by Jasjap Singh
Being a Toronto Maple Leaf’s fan hasn’t been easy. They have only made the playoffs twice since the 2003-2004 season and haven’t won the Stanley cup in 50 years. Despite all that, they have remained the most valuable NHL franchise at an estimated value of $1.1 billion USD. The leafs were in desperate need of a makeover, from the management down to the players.
In 2014, that makeover finally began with the signing of Brendan Shanahan as the President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This led to a domino effect, with the leafs signing the best coach in the league, Mike Babcock, and one of the best general managers, Lou Lamoriello. The Toronto Maple Leafs being such a profitable organization were able to give Babcock an annual salary of $6.25 million, which more than double any other coach in the league! With arguably the best management in the league already in place, it was time to shift their focus to their roster.
With multiple trades, signings and a strong rookie core, the management have created a team that has a lethal offense with Austin Mathews leading the way. Austin Mathews has been firing on all cylinders since he stepped on the ice as a Maple Leaf, scoring 4 goals in his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators. Austin Mathews finished the year second in scoring in the entire NHL, just 4 goals behind Sidney Crosby. The bright spot for the “new” Toronto Maple Leafs has not only been their offense but also their goaltender, Fredrick Anderson, who unnoticeably gets the job done. Anderson has played exceptionally well in the regular season and in my opinion was the MVP for the leafs in the playoffs last year against the Washington Capitals. With offense and goaltending solidified, the defensive side of the game is currently the primary focus and if that can be figured out then we seriously have a Stanley Cup contender.
However, the Toronto Maple Leafs still have to fix a couple things before they can make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. Even though they are taking strides in the right direction they need to address their weak blue line, as the saying goes “defense wins championships”. So don’t start planning the Stanley Cup parade just yet because there’s still quite a bit of work to be done.