Words are tough to come by at this point. How do you describe the complete and utter disappointment you feel from a team that promises big things, only to fail to deliver on anything other than regular season success?
How do you defend your star players, when they are only stars when it barely matters?
How do you care about those players, when they can’t even show up on time for games during the most important time of the year?
I can’t. I won’t. I don’t.
The funny thing about this game 7, as compared to game 7’s of the past, is that they can win it and it won’t change my opinion, that this team is inherently flawed and it isn’t a contender. When I think of a contender I think of a team that can roll over the worst regular season team in the playoffs in 5 or less games and the Leafs had an opportunity to do that. The simple fact that this series has even gotten to 7 games tells me everything I need to know about this group of players, with all the skill in the world and nothing to back it up.
Meanwhile, as I watch other teams, like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche, I see groups that fight for every inch of ice, every puck and every win. Their top end players work harder than everybody else and they make things happen. Their skill is the cake, their effort and passion is the icing on top and it’s the icing that brings it all together. When you compare that to the Leafs’ stars….. well, let’s just say that when Mitch Marner was asked to list how hard his teammates worked and put himself at the bottom of that list, he wasn’t wrong.
You can bring in players like Joe Thornton, Zach Bogosian, Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza if you want, but they aren’t the leaders on this team, they’re veteran support for the leaders to lean on, yet they’re being tasked with carrying this team through to the next level.
I’m sorry, but that’s an issue. It’s not those veterans that need to step up tonight, if anything they need to step aside. It’s Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly that need to grab hold of the bull by the horns and finish this series off. It’s those players that need to play with heart and passion and show this fanbase that they are willing to win back the hearts of the faithful that have lost all hope.
It’s those players that need to shine.
If I’m a betting man I say no, they won’t.
Enjoy the game.
GO LEAFS GO!!