Toronto Maple Leafs: The Real, the Fake and the Upcoming Rivalries

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 12: Radko Gudas #7 and Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers battle against John Tavares #91 and Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during Game Five of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on May 12, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Panthers defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 12: Radko Gudas #7 and Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers battle against John Tavares #91 and Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during Game Five of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on May 12, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Panthers defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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One of the best parts of sports is the rivalries that come between teams and the Toronto Maple Leafs have developed some good ones over the past few years.

Many people believe the Toronto Maple Leafs best rivalry is with the Montreal Canadiens, but there has not been much to that battle in nearly half a century.

There are some entertaining rivalries that the Leafs have developed, some that are fake and are just developed through Twitter, and their are some upcoming rivalries that are going to start or get reborn.

Here is a look some of the rivalries that the Toronto Maple Leafs have going on right now.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning (A Real Rivalry)

For the better part of this generation of Toronto Maple Leafs team and fans the organizations biggest rivalry was the Boston Bruins but that has been taken over by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The two teams have met up in each of the last two playoffs in the first round with each team winning one series apiece.

In the 2022 playoffs, Toronto outplayed Tampa Bay and deserved to win the series, however the Lightning took it down, despite trailing the series 3-1 to take it in seven games.

This past Spring, Tampa Bay looked like the better team this time, however Toronto was able to come out on top in six games thanks to an overtime winner by John Tavares.

During both series the Tampa Bay took advantage of the lack of physicality that the Maple Leafs brand of hockey plays.  The Lightning bullied their way into advantages and was able to toe the line on what the NHL officials would call for penalties in the playoffs.

The Boiling Point in the Rivalry

Things came to a head in Game 3 in the two teams series last year when a donnybrook ensued after a Morgan Rielly and Brayden Point collision left the Lightning player injured.  In the following seconds the Lightning stars jumped and cross checked Rielly, which followed by Steven Stamkos throwing multiple sucker punches on Auston Matthews.

When you add in the the antics that Mikhail Sergachev has done over the years, along with departed players Corey Perry and Pat Maroon there has been a lot of anger built between the two teams.

Going into the 2023-24 season, Tampa Bay has looked like the wiser of the two teams, but with Toronto finally getting over the hump of the first round and needing to learn how to get deeper you have to wonder if there will be more push back this upcoming season.  If the Toronto Maple Leafs can play with a little more grit, the series could blossom into a true rivalry.

There are four match-ups between the two oppositions this upcoming season with the first occurring on November 11 and the second being a couple weeks later.