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.

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.

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?

Kings of the North; Toronto the Championship City

The Raptors have done what we in Toronto have waited 26 years to do: Toronto is finally a winner again. Not since the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays has The Big Smoke been the winner of a major sports trophy, until now.

Fuelled by star power, supported by elite talent, and defined by hard work, the Raptors have set the new standard for Toronto sports teams. So what can the Leafs and Blue Jays learn from this never-back-down, no-quit team?

Patience.

Patience to develop your team and build a winning culture before playing the first minute of game one.

Masai Ujiri said it best, “championships aren’t built in one year.” Despite adding Danny a Green, Marc Gasol, and oh yeah Kawhi Leonard all this season, the backbone has been in place for years. Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet are all long term Raptors and have massively impacted this team’s developed culture far beyond this season.

Can the Leafs take a page out of the 2019 Raptors playbook?

The Leafs are deep into the process of making their team into a championship squad. All the pieces are here: generational drafted talent, world-class free agent signing, recent playoff experience. So what lesson can they take from this season’s Raptors?

Sometimes you need to bet on yourself and take some risks to take the next step. Moving on from DeMar DeRozan was a massive risk, not to mention mortgaging the future with a first your draft pick to get a better return on the player, too. At the time of the deal it was a heavily criticized move, I mean Kawhi barely played last season!

Hindsight is 20/20 and now with a franchise-first Championship secured, the deal was a home run even if Kawhi doesn’t stay. The Leafs don’t need to make this much of a massive deal with the talent already on the roster, but moving out players and picks to push your chances over the top could be that next step for the Maple Leafs’ search for a cup.

Culture, culture, culture, for the Blue Jays now

The less glamorous lesson the Blue Jays can learn from the Raptors is to invest in creating a winning culture in the locker room now. This Blue Jays team is loaded with young talent, but without motivation and leadership, it could be wasted.

Kyle Lowry, that type of talented leader is what the Blue Jays need… to keep because the equivalent is Marcus Stroman and he’s already here. Yes he’s loud, yes he’s polarizing, but more than anything he’s talented and he hates losing. If that winning mentality can rub off onto the young core entering the league now, it can only have positive results.

Ken Giles, Freddie Galvis, Justin Smoak. All of these players are being brought up in trade talks but all of them play an integral role in the team’s development. Galvis’ Latin leadership role, Giles’ intensity and winning mentality, and Smoak’s even-keeled mindset are all assets to this team.

These players aren’t superstars but they lead by example and they are currently trying to hold the young players on the team to a higher standard of play. Invest in more players like this and the team culture will continue to develop alongside the players.

Now is the time for celebration, Toronto. The only city with a non-US NBA team has lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy. As unlikely as it was to happen the blueprint is there for the other big Toronto sports teams to follow. Boiled down: don’t be afraid to bet on yourself, and a winning culture breeds success.

What’s the excuse now, Leafs Nation?

I must have been one of the few to not turn off the game at the end of the first period (or earlier). What I watched was an inexplicably detached team get handed their lunch at home to a team leagues below them. How can this be acceptable?

‘Well, Kapanen has a concussion and Zach Hyman is out ill so the team had some important players missing.’ Save that excuse – Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Javares, Rielly, Andersen, Muzzin, Marleau, Kadri, Johnsson were all in the lineup. Two absent wingers wasn’t the problem.

No, it wasn’t injuries, sickness, or tiredness that the Leafs can blame for this loss. It’s just an uncomfortable truth that there is a lack of motivation in this team, and it’s inhibiting them from taking the next step to elite status.

All the parts are there: center depth, Vezina contending goalie, Norris quality defenseman, skilled players, coach with pedigree of winning. So, what’s the problem?

Maybe it’s the losers mentality that so many fans in Leafs Nation have crept into the players’ minds; “were not as good as Tampa or as physical as Boston, we can’t win against them.” The vocal minority seems to be chanting this regularly.

In the words of Pat Quinn, “that’s a losers race.”

If the Leafs are playing 82 games to place third in their division and get ousted in the first round of the playoffs every year then count me out on the Shanaplan or the belief that this team has been rebuilt.

The players are in place, barring a few off-season tweaks, and the skill is here, so what’s the issue? It has to be down to an attitude and motivational problem with the team. Is that a problem that falls on Mike Babcock? Yeah, kind of, but if these players can’t find a way to get up for a game is that really a coaching problem?

The answer to the title question is that there is no excuse this time. Injuries happen, sickness happens, and tiredness happens. Rather than relying on an excuse to justify poor play, this team needs to look at recent failures as a jumping off point and a starting line.

Get refocused, get motivated, and get going. There is nothing blocking the Toronto Maple Leafs from being a successful team that is as mentally strong as it is skillfully. But, the pessimism must end.

Atkins Double-Talks and Folds To Social Media Pressure; Osuna Traded

The Toronto Blue Jays have traded their closer Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros for RHP Ken Giles, RHP Hector Perez, and RHP David Paulino. Osuna is currently in the minors after sitting out 75 games for a domestic violence arrest. While Osuna has not been criminally convicted of anything, the Jays felt the need to move on from their prolific 23 year old closer who boasts a career 2.87 ERA, 104 saves, and 253 strike outs.

It is no secret that the Blue Jays management team has been feeling some heat regarding the impending reinstatement of Osuna to the big league team. On June 29th Atkins was asked about Osuna and the trade deadline and responded by saying “We’ll be adding a closer on Aug. 5… Roberto is our closer.” So what has changed in a months time?

Atkins offers little to no information or personality for that matter when talking to the media; frankly its a waste of the radio hosts, TV interviewers, and viewers time. Usually its because he dances around questions and manages to fill time with nondescript cliches before ending the interview, however in this occasion he just flat out lied to Blue Jays fans. It would be understandable if the Astros offered a massive package for Osuna but as it stands now, the return is underwhelming to say the least.

And despite what bloggers, radio hosts, TV presenters, and writers (who constantly boast that they root for stories, not for teams) will tell you, the Jays are a worse off baseball team after this trade, and will be for years to come.

So the rich get richer in Houston and the MLB, its fans, and its media members are all okay with that. So why did the Blue Jays have to move on from their franchise closer? Because there is a double standard in the MLB that favours the likes of World Series contending teams and shits on teams that are out of contention, or ya know are in Canada. It’s not a conspiracy theory either, just fact.

Take Aroldis Chapman for instance. The 100+mph closer for the New York Yankees had charges dropped after his wife failed to cooperate with law enforcement following Chapman’s arrest for discharging a fire arm eight times into a wall during a domestic dispute. Chapman served a 30 games suspension for his involvement in the incident despite the charges being dropped.

Chapman has pitched for the Cubs and Yankees since his suspension, two of the leagues most iconic franchises, with no problem. He wasn’t convicted, as Osuna hasn’t been, and has not been blackballed by the league for his involvement in an incident that deemed a 30-game suspension by the league. If we put this into Osuna terms there are two major groups – happy Houston fans for getting a legitimate elite closer, and pissed off Jays fans for having to lose their franchise closer due to the court of public opinion. Again, don’t let the twitter charlatans tell you other wise with their social justice pushing agendas.

The Astros now have an alleged woman beater in Roberto Osuna and a confirmed racist in Yuli Gurriel on their roster and are poised for another deep playoff run in hopes of repeating their World Series success – as I said before the rich get richer. Gurriel taunted Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish following a home run making a “slanted eye” gesture and yelling “chinito”, which means Chinese boy, (Darvish is Japanese and Iranian) at the pitcher from the dug out. Gurriel served a five game suspension and happily returned to life as a major league player… without having to switch teams.

As for Osuna he was recently followed around by a camera crew from SportsNet to recant his arduous journey to the major leagues. This documentary shed light on his life and his struggles with anxiety, an affliction that kept him out of the Jays line up for multiple games in 2017. Osuna was a likeable character at the start of this season and a guy a lot of people were cheering for. Now he has become the incarnation of evil, as twitter would have you believe, and needed to be moved regardless of return.

Above all, however Osuna is human and humans make mistakes – some less forgivable and more incriminating than others, but nonetheless what Osuna allegedly did was a mistake. He is currently paying the price for it, having his name dragged through the mud across social media, but if he helps the Astros win another World Series mark my works it will be a redemption story proudly presented to us by the same people who demanded he be traded – because of their integrity.

The Blue Jays integrity, something many have quoted as the reason for moving Osuna, has done a terrific job in getting a return for their closer. A return that includes a player who was suspended 80 games for PEDs, and another who was demoted to AAA this season for telling his manager to “fuck off” after he pulled him for blowing a 4-0 save.

Facts are facts and stats are stats – Ross Atkins has lied to the Blue Jays fans, and the team is worse off for it today and in the future. I thought these guys were supposed to be good at rebuilds?

*This blog is not in defence of Roberto Osuna or his actions, but rather a light being shed on the hypocrisy and double standard expressed by the MLB and MLB media members.