We all know it’s coming don’t we? The Leafs seem to have a supernatural ability that prevents them from simply losing games or playoff series in a normal way. Whether it’s blowing a 4-1 lead, getting shut out twice in five games, or losing to a zamboni driver, the team is continuously finding spectacularly unique ways to let their fans down. It could be the result of a curse, or it could be just plain old bad luck – either way, with the team set to take on its arch-rival Montreal Canadiens to begin the 2021 playoffs, anyone who knows what the Toronto Maple Leafs are capable of can’t help but allow one terrible intrusive thought into their mind.
What is the most cursed way this Leafs season could end?
Simply winning a round or two and then eventually going down in a hard-fought series that everyone agrees featured an excellent performance by all players isn’t the way we do things in Toronto. If we lose it’s going to be messy, and if we win it’s only to set up an even messier loss later on. While the eventual heartbreak will no doubt be something none of us saw coming, I have put forward my best effort at what I think are some of the most cursed ways the Leafs could end up bowing out of the 2021 playoffs.
The First Round Sweep
Here’s the most obvious one. After a year where Toronto dominated it’s competition, winning the season series against every team in the division they sail into the playoffs as the number one seed only to… not win a single game.
Getting swept hurts. Getting swept as the favourite hurts more. Getting swept by your rival hurts most. The fact that it would happen 20 years after Toronto did exactly this to Ottawa would be brought up on every sports show and Twitter feed until the end of time as some sort of archaic karmic justice from the sports gods.
Curse Level: 6/10
This would absolutely suck, and the team would be laughed at throughout the summer. But teams get swept all the time, the Leafs can absolutely do worse.
Like the sweep but even more painful. The Leafs win the first three games and everyone gets over-confident about it. Hot takes are happening all over Twitter, analysts are already picking apart next round’s opponent, and everyone starts to plan the parade. Then they lose. And again. And again. And one more time to complete the reverse-sweep.
You know what hurts more than losing a game where you led by three? Losing a series where you led by three.
Curse Level: 7.5/10
The “It was 3-0” memes would go on for years, and the team’s character and desire to win would rightfully be put into question by absolutely everyone. However, it could be worse.
The Cup Final Protocol
Imagine this. The Leafs do it, they make it to their first cup final since 1967. Then the morning of game one, information leaks across social media and every sports show in the country. Several members of the Toronto Maple Leafs are being put into COVID protocol after having been spotted not following league safety regulations. Then just a few hours later, footage leaks of several members of the team out at a party the night before where they were doing all kinds of not social distancing.
Because of the footage, the NHL decides that the team doesn’t deserve a chance to postpone the games and the Leafs are forced to ice a team comprised mostly of AHL players. They get absolutely destroyed in game one and then the NHL announces that the players seen partying on film will be suspended the rest of the series for their blatant disregard of NHL protocol and provincial safety regulations. What’s left of the Leafs loses and the team not only throws away their best chance at winning the cup in over 50 years, but they are forever laughing stocks who cared more about partying than winning.
Curse Level: 9/10
Every boomer on the planet would never shut up about what happened and insist that the kids on this team ruined everything. Worst of all, they’d be right.
The Reverse Cup Final Protocol
Imagine everything outlined above, but it happened to the other team in the Stanley Cup finals. Imagine the Leafs make it to the finals and then their opponent has half the roster suspended because they were dumbasses who went out to some underground party the day before game one. Imagine Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner matching up against AHL players with names like Hayden McKayle or Nathon Bullimonte that you’ve never heard of before and will never hear of again.
Imagine all that happens… and then the Leafs lose.
The team was GIFTED a Stanley Cup victory. Fans of every other franchise were already complaining before game one even started. People saying this doesn’t count, this cup will have an asterisk, and that the NHL rigged this so the Leafs would win.
But then they don’t win. They lose to a roster of nobody’s. Social media would collapse on itself, analysts would spontaneously combust in excitement, and hell would be happy it didn’t have to freeze over.
Curse Level: 9.9/10
It would be the most embarrassing outcome we could possibly thing of… which means.
No one has any idea what this is, but it’s the most embarrassing way the Leafs could lose which means that it’s something beyond human comprehension at the moment. After all, even the most staunch Leafs hater never fantasized they’d lose to their own Zamboni driver.
It exists as only a hypothetical. It is something that is impossible until it happens to the Leafs. A philosophical mystery that floats between dimensions and finds its home in the quantum realm until the hockey gods unleash it upon this cursed franchise in its mortal coil.
No one knows what the most cursed way the Leafs could lose is until the moment it happens. But soon, we could very well find out.