Toronto Maple Leafs: A Defence of Steve Simmons


Toronto Maple Leafs: A Defence of Steve Simmons

Yes, you read the headline correctly: this is a defence of Steve Simmons.

I should quickly add, however, that this isn’t a defence of Steve Simmons the man or Steve Simmons the journalist. Both of these are worthy objects of all the criticisms thrown their ways. Instead, this is a defence of Steve Simmons the concept.

Mar 26, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) skates on the ice prior to the game against the Florida Panthers at Air Canada Centre. Kessel was recently the victim of a false story from

Toronto Sun

sports columnist Steve Simmons. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

We’d live in a much poorer world if Simmons wasn’t there to keep us honest and critical.

I’ve set a low standard for Simmons. He seems to occupy an uncomfortable space between crude entertainment and empty analysis – the professional equivalent of an Internet troll gone wild on the inky pages of Canada’s silliest newspaper if you’ll allow the analogy. At a bare minimum, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he calls the Toronto Sun home.

Whether he’s making up stories about hot dog vendors and Phil Kessel or offering some lame comment about the undersized nature of the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ top prospects, I strongly caution you against taking any of this nonsense seriously. Simmons is simply trying to engineer controversy and he’ll gladly drag you down the rabbit hole with him if the opportunity presents itself. The dribble is his bait; your intelligence is his prey.

(I doubt the veracity of the hot dog story, but I don’t doubt Simmons’ connections to the hot dog industry. He strikes me as a hot dog connoisseur.)

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My point is that you shouldn’t focus on what Simmons says – ignore it. It isn’t worth your time. What should really grab your attention is the positive light he shines on other Leaf writers like Bruce Arthur, James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel. We can appreciate the time and careful thought that these writers put into their work thanks in part to the terrific foil provided by Simmons. He’s the Joker to their Batman, the Boston Bruins to their Leafs, the Toronto Sun to their respectable alternatives/any other newspaper in Canada.

If we didn’t see Simmons as the biggest goat in the world of Toronto sports journalism, then it’d be very easy to take all of these other writers for granted. He’s the standard that everyone else exceeds – in fact, they obliterate this standard.

That’s enough, in my view, to see some value in Simmons’ work. You don’t necessarily have to read it or like it; just understand that it represents filth and you’ll come to appreciate almost everything else.

[Writer’s note: this article is dedicated to fellow Tip of the Tower editor Paul Taylor – one of Simmons’ biggest critics. I hope it helps Paul to finally appreciate Simmons’ work at some basic level.]

Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson