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The Toronto Maple Leafs may never win another Stanley Cup

The Bruins told the Maple Leafs to make like a tree and get out of there after a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs at TD Garden in Boston on Saturday night.

Speaking of the 1985 movie, Back to the Future, the citizens of Toronto may be forced to build a time machine if they ever want to experience what it’s like to see their favorite NHL hockey team win a Stanley Cup. They’ll have to set the dial to 1967 because that was the last year the Maple Leafs won a championship and even appeared in the Final.

How can that be?

Isn’t Toronto the hockey Mecca of the world? Isn’t that city hockey central? Don’t Maple Leafs fans travel all over North America to see their team play? “Don’t sell your tickets to Leafs fans!” a politician in Miami may have pleaded during some playoff series in recent years. I understand why there are a lot of Maple Leafs fans. After all, the population of Toronto is 2.79 million. However, I don’t understand why they travel everywhere to watch the Leafs play hockey. What’s the point of that? To see them lose? A Leafs loss resulted from any playoff series that took place for 19 straight seasons until Toronto knocked off the Lightning in six games one year ago.

Speaking of the Lightning, a team that plays in that hockey hotbed called Tampa, their loss to Toronto ended an impressive run in the Eastern Conference where they went to the Final three years in a row and won two Stanley Cups.

The Lightning were born in 1992 and already have three Stanley Cup banners hanging from their rafters.

Back to the Maple Leafs. They may have won their first-round series over Tampa last year, but they then proceeded to lose to the Florida Panthers in the next round.

Speaking of the Panthers, they represent the Miami market and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in 2023. It was their second trip to the Final since being formed in 1993. So, if you’re counting at home, that’s six trips to the Stanley Cup Final and three hockey championships for the State of Florida.

That means that if you’re a hockey player born in the Mecca of Toronto, you better move to Florida and brush up on your Spanish if you want a better chance of winning a Stanley Cup.

By the way, Florida lost in the Final last summer to the Las Vegas Knights, who won their first Stanley Cup since being formed in 2017. Las Vegas actually made it all the way to the Final in its inaugural season.

If you’re counting at home, that’s eight conference championships and four Stanley Cup banners for three different expansion franchises, with the first team–the Lightning–playing its initial game in 1992–or the year the Maple Leafs celebrated the 25th anniversary of their last Stanley Cup title.

The Leafs are one of the Original Six NHL teams, and the league has expanded to 32 franchises since the last time Toronto won a Cup. Obviously, more teams decrease the odds of success, but 57 years? An influx of new teams didn’t stop the Red Wings, like Toronto, one of the Original Six, from having success after NHL expansion began with the addition of six more franchises for the 1967/1968 season. The Red Wings reside in Detroit, Michigan, a city that, according to Trippy.com, is located just 243 miles from Toronto. But Detroit may as well be in another galaxy when you examine the success the Red Wings have had since NHL expansion. Sure, the first couple of decades were tough–this was known as the “Dead Wings Era”–but the Wings eventually adjusted to life in a larger NHL. Detroit has won 15 of its 19 division titles since 1987. It has won six conference championships since the 1994/1995 campaign. The Red Wings have won four Cups since the 1996/1997 season.

You know how many Presidents Cups–a trophy that was invented in 1985 and awarded to the NHL team with the most regular-season points–the Red Wings have won? Six. Guess how many Toronto has in its trophy case. Zero.

Furthermore, Toronto has zero conference championships and only two division titles since before the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

They call Detroit Hockeytown, but how can a town be more successful at a sport than a Mecca–especially when the sport is hockey and the Mecca is located in Canada?

I realize that expansion, free agency and a salary cap may have all conspired to make things tougher for the Leafs, but you’d think they’d still be able to build a super team, what with everyone wanting to play hockey in the Mecca of the sport.

If Toronto is the center of the hockey universe, why aren’t the Leafs thriving? Are they a cursed franchise?

A friend of mine who is a huge hockey fan told me that Toronto is a big enough market to support multiple teams. The NHL might have to expand in that city if its citizens ever want to celebrate a Cup again.

Take the Rangers, for example. Like the Leafs, they’re one of the NHL’s Original Six, but they’ve only won one Stanley Cup since 1940, and that was 30 years ago. Fifty-four years between Cups may have been a long time, but at least New York hockey fans had the Islanders beginning in the 1970s; an expansion franchise founded in 1972, the Islanders played in six Finals and won four straight Stanley Cups between 1977 and 1984.

True, it’s been 30 years since the Rangers last won a Cup, but at least the New Jersey Devils, located less than 10 miles outside of New York City since moving from Colorado in 1982, have won five conference titles and three Stanley Cups since the 1994/1995 season.

The mid-’60s through the mid-’70s was a bit of a downtime for Yankees fans, but at least the Amazing Mets, an expansion team representing New York in the National League, won two pennants and a World Series title between 1969 and 1973. The 1980s wasn’t a great decade for the Bronx Bombers, but at least the Mets won the Fall Classic in 1986. Heck, the two teams were so good in 2000 that they met one another in the World Series, with the Yankees winning their third-straight title. The Yankees haven’t won a pennant or a World Series since 2009, but the Mets made it to the Fall Classic in 2015.

The New York Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl, nor played in one, since the 1968 campaign, but at least the New York Giants have won five NFC titles and four Lombardi trophies since 1986.

It hasn’t been the greatest 51 years for the New York Knicks, but at least the Nets won a couple of championships in the mid-’70s when they were still playing in the rival ABA. In the early 2000s, they won back-to-back conference titles when they were in the “New Jersey” phase of their NBA existence.

Hey, at least the other professional sports teams in Toronto have won titles since 1967. The Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993. The Toronto Raptors won the NBA title in 2019. The CFL’s Toronto Argonauts have won eight Grey Cups since 1983.

Those other titles have probably eased the pain in the hockey Mecca, no?

Why do I get the feeling the citizens of Toronto would trade every single one of those league championships for just an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final?


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