The Battle of Ontario can sometimes seem like a rather lopsided affair. Ottawa Senators fans live in the large shadow of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who can suck for a decade and still get more attention than a franchise that's missed the playoffs just twice since 1997. When the Sens beat the Leafs, it's bragging rights; when the Leafs beat the Sens, it's two points.
(Patience, Sens fans. As a New Jersey fan, it took decades before Rangers fans thought of the Devils as anything other than the yappy, inconsequential puppy on the other side of the Hudson. To this day, many New York fans still claim to see the rivalry that way. Until you mention Adam Henrique's name.)
The inferiority complex manifested itself in a story out of Ottawa this week. According to James Gordon of the Ottawa Citizen, a Sens fan noticed that the Roots Sports location at Bayshore Mall had a robust display of Toronto Maple Leafs gear but nothing like that for the Senators.
Red Scarf Union, an Ottawa fan group, took the fan's lament public and targeted the Roots Twitter account:
So what did this public pressure end up doing?
Getting Leafs gear out of an Ottawa sports retail store.
Well, sort of.
Here was the response from Roots to Red Scarf Union:
Please note the winky face emoticon at the end of the message.
James Gordon discovered that an outright ban of Leafs gear in Ottawa wasn't actually going to happen:
True to its word, there was nary a Leafs logo to be found at the Bayshore store Thursday afternoon, though Roots' director of communication, Robert Sarner, said in an email Tuesday night that the company would in fact continue to sell Leafs goods here.
"In terms of the issue of the Leaf merchandise in our Ottawa stores, there was some confusion earlier (Tuesday) which resulted in a Tweet that went out saying we had pulled the Leaf merchandise from our Ottawa stores," he wrote. "We did instruct the Bayshore location to modify the original display in their store after a few Sens fans perceived (incorrectly) that we favour the Leafs and made certain negative assumptions about us."
Granted, the elimination of Leafs gear from Roots stores in Ottawa would have been an impressive escalation of the Battle of Ontario, let's face it: There are plenty of Leafs fans in Ottawa. Leafs fans with money. Money that Roots would no doubt like to procure in exchange for Leafs gear.
But hey: Relegating it to the shelves in lieu of an Ottawa Senators display should be considered a victory. Now, on to figuring out a way to get a single Senators item in a Toronto sports retail store …