Monday, May 31, 2021

It’s a Game 7 nobody predicted and everyone expected from the NHL’s most exhausting team

Here we go again. Of course.

Who could have ever seen this coming? Well, everyone, but that’s the grind of being a Leafs fan. We all know the collapse is coming, but when it does we all have to pretend like it’s unexpected, because the story doesn’t work as well if we don’t. I laid out exactly how Games 5 and 6 would go on two different podcasts last week, and people still want to know if I’m surprised. Dude, this isn’t my first day here. A good rule of thumb is that anyone who tells you a joke about Leafs fans saying “plan the parade” has never met an actual Leafs fan. We all expected this, on some level.

The Toronto Maple Leafs experience is a world of contrasts, and you just kind of have to go with it even when it doesn’t make sense. The team sucks, except when they’re about to lose an upset, in which case they’re amazing and should be unbeatable, but also suck. The fans don’t demand a winner like they do in other cities, but they also drive players out of town with their unreasonable expectations. They’re too soft, but also dirty, and the refs are out to get them, but the league wants them to win.

Pick and choose whatever works for the narrative you want to push at any given moment. Nothing has to be consistent. Except one thing: This team is exhausting.

Always. When they’re winning or when they’re losing. When they matter and when they don’t. On opening night and in the playoffs and at the deadline and in August when nobody else is even paying attention. If you’re a Leafs fan, you get all the highs and lows that any other fan base gets, although it’s more of the latter. But the one thing you never get is a day off. This team can never just do what they’re supposed to do. There’s never a straight line between point A and point B, because that would be too easy, and this team never does easy.

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