The Leafs

As a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, I could not care less that the team didn’t salute the crowd last night after their win against Tampa Bay.

I DON’T CARE.

You know the only people who care?
1. The media.
2. The media.

NO ONE CARES.

Everywhere I turn today there’s a discussion on how the Leafs just sent a message to their fans last night. You know what? Great. It’s about time this team did something original.

I could be wrong but I believe it was the New York Rangers that first started saluting their fans after wins. Then every other team in the league slowly followed suit so they don’t look out of place.

I don’t think it’s even necessary. What are they thanking us for? Just skate off the ice and go home like every team did a decade ago. I don’t need a hockey team raising their hockey sticks in the air half-heartedly just because they think they have to. It’s awkward and forced.

And you know what, not many in attendance even notice when they raise their sticks. You want to know why?

BECAUSE WE ARE ALL TRYING TO GET OUT OF THE ARENA FASTER THAN ANTS FLEA AN ANT HILL THAT HAS JUST BEEN STEPPED ON.

Half the crowd is already rubbing shoulders in the concourse on their way out of the building by the time the team thanks the crowd.

But of course the media noticed when the Leafs didn’t salute the crowd last night. A camera man was probably preparing his shot of the team at centre ice. And then all of a sudden, nothing.

OH LET’S MAKE A STORY OUT OF IT.

Honestly, I don’t see fans complaining about what the team did. It’s a complete non-issue with the fan base. But the media won’t drop it. News outlets on Twitter keep telling me that “people were offended.” WHAT PEOPLE?

So let’s stop.

On to the next thing about the Leafs.

They lost 9-2 on Tuesday to the Nashville Predators in front of their home fans.

I was there that night. Thank goodness my tickets were free.

It was such a typical Tuesday night crowd. Very few kids, and a lot of know-it-alls. You know, the people that complain about how expensive the tickets are, but still spend the money to go to the game, only to complain about everything in their seat, and then call in to radio shows after the game to voice how unhappy they are with the team and how they would fix it.

My goodness, the people around me were horrendous. And this was before the Leafs were getting blown out.

Game starts and the crowd is already on the team.

NO ONE HAS SCORED YET, CALM DOWN.

Every time the Leafs entered the opposing blue line, people screamed “shoot”. Or they screamed “pass”. They tried to orchestrate every offensive rush and relay their thoughts to the players.

Now, I’m no genius, but why do you want the players to shoot the puck the moment they enter the zone? I know we hold the puck too much and don’t shoot enough, but really?

Then when a Leaf player misses a pass…the whole arena sighs in unison.

WE’RE NOT GOING TO SCORE ON EVERY RUSH UP THE ICE SO DON’T BE DISAPPOINTED WHEN WE DON’T.

I felt like that needed to be in all caps.

So then Bernier gives up 3 quick goals and everyone is screaming for Reimer to go in.

Reimer starts the second period and allows 6 goals.

Reimer then stops a rolling puck and the crowd cheers loudly.

HOLD ON.

You guys just wanted Reimer in net and now you’re treating him like this? Pick a side and stay there.

I’m not a big Reimer guy. I’ve said it before. I think people defend him way too much. I think blaming the defence every time Reimer has a bad game is getting a bit stale.

I understand that people love Reimer because he took us to the playoffs in 2013.

Okay, but I keep saying, that season was only 48 games. If it were 82, would the Leafs have made the playoffs? I don’t know.

But what I do know is this: Out of 16 playoff teams that year, the Leafs had given up the second most goals during the regular season. So, if you want to praise Reimer for getting us to the playoffs, maybe you should praise the offence as well.

Speaking of the offence. I came across a weird stat a few weeks ago. It’s this:

The Leafs best offensive season (in terms of goals scored) in the last 7 years, was when they scored 250 in the 2008-2009 season. They haven’t scored more than 231 goals since then.

Alright, so what’s interesting about that?

Well, the Leafs top line that year was Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, and Nik Antropov.

I find that downright scary. Does that mean our offence is worse off now than it was before?

So many questions.

Which brings me to the current team.

Everyone is making the Leafs out to be a terrible team. And maybe they are, despite the fact they’ve won half their games this year and have 22 points out of a possible 40.

What angers people, and me, is how inconsistent they are. Every game is different. I don’t see a specific style of play outside of the fact they pass the puck around, trying to find a player who has a shot at an empty net.

The coach isn’t the problem.

Could it be that everyone has overrated our entire offence? Phil Kessel is Phil Kessel. Does he take over games? Sometimes. Not all the time.

I don’t think Tyler Bozak is a number one centre and I’ve been saying it for years. He would slot in as a great second line centre, but not number one.

So, there’s one problem.

Here’s another:

The Leafs have Daniel Winnik on the second line. This confuses me to the core.

Daniel Winnik has never scored more than 30 points in a season in his professional career. Not in the AHL. Not in the NHL. Even when he played junior hockey, his best output was 53 points.

So why is he playing on a second line in the NHL? Because Lupul is injured, once again, and we have no one else.

That’s another thing: Joffrey Lupul.

Fans love him. Fine. But the guy has a proven track record of not being about to play close to 82 games. And when that’s the case and your team lacks depth, boom, Winnik on the second line happens. That screams as a GM problem, not a coach problem.

Look around people. This team has relied on the same players to score for the last three seasons. We still don’t have a number one centre. We have a bunch of guys and fillers and replacements and guys playing out of their comfort zones.

Jake Gardiner is probably the best playmaking centre on the team and he’s playing defence. I’d say try him at centre, but I don’t want to sound stupid.

I’m not even going to talk about the rest of the d-men. That’s another post.

Right now, the Leafs don’t have a number one goalie. They have two, number two goalies.

The fans need to cool it with the jersey throwing on the ice. It’s dumb. It’s not even original.

Oilers fans started it and we copied. Just like the players copied other teams by saluting the fans after a win. Just like we copied other Canadian teams with having flags go through the crowd during anthems. That’s all we’ve become. A bunch of copycats. One of the most famous teams in the world can’t do anything original.

Speaking of anthems, the microphone didn’t work Tuesday night when the anthem singer was singing the Star Spangled Banner.

So, naturally, the crowd took over and finished the anthem.

All of a sudden, we’re getting recognition from Americans, who are saying how classy we are and how it was a nice gesture. You’re welcome.

Honestly, I was there, it didn’t feel like we were doing anything special. Everyone’s instincts just kicked in at the same time and it just happened. No need to thank us, though,  it was the Canadian thing to do.

And for the record, Canadians know the American anthem so well because we have to hear it at just about every sporting event. That’s what happens when there are few Canadian teams in American dominated sports.

Also, why are anthems played at sporting events in the first place?

In international hockey, they only play one anthem. Yet a game between two cities, from separate countries, requires both national anthems? Kinda weird.

I’m not even going to get into ticket prices for the Leafs. Except for this: you can’t complain about how much tickets cost if you continue to buy tickets. That means price doesn’t really matter to you.

Done.

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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One Response to The Leafs

  1. markbialczak says:

    I’m with you on this one, Paul. I think NHL squads should salute their fans when they’re skating around with the Stanley Cup. OK, maybe after winning the conference trophy the round prior. Before that, act like you’re supposed to be successful.

    As far as fans sniping at the players too early in the game or the season … Fans are impatient and fickle and, too much of the time, fair weather. If they do it with a lot of knowledge about the state of the team and passion for the sport, OK. But if it’s just plain dumb, I’m with you.

    Like

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