In Mike Babcock’s first press conference as a Maple Leafs head coach, he said that pain is coming. When we finished dead last in the 2015-2016 season, losing 53 out of 82 games, I thought that that was what Babcock was talking about. Boy was I wrong.
The last two seasons have been hard. But it was manageable because we were losing for a cause (Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews) and because losing all the time numbs the pain. Losing 11 straight games does that to a person. You start to develop coping mechanisms, for example, after every Leafs loss, I would say to myself “They didn’t lose by that much.” or “we sure gave them a good fight!” And that would work. I would just imagine the bright future and go to sleep all happy.
But now I’m experiencing a different pain. This young Maple Leafs team is taking my heart out and playing hacky sack with it. October was a pretty bad month for the team but man, was December and January FUN. That was the first time in years where I felt genuine hope. And now that I’m used to more consistent wins, they go ahead and pull a February on me. Since the All-Star break, they are 5-6-3. That is unacceptable.
I hate this pain. The losses weigh on my shoulders way more than it ever has before because I know that this team is better than its record. THEY know that they are better but they don’t play like it. And until they do, this pain will be here for months or even years to come.