Photo Credit: Scott Maxwell

Scott’s Thoughts: It’s probably better if the Leafs get swept by Columbus

Is this a hot take? I mean, it might have been a lot hotter of a take in previous years, but I think a Leafs fan saying they want the Leafs to lose when it doesn’t involve tanking is still kind of a hot take.

I feel like this will be a lot less of a hot take once you hear my reasoning, but yeah, when the Leafs go into the first round of this weird playoff set-up against the Columbus Blue Jackets, I want them to get swept. Here’s why.

You know there will be an asterisk

I’m just going to get this one out of the way because it’s probably the reason you all think I’m saying this, even though it isn’t really that high on my actual list of why. But, it’s probably true.

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Now, I definitely don’t think that there should be one. This is one of the weirdest seasons we’ve had in a while, and there’s the potential that a team could have to win five playoff rounds to win the Cup this year. If anything, it’ll be even tougher for teams to win the Cup, and it should be looked at as such.

And I’m sure for most teams, they probably will be. If the Blue Jackets or the Penguins managed to pull out a Cup victory from this, they will probably be given a lot of credit for it.

But you just know that if the Leafs did that, no one will give them credit for it. They’ll chalk it up to it being a weird season, and because of that, of course the Leafs won the Cup. They’ll slap that asterisk right next to them, and that’ll be that. And while this is far from the reason that I want the Leafs to get swept, I want this long-awaited championship to feel a lot bigger than this.

There’s a pandemic going on

So here’s the real reason that I want this. If I had my way, I wouldn’t even bring back the season. THERE’S LITERALLY A GLOBAL PANDEMIC GOING ON RIGHT NOW, WHY ARE WE PUTTING PLAYERS AT RISK FOR UNNECESSARY ENTERTAINMENT?! We’ve already seen 11 players (as well as other staff members) test positive for COVID-19 just during the process of players training together, it’s probably going to get significantly worse once there’s actually games going on.

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Not only is the disease deadly, we also still don’t know the long-term effects of it, and how it could impact some athletes careers going forward. If a player gets it, and does severe long-term damage to their lungs, does that mean that they won’t be able to physically keep up with the league going forward? I’m nowhere close to an expert on the virus, but these are questions I’ve seen tossed around, and honestly, it’s not worth the risk.

This is also a culture of athletes that glorify playing through concussions and broken legs. There is definitely going to be players trying to hide their symptoms, whether it be a star not wanting to miss time and cost his team, or a fringe player not wanting to lose his spot in the lineup. The NHL is saying that they’re going to take this seriously, but until I see it in action, I don’t buy it.

This return is also really shady. The owners have no problem shutting down a season during a CBA negotiation, or have concerns about them getting hurt at the Olympics, but suddenly they’re cool with risking their players lives during a pandemic to make a few extra bucks. I know that most big businesses only care about money, but still, it’s absurd.

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The draft lottery

So, I’m not going to dive too deep into this one, because the chances are really slim, and could potentially drop to none by the end of the day, depending on how the draft lottery goes.

But hey, there’s also potential. There’s a 24.5% chance that one of the eight picks designated teams that will eventually be eliminated in the play-in round gets a pick in the top three, and once that’s decided, it’s an even 12.5% chance for those eight teams. And if the Leafs pick ends up in that top three slot, they get to keep their pick that they traded to Carolina.

While that might not seem crazy likely, remember that since the new lottery system was brought in in 2016, four of the 12 picks have gone to teams who finished outside of the bottom seven. So, based on previous lotteries, it’s not all that crazy to see one of the three picks go to one of the teams in the play-in round.

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It feels weird to want the Leafs to win the draft lottery in a year where they intended to be competitive, but it’s been a strange season, and honestly, I’d rather get an Alexis Lafreniere or a Quinton Byfield than risk this teams health any further.

Ok, but why do they need to be swept?

You’ll notice I’ve been pretty clear that I not only want the Leafs to lose the play-in round, but also get swept. Why’s that? That’s easy.

A sweep only takes three games, and gets them out of there as quickly as possible. Sure, the difference between losing in three and losing in five may not seem like that much, but going back to the whole pandemic thing going on, the less games the Leafs play, the less likely they catch the spread of the virus.

And the sooner they can all go home and continue isolating and staying safe.

So clearly, I have not lost my mind, and I don’t willingly want to see my own team lose. In fact, I’d rather we just see the season officially get cancelled.

But since the owners clearly want some extra cash, the least I can hope for is that the Leafs get out of this idiotic scenario without any damage done to their health, or at least with as little damage done as possible.

Also, notice how I didn’t mention any specific players names when it comes to their health? Because even though these are “celebrities”, they should at least get privacy, especially with such sensitive information? And also, I’m not a terrible human being? Crazy. Some people could learn a thing from that.