• Marcus Bender

The State Of Leafs' Nation

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

How is it possible for one franchise to have so much pain?


Is there a curse on this team? Is there some sort of cosmic joke of which we are all unaware?


How is it possible for the Leafs to always let us down?


We all know the details. The Leafs haven’t won the Cup since ’67. Yeah, yeah tell us another. They haven’t even been to the Finals since that time. It’s like, Canada turned 100 and… The Leafs suck. Forever.


There have been brief moments of glory. The Leafs made the Conference Finals twice in ’93 and ’94 (“Darn you, Gretzky!”). But other than that, it’s been pretty much hovering between ‘mediocrity’ and ‘suck’ for about 53 years now.


I don’t know if most of us realize how bad it has been recently. The last time the Leafs won a Playoff Series was in 2004. In the 13 seasons since that time, the Leafs have failed to make the Playoffs 10 times. They lost in the First Round the only three times they did make it. The 2000s have not been kind to Leafs' Nation.

The creativity they have displayed in losing has been nothing short of spectacular.


In 2012, the Leafs lost the last 10 of 11, and failed to make the Playoffs.


In 2014, they went 2-12 in their final 14 games, and failed to make the Playoffs.


In 2015, things got so bad a 13-year sellout streak was broken and, you guessed it, they failed to make the Playoffs.


But of course, it was that one night in 2013 which we all remember.


The Night Of Sorrows.


Reimer’s Last Stand.


The Blue Wedding.


A night which lives on in infamy. We don’t even need to talk about that night here in Leafs’ Nation. It’s still too fresh. It's still too fresh.


Whatever the case, the Leafs always seem to find a way. They always seem to find a new way to lose. To smother that brief glimmer of hope. To extinguish any lingering aspiration.


They build it up, and oh, how they build it up… We start "be-Leafing" again and asking ourselves: Maybe this is the year? Maybe this is their chance to turn it all around. Maybe this is the year they overcome the demons, and break the curse.


...And then they rip out your heart, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it until it bleeds blue.


Like Prometheus, Leafs’ Fans are forever doomed to grow a new heart each year, a new organ is generated, only to be ripped out and squashed all over again.


There’s a famous saying in Leafs’ Nation: “Well, there’s always next year.”.


This provincial colloquialism is meant to comfort Leafs’ Faithful, and sometimes it's used as a greeting. Leafs’ Fans all know what that means: Don’t get your hopes up too much. After all, we're the Leafs.


But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Ladies, if you're looking for someone loyal, look no further than around Leafs' Nation. You know a Leafs' Fan is faithful. They'll lay it all down on the line, even through decades of failure. You know a steady man when you see him in a Leafs' Sweater.


At the very least, Leafs’ Nation can take some solace in the fact this year is not yet over.


No folks, it ain’t over yet.

Yes, that was a collapse, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be a collapse. That doesn't mean it will be the collapse.

Maybe that was like a mini collapse to wake up the team. Maybe Matthews will come back, a Demon of the Playoff Realm, and score 5 goals every game. Maybe Tavares will remember he’s a 40-goal scorer, and score a hattie. Maybe this is the minor setback the Leafs needed to wake them up before they before their Great Cup Run.


Maybe.


Maybe we should all get our lawn chairs ready along University St for the Big Parade.


Or maybe not.


It's a sad day in Leafs' Nation. One might even say it's "blue".


But it hasn't phased the resolve of the blue-blooded hockey fans. The most faithful hockey fans on the planet. They'll lose for 60 straight years, and still keep coming back for more.


Who can beat that?


Nobody. Ha, it's a trick question. No other team has lost this consistently, for this long.


(I can feel Sabres' Fans shaking their fists angrily in the background).


Regardless, it isn't over yet Leafs' Nation. It ain't over yet. They still might turn it around.


But even if they don't, don't worry. You know why. Because:


There's always next year.





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