Tuesday, January 30, 2024

When will the Toronto Maple Leafs ever learn? They keep making the same mistakes

  “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

The above quotation is often attributed to Albert Einstein, although there is little or no evidence that Einstein actually said that.  The source of the quote remains unknown, but the words certainly apply to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Let's discuss the Leafs.  It's truly astounding that the Core Four - John Tavares,
Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander- is still intact.  Tavares, the team captain is a seasoned veteran.  He often wins faceoffs for the team.  Although Tavares has been struggling lately, he can't be traded.  Number 91 has a no-trade clause in his contract.  Unless and until he waives his no-movement clause, he isn't going anywhere.

With the Core Four, the Leafs do well in the regular season, but year after year, they fizzle out in the playoffs.  Matthews, Tavares and Nylander take up about 49% of the team's salary cap.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that that doesn't leave very much to spend on defence and goaltending. To win a Stanley Cup, you need a strong defence and really good goaltending. 

On January 8, 2024, the Leafs signed William Nylander to an eight-year $92 million contract extension.  That means that he will be earning an annual salary of $11.5 million.  At 27, Nylander is probably at the peak of his career.  If the Leafs had traded him, they could have received maximum value in return.  They could have asked for a top-of-the-line defenceman.  It's too late now.  


On July 1, 2025, Mitch Marner becomes an unrestricted free agent, and he will ask for a hefty raise.  How are the Maple Leafs going to stay within their salary cap without compromising their defence and goaltending? How are they going to go far in the playoffs without a balanced team?  For too long, the Leafs  have been a strong regular season contender, but have faired poorly in the playoffs.  

I have been a Leafs fan my whole life, but I'm going to be blunt.  As every fan of the Blue and White knows, the Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.  I really can't see a parade along Yonge Street in the near future.  I am not demeaning Tavares, Matthew, Marner and Nylander.  They are all good players.  However, I refuse to be greatly impressed until they shine in post-season play.  They have never done that and the Leafs have never gone deep into the playoffs with the Core Four.

- Joanne

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