Tha Sports Junkies 101

A New Life in Leafs Nation

A New Life in Leafs Nation Cody Rusan

NHL

Last season, the Toronto Maple Leafs sat lifeless at the bottom of the league, dead last in the standings. This would give the Maple Leafs the chance to draft Auston Matthews first overall, a player many saw a franchise changer.

Because of Matthews and other rookies, there is a new life in Leafs nation. A life of promise and a vision for a great future. Toronto has not seen a Stanley Cup in 50 years. In fact, their last championship season was the very last season before league expansion. To put that into perspective, there were still only six teams in the league at the time, there is currently 30 (31 next year with the Las Vegas Golden Knights).

It is no secret that fans of the Maple Leafs have been waiting a long time for luck to turn around. With the 2015 signing of coach Mike Babcock and the signing of hard-nosed general manager Lou Lamoriello, it was clear that Leafs President, Brendan Shanahan was not fooling around. Toronto is currently made up of a team full of youth and the youth is making its mark within their first years of play.

Matthews, the Leafs first overall pick in the 2016 entry-draft, has been setting new franchise rookie records for goals (39) and points (67). However, Matthews is not the only one raising the bar in Toronto.

Mitch Marner, a first-round pick from the 2015 draft, set a new Leafs rookie record for assists. He currently sits at 42. William Nylander, a first round pick in the 2014 draft, set a new franchise rookie record for longest point streak with at least one point in 12 straight games.

With the playoffs looming, the rookies are looking forward to playing a much tougher style of hockey. The current layout suggests that perhaps the Maples Leafs match up with the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs, which sparks memories for Leafs nation.

“I had to go into work the next morning. Dude came in wearing a Boston Bruins baseball hat. I just stared at him and asked, “Why are you doing this?”,” said Omar White.

What morning after is White referring to? For those unfamiliar, he is referring to the morning after one of the most heartbreaking defeats in Leafs history, May 13, 2013. Game 7. Leafs and Bruins. Two rivals. Two original six franchises.

Though Toronto led 4-1 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period, it went downhill from there. Goaltender at the time, James Reimer, did all that he could to hold on, but would be left to dry on four unanswered goals. The Bruins would later go on to play in the Stanley Cup Final, but fall to the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I don’t know where I would be mentally after Game 7 if it wasn’t for NHL 13,” said White.

So, could this possibly be a chance at redemption for Toronto and Leafs nation? White has a fantasy of what could be a scenario for the rematch.

“Mitch Marner ties it late, Matthews gets the overtime winner. Yes please! I would be in tears, I can see the Sportsnet special now,” said White.

The magic number right now is one point and they are in. So, the Leafs can clinch tonight versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are in contention for the final Wild-Card position. With four games remaining, it is a battle for home-ice advantage over whoever is their first-round opponent. Leafs vs. Bruins rematch, anyone?