I went to bed angry last night fans.
I mean really angry…
And ditto for the night before. ..
Out of a possible six points at the most crucial time of year, we pick up one measly point. It was very disappointing to say the least. No other fancy description for it. As a Leaf fan, we are programmed and conditioned to occasionally get a tad bit irrational and emotional. We don’t appreciate what we have at times and we over value what we do have as well. Safe to say we are a mixed bag. It really is the best thing for us to collect our thoughts, gain some perspective and hit the occasional reset button on our feelings, emotions and our anger. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not wrong to feel that way. By all means necessary: vent, cry and yell. It’s what makes us unique and it’s what will make all the emotions feel all the sweeter when we finally realize the ultimate goal.
I’ve written a few articles for the excellent people at Leafs Hub who have been very supportive and certainly accommodating of my passionate thoughts and brief moments of creativity. That said, I can admit that my articles are certainly not Pulitzer worthy and I will not be winning awards for my work. I don’t live in a world of just fancy stats. I like to write about the passion of a Leafs fan. There are unbelievable writers in this group and I am just honoured they let me “play” from time to time… So, thank you. My gift back to you is just this piece of “Capra Corn” esque moment of clarity and support and also hopefully to help put the rest button on our bad feelings today.
Glass half full:
Consider what we do have (and it’s a lot). There are so many reasons to be pumped up over what we have and if you think about it, so much has gone our way in such a short period of time. Winning the lottery that brought us a generational talent. Not making the safe play and drafting Noah Hanifin, but instead taking an all- world superstar in Mitch Marner. Who can forget swinging for the fences in William Nylander when the hulking Nick Ritchie was right there. Hiring Mike Babcock, Lou etc etc…
In an alternate universe in 2014, we could be looking at Nick Ritchie followed a year later by drafting “safe” again by taking the steady, yet not nearly as impressive player in Hanifin. Imagine the draft lottery year when the final ball was being drawn. The only number we had left in number 13 was pushed out of the way by number seven, thus putting Auston Matthews in the bleu, blanc et rouge for the next 15 years. Seriously everyone, we were literally that close to all of this being our reality at the moment. Let’s play here for a while, shall we? Could you imagine where we would be right now? I’ll tell you, playing the draft simulator day after day after day. And our friends down the 401 would be cup winners in the next few years. All the while Hanifin would be trying to figure out his game and Ritchie would have a dozen or so goals and that would be the topic of our excitement.
Okay, lets get the hell out here ASAP because I can’t live here either!
Back to our reality: in the last 20 years the top goal- scoring rookie centreman was Sidney Crosby with 39 goals. Our own Auston Matthews is on pace to match, and or, pass that. Mitch Marner who is about the closest thing you will ever see to resemble a real life Spiderman is on an 82- game pace for 70 points and 21 goals. By the way, Patrick Kane in his rookie year scored 21 goals and had 72 points. Are we done talking about Marner’s size? William Nylander in his first 85 games in the NHL has 23 goals and 35 assists.
I bring up Patrick Kane as well because I see so many parallels with this team and the Blackhawks team in 2007-2008. They both came off miserable years. Both had great coaches that had to feel “pain”. Both played a high risk but exciting, youthful type of game that flirted with the playoffs and made a lot of mistakes but kept you engaged. Both had deadweight that had to go when the time came. That time is coming, but much like Rome, it wasn’t built in a day. The dead weight is on its way out the door. Regardless of what happens this year, playoffs or not, they are gone. What will happen is that this team, much like Chicago, will make their franchise centreman in just his second year the captain of this team. It will become Matthews and Marner’s team. Auston Matthews will be the leader and engine of this hockey club and Marner will be its spark plug. We can bank on it.
The Shawshank Redemption is one fine movie with a spectacular ending. What makes the ending so great is the emotions you feel while you get there. Even if you know how it’s going to end, I never just watch the ending over and over again. I want to live it again and again. Live it everyone. Even the pain of this western road trip, which as I type this in an obnoxious positive state pisses me off. But so what? It’s okay to be pissed off. Yell, scream, throw things and cheer. Don’t lose that passion that makes this fan base so very special. It’s coming guys. I’ve never been so certain in all my life as a Leaf fan.
To quote, bastardize, and paraphrase the great Harry Carey:
“But that will come; sure as God made green apples. Some day the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup”….Maybe sooner than you think.
Love, Joe (your friend and fellow fan)