Normally with these columns, I try to keep them well-researched, well-thought out, so that even though it is opinionated, it’s supported by facts and not just bold claims.
That’s not happening tonight.
Unfortunately, my emotions are too high right now to form any sense of a coherent, well-informed thought.
Now, I will start this off by saying it’s not over. We’re going into the game tomorrow, and if the Leafs have shown us anything over the last few years, they know how to play when their backs are against the wall. The series is still easily winnable, especially with the skill on this team.
But it doesn’t feel like it, does it? In the end, it doesn’t matter with this team. We can play that grit-grindy physical style of hockey that everyone says works in the playoffs like the 2013 team, but it’ll end in disappointment. We can have some the best skill in the league, but it’ll end in disappointment. It just doesn’t matter.
When Nick Robertson scored to make it 3-0, I felt happy. Happier than I had been in a long time. It was only game three, but I was having fun, the Leafs were having fun, everybody was having fun.
But nothing is ever safe with the Leafs, and I hate that there was even a split second where I did feel safe cheering for this team.
Because being a Leafs fan is waiting for that moment when everything will go wrong. Being a Leafs fan is always having this strange sense of hope that you’re not sure where it came from considering the history of this team, and then the Leafs will remind you why you never have hope.
Being a Leafs fan is seeing Pierre Luc-Dubois, who not only had two goals in this game, but also put your best defenseman in the hospital without ANY discipline; streaking up the ice on break, and knowing, without any doubt, that he’s going to score, because that’s what the Leafs do.
That’s what being a Leafs fan is all about, and honestly, if you’re new here, I don’t know why you should stick around.
I’m probably going to end up being over-dramatic here. As much as I want to say I’m going to numb myself to ever having joy cheering for this team so that I won’t be disappointed, that’s probably not going to happen. The Leafs could just as easily blow the Blue Jackets out tomorrow, and I’ll probably think “maybe, just maybe it’ll be different this time”, not learning my lesson from literally a day ago.
Because why does it matter? The Leafs will probably never find any semblance of success because they’re the Leafs. They could somehow form an all-star roster loaded with the best players in the league, and it won’t matter, because they’re the Leafs.
They will always disappoint us, because they’re the Leafs.
Sober second thoughts
I come back to this 12 hours later, and I still stand by most of this. But I do have one bit of optimism out of this.
With Game 7 against Boston in 2013, it was over for the Leafs, that was it. They didn’t get that second opportunity to prove themselves until four months later with an entirely different team.
The difference is that it isn’t over for this Leafs team. They have a chance tonight, and if they play it well, they have another one on Sunday. This is where they prove to themselves and to everybody that they have what it takes.
They have an opportunity with their backs against the wall to step up, and overcome this heartbreak. Or, they’ll sit back, let the Blue Jackets beat them in Game 4, and it’s over.
The choice is theirs.