Toronto Maple Leafs
Last year, it felt like the Leafs season was 82 exhibition games until the real season began against Boston. It was a (mostly) entertaining 82 games, but it just didn't feel like it mattered. When the real season started, we bowed out in the first round to Boston.
This season feels awfully similar. Last night, I was picking up my kids at YYZ and by the time we got home the Leafs were down 5-0. That's no fun, but I sure didn't panic. We clicked over to the OKC / Brooklyn game and came back when it was 5-3. The finish was great fun, even though we lost, but again, it really didn't matter. The real season for this team starts in April.
I feel the exact same way about the Raptors. The Raps are essentially playing an 82 game exhibition season before the real season begins in a month. Nick Nurse is mixing the new in with the old and trying various combinations and strategies before things matter. More often than not, it's thoroughly entertaining, but when we lay an egg as we did against the Cavs, it doesn't faze me. This regular season simply doesn't matter. Like the Leafs, the Raptors will be wholly judged by what happens in the playoffs.
For what it's worth, I could see the Raps winning the Eastern Conference, but I'd be shocked if the Leafs escaped the second round. Still, I'd like to see what happens when the seasons start.
We're almost there...
Dan Maloney was 68. He played 11 seasons in the NHL with Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and Toronto before becoming head coach of the Maple Leafs for the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons.
Tonight, I'm watching the Leafs game. The regular season has finally arrived and I'm pumped.
No Nylander yet, but otherwise it's looking sweet. The Leafs landed their biggest free agent fish ever and on paper, we're finally a top tier team. Yes, the D line is a little thin, but the depth up front has this lifelong Leafs fan optimistic.
Optimistic, but realistic. We (fuck the first person to call me out for writing "we") haven't won a playoff series since 2004 when Ed Belfour was between the pipes, so I'm not in the "Cup or bust" camp, but we definitely have a shot. Personally, I'd be delighted to play in the Conference finals this season. This window has just opened!
I have a sixteen year old son who follows this team closer than I ever could, and I'm just looking forward to a promising season with him at my side. He was two the last time we escaped the first round and he's all in. I hope we win it for him.
Now let's drop the puck already. Leafs and Habs is on Sportsnet tonight at 7pm.
Greg Terrion was 58. He played six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, from 1982-1988. In total, he scored 93 goals and added 150 assists over 561 NHL games.
My Toronto Maple Leafs have just signed their biggest free agent, ever. John Tavares is coming home, signing a seven year $77-million deal.
I’m thrilled to be starting a new chapter of my career and life in Toronto with the @MapleLeafs. I feel very fortunate to come join a team with a great young core and play where I grew up learning and loving the game. I can’t wait to get started!— John Tavares (@91Tavares) July 1, 2018
I was on a bike ride with my youngest when I got a phone call from my oldest. "Dad, guess what happened?" I knew from the tone of his voice that #91 was a Leaf. It's all we've talked about all weekend.
Tavares is 27 and has 621 points in 669 career NHL games. He and Auston Matthews up the middle gives us Penguinian strength at centre and is an enormous upgrade over the departing Tyler Bozak. This is exciting!
My boy just called me with the big news. John Tavares is a Toronto Maple Leaf! Happy Canada Day! 🍁 pic.twitter.com/UzfLrXkGOl— Toronto Mike (@torontomike) July 1, 2018
It's an interesting coincidence that both the Blue Jays and Raptors have strung together multiple win streaks of 11 games but never 12. I believe the Jays have hit 11 at least five times now and I know the Raptors have reached 11 at least twice. When I have time, I'll try and find precise numbers.
With the Raps loss today to halt their streak at 11, here's the longest winning streaks in franchise history for each of Toronto's main five professional sports teams.
Raptors - 11
Blue Jays - 11
Maple Leafs - 10
Argos - 10
TFC - 6
The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired centre Tomas Plekanec and AHL forward Kyle Baun from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defender Rinat Valiev, winger Kerby Rychel, and a 2018 second-round pick.
My oldest son tells me this is a good deal for the Leafs. Plekanec will be our fourth line centre and should be an upgrade on Dominic Moore. He's a veteran presence on a very young team and didn't cost us a heck of a lot.
Johnny Bower was 93. Nicknamed "The China Wall", the Hall of Famer won four Stanley Cups tending goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In retirement, no Leafs alumnus was more active than Johnny Bower.
Often at this time of year I'd share Johnny Bower's "Honky the Christmas Goose". Sung with Little John and the Rinky Dinks, it was released in 1965 and enjoyed a significant amount of airplay, making it to number 29 on our Canadian music charts.
Mr. San Jose Shark Patrick Marleau is now a Toronto Maple Leaf. Mike Babcock knows him well, having coached him to gold medals in 2010 and 2014. Marleau has had a stellar career and is as durable as they come. Clearly the Leafs are trying to win now.
But it's not all good. Marleau's so old, he was born in the 70s! And he didn't come cheap. His three-year contract is worth an annual average of $6.25 million. Oh, and he has a no-trade clause, so you can understand why some Leaf fans are concerned.
This Leafs fan is fine with the deal. We gave up no prospects, no draft picks, just cap money we had available. For three years we can watch Marleau play with the kids. And remember, we had a better regular season last year than the Predators, so anything can happen!
Go Leafs go!
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