Leaf Fans…You Can Relax Now

Time To Start Believing? Or Honeymoon Stages?

Every Leaf fan counted down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds to the beginning of the NHL season with high hopes in their minds, but strong doubts not to far behind. Finishing twenty-ninth overall last season wasn’t shocking, but also not expected by many fans. What hurt the most was watching the first of the two-first round picks traded away for Phil Kessel, be chosen by Boston. Every fan panics when their team finishes in the bottom of the league but their minds and emotions are eased by the  lottery pick coming their way, but Leaf fans didn’t have that, Brian Burke needed some reassurance to create some belief for the city of Toronto. A massive overhaul was Burke’s answer, one that actually started mid-season with the acquisition of Dion Phaneuf and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.


The addition of Phaneuf and Giguere was perfect for Toronto in two ways; they added a top four defenseman and legitimate number one goalie which they lacked since Ed Belfour. Both Giguere, and Phaneuf add winning experience they achieved with their previous clubs, something Toronto was lacking which was evident on the ice. They were missing that winning confidence and swagger “playoff” teams use as their driving force to win games night after night. Fredrik Sjostrom was added along with Phaneuf in the Calgary deal. Not to be out shined by Phaneuf, Sjostrom adds speed, strength, and defensive belligerence something Toronto needed. With the key additions, were departures that had to happen. Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers, Ian White, Niklas Hagman, Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala were all shipped out in separate deals with Anaheim and Calgary. Burke traded away players that himself and head coach Ron Wilson did not see as a piece to the puzzle or players that were a big reliability financially. The offseason came with more players heading into Toronto to kickoff a new beginning, but most importantly build on the teams damaged and diminishing reputation. Kris Versteeg, Colby Armstrong, Mike Zigomanis, Tim Brent, Clarke MacArthur, Brett Lebda, and Mike Brown were all brought in to finish off Burke’s makeover. Versteeg recently removed from the cup winning Chicago Blackhawks increased the winning vibe Toronto was trying to incorporate.


New players, new expectations, and a new beginning seems to be paying dividends for Toronto in all aspects. Statically Toronto has improved in nearly every category compared to last year, especially penalty kill. Although it’s only four games into the eighty-two game schedule, it’s safe to say the Leafs are a much improved team from the last few seasons fans have endured. Toronto’s hot start isn’t something to jump on quite yet they will experience their troubles as every team does, but a twenty-ninth place finish is just not in the books for this team. A sense of meaning has been given to the team by everyone who is involved, most importantly new captain Dion Phaneuf. After being given the “C” during the offseason this has become Phaneuf’s team, it’s time to come out from the Matt Sundin era’s shadow.


Currently at 4-0, Toronto is one of the top five teams in the league, some where they have not been in nearly 17 years. With tonight’s game against the 2-1-2 New York Islanders, the Leafs have a chance to improve on their best start since 1993-1994. Excitement and Pride has been restored in hockey nation, it’s up to the Leafs to build on it.


    • Roxanne Bucci
    • October 21st, 2010

    Perfection! I wish I knew about sports so I could actually follow along! Keep on with the good work and make me proud to be your bestest friend!

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