Are Maple Leafs fans on social media the worst people? Yes, yes they are.

Entitled, cocky, loud, uneducated, all with zero humility. The Toronto Maple Leafs may be one of the most storied franchises in major league sports, but the loudmouth fans ruin it for everyone else.

*The loud minority really makes the quiet majority look bad. If you’re not one of these people, you probably know it, but if the title got you triggered… I’ve got some bad news for you.

It takes about three seconds into a daily Facebook browse to see just how ignorant Maple Leaf fans are on social media. Any post in the major Leafs Facebook groups like Maple Leafs Central, Leafs Nation, or Maple Leafs News 24/7, is littered with comments that are usually factually incorrect and populated with insults, spelling mistakes, and awful takes.

Now imagine you wrote the content that spurred 300 guys with names like Rick, Steve, or Dave (yes, there is a certain demographic we’re talking about here) to call you a moron or something more colourful and less intelligent? Not fun.

But I’m not here to white knight for bloggers like myself. Instead, I’m here to call out the losers who comment on Leafs content with blatantly stupid takes that make every hockey fan in the world hate Leafs Nation with a passion. Not because the team’s good, but because the fans are so god damn insufferable.

What spurred this on was some cracking commentary on a great blog on NHLTradetalk.com about the Leafs connection to KHL Russian forward Alexander Barabanov. The article breaks down the link between the player and team with sources and succinctly contextualized how he could make an impact with the Leafs.

As of writing this, there is one comment on the post… “small forward…need D.”

What a piece of shit!

Did the braindead moron who wrote that somehow think the title was “the Leafs are only after small forwards” or “Russian forward the only player Leafs to sign”? probably not. What’s more likely is that they googled the player’s name, saw his height, thought back on hockey when helmets weren’t required and xenophobia about the Red Enemy was never more present and opened his mouth (or in this case, typed unintelligently into a keyboard, which should require a breathalyzer).

It’s something so small that pisses me off so much. Since when is a player who can score goals a bad thing? Consistent offensive production throughout the lineup has been an issue this season for the Leafs too, so wouldn’t more goalscorers help? It’s honestly too stupid of a comment to try and throw logic at.

It’s a microcosm for Leafs fans on social media, though. The loudest, most incorrect douchebags tend to taint whatever it is they’re commenting on, and colour the rest of the fanbase as loud pricks too. Maybe the guy who wrote the comment above has never commented on any other Leafs posts before (unlikely) but an army of people like him keep this narrative rolling.

So, if you’ve made it this far you’re probably not part of the problem. Reading why Leafs fans suck isn’t something some Facebook troll would want to do; self-reflection probably isn’t their M.O. But, again, if you’re at this point in this blog you’re probably in agreeance that you’re not an asshole but everyone thinks you are because you’re a Leafs fan. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do, so why not call out these tools together?

Leafs forever.

Silver lining from horrid Cali swing the Leafs can build on

The playoffs are coming, but so too are the Florida Panthers. Just one point off the Leafs pace, Florida is surging but the Leafs can take solace from one aspect of their bad California road trip.

One point from three games from teams out of the playoff race in a weak Western Conference (if you’re not St. Louis or Colorado). Not a great return for the Leafs, but despite the genuinely poor effort from the team offensively, there is still an aspect of their game that can be built upon as a positive.

In these three games, the Leafs only allowed eight goals over that stretch, keeping pace with their GAA from the previous three games. This is an extremely small stat and one many may not see value in, but for a team that is so heavily criticized for their defensive play, reliability and predictability is something that cannot be overstated enough.

Simply put, when you know what you’re going to get from your defence, it’s easier to game plan around it.

This stat also suggests the goaltending has stabilized for the team. Frederick Andersen and Jack Campbell were fine, if not great, over the Cali road trip which is a net positive (no pun intended) based on Andersen’s play recently. If he’s got his groove back and Campbell is still firing on all cylinders as he showed in Anaheim, the Leafs are in a good place.

The issue was the offence. Unusually quiet over the West Coast swing, the Leafs young guns put up just four goals against sub-par teams. Please note, this is UNUSUAL. The Leafs are not a team that is hamstrung offensively. They score goals, they produce offence, it’s their identity to attack with speed and efficiency.

With the Leafs averaging 2.66 GAA in their last eight games, if the Leafs get back to their usual, standard offensive production of 3.42 goals per game, they will make the playoffs comfortably. They are third in goals for, have Morgan Rielly on his way back, Ilya Mikheyev returning, and Jake Muzzin on the mend. Things, despite a bad trip to California, are still fine in Leaf land. Forget about Florida until we play them, the Leafs are the masters of their own destiny.

Leafs must rely on new-found offensive juggernaut to beat Kings

The California road trip isn’t what it used to be, but the Leafs proved in San Jose that if you don’t show up you’ll still get slapped. However, can leaning on a new offensive beast be the key to success vs. the Kings?

So who is this new juggernaut the Leafs can lean on? Is it Auston Matthews? Nope, while he’s the best 5-on-5 scoring forward in the league, this isn’t new and he’s hardly a secret. Is it Tyson Barrie? Nope. Sure, he’s been trending up in recent weeks with more assists and playing time, but that’s been his game for all of his career!

So, who is it?

Pencil in a point for ya boy Marty Marincin, because this Slovakian king can’t keep his name off the scoresheet! If the three-game point streak for Marincin is proving anything it’s that if you give anyone enough opportunity something eventually will happen.

The saddest part about this three-game point streak is that it pushes his season (24 games) total to four points, spread out with one goal and three helpers. His other point not included in this streak came in the loss to Pittsburgh on the 18th of February, breaking an 18 game pointless streak prior to that game.

His goal against Vancouver was a very nice play to be fair to the player and showed some hustle as Marincin followed up his shot on goal pot his own rebound past Thatcher Demko. Okay, to be fair the goal itself is a comedy of errors from the Canucks defence just letting him stroll in and shoot, and Demko getting beat twice by Marincin.

Still, Marincin is a key player in this replacements level defence for the Leafs right now. With Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci on the mend and Jake Muzzin right behind them, the D-core will be back up and running at full capacity soon, eventually reducing his role.

This will end the spell of greatness for Marincin as an everyday starter, but we can all look back fondly on his one goal and three-game (plus?) point streak with loving adoration of what was, and thankfully look at our roster and appreciate that is isn’t any longer.

Plus, he’ll be a key player (unfortunately) for the Leafs in Hollywood tonight, and is PRIMED to stay in the points and extend the most unlikely streak in the NHL.

Mitch Marner pushes blame on Leafs teammates in bad loss to Sharks

The Leafs forced me to stay up past midnight only to watch them fall apart in the third period against the Sharks. To make things worse, Mitch Marner decided to sound off on his injury-ridden defence core as a scapegoat.

The loss to the Sharks was unacceptable. Unbelievable goaltending from Jack Campbell goes wasted, Auston Matthews’ 46th goal of the season is overlooked, and a highlight-reel goal from Marner is overshadowed, all by this loss.

The last aspect, Marner’s through-the-legs ridiculous backhand goal being overshadowed is now all of his own doing:

Yup, the same player who has just three goals in his last fifteen games has decided to call out his teammates, including an injury-ridden D-core, after that bad loss to the Sharks. The very same player that crippled two powerplays with his poor puck control, as well as the 6-5 to end the game because he couldn’t receive a pass.

Marner wasn’t asked who is to blame for the Leafs loss in his post-game press conference, but he could have taken the opportunity in breaking down the loss (where he sewered his teammates) to put the blame on himself as a leader. Marner should have challenged himself and stuck up for his teammates ahead of a hugely crucial stretch of games in this playoff push, proving he is a team leader in an attempt to inspire some fight.

Again, after his summer hold out which led to an overpayment from Leafs management, Mitch Marner, the lauded hometown kid, is proving more than ever he is disconnected from the team, the fans, and everything Leafs Nation with his blame pushing.

Losses should be galvanizing, not polarizing for a team as young and promising as this iteration of the Leafs is. Marner is proving at an increasing rate that when you buy your own hype, you become deluded, and his lack of awareness around the team is becoming shockingly tone-deaf.

Super Sunday for TWO Leafs prospects’ career games

No Leafs hockey on Sunday? No problem! The prospect camp had all the excitement you could need with two up-and-comers lighting the lamp repetitively and filling the boxscore at a relentless pace.

Nick Robertson – Peterborough Pete’s

The latest high Leafs prospect has followed up a great World Juniors tournament with team USA by continuing to light the OHL on fire! The 18-year-old left-winger netted a hattrick on Sunday against the Barrie Colts, scoring three goals in differing situations in the game.

His third goal of the game, a shorthanded tally off of some point pressure, was his 50th of the season. He’s managed this feat in just 43 games, bringing him to 76 points on the season. As shown above, his 50th of the season was a result of high-pressing penalty-killing much like how Mitch Marner plays for the Leafs now, finished with a quick release.

With Sandin and Liljegren up with the big boys and Jeremy Bracco away on personal leave from the Marlies, just one year after getting drafted, Nick Robertson is the Leafs crowning jewel in their prospect system. Exciting times lie ahead for this kid and the Leafs!

Justin Brazeau – Newfoundland Growlers

The over-ager the Leafs scooped up at the end of last OHL season, Justin Brazeau, was an absolute goal-scoring machine in the minors. His last season of OHL play saw him net 61 goals and 113 points in 68 games, so the contract made a lot of sense for the Leafs, could he translate it to different levels though?

Showing up Nick Robertson by a goal, Brazeau netted four in this routing of the Jacksonville Icemen. The Newfoundland Growlers have been uber-competitive since their inaugural season, and as reigning champs are doing everything in their power to run it back for the 2019/20 season, as well, with Brazeau stepping up huge for the team.

His 25 goals and 26 assists in 53 games this season show that the elite scorer is able to share the puck as well as smash it home. At 22 he’s adapting just fine to the ECHL level of play and looks primed to step up to the AHL hopefully next year. Much like Ilya Mikheyev who made an impact as a 24-year-old rookie, it may be a little while yet before Brazeau steps up to the big club, but if and when he does, his natural goal-scoring ability should take care of him.

Auston Matthews shows hardest working Leaf love with awesome nickname

Let the good times roll! The replacement Leafs D-Core has inspired three straight wins, including two interdivisional games and a HNIC matchup with a salty Vancouver fanbase. To further the “good times” along, Auston Matthews has donned a terrific nickname on the team workhorse.

Another game and another massive win for the Leafs, this time over the Vancouver Canucks, widening their gap on Florida to five points as the season rapidly winds down toward the playoffs. Leading the way for the Leafs, or at least chipping in more than he should be accounted for is Zach Hyman, or…

With an empty-net goal to seal the win on Saturday, Zach Hyman moved to 21 goals, tying his highest seasonal total set last year, in 24 fewer games played. His spot on Matthews and Marner’s line has surely helped him secure these goals, but his grinding playstyle has really enabled him to put the puck in the net at an un-Hyman like pace this season.

The nickname is gold, though. “The Sidney Crosby of 6-on-5” just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? It’s fitting, though, as Hyman never cheats his team for effort ever, but puts the jets on that much more when the sight of an empty net opens up.

From (reportedly) asking for an upgrade on Hyman as a winger, to embracing him to create space and finish chances, Matthews owes a lot to Hyman for grinding out the forecheck for him on every shift. Matthews has adopted some grit in his game, possibly by osmosis from Hyman, and it’s showing in his Richard-esque season.

Good nicknames, good results, overcoming adversity, and deadset on the playoffs. The Leafs are still marauding forward, and the gelling of the team through the injury crisis they’ve had is nothing but purely positive, led, of course, by “the Sidney Crosby of 6-on-5.”

Kyle Clifford absolutely correct in assessment of Leafs firestarter

The acquisition of Jack Campbell saw Stanley Cup winning enforcer Kyle Clifford jump ship to the Leafs. While his effort and bodyguard presence on the ice has been greatly needed, he’s also inspired more from his teammates.

With a goal and a fight on Thursday night, Kasperi Kapanen has turned into a bit of a bulldozer for this Leafs team. His greatest aspect of play is his insane speed. When he takes off through the neutral zone there aren’t too many defensemen who can catch up to him, showing this in Sunrise this week.

His goal was greatly needed against the Panthers, showing off his sniping ability, albeit on a should-have-been-saved chance. You can’t complain about pucks on net in the NHL and Kapanen has deserved more scoresheet credit in recent weeks.

Finishing the game an assist shy of the Gordie Howe hattrick, Kapanen drew the admiration of his team’s enforcer, Kyle Clifford. Kapanen dropped the gloves on the 20th of February in the 4-0 win over Pittsburgh earning this praise from Clifford:

Kapanen is likely known as a skill guy with his speed and shooting ability, but now dropping the gloves twice in a week, on top of scoring in both games he fought in, shows there is an edge and much-needed different dimension to Kapanen’s game.

As a versatile forward who moves up and down the Leafs lineup as needed, Kapanen needs the physical edge to make an impact on the bottom six and needs the finesse and skills to fit in alongside Auston Matthews or John Tavares.

There is some subtext to Clifford’s comments, which he doubled down on after the win over the Panthers. Clifford, 29, has seen what it takes for a team to go deep into the playoffs and succeed. Maybe his comments on Kapanen’s development into a Swiss Army Knife on the ice suggest the Finnish forward has what it takes to make an impact on the Leafs postseason hopes.

Maple Leafs conjure up bigger underdog story than David Ayers in “replacements” win

Move over EBUG controversy, the Toronto Maple Leafs just put together a huge effort to protect their playoff spot and star goalie with a bunch of defensemen who shouldn’t even still be on the team.

For a team that couldn’t beat a Zamboni driver in goal on Saturday, the Leafs looked potent offensively, sound defensively, and motivated to take two points from an equally lopsided Panthers squad.

The only problem for the Buds was their defensive pairings. Reminiscent of a split-squad team that was clearly the B team, the crew’s depth was on display here:

Dermott – Holl
Sandin – Barrie
Marincin – Liljegren
Rosen

The seven-man core consists of the injury-prone next big thing (Dermott), our should-be seventh defenseman (Holl), our best Marlies D (Sandin), should-have-been-traded guy (Barrie), Shouldn’t-have-a-contract-guy (Marincin), our second-best Marlie (Liljegren), and a member of the Colorado Avalanche (Rosen). What a team.

To compound issues, Frederick Andersen had one of the worst periods of hockey in his life. With awful rebound control, less-than-usual edge work, and uncharacteristic swimming in his crease, Andersen channelled prime James Reimer with similar results.

A vote of confidence from the head coach to start him in the second (not a popular opinion) saw Andersen settle eventually, but not without near-constant bailing out by his rag-tag group of defensemen. Yes, the replacements showed up and actually looked like a solid group of players.

The biggest improvements in the D-core were their patience on the puck, willingness to turn back and retain possession, and ability to work with their backchecking forwards to section off any Panthers pressure. Timely pinching was also on display regularly, with extra motivated teammates coving back and offensive zone possession limiting defensive zone time.

Capped off with an empty-net goal by newly crowned shutdown defender Justin Holl, the wobbling puck that somehow tracked into the vacant goal showed that the Hockey Gods don’t fulfill lofty wishes, but rather guide justified results from ice level for hardworking efforts.

Honestly, the Leafs getting any sort of performance from these players tonight was unlikely, but keeping Florida to under 30 shots on a night where Freddy didn’t have it? It’s a narrative so unlikely the David Ayres story will drift into oblivion. Move over, Zamboni EBUG, the replacements are here, and they’re aiming for the playoffs.

Silly brand endorsement tips hand to imminent Leafs signing

The news we’ve all been waiting to hear finally broke – Ilya Mikheyev is officially endorsed by Campbell’s Soup! But, is there more pertinent news on the horizon?

Here it is, the glorious social media post we’ve all been looking for. Ilya MIkheyev holding a spoon up with some tasty, tasty Campbell’s soup at the ready. The endorsement was seemingly inevitable after Mikheyev joined the Leafs with the Twitter handle @soupman65 and declaring his love for the meal.

While the story is cool and endorsement fun to see, is there more than meets the eye here? Two important factors in this add – its Campbell’s Canada, and Mikheyev is wearing a Leafs uniform.

It’s all but clear (to me, anyway) that there is an imminent extension for Ilya Mikheyev with the Toronto Maple Leafs. There are a few reasons why this would appear to be happening:

  • Campbell’s soup wouldn’t jump on a random athlete more than halfway through the season with him only inked until the end of the year
  • The player is also currently injured and hasn’t been on the ice since December 27th
  • Campbell’s simultaneously announced their partnership with the entire Toronto Maple Leafs organization
  • Jack Campbell would have arguably been a better, longterm option for branding

With cap space at a premium within the team, signing versatile forwards that can move up and down your lineup is a key component to staying cap compliant as well as competitive for years to come.

The extending of Pierre Engvall may be the open door for a Mikheyev deal as well. Engvall signed a two-year extension at $1.25m a year in the past weeks, upping himself from the $925k/year he and Mikheyev make. Short term contract, roster stability, and a chance to succeed could get Mikheyev on board with extending his time in Toronto.

It should be noted that Mikheyev was a dark horse in the Calder Trophy race before getting injured against New Jersey back in December. His point production, 8 goals and 15 assists, had him turning heads, largely built on his work ethic, good shooting ability, and relentlessness on the puck.

The Leafs would be wise to have a backroom extension ready to go for Mikheyev as they did with Muzzin, likely ready to be signed after the end of the season. He’s big, can play physical, and has a good conversion rate on offensive chances. A la the Pittsburgh Penguins, support your strong spine with versatile forwards on the cheap.

Not having Mikheyev signed long term with the Leafs doesn’t make sense for all parties included – the Leafs themselves, Mikheyev and his future in the NHL, and Campbell’s soup who have donned the title of Brand Ambassador on the 24-year-old Russian on an expiring deal. No crystal ball needed here.

No deadline moves means Leafs in for summer blockbuster

Kyle Dubas made a few minor league deals on trade deadline day, but with elite help coming to the blueline, the Leafs have all but ensured they’re in for a summer blockbuster to shake up the roster.

Disclaimer: The proposed trade has no substantiation, however seeing as how the Leafs are cap-crunched, this move would help alleviate pressure and spread cap money out, as well. Also, a playoff push and post-season performance could quell all this talk.

To Toronto: Drew Doughty (2m retained), Adrian Kempe

To LA: Mitch Marner, 3rd round pick.

*a third team and deeper draft picks may come into play regarding cap/retained money

Why this trade makes sense for Toronto:

The team is heavily lopsided on top-6 offensive talent. They have also invested wisely in Alex Kerfoot ($3.5m), Kasperi Kapanen ($3.2m), and Andreas Johnsson ($3.4m) to immediately impact their center and wing depth. Mix in Adrian Kempe, a player who brings more skill and physicality to the ice and you have a solid core to make Marner’s loss feel less impactful.

As well, Egor Korshkov, Pierre Engvall, Jeremy Bracco, and the likely re-signed Ilya Mikheyev will all factor into the future of the Leafs winger depth, bringing youth and skill.

Mitch Marner is a generational talent and a hometown kid who has immense skill and vision on the ice. Why would Toronto want to get rid of him? Well, they wouldn’t, but when you include the addition of proven winner and leader (not to mention right-shot D) Drew Doughty, things change.

Doughty brings a lot of what Toronto is lacking on the back end and would be the perfect partner for Morgan Rielly, now and after he signs a long-term extension. He is 30, which gives pause considering his $11m cap hit extends through 2025, but elite defenseman can be serviceable into their mid to late 30s and beyond.

The case for LA:

Defence may win championships, but offence fills the seats. The hockey following in LA is pretty huge and loyal, but after a few seasons of underperforming, playoff-missing hockey hurts a team in a market that has multiple NFL teams, NBA teams, and MLB teams. Bringing a talent like Marner to the West Coast could kick start a rebuild for the Kings in a regressing Pacific division.

With Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter eating up over $11m of caps space and both players sitting at 35-years-old, there could be a pending retirement (likely for Brown over Carter) in the next few seasons which would free up some substantial cap space to make the retention as well as large Marner cap hit fit with total ease.

With Anaheim and San Jose both not looking all too exciting, LA has could springboard forward with the Marner acquisition by sacrificing their captain for his offensive pop. Doughty brings an edge to Toronto, Marner brings excitement to LA. Win-win, right?