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Rejection hurts.

We know.

We’ve felt it often enough.

Slights, insults, disses, denunciations – we’ve taken them all.

And often.

So when the joke is on someplace else, when Buffalo is selected instead of spurned, heck yeah we feel good about it.

We feel especially good when the city passed over in our favor is our neighboring cross-border megalopolis

Yup. For all Toronto has going for it, it wasn’t enough for coveted hockey player Josh Gorges. After rejecting a trade Tuesday to the Maple Leafs, Gorges left the Montreal Canadiens for the Sabres.

That’s right. He – for various reasons – liked Buffalo better than Toronto.

Aside from anything else, Gorges just took the early lead in the unofficial balloting for Our Favorite Sabre.

Judging by the sputtering disbelief of a Toronto Sun sports columnist, our northern neighbors aren’t happy about it.

Wrote Steve Simmons: [Gorges] selected living in Buffalo and playing for quite possibly the worst team in the NHL, to living in Toronto and playing in the so-called center of the hockey universe. He chose the armpit of America over one of world’s great cities.

Imagine that.

I’m not happy about the “armpit of America” shot. In terms of anatomic metaphors, I prefer to think of us more as the nation’s heart, soul or spine. But I can understand how someone equally befuddled and apoplectic over a seemingly counterintuitive choice would reflexively reach for the civic-insult bag. The big, shiny, glass-skyscrapered metropolis got passed over by an object of its affection for a cozy, underappreciated, just-reviving, mid-sized American burg. For many Torontonians, it does not compute.

It particularly stings when the desirable commodity is an NHL player. Hockey is a passion here. It’s a religion there.

But there it is: The fourth-largest city in North America got rejected for a suitor one-tenth its size, with about 1/100th its economic muscle.

It’s the 98-pound weakling kicking sand in the hunky lifeguard’s face. It’s the most popular girl in school turning down a prom invitation from the star quarterback and going instead with the quiet computer geek. It’s the movie star turning down a weekend in Cannes with Miss Universe for ice cream sundaes and a round of Putt-Putt with the girl next door.

It’s … well, you get the idea.

Simmons: He made that decision of supposedly sound mind, or so we are informed. … It’s one thing to say no. Another thing to pick Buffalo.

That’s right. Chew on it.

OK, I don’t want to sound snarky. But we’ve been on the opposite end of these choices often enough to have perfected the art of gracious deflection. Laugh it off, move on and know that – ultimately – whoever spurned, dissed or dismissed us doesn’t know what he or she is missing. That’s the way to go. Not to get all huffy-indignant and reach for the “armpit” cliche. It only makes you look petty.

Gorges cited various reasons for the decision, chief among them not wanting to play for the Canadiens’ bitter rival. He told The News he was excited about the Sabres’ rebuild, felt Buffalo was a good fit for his family, and liked coach Ted Nolan. Some speculated he didn’t relish Toronto’s intense media glare, coupled with the team’s relative lack of success. The Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, three years before the Sabres were born.

Or maybe Gorges just thought Buffalo was a cooler city.

Sorry, Torontonians, I couldn’t resist.

And to think that we’d lately been getting along so well with our northern neighbor. Toronto’s media was graced in recent months with stories of Buffalo’s resurgence, filed by reporters who treated the two-hour journey down the QEW like an anthropological expedition. We were happy to share our charms, hidden and otherwise. They were gracious enough to chronicle a litany of pleasant surprises. On the flip side, Buffalonians have long appreciated Toronto’s cosmopolitan appeal.

But all has not gone smoothly. Nobody was pleased to hear that a Toronto investment group, fronted by rocker Jon Bon Jovi, is reportedly poised to buy and move the Bills. And Gorges’ choice is sweet payback for the sting delivered two years ago by the Maple Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul. He tweeted a photo from his hotel room of a winter-beset downtown Buffalo, with a caption longing for a “window-less room.”

Hey, Joffrey: The last I heard, Buffalo is Gorges.

email: desmonde@buffnews.com