I guess everyone needs a gimmick, and the Leafs have chosen finding interesting and exciting ways to fail as theirs. No longer satisfied with blowing Game 7s, the Leafs upped the ante this year and blew games 5, 6, and 7. That’s commitment. Setting the NHL record for longest Stanley Cup drought in history, well, 54 years of failure is commitment defined.
Yes, this series is doing wonders to keep the anger alive and well as we embark on week two of the offseason, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be any easier anytime soon.
So here’s the thing. We’ve just watched the Canadiens in a series. We saw the Leafs outscore them, and at times outplay them. For the Leafs playing to even 80% of what could reasonably be expected of them, they would have won that series.
Now enter the Winnipeg Jets. They seemed to be sending a message by sweeping Connor McDavid and the Oilers. They looked like they could potentially be a hard out. Apparently that is not the case at all. They are now on the verge of being swept, and it’s hard not to see Montreal waltzing neatly into the Semi-Final matchup that seemed predestined to belong to the Leafs. The hurt is real, and while there’s no reason to believe that the Leafs for the first time ever, would have gone the easy route against the Jets, they certainly should have escaped that series as well.
The Canadiens will soon draw the winner of the Knights and Avs and will be mowed down as easily as they handled the Jets through the first three games, but hilariously, the Leafs would have been spared that fate and instead would have faced the Lightning or the Hurricanes, who let’s be honest, would have absolutely destroyed the Leafs even if the Leafs were playing at their best anyway, but there might have been some hope.
If there’s a point at all to rehashing this topic, and stating what we all probably already know, it’s that accepting this postseason as a fluke, a fluke that seems to keep on repeating itself, and trying again with the same group of players and coaches isn’t a reasonable option, it’s the definition of insanity. It can’t be stated enough how adding Florida, Tampa, and Boston back into the Leafs lives next season in place of Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver is going to make the regular season an uphill battle for the Leafs, so expecting the post season to go better, assuming they qualify, is lunacy.
Whether it was an attempt to provide potentially returning players with a vote of confidence, or an attempt to go into the offseason without looking desperate, I can only hope that Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas weren’t true to their word about who will be returning because when your core has spent the last four years providing evidence they can’t win when it matters as a group, you need to find a new core.
Happy Monday, eat Arby’s.