Toronto Maple Leafs fans have a tough relationship with the playoffs but I truly believe that’s about to change.
It’s been 18 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs won a playoff series. Sports are funny that it took one curse breaking (Boston Red Sox winning World Series after 86 years) for another one to begin.
Having a Stanley Cup drought since 1967 is one thing, but not winning a playoff series for almost two decades is embarrassing. This is especially true when your team has a potential MVP and two-time Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner on it.
Since 1967, no matter how well the team has done in the regular season, the playoffs have been a disaster.
The Roger Neilson coached team in the late 1970s made it to the Conference Finals before getting swept by the Montreal Canadiens, who were one of the greatest teams in NHL history that year.
From there, it took another 15 years for the Leafs to be very competitive again, as they went to back-to-back Conference Finals, led by Doug Gilmour. Toronto was on fire from a sports perspective, as the Blue Jays were winning back-to-back World Series titles, but the Leafs unfortunately couldn’t quite make the championship round themselves.
Will the Toronto Maple Leafs End Their Playoff Troubles ?
After the unfortunate events of the early 1990s (*cough, cough, Wayne Gretzky high stick*), Toronto made it back to two more Conference Finals over the next decade, obviously without winning.
Their team was good, but the Buffalo Sabres team they lost to in 1999 had Dominik Hasek on it, who was playing like the greatest goaltender of all-time. And then, in 2002, if the Leafs did beat the Carolina Hurricanes to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, a Detroit Red Wings team that had virtually a Hall-of-Famer on every line was waiting for them.
Since losing that series to the Hurricanes, Toronto’s playoff resume has been nothing but devastation.
Beginning with the Jeremy Roenick overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Toronto has continued to choke away losses over the past 20 years.
- 2013: They blew a 4-1 lead with 12 minutes left in Game 7
- 2019: Blew a 3-2 series lead to lose in Game 7
- 2020: Lost a “Play-In” series, with every game taking place in Toronto
- 2021: Blew a 3-1 series lead with home-ice advantage as a No. 1 seed vs. a No. 4 seed
If we’re going to take one positive away from this, it’s that at least the Leafs have been in the playoffs every year for the past six years. Toronto hasn’t had a streak like this since the late 1990s, so it’s great that they’re competitive enough to get into the Big Dance.
Despite the pain and misery of all of the losses, doesn’t the suffering make the eventual success so much sweeter? I mean, isn’t it supposed to go this way as a Leafs fan?
There doesn’t seem to be a hype around this team right now, and maybe it’s a good thing. Instead of celebrating home-ice, fans are devastated to face the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion, Tampa Bay Lightning.
But let’s all remember this as we get ready for Game One.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have the best goal-scorer and arguably the best playmaker in the NHL right now. They’re led by a captain who’s from Toronto and wants nothing more than to avenge his devastating injury of last year’s playoffs.
Not only that, but they have William Nylander on the third-line and Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza on the fourth-line who will do anything it takes to win a Stanley Cup for their city.
The forward depth is incredible, but the defensive group is just as solid. Any team would love to have Morgan Rielly, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Jake Muzzin, Timothy Liljegren and Ilya Lyubushkin as their top-six defensemen, and let’s not forget that Jack Campbell was an NHL All-Star this year.
Being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs has provided some of the most stressful times in recent sports history, but it’s all going to be worth it one day. This team is special, so enjoy the ride and have fun, because this could be the craziest two months of our lives.