No hockey and no hockey talk makes Leafs Nation go crazy.
Hitting pause on the season has been interesting. I’ve learned just how much I use sports to navigate my day. The empty moments between meetings, the twitter tab open while I take breaks from mundane excel spreadsheets, and those couple hours a night of truly feeling alive by complaining about the Leafs. This pause is a pause on a lot routine in life, but of course the seriousness of the situation warrants it.
Taking a step back from the seriousness, I think it’s time to maybe look at some of the favourable takeaways for what the pause could mean for the Leafs. Assuming we do see a conclusion to the 2019-20 season in some fashion there are some positives. And damned if we won’t briefly consider them here…
The Points Percentage Thing
If the regular season is toast, and when hockey returns it’s playoff time, by pretty much every potential measure the Leafs are in the playoffs. That’s a nice little piece of relief. The Leafs not only sit higher than the Panthers in points, but point percentage. The Leafs won’t have the opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot, at least in the regular season, though I’m sure the playoffs can deliver on that.
The Injury Thing
There is a good chance that by the time hockey starts up again, the Leafs will have a healthy Jake Muzzin and healthy Ilya Mikheyev to put back in the lineup. That’s not a bad situation to be in. The Leafs, if fully healthy, were considered one of the top teams in the league, we just haven’t had a chance to see them fully healthy and that could be coming, well, minus Andreas Johnsson, who still won’t be back, but it’s as good as it’s gonna get.
The downside is teams like Tampa are also going to get Steven Stamkos back, but we’ll ignore those things for now, and just focus on healthy Muzzin and Mikheyev.
In addition to that, players like Morgan Rielly that might have rushed back prematurely, or players like Freddie Andersen, who might have a lingering issue will get time to get back to where they want to be as well. A full rested and healthy Freddie Andersen could be a very big positive for the Leafs if we see hockey again this season.
The Enthusiasm Thing
Lately there has been a lot of negativity around the Leafs. You can trace it back to the injuries, the goaltending woes, the coaching chance, or any other pieces of drama you like, or perhaps it’s just the inconsistent level of performance that has been bugging you, but at times this year watching the Leafs has felt more like a chore than an escape. I’m willing to be that after the dust settles on this pause, there will at least be a renewed effort by all in trying to enjoy the Leafs.