting in the 1950s, Conn Smythe had them watched over by “DEFEAT DOES NOT REST LIGHTLY ON THEIR SHOULDERS.” You can see why they left that behind: you don’t necessarily want your players looking up every night at the word “defeat” much less feeling it weigh so heavily on their shoulders as they wonder how it ever got up there in the first place.