It is easy to wake up the morning after a bad game and wish it was all just a bad dream but for Leaf nation that’s not the case and the beating handed down by the Bruins in Game 1 did indeed happen.
Difficult as it is for those who watched the game at home, or in a bar or in front of the Air Canada Centre, the disappointment is magnified for the diehards who made the pilgrimage to Boston for the game.
They came by car, by bus, by plane and by train to see the Leafs self-destruct after a promising first period. Wearing their blue and white jerseys proudly, they slowly shrunk back in their seats as the game progressed, overwhelmed, as the team was on the ice, by a wave of black and gold.
I felt bad for the group of friends from Toronto sitting a few rows behind the Bruins bench.
Each of them was wearing a Leafs jersey with the last years the Leafs won the Cup stitched on to the back, so it was clear they knew what it meant to be a long-suffering Leafs fan.
I met Cathy Abraham, who drove with her husband from Newcastle, Ont., to the game. She stumbled upon our camera as we were doing a live hit in to CBC Toronto at 6. She was actually there to see the crew from Sportsnet who were set up beside us, including former Leaf Nick Kypreos.
Still cheaper than seeing the Leafs at home
She told me the $390 she spent on the combined hotel and tickets was a bargain compared to what she would have paid in Toronto (assuming she could even get her hands on tickets).
As the game wrapped up and we were looking for sullen Leaf fans to commiserate with (and interview for the late night newscast), we came across a large group that had flown in for the game. It was a mix of Bruins and Leafs fans. As we were chatting with them, more Torontonians came by, including a man who said he lived in Singapore and was visiting Toronto and came down to Boston for the game.
Later in the night, as we made our way back to the hotel, we heard a cry come out from a bar "Hey CBC!" A man in a Leafs jersey came bounding down the street after us, hoping to give his post-game analysis for the camera.
He was a Canadian living in New Jersey who had taken the bus in for the game. He was heading back in a few hours but was making the most of his time in the city.
Like all the fans we met, he had taken a lot of ribbing from Boston fans. My cameraman and I did too, sitting at the hotel bar at the end of the night. We were getting it from a Bruins fan and a Habs fan who found common purpose in their mockery of the Leafs.
But like Leafs fans in Toronto, Boston and around the world, the people we met were down, but not out. All were willing to forgive the Leafs for a poor performance. And like the Leafs have been for so many years, they are eternally optimistic that it can only get better.