Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The Maple Leafs are a mess and it’s hard to watch, in more ways than one

The Maple Leafs are spiralling. They’ve lost four in a row, they keep losing to bad teams, and they don’t look anything like the team that steamrolled through most of the 2021-22 regular season. Sunday night’s third-period collapse in Anaheim was a truly pathetic scene – a so-called Stanley Cup contender playing terrified hockey against the last-place team in the league. This is a team in crisis right now, and fixing it is going to be a very hard job.

Luckily, it’s not your job to fix it. If you’re a Maple Leafs fan, your only job is to cheer them on. Keep the faith, believe in your team, and look forward to the next game.

That’s becoming a very hard job too.

I’m not the only one feeling that, right? I’m talking to the fans here, not the anti-Leafs weirdos who claim not to care about the team but still read pieces like this for some reason; we know you guys are enjoying all this. For the rest of us, not so much. If I can take off my impartial-media-guy disguise for a second and just be the Leaf fan that I’ve been for nearly four decades, some teams are easier to cheer on than others. The 1993-era team of Wendel Clark, Dougie Gilmour and Pat Burns will live forever, even if they never went all the way. The Pat Quinn-era teams were fantastic, with Mats Sundin and a rotating class of villains who drove other teams crazy. Even the early days of Brian Burke’s mess of a team were at least their own kind of fun, probably the last chance we’ll ever have to embrace a team that tried to beat them in the alleys. If you go back far enough, you might still have a place in your heart for the Sittler/McDonald/Palmateer era team that took out the Islanders.

This current Leafs team is the most talented one I’ve seen in my lifetime. It might not even be all that close. But are they fun to watch? Do you like cheering for this? Or are you just kind of tired of them?

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