Going into this season I expected the Toronto Maple Leafs to be a bottom 5 team in the league, the majority of Leafs nation would probably agree with that given the standings last year and abundance of rookies making the team. I figured a young team learning the ropes and getting some points was a good starting point, then finishing low in the standings would give us a good draft pick which would be better for the future of this team.
It’s funny how your perspective changes over the course of the year, with the bar set so low the only place there was to go was up. Seeing how well this team played even early in the season kind of gets your mind pushing the rebuilding timeline forward, then terrible games puts your mind back down on earth instead of in the clouds.
The dominant play of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Willie Nylander and company altered the timeline significantly. I’m not saying lets trade players/ sign big time free agents and plan the Stanley cup parade but it does change my expectations. The Leafs making the playoffs and losing in the 1st round was a complete success! First they learned how to grind out hard-fought games at the end of the season to clinch a playoff spot. Next they took on the best regular season team and gave them hell. This is something to be proud of and excited about!
Lets be real for a second… we all knew this team wouldn’t win the cup. Could next years team? Probably not but they could do some damage, could the year after or year after that win the cup? Who know but its a strong possibility of them being one of the top teams.
I wanted this young team to have to go through the trenches, figure out what it takes to be/beat the best teams so when the time comes they will be ready. That’s why this season was a success, that precious learning experience of meaningful games in April and fighting together as a team is what builds champions.
I noticed fellow Leafs fanatic Steve Dangle share similar points that I do when it comes to this young team, you need to learn to be the best and this knowledge is what will aid in propelling this team in the future. I’m glad that fellow Leaf fans are still on the rebuild train that was set forth by the Leafs management, slow and steady wins the race. We are a young team and will still make mistakes, but hopefully less and with an addition or two either from a trade, free agency or promoting from within the system will take this team to the next level!
I hope to anyone reading this that if you are not excited yet…. Then get excited! This team has the makings of a legitimate champion from behind the bench to on the ice and in the system. Lets hope Matthews takes home the Calder, I cant wait to see what Lou has in store for the summer. The NHL entry draft is coming followed by free agency, oh and don’t forget about the expansion draft. This summer will be action packed!
Go Leafs Go
TML Hockey Talk