Toronto Maple Leafs: The Regular Season Matters – A Lot

The Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting pretty atop the NHL standings, and as I write this, we are in the middle of the longest streak of prolonged success I can remember this franchise ever having.

The Toronto Maple Leafs won their division last year, and were in competition for the President’s Trophy until the last week of the season. The late season knee injury to Zach Hyman was all that stood between them and their probable first ever President’s Trophy.

Even with what happened in the playoffs (bad luck and injuries torpedoed a great year) this deserved more celebration that it received.

I have to say I am pretty annoyed about the prevalence of the “who cares about the regular season sentiment” that is surrounding the team right now.  It’s incredibly annoying that people feel the need to say this after basically every victory.   Like, we get it – you’re super cool and only care about things that matter, but give it a rest.

I care about the regular season, and so should you – it’s fun.  There’s a lot of good hockey, and it’s absolutely ridiculous that the outcome of some random tournament six months from now is preventing you from enjoying one of the best runs in franchise history.

Toronto Maple Leafs – the Regular Season Matters

I  would like to see the Leafs win a Stanley Cup, but I don’t understand the all-or-nothing approach to results that other people seem to have.  (all stats naturalstattrack.com). 

Just because the Cup is the most important trophy, doesn’t mean that regular season success, winning individual series, or having individual success isn’t important.  It’s not the focus on the Cup that bothers me, it’s the all-or-nothing approach, which sounds very hysterical and whiny, on top of being mathematically ridiculous.

From a strictly mathematical viewpoint, it is nonsensical to play 82 games and then put more importance on an 7 game series where luck has more to do with results than skill.

The concept of a 16 team, variance filled,  tournament where the winner is championed as the “best team” is  ludicrous.  From a mathematical perspective, the regular season champion should be far more revered – it is far more likely that the President’s Trophy team is the best team in hockey any given year than it is that the best team would be the Cup Winner.

I care more about who wins the Cup too. I am not advocating for ending the playoffs, just a reasonable appreciation for the 90% of other games.  Clearly we should give a little more respect to the regular season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the NHL’s 3rd best team since Sheldon Keefe took over.  That’s 126 games of .671 hockey.  That’s a winning percentage that probably gives you a good chance of 1st overall in any NHL season. It is three wins less than Tampa has (with Toronto playing two games less) in the same period.

In the playoffs, Tampa got a little lucky, and Toronto got a little unlucky.  But even with two Stanley Cups, Tampa is not that much better than Toronto. They won the Cups and they deserve the adulation, don’t get me wrong.  But these teams are perceived as being worlds apart, and yet, based on the larger sample size, which in basically every other discipline would be the decider, the Leafs are just as good.

One team wins every year and now 31 teams go home unhappy.  If you don’t enjoy the ups and downs of the regular season, you are choosing to just always be miserable.  The playoffs are the most fun, and we all want to see a Stanley Cup.  But losing in the playoffs is often due to bad luck, not bad play. We should be sophisticated enough to get this.

We should get excited during the regular season. We should celebrate division tiles. The President’s Trophy should be an absolutely huge deal.  The whole trend of Leafs fans being too cool for the regular season and saying “this is fun, but it doesn’t matter” grates on my nerves like a Justin Bieber song.  It’s objectively annoying.

The all-or-nothing approach to championships in the modern era is depressing, immature, boring, and pretty much awful in every way.  Enjoy the regular season. It matters.