Toronto Maple Leafs Decades of Failure Have Ruined the Fun of This Team

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs last won a Stanley Cup in 1967.

Saying that it’s been 53 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs won doesn’t do justice to just how badly they have failed over the last five decades.  Just saying the number is an insult to the spectacular ways in which they failed.

They have not even played for the Stanley Cup a single time since the NHL expanded beyond six teams.  It’s a pathetic legacy matched by no other team, and made only lamer by the reverence for championships that occur ed when there were only six teams.

From a corrupt, insane owner, to an abject lesson in the intellectual banality of corporate ownership, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been an embarrassing joke for most of the last 50 years.

Even during the best of the Cliff Fletcher or Pat Quinn years, the Leafs through money at problems and followed trends and recycled one “hockey guy”  after another.

53 Years of Losing

They were perpetually in a cycle of hiring a  guy that recently had success, which the media would eat up and turn him into a savior.  Then after three years he’d be garbage, everyone would hate him, and then anywhere from a month to a year later he’d be fired and the cycle would repeat.

Ballard was crazy, but at least he’d try things (Like hiring a GM even younger than Kyle Dubas), and once the suits took over, it was the most predictable, non-creative assembly line hockey-by-numbers crap for years.

They never once had the nerve to try a full scale rebuild.  They gained a well deserved reputation for trading young players only to see them blossom elsewhere.  They constantly traded high end draft picks for short-term gains, and for the most part, they hired only recycled has beens.

Despite refusing to do basic things any hockey fans could have done (try to get a high draft pick, stop trading draft picks) the Leafs of the 1990-2015 were only ever creative in the stupidest ways possible.

We’re too good to tank a season, but we are happy to be the first team in pro sports with four GMs,  they told is 1999.

Shortly after that, for reasons inexplicable to all, they had the only coach/GM combo left in the league.

Then in 2008 they hired the only guy trying to make sure hockey had more fighting.

To sum up: they were terrible, and predictable, and boring, and only broke with tradition to do insane things that everyone knew were dumb at the time.

The Ballard years were a failure, but the corporate years were, in ways, much worse.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Today

The craziest thing I’ve ever seen in pro sports is the fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs failing to embrace the best team they have iced in 53 years.

Now, obviously not all fans.  But I would say there is a massive split in the fan base to the point where I estimate 50 of Leafs fans hope the team fails so that they will fire their general manager and go back to doing things the same old way as they always have.

It seems crazy to me that people, after 53 of failure, aren’t saying “by all means, let’s try something new.”  Instead, so many people seem to be personally offended that the new management has different ideas about how to do things.

The Leafs current GM abides by a process over results philosophy, that appears to be heavily reliant on conclusions drawn from statistical analysis and game theory.

Even if you don’t get it, what have you got to lose?

The Toronto Maple Leafs failed in so many spectacular ways: they brought back Cliff Fletcher, they went full enforcer when the league was trending to skill, they let Tukka Rask and Roberto Luongo (to say nothing of Joe Sakic, Dougie Hamilton or Scott Niedermeyer) have hall of fame careers for other teams.  They failed at bringing in both Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros.

All that is OK?  Lou Lamoriello was the next  in a series of the same thing  after the same thing after the same thing.  Kyle Dubas is a breath of fresh air in a stale, complacent industry.

Maybe it isn’t Dubas, but how else do you explain a fanbase not embracing a team that has Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly and Freddie Anderson on it?

Do you really hate the fact that the GM wants to focus on skill so much that you let it make you hate William  Nylander and his glorious on-ice skills?

Kyle Dubas has the Leafs on a great path. The roster is skilled and among the best in the NHL (arguably the best), they have at least two blue-chip prospects, no bad long-term contracts, and probably the best young blue-line in the game.

John Tavares  would be in competition for being the best player to dress for the Leafs since their last cup, if not for Auston Matthews who is arguably the best player in the NHL, and who should be winning his first Hart Trophy this season.

Matthews is the best player in Toronto Maple Leafs history, and the Leafs are in  a prime position to compete for a decade.  They have a young roster with every core player locked in.

Marleau and Lamoriello Cost the Leafs at Least One Cup. dark. Next

Toronto Maple Leafs fans need to stop complaining, stop taking this team for granted and embrace them.  If you have ever been a Leafs fan, now should be the time of your life.