Good Toronto Boys (Thumbs Up!)


It’s August. With PK Subban finally signing a monster eight year deal with the Habs, hockey news has become scarce. 

It’s surprising that it took the Canadiens that long to figure it out with their franchise player, and for a while it looked like the two sides were miles apart. 

What was more surprising to me was that Subban signed for eight years. 

Why is that surprising? It’s because Subban is from Toronto and everyone knows that every kid from Toronto only dreams of playing for the Leafs.

He was slated to be a UFA in 2016 along with superstar centre Steven Stamkos. The two grew up in the GTA and even played on the same team for some time (pictured above). 

They could’ve done it again, playing for their hometown team, the team they grew up with. It would’ve been glorious.

For a while it seemed as if Leafs Nation was fixated on this notion that Stamkos/Subban 2016 was merely an inevitability, especially after Stamkos favourited a tweet about an article suggesting it (this is news in 2014 apparently).

But why stop there? I mean, if two good Toronto boys would make the Leafs better why not a whole roster? I did the math, I think it checks out. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 9.25.42 PM

Not only would the Leafs be amazing because they only have good Toronto boys, but they would take away all the good Toronto boys from other teams, thus making those teams bad. Every team’s Good Toronto Boys/60 (% of minutes played in a game by good Toronto boys) would plummet, and thus so would their win percentage. It’s math, math is never wrong.

The Line-Up

This is what the Leafs would look like if it were comprised of just good ol’ kids from Toronto and the surrounding 200(ish) km radius.


Matt Duchene

Steven Stamkos

Corey Perry

Matt Moulson

John Tavares

Jeff Carter

Jeff Skinner

Tyler Seguin

James Neal

Logan Couture

Joe Thornton

Rick Nash

Wayne Simmonds

Jason Spezza


Mark Giordano

Drew Doughty

PK Subban

Alex Pietrangelo

Brian Campbell

Kevin Bieksa

Brent Burns


Steve Mason

Brian Elliot

It’s basically an All-Star team and that’s because Toronto practically breeds All-Stars. 

Four first lines. Three top pairings. This team is so good that having Steve Mason in net wouldn’t even be a big deal. In fact, they could probably put a shooter tutor in net and they’d be fine (might even be a better option).


Seriously, this team would score a million goals. Tyler freakin’ Seguin is on the third line. Jason Spezza is laughing in the press box raking in millions. Nazem Kadri is in the minors waiting for Joe Thornton to retire. 

Then there’s the defence where the top four would likely be the first players ever to share the Norris Trophy. 

The Leafs would be unstoppable. They might even have a good corsi for once.

Just imagine if every single good Toronto boy actually did come to the Leafs like this, or better yet, what if they were only allowed to play for the Leafs?

The question wouldn’t be when would they win a Cup, it would be how many Cups would they win.

So why imagine? I took this team of good Toronto boys and replaced the actual Toronto roster on NHL 13 (I don’t own NHL 14 because I hated NHL 13 that much) and then simulated the next few seasons to see just how many Cups they would win. Video games don’t lie so I figured this was the best method.

Now because I used NHL 13, this journey begins in 2012-2013.

Here’s what happened.

The Simulation


To start, I dropped everyone on the Leafs to free agency and then added the dream team to the Leafs roster. Bozak and Phaneuf took their talents to Edmonton, no chance that team ever wins now. Lazy floaters Kessel and Grabovski went to Floater City, USA aka Washington.

The Leafs started 4-0 during the pre-season already proving their formidable dominance against lesser teams. The expectations from the owner for this team were modest. Second round? This team? C’mon.


Based on the above graph on GTB/60 and the pre-season dominance I legitimately expected this team to go 82-0-0. 

That was not the case, and perhaps EA’s simulation engine was broken.

The Leafs finished 49-23-10. I can’t believe they lost 33 times with this group of heroes. They tumbled down the stretch going 8-12-3 in March and April. Could it be that this team started to crack under the pressure? Perhaps a regression due to high PDO? I scoffed at the very idea, this team is above PDO’s very ideals.

The Leafs finished second in the East and fourth in the league. They led the league in goals and somehow finished sixth in goals against. Steve Mason posted 13 shutouts and a .920 save percentage. 

The Leafs had an easy opponent in Round One. The seventh seed Rangers looked bad all year and sure enough the Leafs took a commanding 3-0 lead against their feeble opponents.

But no 3-0 lead is safe for a team lead by Joe Thornton. 

You can’t make this stuff up (well you can, but I didn’t I swear), the Leafs blew it. The Rangers ended up winning the Cup. I’m assuming they had a good corsi.


Okay, so the Leafs didn’t win the Cup on their first try, that’s okay. They’re still a young team. They just needed more experience that’s all. I resigned everyone and drafted only kids from the OHL. I’m hoping they pan out by the time Thornton and Spezza retire.

The season proved a bit difficult for the Leafs as they battled injuries all year. In the first month Tavares, Duchene, Pietrangelo, Campbell and Mason were all injured at the same time. I had to call up Mark Fraser, who subsequently got injured. At one point Matt Moulson was playing on the first pair with Alex Pietrangelo, but that’s mostly because the assistant coach is a moron.

My pro scout tried solving the problem.

photo 2

Why would I need anybody else on this team? I fired him. This team doesn’t need a pro scout anyways.

But the injuries didn’t matter because the team rallied on. Especially towards the playoffs where this time the boys in blue didn’t wilt, and went 16-2-1 in March and April. This was the year I thought. The good Toronto boys will finally pull through.

The Leafs won the President’s Trophy by 10 points going 57-16-10. They were 1st in goals, second in goals against and had a GF% of 61.4 per cent. Spezza was tied for sixth in points and won the Lady Byng, Mason broke the season win record with 50. He took home the Vezina (!) and the Ted Lindsay Trophy (!!!). This was the juggernaut I expected. The team, not Mason.

In Round One the buds didn’t disappoint, claiming vengeance over those pesky Rangers winning in six games. “Who has the better corsi now!” I said to my dog who howled. She knows her fancy stats.

Their next opponent: the Buffalo Sabres. Yes. The Sabres somehow made the playoffs.

And beat the Leafs.

They lost.

To Buffalo.

Who won the Cup.

I started to suspect that maybe, just maybe, this game was rigged. There’s no way a team full of good Toronto boys should come away empty handed two years in a row. There’s also no way Ville Leino should lead your team in goals after round two.

photo 4


It’s pretty hard to improve on a 124 point season, unless of course you’re a team full of good Toronto boys.

The team won 59 games. They were in front of the second place team by 18 points with a record of 59-15-8. They were first in goals for, goals against, penalty killing and sixth on the power play. Stamkos came third in points with 88 winning the Hart Trophy and the Lady Byng along the way. 

This team was an unstoppable force that would surely, surely win the Stanley Cup and bring joy to a city for the first time in almost 50 years. Their first round opponent was the rival Canadiens. A Canadiens team without PK Subban that finished eighth. 

A cake walk. Right? Probably even a sweep.

And a sweep it was… for the Habs.

A team whose lowest loss total in any given month was five, lost four straight. To a team barely above .500. The game was obviously trolling me. 

Buffalo went on to win another Cup. Yes, Buffalo won back to back Cups.

Meanwhile a team that went 165-54-28 over three seasons went 11-15 in the playoffs in those same years. 

So no Stanley Cups in three years. Because the game wants to see me suffer. It wants to see the Leafs suffer. 

The game has become sentient. The computer is mocking me. It’s mocking what we believe in, what we stand for, and we’re trying to prove.

I wasn’t 100 per cent sure of it though, until the off-season.

In a moment of negligence and poor asset management I accidentally let my superstar goaltender walk to free agency. Before I could realize my mistake, he had signed with Ottawa.

No good Toronto boy signs with Ottawa. The game should know this. There should be code written for this exact situation.

No other goalies come from this great city either, so Steve Mason was my only choice and I needed him back like Drake needs any girl back. 

I offered to trade for him, but I couldn’t offer much because I didn’t want to give up any part of my core, and by core I mean my entire lineup. 

So I offered draft picks because I didn’t need them, it’s not like anyone’s giving up a roster spot. I mean Nazem Kadri has been in the minors for four years now. Here’s how the negotiation went down.

A second rounder? Nope.

A first rounder? Nope.

A first and a second rounder? Nope. (Seriously… it’s freakin Steve Mason.)

A first, a second, and a third? Nope. (C’MON!)

Remember, that this game is trolling me and the entirety of Leafs Nation. So of course, of course, of course, what it took to get Steve freakin Mason back was two firsts and a second. 

Because even in make believe land, the Leafs can’t have nice things. 

But at least the Leafs still have their regular season success… right?


Wrong. They finished 41-32-9. A low point for the Good Toronto Boys era.

This season was the icing on the cake for me. The game unequivocally knows my hypothesis is correct (obviously) but doesn’t want to see me prove it, because it has become an omniscient machine hellbent on the destruction of the Good Toronto Boy narrative.

How else do you explain this team full of superstar Torontonians going 41-32-9? They only won half their games. How EA? HOW? You can’t explain that.

But the team still made the playoffs. Barely. And it had an opportunity to seek revenge against an old foe… the mighty Buffalo Sabres.

They lost 4-3.

Buffalo went on to their third straight final.

They played the Edmonton Oilers.

That was the final.

The Oilers won.

Edmonton won a Cup before Toronto. 

Tyler Bozak won a Cup before Toronto.

Four years. Nothing to show for it.

Needless to say, I no longer own NHL 13. 

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