Growing up a Maple leafs fan has had its ups and downs, I was born in 1988 and really don’t remember much of the early 90’s as I was so young. When I really became Leafs fan was around the year 2000, my parents had got me my first Leafs jersey (Sundin of course) and tickets to my very first leafs game!
I came into Leafs nation at a good time as we had previously made the playoffs after missing the previous few years and we went on to have a solid team for the next 3-4 years. I remember the time we started to decline, I was in high school and couldn’t wait to show off my jersey every game day during the playoffs….Sadly that day never came.
For the past 10 seasons the Leafs were on a downward spiral, making questionable trades to try and patch holes and giving up good prospects like Tukka Rask in the process. Even the 2012-2013 season where we made the playoffs the Leafs in my eyes weren’t a good team. Getting out shot 40-20 every night and scraping wins on the back of solid goal tending. I tell all of my friends I care about watching good hockey, yes the wins were nice but what was going to happen when the goal tending dropped off.
I can say that I truly believe that, as one of the best games I have been to was a game 4 loss to Boston in the playoffs. Man was that exciting! The Leafs were playing great hockey but ended up losing in OT. That also has been the only playoff game I have been to in the 17-18 years that I have been going to games. We then went back to missing the playoffs year after year and LITERALLY hit rock bottom.
Up to this point there has been some good times but mostly dreadful times to be a Leafs fan. The amount of money I spent on games (upwards of 60 games), Food and the overpriced beer could buy you a house in Detroit!
The upside to the terrible seasons the Leafs played meant that they drafted high and accumulated players like Rielly, Nylander, Marner and this past draft selecting Auston Matthews #1 overall. Its funny how your perspectives change, from lets make the playoffs to make trades to get picks and prospects for the future. I have always wanted the Leafs to do a complete full rebuild and that is finally happening.
This season my expectations were LOW! I wanted the rookies to get points and develop, as for the team if we ended up bottom 5 I wouldn’t have been too upset. I guess I learned from all the disappointment to set the bar low so you aren’t let down, the Leafs this year blew not only mine but most of Leafs nation out of the water. As I write this the Leafs have 6 games left and are multiple points up from being out of the playoffs, around an 85% chance of making it. NOW…. We all know that the Leafs are pro’s at giving up leads so I am not holding my breath until its a guarantee.
The thing that I take from all the years of heartache and disappointment is that I still and ALWAYS will bleed blue, I have seen this team at its worst and now to feel the excitement and pressure of meaningful games in March/April again lets me know that the Buds are heading in the right direction. Even if we end up missing the playoffs this season it will still have been a success in my eyes, I get excited thinking about the next decade of amazing hockey we will be treated to in Toronto and hopefully it will erase all the bad memories of old.
Go Leafs Go