The Toronto Maple Leafs will kick off their 2021-22 campaign tonight against the Montreal Canadiens at home.
Tonight will begin a new chapter for the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Having started in 1917, this will be the team’s 104th season and will be one of the most anticipated campaigns within that timeframe.
Although this franchise has 3000 regular season wins and 13 Stanley Cup championships, they’re treated like a bottom-feeder because of their recent history and it makes sense why. When you haven’t won a playoff series since 2004 and a Stanley Cup since 1967, the expectations continue to grow with every year.
As Leafs fans, we always expect the worse. No matter how great this team is in the regular season, we always assume they will choke. This unfortunate thinking came into full effect last year when Toronto was up 3-1 against the Montreal Canadiens in the First Round.
With a stranglehold on the series and an opportunity to win Game 5 at home, we all thought they could win, but deep-down, knew it wasn’t going to happen. That negative thinking transpired into a reality, as a few days later, Toronto’s season was over.
To make things even worse, their arch rival who beat them in the First Round, ended up advancing all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, when instead, it should have been Toronto’s year to do so.
2021-22 Season Is Most Anticipated Campaign in Recent Memory
After another year of disappointment and an Amazon Prime documentary that just came out where we all got to relive all of that sadness again, the 2021-22 campaign is now here and we all have hope again.
Hope is a popular word in Toronto Maple Leafs fan’s vocabularies. If we didn’t have hope, there wouldn’t be a reason to watch the games. Hope is what makes sports so beautiful and it makes all of us believe that the enviable could actually happen.
I’m not saying that the Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup this year, but I hope it happens.
Since winning the Stanley Cup 54 years ago, this is still one of the most talented rosters the team has ever constructed. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are generational talents and if they can get solid goaltending from Jack Campbell, this team can go places.
The team has been really good over the past two years but they’ve also been plagued with terrible circumstances due to the pandemic. They were buzzing in 2019-20 before the league shut down for four months and they were forced to play a Best-of-Five series against Columbus.
Then last year, after winning the North Division, they couldn’t even use the home-ice advantage that they earned during the regular season. Instead, the Montreal Canadiens had more fans at games than Toronto during the playoffs and that could have been the difference between winning and losing.
The 2021-22 campaign is a fresh start.
It’s Sheldon Keefe’s first full season in an 82-game schedule, with fans and against the rest of the league. We don’t have to watch this team play the same six opponents all year and they’ll finally be tested against the best teams in the NHL on a daily basis.
This year could be different, but it could all be the same when April comes and the team loses in the First Round.
However, for every Toronto Maple Leafs fan out there, let’s HOPE that this year is the year that something good finally happens.