No Asterisks When the Toronto Maple Leafs Win the Stanley Cup

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 29: Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander #88 skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on October 29, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 29: Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander #88 skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on October 29, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the NHL’s best teams.

Despite a bit of an up and down year, the Toronto Maple Leafs are quite clearly one of the NHL’s best teams.

If you compare them statistically to Tampa and Boston, there isn’t much difference.  Other than the win column.

But the Leafs turned over half their roster last summer, then they switched coaches in the middle of the season (after a six game losing streak).  They didn’t play their optimal lineup a single time, and their star goalie had the worst year of his career, despite much improved team defense over the last several years.

They played nine games with their two best defenseman out of the lineup at the same time.

Those things combined to keep the Leafs lower in the standings than they deserved.

And when (if) the NHL season resume, they won’t matter at all.

Toronto Maple Leafs and the Stanley Cup

The Leafiest thing that could happen is that the Toronto Maple Leafs break their 53 years Stanley Cup drought in a year where the playoffs are altered.

The NHL might not finished the season at all, but if they do:

They might not play 82 games.

They might not have a best of seven playoffs.

They might award the Cup in front of an empty arena.

Who knows what could happen?   Or what compromises might be necessary to get the season done (as long as they don’t compromise anyone’s safety, I’m fine with whatever they do).

The thing is, though, when the Toronto Maple Leafs inevitably win the weirdest Stanley Cup in the NHL’s history, there won’t be an asterisks.

Oh, some jokesters might try to apply one, but I won’t acknowledge it.

A win is a win is  a win.

Now, some of the team’s own fans will probably be the loudest dissenters. I can’t foresee the Dubas and Nylander haters getting too excited about being proven wrong; Nor the ones who think the Leafs injuries don’t affect the outcome of games (but happily celebrate, sans irony, when the team acquires a fourth liner) or the ones who just want a team that fights, dammit.

They won’t buy in for anything.

So when the Toronto Maple Leafs pass the cup to William Nylander, there are many people who will say it doesn’t count.  They’ll say Nylander doesn’t life the Cup like a man! That Wendel could show him a thing or two about lifting Cups. (Except, you know, he can’t!).

Then they’ll smash their glass and say this is an anomaly.  It’s an asterisks championship.  That it doesn’t count.

Fire Dubas, they’ll say.

Trade Nylander.

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But I won’t care.  I’ll be celebrating just the same as if they won the Cup under normal circumstances.  Because, if everyone’s playing by the same rules – which are made up by people, not decreed by some sort of Hockey God – then it counts just the same.