HOCKEY — 22 January 2013

It’s amazing how quickly the media will turn on the Toronto Maple Leafs. As every year begins for Toronto Maple Leafs Fans full of optimism and hope that “this is the year” that the Leafs will win it all… or make the playoffs in some fans mind. The reality is we are playing in a condensed season which can be exciting, frustrating and at times too much. I remember in 2008 when we did a trip down to Joe Louis Arena to see the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Detroit Red Wings in the Red Wings Home Opener. It was a great trip as we got to witness the Ring Ceremony and Stanley Cup Champions banner being raised to the rafters amongst the dozens of other banners hanging at Joe Louis Arena. In this particular game the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled away with the victory and the parade in Detroit began! Canadians were flooding the streets of Detroit with optimism and glee.

It seems like every year the Toronto Maple Leafs start off “hot” or with a win or two and everyone is excited. This year was no different, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens on the road, only to come back to the Air Canada Centre on Monday to drop a game to the Buffalo Sabres. If one thing was clear, everyone is going to be learning on the go this season as they missed training camp and you will get a variety of guys who are in-shape and out-of-shape. You would think teams with the younger players will thrive this season (Edmonton Oilers) and maybe not just the teams, but some young players across the league will get the chance to shine.

The optimism quickly vanished as the Toronto Maple Leafs drop to .500 this season going 1-1. I personally think the fans should enjoy this season, take it for what it’s worth and use it as an opportunity to grow your team and develop. Anything can happen in a condensed season with injuries and wins/losses have an entirely new value. It’s unfortunate that the Toronto Media’s expectation on this team due to the market size, lack of competitiveness or playoff drought, one wonders how much the media has to do with it all. As a fan I believe the media manipulates peoples expectations and thoughts regarding their team. How much did the media played up the Toronto Maple Leafs desperately needing to trade for Roberto Luongo no matter what you have to give up? A player like Nazem Kadri was expected to be in the conversation and ultimately many believe Brian Burke lost his job over not willing to pull the trigger because he believed the price was too high for Luongo. I think keeping your young players and giving them a chance to develop is important and to be honest Roberto Luongo is aging and his contract is brutal.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans should just take it one game at a time and pay more attention to the development of the team, the moves they make this season and how they position themselves for the future. Don’t put so much pressure on the wins/losses the team has this season. Signing Joffrey Lupul to a 5 year extension starts to put some solid commitment on some key pieces to the long-term growth of this team. Hanging onto assets is key in any business and especially hockey. You can never have enough “Good” contracts and the league is full of a ton of “Bad” ones.

If the Toronto Maple Leafs can just figure out the Power Play… then they might have had a chance last night.

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I work at Elite Sports Tours! I love sports and my job! Follow me on Twitter @timmacdonell and be sure to check out our website www.elitesportstours.ca for tickets and sports travel packages.

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