By Mike Olson
The richest team in the NHL is currently in a dry spell when it comes to winning the hardest trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup. The team was founded back in 1917 becoming part of the “Original 6” known as the Toronto Arenas. Two years later a new ownership group took over and changed the name to the Toronto St. Patricks, and 7 years later the franchise sold once more and was renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs.
According to Forbes magazine the Leafs are the wealthiest NHL franchise over the past nine years. At a staggering worth of 1.3 billion dollars, they are only hockey team to be worth more than a billion dollars. They have 13 Stanley cup banners hanging from the rafters of the Air Canada Centre, only the Montreal Canadiens have more Stanley cups (24). And despite not winning a championship in 48 years (the longest streak in the NHL) the team has sold out every game since 2002. Why you ask? Because what else is there to do in Toronto on a Friday night in frigid weather? The numbers don’t lie they have a passionate fan base that shows up to games whether the record is good or bad, big name stars or minor leaguers, these Leafs fans bleed blue and white. But is there a curse going on in Toronto that we don’t know about?
There are many reasons and beliefs to why this city is in a drought and it starts from the top. GM’s, coaches, scouts, and the media are all to fault. Over the years the franchise has passed up on top draft picks and prospects and made trades that make you scratch your head. The Leafs could have had the likes of Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, and Tukka Rask, just to name a few. They also traded Phil Kessell, who led the team in Assists last season, however Kessell did receive grunt from the media blaming him for the teams struggle, which I find unwarranted. With that being said, if those players wore the Leafs crest on their jersey this article would be going in quite a different direction.
Leafs fans however might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I believe for the first time in years they finally have the right people to get the job done. This summer they named Lou Lamoriello the general manager, after a long tenure with the New Jersey Devils. They made a new coaching change and hired Mike Babcock, formerly with the Detroit Red Wings and coach of the Canadian National Team.
I know that the city produces good hockey players, and you think that those players would want to play for Toronto. However, for some reason these athletes would rather play in the US where they have a better chance of winning the cup than stay in Toronto and be a part of history bringing a cup home. Don’t get me wrong I am glad that the Stanley Cup has been in the U.S. since 1993 when the Canadians won it, but there is no doubt in my mind that if any Canadian team deserves to skate around the ice with the cup above their heads it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs.