The Toronto Maple Leafs are, once again, not very good. They sit at the bottom of the Atlantic Division with an 8-11-5 record. Fans of the Leafs, if they take any joy out of the team, have to look for the smaller moments — the few wins, sure, but also the moments that provide a spark of hope for the future or a bit of pride, regardless of what the standings say. That’s why it was so special for everyone in the building when young Garret Sparks, a 22-year-old goalie who was a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, recorded a shutout in his first NHL game.
That had never been done before in the long history of the Maple Leafs, and it wasn’t done by a blue-chip prospect. Seventh-rounders are no sure bet to make it to the big leagues, and here was Sparks making history. That’s why it was understandable when he broke down in tears when told of his accomplishment. Sparks — who’s affectionately called Mr. Sparkles by Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets — made a lot of Leafs fans cry with him that night, and even though he could only muster a “Thank you,” his raw emotions said a lot more.
(H/t Pension Plan Puppets)