From the bottom of the basement, to a shot at their first cup in 50 years, the 2016-2017 Toronto Maple Leafs gives the city hope for the future. Hockey fans from not only Toronto, but different fan bases, are taking notice of this sudden upbringing of a young team and are soaking it all in.
Playoffs. A word that made people laugh in October, as the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to start their 100th season in the NHL.
With a new logo, a revamped jersey, and a bunch of “kids” dressing up for the year, even the strongest fans of the team wasn’t expecting what ended up happening.
Yet here we are, 82 games later, and we’re now getting ready to face the Washington Capitals in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pretty surreal isn’t it?
What was expected as a long shot became a reality and the city of Toronto is once again buzzing and ready for some intense hockey. And why shouldn’t the city be excited?
Toronto resident and a die hard Maple Leafs fan, Andre Zonni, thanks the management for making the sacrifice needed for the team to get to where they are today.
“If it wasn’t for Brendan Shanahan going to the owners and telling them that they need to tear is down, then we wouldn’t be in this position right now.” said Zonni discussing the Leafs.
“If you’re a casual fan, get on board. You’re going to like were this is going.”
Fellow Leafs fan Warren Fernandes echoed Zonni’s words of management and what they’ve brought to the table since taking the helm.
“This is exciting and proves just how great of a coach Mike Babcock really is. At the beginning of the season, he was modest saying that this process of making the Leafs a playoff caliber team will take at least a few years.” said Fernandes.
“Nobody, including myself, expected the Leafs to make the playoffs this year. Now that we finally have a front office in Shanahan, Lamoriello, and Babcock, who are 100 percent devoted to making this city/team a contender again, it’s surreal.”
Humber College radio broadcasting student Lex Tan, is relieved and believes the suffering of Leafs fans has come to an end.
“Leafs fans have been beaten down so much over the years that just wanting a real rebuild was the best that anyone come hope for. What a difference eight months can do for an organization.” said Tan.
Even rivals tip their caps to the Leafs. Montreal Canadiens fan Dwyane Santos gives the team credit.
“Despite being a Montreal Canadians fan, I’m very pleased that the Leafs have entered the playoffs. It’s a delightful moment for many friends, and I’m glad that they get to enjoy this, cup or no cup.” said Santos.
Boston Bruins fan Emily Majeski, was caught off guard how from her perspective in the United States, one player can begin to make a difference.
“The [Maple Leafs] were literally at the bottom of the barrel last year and the morale difference that came as a result of just one player (Matthews) is so improbable. I’m shocked” said Majeski.
More from Toronto Maple Leafs
- Maple Leafs Rumours: Half of NHL teams interested in Ilya Mikheyev
- Toronto Maple Leafs: How to address the goaltender position
- Leafs reward Timothy Liljegren with extension after breakout season
- Maple Leafs: Jack Campbell situation becoming increasingly uncertain
- Jason Spezza retires, joins Toronto Maple Leafs front office
Finally, fans from outside of the province and the other side of Canada took note. Saskatoon native Eric Friesen, a lifelong Oilers fan who moved to Toronto for school, is amazed and loves the energy the Maple Leafs have brought to the city.
“I knew I was coming to a hockey mad market. Everyone around me has been super excited about the Leafs.” said Friesen discussing the atmosphere in Toronto.
“It’s a huge success. Any team that goes from last to playoffs is a success. The Oilers finished one point ahead of the Leafs near the bottom last year and are in the playoffs too. It’s good for hockey in our country.”
That’s the main takeaway from the fans of hockey. It’s a success. Whether they end up going all the way or not, the 2016-2017 season won’t ever be taken away from the fans or the team itself.
To echo the people who were interviewed, it’s impossible to deny what the Maple Leafs have done this year. Similar to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, the city is getting excited for not only the upcoming series, but for the years to come.
Go ahead. Embrace it.