Curious to see Leafs fans gloating about what they hope will be a season of trouncing the Sens. Defeating a rebuilding club should be a given, shouldn’t it? Especially when the Leafs are spending as much as they are on salary, are in the fourth year of their “this isn’t a five year rebuild” rebuild, and absolutely must compete now. So why gloat? If they win, there’s nothing remarkable about it, and they’re just helping the Sens along to a higher draft pick. (We don’t trade our first rounders during rebuilds, which is a novel concept.) If they don’t win, then by their own admission they should be embarrassed.
The fact of the matter is that there’s so much riding on this season for the Leafs that you can smell the desperation and tension in the air. What happens if they finish yet another season without the playoffs, knowing that they could be competing by now had they not hired the brashest, least patient GM in the game? Do you commit to a five year rebuild now, knowing that their market is desperate for some playoff hockey? What good is it to be a bubble team who makes it to the playoffs only to be destroyed in the first round?
The Leafs, and their increasingly exasperated fan base, are in purgatory. Theirs is a fate worse than sucking, because even having a bad season has its purposes. Too bad to win it all, too good to get better. Where have we heard this before?
Leaf fans gloat about beating up on a rebuilding club because there’s not much else there to get excited about. The Senators may be a few seasons from being competitive again, but I have no doubt that when Ottawa’s window of contention opens again the Leafs will be right where they’ve been all of these years: hoping to sneak in and get hot at the right time, and a team no one is truly afraid of encountering in the playoffs. Seems a shame to spend six seasons out of the playoffs only to end up right back where you started.