Toronto is riding a wave of cultural relevance and sporting achievement, which could not have been imagined when the city had painfully mediocre sports teams — and the inferiority complex to match — just a few years ago.Last year, the Jays and Raptors were just two wins away from reaching the finals of their respective leagues; this year, the Argos moved to a new stadium, and now Toronto FC is in contention to finish first in their conference.Lost among this resurgence is the city’s biggest fish: the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the past two seasons the blind excitement that usually comes with the start of a fresh season has been replaced by growing feelings of apathy. The city’s most valuable, popular, and historic franchise has become Toronto’s forgotten team.Worn out by the irresponsible Brian Burke years and the painful Dave Nonis years — watching that man run a hockey team was like watching a car wreck — the city collectively gave up on the Leafs.Television ratings dipped; the city went cold on the Leafs. But, there have been some who have watched from the sidelines as Brendan Shanahan and his dream team of executives worked their magic, ridding the team of some terrible contracts, flexing their financial muscle in return for draft picks and younger talent.This season, however, will be unlike the last two atrocities. The team will finally be talented and exciting again. The Leafs locker room will be promisingly youthful and look less like the worn out five dollar DVD bin at Walmart. There is a growing sense of excitement in the city revolving around the Leafs. But will their usual spot as Toronto’s most-followed team return?The answer to that fated question lies within the hockey sticks of William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews. ‘The Big Three’, ‘Toronto’s Triplets’, ‘Auston and his Disciples’, or whatever you want to call them will make or break the Toronto Maple Leafs.For the first time in recent memory, Toronto is fortunate enough to claim three potential superstars as its own. The hype alone will be enough to fuel the enthusiasm of fans for the length of the season — even if the team comes in last yet again.This is the same city that once thought David Clarkson was the second coming of Christ. The fan base in this city is desperate for the Leafs to throw them a bone. All it’ll take is an exciting season of progress from the younger Leafs — then, the city will be drinking in that blue as if the cup was never empty.
Published: 11:53 pm, 25 September 2016
Modified: 11:38 pm, 26 September 2016