The Toronto Maple Leafs surprised critics in the first half of the season, keeping themselves in the race for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic division, despite having a young team. Before the all-star break, the team had a record of 23-15-9, a 12 point improvement from where the team was at that point a year ago.
However, since the break, the Leafs have fallen out of the third spot in the division, and are battling to hold on to the final wild card spot in the conference. Their record since the all star break, as of The Standard’s press time, is 4-5-2.
Even so, according to ESPN, the Leafs have the fourth best home attendance average in the league this season, with 19,927 fans per game. Last season, the Leafs’ home attendance average was sixth in the league with 19,158. To put this in perspective, last season the Leafs finished dead last in the NHL standings, and yet they were still able to post an attendance average that was in the top 10 of the 30-team league.
Fans who have been watching the Leafs each season know it is never a smooth ride. There was what Brian Burke called the “18 wheeler going right off a cliff” in 2012, when the Leafs went on a 1-8-1 run to take them out of a playoff spot. As well, fans who had been watching the team in 2007 will remember when the Leafs playoff hopes came down to the final game, when the New York Islanders took the final playoff spot by beating the New Jersey Devils in a shootout. And, please nobody mention the Leafs-Bruins playoff game 7 loss in 2013.
What I am getting at here is that fans of this team never give up. The Leafs have not won a cup since 1967, yet every year we keep hoping. As a fan myself, I have watched a great many disappointing seasons, and yet I am unable to give up hope the Leafs will one day become a consistent contender for the Stanley Cup. Despite whatever happened in the previous season, I keep watching this team every year.
This is why Leafs fans make great friends or partners, because we are loyal. With the rise of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Connor Brown, the future looks bright, and hopefully it won’t be long before our loyalty is rewarded with a Stanley Cup. For now, keep the hope of great things alive Leafs fans, like you have been since 1967.