With the playoff race all but over for the Leafs, it’s time to get behind a real contender
The Toronto Maple Leafs pulled a pair of big victories out of their hat in their last two tilts: on Saturday night they shocked the Boston Bruins with an inspired 5-2 effort before blanking the Minnesota Wild 3-0. Sure, those back-to-back triumphs kept the Leafs in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, mathematically speaking. But earlier this week the Star’s Cathal Kelly asked if it’s about high time the city’s hockey-adoring public threw in their lot with a team that’s actually going to be a part of the postseason. The answer, of course, is yes. For our money, we’re going with the Vancouver Canucks. Here’s why.
1. They’re a Canadian team
That’s a given. If you’re going to jump ship, you at least need to board a ship that’s waving the same flag. The Edmonton Oilers and the Ottawa Senators are hopeless, so we can’t pick them. The Calgary Flames would make for a nice choice, but Calgary is in Alberta and with an election around the corner it seems Toronto just isn’t in Alberta’s corner.
2. They’re the best team in the National Hockey League
Being the best comes with its privileges: namely, Vancouver might actually win something (like, say, a playoff series or even the Stanley Cup). Granted, the Canucks tease their fan base by flirting with playoff success every year—just as the Leafs tease their fan base by nearly making the postseason every year—this time around, the odds are in their favour.
3. They’re not the Montreal Canadiens
Abandoning the Leafs for a bona fide contender is one thing; rooting for the Canadiens is another. It will always be too close and too soon with Montreal. In the hockey world, the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens are like the Montagues and the Capulets. You’re born into your allegiance and there is no way to change that.