You may remember the Maple Leafs lost a hockey game to a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and rent-a-goalie last month. You may remember the city of Toronto was rightfully embarrassed; shades of the dialogue in Moneyball where Billy Beane explains, “There are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then, there’s 50 feet of shit. Then, there’s us”. Replace “rich” with “good” and you have the Leafs dead to rights.
Now, there’s something to be said for pulling off a Chumbawamba, and what with recent playoff failures at the TD Garden, the eight goal loss to Florida only weeks earlier, and other terribly embarrassing current-iteration Leaf occurrences, you’d have been warranted in thinking the team might collapse. They didn’t. They got back up again and, three days later, the Leafs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. For those who’ve forgotten, the Lightning are the team that won a bunch of regular season games last year and then lost in a first-round playoff sweep to Columbus. If there were more Tampa fans around, I suppose that might be a more embarrassing defeat. But there aren’t.
Anyhow, it stands to reason that if losing to an old, random guy is Defcon 2, then losing to the team who earlier lost to the 42 old random guy is Defcon 1. Some brutally embarrassing stuff. You purported to be an elite team and proved otherwise. But, Tampa fans, it’s not a worry. You weren’t the biggest loser. You may prove to be at the end of it all, but this story has yet to be written.
Introducing the Ayres Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s Biggest Losers
Toronto quickly passed the torch to Tampa as the league’s most embarrassing team. Tampa, in turn, passed the torch to Calgary four nights later. This has been recorded to date and will continue to be recorded until the end of the season where, after game 82, one joke of a franchise will be awarded the Ayres Trophy. Smart money is on the Maple Leafs, who have a way of writing sports tragedies that would be passed off as cheap writing in a network television drama. Another sneaky bet is the Ottawa Senators, a team destined to suffering so long as they wear cheaply licensed Walmart knockoffs as their official threads.
You’ll find a regularly updates Ayres Trophy Tracker below. Good luck to all 30 NHL cities and also to Sunrise, Florida. May the odds be ever in your favour.
Ayres Trophy Tracker
Carolina def Toronto – February 22
Toronto def Tampa – February 25
Tampa def Calgary – February 29
Calgary def Florida – March 1
Florida def Montreal – March 7
(Editor’s note: I’m really excited that Jake will be tracking this for us, but I’m equally excited that right now the Ayres Trophy is sitting with Montreal.)