Leafs fans speculate on how long it will be before Toronto is back in Stanley Cup contention

Leafs fans speculate on how long it will be before Toronto is back in Stanley Cup contention

About 300 die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fans—some from as far away as New Jersey, some with blue Mohawks—erupted into cheers during the team’s official 2016 NHL Draft Party at Real Sports Bar and Grill on Friday. They were reacting to news that the Leafs had used their first-overall draft pick on American centre Auston Matthews, who is considered 2016’s number-one prospect. We asked some of the elated puckheads what the 18-year-old Arizona native needs to know now that he’s one of us—and how many seasons it will take until his new team is, for the first time in recent memory, once again in contention for the Stanley Cup.

Dylan Smith

26, architect from Ajax

“Matthews needs personality, and he needs to stay positive to survive in Toronto. Everyone will have his back. We can’t expect the next Sidney Crosby in a few games. The Leafs need to give him time to develop into a rising star. He is going to be so much bigger than everyone thinks. I’m itching for some success.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: “One season, realistically.”

Tanya Moyer

25, hydro worker from Ingersoll

“We’re all die-hard fans. We’re always going to be behind him.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: “One. We’re starting to get all the good guys.”

Timothy Martell

47, union leader from New Jersey

“It’s impossible for one player to turn a franchise around, but the Leafs can build their young core and aim for the future.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: “Certainly not next year. A five-year plan is key.”

Glendon McAuley

38, caretaker from Richmond Hill

“The die-hard fans will be patient with Matthews if he’s patient. He’ll adjust well with the system that Toronto—the hockey mecca of the world—brings.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: “Three to five. The Leafs are not done rebuilding. Do it right the first time, do it right now. This is just a stepping stone.”

Alex McRae and Rebecca Titus

20-something university students from Scarborough

Alex: “Matthews is going to be immortalized for any measure of success he brings. He has the presence and ability to become a well-known hockey player in the best and biggest market in hockey.”

Rebecca: “We support the Leafs no matter what. They are the heart of Toronto. All Matthews has to do is try his best.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: Alex: “If we’re contending in four years, I’ll be very happy.”

Scott Leonard

25, gas technician from Simcoe

“Matthews just needs to get ready to win a Stanley Cup.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: “Four, in all honesty.”

Pramit James

43, elementary school teacher from Brampton

“We have die-hard fans who are hungry for winners and fully behind him. The Leafs have been so bad in the last few years that anything is better than rock bottom. We are really optimistic about young rookies. The future is bright.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: “Three to five.”

Chris Davis

36, auto technician from Peterborough

“We’re a busy city with a lot of eyes on us. It’s important for Matthews to play the game and stick with his style of play. That’s why these guys picked him and that’s what they are looking for. He’s going to be a great fit for the city and for the team. It’s not a one-person show, but he’s a key piece to the puzzle that we’re building here.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: “Two to three.”

John Wandless

53, Greater Toronto Hockey League off-ice official from Scarborough

“The ACC is really good, but my heart is with the Maple Leaf Gardens. I worked there as an usher throughout the eighties when Wendel Clark was drafted. I just hope that Matthews understands the tradition and that he can wear the jersey with pride.”

Number of seasons until Stanley Cup contention: “Three.”

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