Sometimes being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs is about as demoralizing as it gets. The worst part is you know what’s going to happen and you watch it unfold in front of your eyes in slow motion. Then you’re thinking “if I can see this coming why can’t the management?” And after that “every team in the league must know”. They somehow manage to suspend reality for even a tiny space in time, which is enough to get your spirits up and then bang. You’re right back where you were.
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The season wasn’t a total waste despite what almost every media outlet is saying. You have to scavenge amongst the rubble but let’s look at it. The team stepped up in the summer and added a player in Tavares that will no doubt lead this team deep in years to come. Huge, leafs fans for years have whined and complained that none of “ours” play here. “Ours” being a top GTA born player, we have that in Tavares and Marner. For myself the problem is really an easy fix, they need to toughen up and grab some veteran hard nosed defence. Andreas Johnson had an incredible season and playoff. He worked his butt off and believe me I love to pick on Swedish players but there’s nothing but gold there.
Jake Gardiner, is technically still on the roster. It’s so bad I actually felt sorry for this kid at the end of the first period. My dad and I said all year that people are dreaming in technicolor if they think Leafs are going anywhere with this guy. I know he’s talented, I know he’s slippery but he plays scared. Especially in the biggest games of his career, he throws the puck away blindly into evil fearless hungry puck hounds like Brad Marchand. Brad’s little badger paws are all to used to getting a nice fat turnover from Jake. It’s those nostrils on Brad he can smell the fear on Jake like a bear in the woods. Cut to camera angle on Jake’s lost blue google eyes searching for help in a raucous arena and the ship in sinking. A sight all too familiar, poor Jake doesn’t know if he’s to jump or go down with the ship. If he could hide under some blankets he would. Mistakes happen but it’s how you react from them, the Canadian way is to get up and go ok we’re getting the next one. The other player who is not built for this sport is surprise; Nylander. Either he has no clue what playoff hockey is about or he simply doesn’t care. It might be cutting into his cottage time. Twice I saw him win a battle and apply his speed and stick skills in a battle for a loose puck. His game one goal was a breakaway, he didn’t need any second effort be cause he doesn’t have any and goals aren’t scored like that in playoffs very often. Ok Willy go get on the jet ski and have fun.
This September the Leafs should give several of the Marlies a good look over. There are guys like Bracco and Marchment who are cutting their teeth in the AHL right now. Try and dump Little Willy to a clueless team and let Jake walk the plank of free agency and all the best to them. If you lose in Toronto it’s ok, we’re clearly used to it. But it’s how you do it that stings, if you’re not going to go out on your shield in a ball of mush and blood and take a few of them with you… then we don’t want you.