The Toronto Maple Leafs have once again been made the scorn of the rest of the NHL, to little surprise.
An annual Twitter poll conducted by the always great JFresh of EP Rinkside, the user poll asked respondents a few questions to get a read on all things hate involving NHL teams. And the Toronto Maple Leafs have taken home some awards.
For the third straight year, the Leafs took home the grand prize of being named as the most annoying fanbase in all of Hockey.
A whopping 37%, a pretty decent margin behind 2nd place Ottawa at 10%. Congrats to Ontario for making up 47% of the most annoying fans.
Toronto Maple Leafs Once Again Named The Most Hated Fanbase
What makes this the funniest is that the Leafs were named as the most hated team by 16/32 of the fanbases surveyed.
31/32 voting Toronto as their fanbase of displeasure. Of course, the sole team left out of the "most hated" fanbase pile-on was Leafs fans themselves, quite honestly a bit of a shock.
Canucks and Habs fans were self-depreciating enough to place themselves on their own list. Maybe what bothers me most is Edmonton having Toronto at 1st and yet, no Calgary. What has happened to rivalries? Does McDavid vs Matthews supercede the Battle of Alberta? I hope not.
It's not a surprise the Leafs are quite commonly on the mind of opponents, but where the current housing market is struggling with affordability costs in the city, it must be nice for Torontonians to know they can still win at something.
Sadly, the Leafs only finished 2nd for the most delusionaI fanbase.
Now, as a journalist, writing for a Leafs blog, I root for all 32 teams to do well. But I won't stand idly and have someone say Toronto isn't the most delusional fanbase.
Don't let tweets from 3 years ago woo you, Toronto is still home to the league's most passionate and die-die-hard crazies. I guess Ottawa going from expected contenders to near the bottom of the league can be joked by some, but it's not like it was the work of deluded homerism.
The Senators have all the makings of a deserving playoff player, but have suffered from poor luck. No one expected them to be in the mix for Macklin Celebrini but luck is what it is.
Toronto may have earned credibility for their hype with obvious recent success, but points will be taken off for the Leafs fans who doubt themselves every year, giving up on being the season that breaks the cup curse, usually after the first big loss of the season. For some reason, people think Leafs fans are pure crazy, and those fans will happily agree.
Responses from the JFresh poll seem to think the Leafs also have the fanbase most likely to melt-down, and by an iron-clad majority of 51%. Can't dispute that one. Also, on somewhat of a funny note, the 4 teams that finished in the bottom of the standings last season (ANA, CHI, CBJ, SJ) all got 0%. I'd be surprised but have to remind myself it was a year with multiple high-elite prospects.
At least the Toronto Maple Leafs only finished 4th And 5th when asked for the most overrated short-term and long-term teams. I find it hard to see Toronto as a team where I'm concerned about the short-term.
Even if William Nylander does indeed walk, that still does leave multiple star players, with Matthew Knies showing he's able to take on the pressure of being a top-six forward. The cap going up will likely help mitigate a potential Nylander loss, but I struggle to see the Leafs as a team where their window is closing, even if they lose one of the core four.
Do The Toronto Maple Leafs Deserve Questions Over Their Future?
The long-term outlook is fair to look at for scrutiny. Easton Cowan has quickly shattered the low expectations Leafs fans somewhat unfairly placed upon him being seen as a "reach", despite a strong end to the year for him in London, and now on Team Canada for the World Juniors with fellow Leaf Fraser Minten.
Goaltending will undoutably be the factor that decides how long Toronto can keep up their winning ways in the next few years.
2024 looks to be a weak Goalie class, so the chances of finding a future Starter aren't so certain compared to last year. Artur Akhtyamov and Denis Hildeby have shown very positive improvements this season, and with Joseph Woll seeming comfortable with taking on a larger role, you'd hope this indicates Toronto is comfortable in their goalie situation, at least in the long haul.
Defense feels like the only real weakness. Toronto has a deep forward group not in the NHL with Nick Robertson & Ty Voit in the AHL (Voit made his debut yesterday but left due to injury), and Brandon Lisowsky and Nikita Grebyonkin as other potential future NHLers, but that same depth doesn't look to exist in the blueline.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled this season with defensive injuries, and have struggled to find solutions, and haven't had one of their prospects to try to fill those gaps.
Besides Topi Niemela, there isn't really anyone you can point to as "up next". Mikko Kokkonen might be able to carve out a bottom-four role, as could Noah Chadwick, currently in the WHL. But it's an area that admittedly needs work. Luckily, 2024 is poised to be a strong defensive year, and Round 1 has the potential for a future key asset, if the pick isn't traded.
For Leafs fans, I doubt many will take the criticism as nothing less than a badge of honor. Leafs fans know both the depths of their fanbase and how much of the public discussions focuses on Toronto, which likely plays a part in the dislike. No one would have it any other way, and no Leafs fans are gonna be giving up the passion anytime soon.