A Budding Disappointment
It's Thursday, less than 48 hours since the Leafs pulled off the threepeat-- losing to the Boston Bruins in game seven for the third time in five years. I wanted to exercise the common hockey practice of waiting at least 24 hours before I address my concerns and express my views. That combined with the field assignment I was on Wednesday to cover Vladdy Jrs' debut after receiving inaccurate intel from a now discreditable source. But we will save that blog for later when he officially debuts Friday.
All the Molson Canadians, corn dogs and crackerjacks couldn't heal my heartbreak, though.
There's a lot of finger pointing going around over here in Toronto, and questions are being raised. Here's the top five people on Toronto's shit list:
1. Mike Babcock.
2. Jake Gardiner
3. William Nylander 6.9
5. Justin Bieber
With an honourable mention to Jake DeBrusk.
I will start from the bottom with Biebs and work my way to Babs.
Superstitions are real-- especially in hockey. But not superstitions like a curse, I mean the kind where if you use black tape and switch to white for one game, you may not even be able to raise the puck and won't have an answer why. Curses don't exist in hockey, they only exist in weird sports like baseball. To slander Drake and Justin as curses and not portray them as the gifts that they are makes me shake with rage. Drizzy has donned every jersey available in Foot Locker and is the ambassador of the Raps-- a team far from cursed. As for the Biebs, well leave him alone before he puts you to sleep (with his voice not fist).
This brings us to number three on our shit list; William Nylander 6.9.
- He's pretty with great hair.
- A natural talent loaded with skill.
- Prototypical millennial.
However, he does possess great self-awareness and is taking accountability.
If Willie can maintain that hair and get ten points for every million we pay him like he's capable of doing, it won't be long before he's in the good graces of Leafs Nation.
As for Gardiner, I feel indifferent. He would go from looking like the Leafs 4th forward to the Bruins 4th forward in the same shift. Jake was on the ice for the decisive goal in all three game sevens against Boston going -9. He will be looking for 6m this off-season and will have to find it somewhere else. It's always tough to see a longtime Leaf go, but this will be for the better on both sides.
Now onto the number one culprit for ruining our season; Babs. Coach Mike was blamed for everything this season and used as the primary scapegoat. If the Leafs lost, it was all Babcock's fault and when they won, it had nothing to do with him. He either didn't play Matthews, Marner and Tavares enough-- or when he did, he wasn't bringing out the best in them.
Babcock is historically known for rolling four lines strong. You would think this strategy would sit well with a team of millennials who grew up in the participation trophy era of fair play.
Now personally, as a coach who was also robbed a championship, I stand in solidarity with Babs and all other coaches.
Could he have played a select few more while limiting others? Sure. But his first-round strategy of not running his stars to the ground would make a lot of sense to everyone if we we're battling in the Stanley Cup finals in June, using Matthews and Tavares' line every other shift.
I had the distinct pleasure of attending every home game in this series (Face value: thousands of dollars).
The true turning point was game six, Easter Sunday.
We had the opportunity to close out in six games at home and had the worst game of the series. You may as well throw in the towel after that. I understand the average age of the Buds is 17 years old. But you can't just show up in third period of an elimination game because you were late from your Easter egg hunt.
Lastly, it's the NHL playoffs. You can't predict any of this. The Tampa Bay Lightning had the strongest season in the history of the NHL and got swept. Pittsburgh Penguins got swept and the 2018 Stanley Cup champions, Washington Capitals, lost to the Hurricanes in game seven.
It's evident, the NHL playoffs are on drugs this year.
Meanwhile we went to game seven with the current Stanley Cup favourites and we're still plotting the execution of Canada's team (last Canadian team in the playoffs unanimously becomes Canada's team).
Now I will never become immune to losing to Boston. But the Celtics won't make it past round two and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be terrorizing the Red Sox for years to come. That makes this a little more bearable.