Alas, another season has come and gone and Canucks fans are left once again without their team ready to take them to the dance. So what are you to do? Fear not! As we are the helpful and caring types, we have begun our annual campaign to find homes for Canucks fans who don’t want hockey to be over. Remember, your loyalty is nothing trivial, so make them tell you why you should pledge your allegiance in the quest for hockey’s ultimate prize.
Somehow, I always seem to end up with the really difficult ones. Welp, here goes nothing.
Friends, I am here to ask you to consider that the Toronto Maple Leafs might be the team you want to consider rooting for in the 2019 NHL Playoffs. I’ll wait for you to stop swearing at me. Also, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Seriously...
I know that some of you will feel this is blasphemy. I get that. You will also feel that cheering for another Canadian team is traitorous. I do get that, though to a lesser degree. I will have some more thoughts at the end, but the person who needs to make the case is one who covers them, and for this we’ve turned to elseldo, one of Pension Plan Puppets’ associate editors.
1.- It seems that the bigger the market, the harder it is to actually get the truth sometimes when it comes to how a team is actually doing. As the Leafs prepare to take on a very familiar foe once again, have they done enough to prevent what happened before from happening again?
Well, they definitely upgraded their #2 centre situation by going from Tyler Bozak to John Tavares. The growth of Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson helps offset the loss of James van Riemsdyk as well. I think the overall growth of the young players from Matthews to Mitch Marner to Kapanen and Johnsson as mentioned above is the biggest gain the Leafs have made over last season. That, and sitting Nazem Kadri down to remind him what parts of the body to -not- make contact with will help.
2.- One of the things that I love about the playoffs is that sometimes it’s not the superstar that becomes the biggest story in the playoffs, but a role player who gets hot for a few magical weeks. Who do you think is that guy on the Leafs?
The Maple Leafs have plenty of players who could fit this role. Zach Hyman has over 40 points this season, though I’m not sure if he fits this mold since he usually plays on the top two lines. Connor Brown has been talked about having a down season but he’s one point above last year, and only seven down from his rookie season. I think that if Brown doesn’t break out, the guy we’ll all be talking about is Andreas Johnsson. I think if anyone can sneak his way into the top of the scoring race for the Leafs in the playoffs it’s him. He scored more than Zach Hyman did, but outside Toronto he’s not a known name and can be that player who gets everyones attention.
3.- If it were any other team, this would be an easy sell. That being said, what would you say to convince a Canucks supporter about choosing to cheer for the Leafs over the Bruins?
We didn’t ruin the Sedins one chance to win a Stanley Cup.
Hockey fans in Canada are split into two groups:
For the one that favours nationalism, you want a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup. Do you really want the Flames of all people to be the team to bring Stanley home? The Jets*? Let’s be honest here, Winnipeg has had more cringe worthy coverage since they got a team back than the Maple Leafs have. Maple Leafs fans were never named a star of the game after being swept in the playoffs.
If you’re not a “this is Canada’s game” type of fan, look at it from a story telling point. The Maple Leafs haven’t won a cup since 1967 - You may have heard this once or twice. A 52 year drought comes to an end. The longest drought in the NHL (the Blues don’t count since they’ve never won a cup. Can’t have a drought if it’s never rained). Everyone loved it when the Cubs finally won.
What’s the story if the Bruins win? Oh another Boston team won a championship. Boston doesn’t deserve to win this cup. Boston and the rest of New England have had enough championships for one lifetime. Enough is enough.
Thanks a ton to @ElSeldo for taking the time to answer these for us!
Some good points to consider here, right? Here’s what I think. He’s right about the nationalism thing. If I want to worry about the Canadian team, I will wait for an international game featuring Team Canada. And as far as who I hate more? It’s not even close. How could anyone cheer for the team that punched Daniel Sedin in the face? That is a betrayal, and there’s not another team out there apart from divisional rivals that could beat that in terms of it.
Honestly, if the Canucks aren’t in it, then I like a good story. Last year, the Washington Capitals finally overcame their personal demons and won it all. Even who they defeated, had the feeling of a well-written Hollywood script. It made for great viewing as a fan. Think back to 2011. How the Canucks seemed doomed to a fate they’d suffered 2 straight seasons: elimination at the hands of (at the time) their most bitter rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. That was a 7 game series for the ages, won in overtime on a goal that will remain (for now) the biggest in this team’s history. The Leafs find themselves in a similar boat. A 3rd straight appearance against a foe as bitterly despised as those Blackhawks were. What would be better, cheering for the guys that raised the Cup on our ice? Or seeing them suffer the fate Chicago did when Toronto finds their own Dragonslayer?
Let us know what you think (and remember, we do actually enforce SBN policies, so keep the comments mature. We like you and want to keep you around).