The Toronto Maple Leafs are days away from starting training camp, and as always, there are a ton of questions surrounding the team.
Let’s go back to May 20th, 2020. The No. 1 seeded Toronto Maple Leafs are about to face the No. 4 seeded Montreal Canadiens in the first round at home. The pandemic may have stopped fans from entering the building, but throughout the city, millions of people are watching at home, anticipating a first round victory for the first time since 2004.
Auston Matthews was a scoring machine, who had just won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, while Jack Campbell was playing like a Vezina Trophy goaltender. The team had finished 35–14–7 and after dominating the North Division all season, it felt like they were going to make, at the minimum, the Conference Finals.
As we sit today, all of those hopes of the 2020-21 season seem like a dream. The team went up 3-1 in the series against Montreal but ultimately failed in a miserable fashion, losing in seven games, at home. The one year where the team actually earned home-ice advantage was the one year where it didn’t matter and the road team had more fans in the building than the home team.
The 2021-22 season seems so weird for the Leafs right now. As a life-long fan, I almost don’t even want the campaign to begin, because I know that suffering is coming in April. Can we just fast-forward to the playoffs and get this pain over with already?
If this team falls again in the first round, I’ll seriously have to contemplate why I spend so much time watching them, but that’s one of the biggest questions of the regular season.
Does the regular season even matter this year? I mean, yes it does, because they aren’t guaranteed a playoff spot. But at the same time, nothing matters until game one of the first round, where this team needs to redeem themselves.
Auston Matthews could score 82 goals and the team could go 82-0 but if they lose in the first round again, who cares?
As we reflect on the pain and struggles of being a Leafs fan, let’s look at three burning questions surrounding this team as they get ready for the regular season.