It Has Not Been "8 Years of Failure" for the Toronto Maple Leafs

May 4, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34)
May 4, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost again, and their fans, including me, are off on all sorts of crazy emotional tirades.

While it's true that the Toronto Maple Leafs have failed to get out of the first round in seven of the last eight seasons, and while it's true that they should probably have done better, we clearly need to establish some common facts so that we can have some good discourse about the team.

It is not fair to pad your argument by saying that the Leafs have failed for 8 straight years.

It is in fact very disingenuous to say that, and it makes whatever you are saying suspect. If we all agree on some basic facts, it doesn't matter if we don't agree with each other, the talks will still be productive.

So with that in mind, hear me out:

It Has Not Been "8 Years of Failure" for the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Colorado Avalanche drafted Nathan MacKinnon in 2013-14.

The Avs made the playoffs in his first season, then missed them for three straight seasons. In 2018 they went out in the first round.

MacKinnon made the playoffs in just two of his first five seasons. Auston Matthews, on the other hand, made the playoffs in all five of his first seasons.

The Leafs never made it out of the first round, and in fact suffered some pretty embarrassing losses during this period. But Matthews was only 23 at the end of it. His closes peers did much worse, but for some reason, no one was ready to trade Mikko Rantanen after five years.

After another three years of failure, MacKinnon won the Cup in his 9th season after being drafted. Auston Matthews just finished his 8th season, having made it out of the first round just once.

They each played 50 playoff games after eight seasons. Connor McDavid had played 49.

Now we sit here with people wanting to blow up the Leafs and cosntantly repeating how they failed "8 years straight."

But that just isn't true.

If the Leafs had of had a normal rebuild and hadn't made the playoffs during their developmental years, they would be looked at much differently today. What I'm saying is that the entire converstation is a matter of perception.

Yes, failing eight times seems bad, but also, it's eight years of growth and learning. If winning the Stanley Cup is so important, that's probably because of how hard it is to do. It seems like that experience losing would only make you better in the future.

Giving up just because you're mad and frustrated never makes sense. The hardest thing to do is usually the right thing to do. In this case, that's realizing that what you have is special and most of all, in line with your peers.

Outside of the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins winning while their stars were on entry-level deals, only the 2017 Penguins, the 2018 Capitals and the 2022 Avalanche have won cups in the Cap Era with Generational Players.

All three of those latter teams did it well after where the Leafs are now.

So even if you do want the Leafs to blow it up and try again with a different mix, please stop padding your argument with the disingenuous statement about it being 8 years.


There have been three years when the Leafs were a fully mature team that was a true contender. Everything before that was a bonus. Let's not hold it against them because they were good a lot faster than they should have been.