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  • Ron Davidson

Open hockey letter

Dear Toronto Maple Leaf’s organization and team.

You’ve done it. I thought I wouldn’t be getting my hopes up again this year after last year’s first-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens. That loss had marked another painful playoff chapter I have witnessed as a longtime fan of this team. I’ve seen first-round series losses to the Canadiens, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Boston Bruins (twice). To count, that’s five straight times I’ve been excited to see the team in the playoffs, only to see their journey end early.

After last season, when the team which was first place in the North Division lost to the underdog Canadiens, I pledged to myself that I wouldn’t let myself get that excited again until we’d achieved a playoff round victory. Despite that, I’m ready to be optimistic about this team.

Since adding defenceman Mark Giordano to the team, the Leafs have only lost three out of their last 15 games. That is a record of 12 wins, two regulation-time losses and one overtime loss. This is one fact which makes me hopeful the Leafs can finally get to at least the second round of the playoffs.

Auston Matthews has looked very much like one of the best active goal scorers in the NHL this season. As I write this, he has 58 goals and very well could reach 60 by the end of the season. But Matthews isn’t the only scorer who’s looked impressive this season. Mitch Marner has 34 goals and 95 points in 68 games this season. William Nylander has a new career-high of 32 goals this season.

This would be the perfect time for you to break out of your playoff slump. It’s been a rough couple of years for everybody in Ontario with this COVID-19 pandemic. A series win or, dare I say, a Stanley Cup win would really bring some brightness to the lives of people in Toronto and beyond.

Loyal Leaf fans such as myself have stuck around despite the team’s previous playoff failures. But there are only so many times you can get our hopes up and then later dash them. I think loyal fans deserve to be rewarded sooner rather than later. And also, imagine what it would be like to parade the Stanley Cup down the streets of Toronto.

So as you enter the playoffs again against either Tampa Bay or Boston, I wish to sum this letter up with one of Leslie Nielsen’s famous lines from the movie Airplane. “Good luck, and we are all counting on you.”

#column #DanCearns #hockey #sports

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