Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A (really long) Rant about the Maple Leafs and everything that is wrong about them

What is Christopher Walken doing at a Leafs game?
It recently occurred to me that, with the Toronto Maple Leafs all but guaranteeing another missed post-season with a tough loss to the New York Islanders tonight, that I would have gone through all of High School without seeing the Blue and White make the playoffs.  Think about that.  I even took another year (a victory lap) to bump up my grades and play more football.  So five years.  Five.  Years.  

This is the last Toronto Maple Leaf playoff memory I have.  I was ten.   

How is that possible?  How is it possible for a team that is self-proclaimed to be the "Centre of the Hockey Universe" to not make the playoffs at least once every few years?  How can they be one of two teams to not play meaningful hockey in April since the lockout?  (the other team is the Florida Panthers, and they very well could end their post-season drought if they hold on to clinch their division)  

How can they not have had a legitimate goaltender since Eddie Belfour?  When do you figure that two goalies with each than less than three years of NHL experience heading into a season is good enough to make the playoffs?

And where is the toughness?  Where is the truculence, pugnacity, testosterone, and belligerence that was promised from day one?  Where's the fight in this team? And no, I don't mean the "drop-the-gloves-and-serve-five-minutes" fight, I mean the "eff-you" mentality that winning teams hold?  Where's the battle?  Where's the edge? Where's the grit?

Is it not embarrassing?  At some point, do you not say, "Screw this, I'm sick of it, we're winning and there's nothing you can do about it"?

But oh, don't worry about that: the lovely Mainstream Media that covers the Leafs does a helluva job at reminding fans that the team is dreadful and that certain (fill in job description related to team) needs to be (fired/traded) in order for them to succeed.  I won't even mention their names, but they successfully find ways to rip the team, all to create traffic for their paper and personal profiles.

Thiiiisssssss guuuyyyyyyyyyyyy 
But what do you get out of that?  I seriously doubt any member of the Toronto media reads this blog post, but if you do, please answer my question: what do you get out of constantly tearing this team apart?  I don't even mean the occasional opinion piece on a struggling player, or an idea that you think could help the team; I mean writing a new piece every time they play and finding a way to critique them?  Do you get some kind of thrill off this?  Do you think it's funny to laugh at 18,000 people chanting for someone to get fired (I'll get on that later)?  Is it just too easy to make fun of Phil Kessel's shy personality, or Brian Burke's demeanor, or someone not wanting to answer questions?

I follow the majority of the hockey media on Twitter, and every-so-often, one of them sarcastically tweets "Oh ya, of course we media members have soooooooo much influence on fans, cause we write stuff that's true, duhhhhhh".  Okay, maybe it's not as in-your-face as that, but you get the idea.  A number of columnists legitimately feel like they have absolutely zero influence on how a fan views the outlook of his team. Are you friggin' kidding me?  Of course they do.  They have as much influence as the people they go to work or school with, or the people they talk to through social media, or the fellow fans they hear rant and yap and whine on sports talk shows.  The media has so much power on its people, that even seeds of the media itself are blind to it.  

Before tonight's game, dozens of radio hosts and reporters were asking if the fans were gonna chant "Fire Burke".  What are you trying to accomplish?  Are you trying to motivate people to yell it?  Are you trying to rile up the masses and become a big-shot?  Allow me to make glue of the high-horse you rode in on.

Beat-writers and columnists universally wanted Ron Wilson fired.  They laughed and tweeted and wrote furiously, laced with narcissism and indulgence of how poor the team played in February, and fed it to the hungry fans who were starved of winning and were satisfied with self-parody.  
But let's look at that for a second -- the fans -- let's take a good hard look at ourselves for just one second.  I make no bones about the fact that I am a Leafs fan.  I get pissed off about the team just like everyone else, I have my own opinion that I share to the world just like everyone else, and I nitpick every move made by this team.  That's what fans of every sports team ever assembled do.  They become part of the team. They refer to their favourite franchise as "we".  They spend their own hard-earned money on team merchandise that they proudly wear on their sleeves.
And theeeeessssee guuuyyyyyyyyyyyys

And that's good.  I'm glad they care.  People use sports as a getaway from their real lives.  You'll seldom hear someone complain about their family or job or coworkers on twitter, but damned if you don't find someone whine about a faulty penalty-kill.  

But at what point did it become acceptable to chant "Fire Wilson"?  When did 18,000 people calling for someone's job become passionate?  As much as sports is that crutch we use to get away from our reality, the people involved with sports use it as a career.  And there is nothing more humiliating than an entire building in unison hoping you get fired.  That man has a wife, kids, grand-kids.  And he has pride -- had pride. I'll admit that I didn't like Wilson, and that I was reaching a point where I wanted him out as coach.  

But for people to chant "Fire Wilson"; God, what is wrong with you people?  "Well we bought the ticket and have the right to say how we feel."  Do you not have any morals? Is there not any self-reflection at what kind of person you are when you think it's funny to cheer for someone to lose their job?

And why is it cool to want this team to lose and get a better draft pick?  People always talk about how tanking can result in teams rebuilding and getting better over time, but is that exactly true?  Ten of the eleven first round picks the Columbus Blue Jackets have drafted were in the top 10, and they haven't even won a playoff series yet. Everybody loves to say how good the Edmonton Oilers will be, but they've been in the basement for about four years now, and don't look any closer to getting out of it.  "But they'll be good in a few years".....every young stud they own will eventually finish out their rookie contract.  Do you honestly think that Taylor Hall will want to stay in Edmonton if they don't sniff a playoff spot soon, or at least get some kind of legitimate talent to go there in free agency?  And how "good" do the Islanders look?

Rebuilding is a built-in excuse for losing.  "It's a process and will take time" is the famous last words of countless coaches who couldn't properly develop young talent quick enough to save their jobs.  Blowing up the team is an emotional reaction from fans for when the players there cannot get it done.  How can you want a team to lose? How could you ask a player, who has been raised and coached to go 100% and give everything he's got on every shift, to suck so the team he probably won't play for in a few years can draft a kid who could or couldn't work for a zillion reasons?  How did the twitter hashtags #GreatestTankBattles and #TMLtank become funny?

Since when did losing become acceptable?

Maybe it's not the fans faults, though.  Maybe they are brainwashed by the media and convince themselves that everyone should be fired and traded and no one does anything right.

Oh, I'm not quite done with you yet, Toronto Mainstream media.

And, of course, thiiiisssssss guuuyyyyyyyyyyyy
Recently, everyone has been finding a way to use Phil Kessel has a main point in their article, and find a way to criticize him.  And yes, some of that criticism is deserved. There are shifts where he coasts and does nothing.  There are times where he doesn't even sniff his own zone in an attempt to play some sort of defense.  And he'll have stretches where he doesn't do a damn thing.

But he's 24.  The kid (yes I said kid) is 24.  And he might have the most pure talent of any Maple Leaf since Mats Sundin.  But a piece by Damien Cox on why the Leafs should trade Kessel has become the latest craze.  And, after initially getting ridiculed and chastised by everybody and their mother, everyone has an opinion that holds Kessel in low regard.  And a column from Jeff Blair published tonight calls Kessel "milquetoast".  Be honest: does the average person even know what that means?  I only know it because my English teacher once used it and we thought she was talking about bread.  

People: Phil Kessel is managing to produce close-to-elite numbers on a mediocre hockey team.  He survived cancer.  He won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.  He hasn't requested a trade nor appears to want one.  He has led the team in scoring each year he has been here, and has improved with each season.  And he's 24.

You better be careful what you wish for.  Because on July 1st, 2015, when Phil Kessel becomes an un-restricted free agent and is free to sign wherever he pleases, and if this team doesn't rise from it's catastrophic state, you know what the result will be.

This team is mind-boggling.  I cannot for the life of me understand why I cheer for them, as I get asked that on a daily basis from the people I go to school and work with. Maybe I'm a loser and can relate to them.  Maybe I take solace in the fact that my personal failures are mirrored in the Leaf- oh crap I'm making this sappy.  I'll leave you on this:

How good would it be to watch Maple Leaf playoff hockey?

Hunter Crowther is a regular blogger, and contributes to the Lifestyle Blog for Gongshow Hockey. Follow Hunter on twitter @HunterCrowther or email him at


  1. I stopped reading your post after you started condemning fans for chanting "Fire Wilson." The reason why people chant this, as you may have assumed, is that we expect to make the playoffs, or at least be competitive, and when you are unable to to do so for over 4 years, it is time for a change. The same would have been done if it were Pat Burns coaching and we didn't make the playoffs, or your Grandma, or my father...To quote a great football coach "YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!" and if you aren't winning games, it's time for a change. The reason for the chants is because without chants, without public outcry, there would be no accountability. Do you seriously think Burke would fire his BFF Wilson after he extended his contract if it weren't for the fans? Probably not. We chant because we want a change to be made and it was quite apparent that nothing was going to happen. Just like the KONY 2012 campaign, just like Occupy Wallstreet...if you don't make the change, nothing is going to happen.

    Sure, he has a wife and kids, but that is separate from his coaching life. When we chant "Fire Wilson," what we are saying is "WE WANT A CHANGE FOR OUR TEAM," not "Make sure his family is ridiculed." Tim Thomas said it best when he noted that there is a difference between personal life, and hockey life. I have nothing against Wilson as a person. I have met him on numerous occasions and he has been great, but I had an issue with him coach the team.

    Don't try to sit on your high horse and look down on fans without truly understanding what the fans want. Smarten up kid, you have a lot of learning to do

    1. Unfortunately when you have sucked for the last 40 years minus only a couple of stretches, it becomes tiresome. This team makes more money than many teams combined and perhaps it is time the fans start to stay away in Toronto to send a message that the bull crap has to end now.

    2. I don't sit on a high horse. I'm perfectly fine with booing players and teams off the ice. But when people try to be clever and chant for a coach to get fired, then that makes you a loser who is self-conscious and seeks pleasure in someone losing their job. Fans like that are why I find myself hating the fact I cheer for this team.

      And don't even try bringing things like KONY and Occupy into your argument. Those examples are why you're wrong and I'm right -- they were good causes that ended up becoming a fad and trend in society.

    3. Your response demonstrates your ignorance. They aren't chanting for him to lose his job, that is not the motive. The motive behind the chant is the desire for change. That's not clever, that's not being a loser, that is being a concerned fan who wants the team to change.
      The KONY example is completely relevant. Your ignorance is clouding your judgment. I wouldn't expect any more from a highschooler, but at least attempt to understand my argument.

    4. How is booing players off the ice different from chanting for Wilson's firing? Hockey players depend on ice time in order to make a living, support their families, and keep their jobs. It is the same as calling for Wilson's firing. Jesus, you really need to think your posts out kid.

    5. Hahahahaha yes because I'm in high school I'm dumb hahaha so true yes very.

      Booing has been tied to sports since it started. Everybody boos. When teams suck, they boo. When players suck, they boo. It's sports.

      But can you count on one hand the amount of times an entire arena chants "Fire ______"? How is the chant not for him to lose his job? It's EXACTLY what it is for. They obviously wanted change, but the majority of fans ended up hating Wilson and his personality by the end of his reign.

    6. I've heard Fire___ in numerous sports numerous times. Look at Anahiem at the start of the year. Same with MTL. The NY Knicks had the same thing happen with D'Antoni.Philadelphia Eagles had the same thing with Andy Reid. To NCAA Ball with Duke saying "fire Jarvis." There are many more...oh and did I mention that all of this was in the past year alone? You don't know enough about sports to be so steadfast in your opinions. Do some reading, do some research. Good for you for having a website, but at least know what you're talking about before you post. If you want more examples, I can give you more from this past year. And if you want more examples from earlier years, I will probably need 20 peoples hands and feet. Chanting "Fire___" has been around forever as well. Do you seriously think that this generation of Leafs fans are the only ones who thought of chanting that?

    7. Fans chanted "Fire Childress" at Minnesota Vikings games. Fans of FC Phucket chanted for their coaches resignation at soccer matches. At Rangers games, the fans chanted "Fire Sather." Bob Bradley was upset when his soccer fans chanted "Fire Bradley." The fans of the Sixers chanted "Fire Eddie" during their games. Florida Panthers fans chanted "Fire Murray." Lions fans chanted "Fire Millen" at their games.

      I can continue to go on. The Fire (Insert Coach/GM name here) chants have been around forever. They are a part of sports. It's sports, as you say. I can go on all night showing you how your post is completely invalid. I get paid to watch sports, I love this sort of stuff.

      Do your research before you start going off on Leafs fans. You say that you're sick of fans that pull these kinds of stunts. Well I'm sick of fans who try to pass off invalid information as fact in order to best suit themselves.

    8. I'm going to assume you spent forty minutes researching all these facts, just so you could make me look bad in a comment section for a blog that barely anyone reads so you can feel better about the fact that patronizing someone who has an opinion that differs yours is a hobby of yours, validating the unquestioned fact that you have no life.

    9. Apparently knowing a lot about sports means I have no life. Cool. The reason I brought all of this up is because you're misrepresenting everything in your post. If you're going to put something out there that is full of flaws and inaccuracies, someone will call you out on it. Especially when you are insulting Leafs fans (myself included)by using incorrect facts and figures. This will help you in the future if you choose to post something about the Leafs. You're welcome. You can thank me here or through private messages, either one will work

    10. You expected the Leafs to make the play offs? Really? It's suckers like you who pay through the nose for a $hit product that Leafs ownership love. Even the most fervent Leafs fan would not have expected to make the playoffs this year.

      Don't get mad at the author. Give yourself an uppercut for thinking the Leafs were a play off team.

    11. When did I ever say that the Leafs were a playoff team? Did I ever say that? Nope. Doesn't look like it. You should do yourself a favour, pay more attention in school, learn how to read, and then get back to me kid.

    12. Leafsfan1,

      Your arrogance is so irritating I could barely read all your posts.

      The author of this blog makes several excellent points. Anyone who chants in an arena (or anywhere, for that matter) for someone to be fired from their job is a jack ass, and someone totally lacking in compassion. Unfortunately, the sports fan demographic is very much made of up jack asses, and so this garbage is inevitably considered normal, making boorish, classless behaviour in public to be perfectly acceptable. Why show up to a game and pay good money just to bray like an ass and demand someone's firing/resignation? Be the bigger person and stop going to the games -- not only would that look better on Leafs fans, but it makes a stronger point.

      And why would you quote Tim Thomas? The man's a self-absorbed prick. (I suppose I can understand your appreciation for him, now that I think about it...) He posted "personal" information on a public platform for public consumption, then hypocritically and self-righteously gets prickly towards the media and fans for talking about it.

      I also couldn't help but laugh at your idiotic KONY argument -- are you aware that Ugandans unanimously despise that inaccurate sob story, which focuses more on the film makers than actual Ugandans? That rocks were thrown at the screen in Uganda, and some of the film makers were forced to run away? That it has made an international celebrity of Kony, and that to date the movie has done NOTHING to inspire change? ditto for Occupy Wall St. (a lot of change there, too...not)

      This is a Blog forum. For opinions. You don't have to agree with his points, but don't get all personal and aggressive by telling people that they are on high horses, that they're stupid for being in high school, that they obviously have no idea what they're talking about, but you do. Go simmer down a touch, champ.

      I'm a die hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and I am the first to acknowledge that generally, Leafs fans SUCK.

      p.s. Hunter, good post. I love the passion! Nice to see someone realizing the influence of the media, and how sickening their incessant attacks on the Leafs really are. No other club in the league endures such an enormous amount of B.S. (maybe Montreal, but even then, I'm not sure...)

    13. "This is a Blog forum. For opinions. You don't have to agree with his points, but don't get all personal and aggressive" - Ironic pal, dontcha think? Lol.

      But to be honest, I couldn't take your post seriously after your first paragraph. You say that everyone is entitled to their opinions (which would include their opinion on a coach) but the immediately bash fans for booing their coaches. Oh, I guess YOU can have your opinions, but those people chanting can't. Yup. That makes sense kid. I don't have the time to ruin you like I did to Hunter, because your post is just as bad as anything he wrote here. There's a reason there is no traffic on this blog. It's garbage.

    14. Please quote the point at which I "immediately bash fans for booing their coaches". I believe I bashed people who go to games and chant for them to be fired. That would have been correct.

      And yes, I'll concede to a touch of irony, but only because I'm going tit-for-tat with someone who clearly thinks he's the end-all, be-all of hockey knowledge, and I can't stand bullies.

      Also, I never said fans "can't" have an opinion. I believe I called them jackasses for chanting -- never said they "can't" have an opinion.

      You like to put words in people's mouths, don't you? Why don't you try again? Or are you worried I'd ruin you? If you think this blog is garbage, stop being a hypocrite by reading it. Take your vitriol elsewhere.

    15. I haven't heard the word vitriol in years...perfect timing as well.

  2. After commenting I read your bit on tanking for a better pick. Again, your lack of knowledge astounds me. You seem to conveniently leave out teams such as Pittsburgh, who tanked and then got much better due to incoming picks. Also, your statement that Edmonton won't get out of the basement and Hall will leave the team if they don't get a whiff of the playoffs is completely untrue. 1) They are a constantly improving team, 2) I know Taylor Hall (as well as Sam Gagner, and Jordan Eberle and former Oiler Andrew Cogs) from his home city Kingston and I know that he loves it in Edmonton due to the young talent and players there. And if you seriously think that Edmonton won't be a force in a few years, you really should think about watching more hockey.

    I was directed here from PuckDaddy and I am pretty insulted that Greg thought this post was useful. It just demonstrates the ignorance of Leafs fans and shows that anyone can have a webpage and claim to be knowledgeable about the team. People want to lose for a better draft pick because getting 2nd overall is better than 8th it that hard to understand? Is that truly difficult to grasp? If we aren't making the playoffs, why not try to better situate yourself for next year? Come on pal. Think about stuff before you post.

    1. Pittsburgh got lucky and won a lottery to draft the best player in the game. Ask any hockey scout, and they'll tell you that Edmonton is far away from being a legitimate threat. Do they have any defense?

      Let me explain tanking in one sentence: "Shut up man, they'll be good in a few years." That's what tanking is. If you're satisfied with that, then be my guest.

    2. Edmonton is a few god trades away from being a threat. they are much like Chicago was and the Blues are. I think it is great that you have such high values and they are values to aspire to but the truth is that most fans are frustrated and unlike most jobs, these people get into the business because every year is like winning the lottery at the fans expense. Saying we want to put a stop to the gravy train because the team is not performing goes with the money and glory of the position. Wilson and Burke knew this when they got a job all of us only dream of. If it happened to me, I would tell my kids that their daddy was the coach of the Leafs and that is pretty special.

    3. 2002 - Ryan Whitney - Fifth overall
      2003 - Marc Andre-Fleury - First overall
      2004 - Evgeni Malkin - Second overall
      2005 - Sidney Crosby - First overall
      2006 - Jordan Staal - Second overall

      And those are just their first round picks which don't take into consideration guys like Letang, Kennedy, Talbot, etc. So, yeah. The only reason the Penguins are good is because of Sidney Crosby, not all those other top 5 picks they had 5 years straight.

      Also, that looks absolutely nothing like Christopher Walken.

    4. year w p pos.
      2010-11 25 45 - 12 62 5th
      2009-10 27 47 - 8 62 5th
      2008-09 38 35 - 9 85 4th
      2007-08 41 35 - 6 88 4th
      2006-07 32 43 - 7 71 5th

      The Edmonton Oilers' stats within their own division the last 5 seasons. Who said the Edmonton Oilers were constantly improving? LeafsFan1, the biggest charlatan on this blog. Numbers don't lie.

      Oh, and btw, just to throw in their current position: The Edmonton Oilers currently hold the 14th spot in the Western Conference with 66 points.
      Maybe I should take all that back -- they're a whole 3 points better than they were last year! Holy Cow! Better watch out, hockey fans, cuz the Oilers looked poised for a Cup run next season. Gimme a break.

      LeafsFan1, do you honestly believe that professional athletes tank deliberately? If you do, then you assume they have no pride. Professional athletes do not throw whole seasons away deliberately in the hopes of their team acquiring a draft pick who MAY be in the lineup within the next few years. "Come on, pal. Think about stuff before you post."

  3. I never said that they were only good because of Crosby. I'm saying that he was a ridiculously-major factor in their Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh and Chicago are examples of teams that drafted and DEVELOPED properly in order to win. But how many teams are there that try the same method, and because of poor development, coaching, and mis-management, end up going nowhere?

    1. Pitt didn't develop any of the aforementioned players. They went from the draft, right to the show and were effective immediately. Same story goes for Chicago. Where are you getting these false statistics from? What players were developed in the Chicago farm system? Keith seems to be the only notable player that played for the AHL affiliate. Man, you continue to spew false and biased information. Come on pal, smarten up.

    2. Look at who Pittsburgh got -- Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and Fleury -- two of them are once-in-a-generation pure talents, one is arguably the best defensive forward in the show, and the other is a consistent and solid NHL goaltender. How can they not win if they're lucky enough to get players like that? How often are the two best players in the league on one team?

    3. ...Yes, but you just said that they DEVELOPED (you put this in capital letters) their players properly. Now you are saying that they didn't. Think before you write

    4. What I mean by develop is that they went through the speed bumps and struggles of a developing NHL player. The majority of stars on both teams didn't really have to go through the minors, but they were put in situations in their first year or two to test how good they were. Their teams knew they had special talents and wanted to see how quickly they could adapt to the big leagues.

      Toronto isn't in that position yet. They haven't had a true blue-chip top prospect in a while, (you could say Schenn, and also he played in his rookie season) and I don't want them to be. It may have worked for some teams, but I just don't see how tanking is the way to go. I'd rather have a team that gets built piece by piece, combined with competing at a top level every night.

    5. So Crosby and Malkin and Fleury went through speed bumps and no other player has? Every single payer in the NHL has had to go over these so called "speed bumps" that present themselves to developing NHL players. I don't understand the point you're making here. It really makes no sense.

    6. Hunter,

      I'd give up. LeafsFan1 knows everything about hockey, so there's no sense arguing with him. Everything you ever thought you knew about hockey is wrong, because LeafsFan1 said so.

      I wasn't aware, LeafsFan1, that development ended the moment a player made the jump to the NHL level. Can you provide a definition of what "development" entails at the NHL level? Am I to assume that a coach has zero responsibility in refining a player's skills once he makes it to the NHL, that once the player is there he no longer needs to work hard, train, adapt? You know, all those things that are a part of DEVELOPMENT?

      You're a serial knitpicker, sport. You pick one tiny thing out of someone's argument that you don't like and you bully your way through the debate. You're not the only one who can tap-dance like that.

    7. You guys are complete idiots. I've showed your stuff to the people I work with and they just laughed. You cannot distinguish the similarities between booing and calling for a firing. You cannot grasp the motive behind the chants, and you guys definitely do not understand the first thing about the history of hockey or sports for that matter.

      Chanting in sports goes all the way back to creation of sporting activities where people would chant for gladiators to be put to death because they lost the fight. Chanting has been around forever, and since you guys are such pussies you can't grasp this fact. "Aww, someone is mad at the coach because he can't win...but the coach shouldn't be held accountable by the fans at all!! The fans have no right to chant at the coach!" You guys are the reason sporting teams in Toronto are shit. You share the same mentality as stay at home moms who think that nobody ever has the right to voice their negative opinions, even if they have a basis. I feel sorry for your parents, and your friends (if you have any) because they have really failed you. I mean, it's not a difficult argument here. Everyone understands it but you two. You should see the PM's I've received from people who agree with me and think you're both imbeciles. Anyways, I've had my entertainment for the day. I'll check back in a few to see what other funny shit you guys have posted. Keep it up, me and my coworkers are loving it

  4. You blast Cox for talking about trading Kessel but then you mention the exact reason they SHOULD trade him if they keep missing the playoffs. He's a free agent, and no doubt he's walking in 2 years if they don't make the playoffs. Great post but I just don't know what you're trying to argue in that part.

    1. I'm saying, why would you trade a player in his prime, who is on the brink of becoming an elite offensive threat in the league, when all you're going to do is just look for someone like him?

      Why bust and try to draft a player like him when you already have him?

  5. Kessel shouldn't be traded - Cox is an idiot for suggesting it, and any knowledgeable Leafs fan should ignore that drivel. But the biggest mistake here was Burke's: why bring in Carlyle - a coach who is going to be at-odds with your only superstar player and your 2nd best player this year (Lupul)? know that as soon as Kessel is traded, idiots like the media guys you mention will write about "who is now going to provide the 35 goals that Kessel was scoring?".

  6. For the past 4 years, Leaf nation and most of Ontario has cheered for an American Coach, American GM and Star American players to bring the cup back to Canada. And with no players from Ontario on the team!! Whats wrong with you people?? no pride? low self-esteem? .....