The Stanley Cup.
Don't you just drool when you look at it? Imagine kissing it and holding it up high. Imagine the cheering and the joy all around you.
Now, imagine all that in the ACC. That'd be great, eh? But is it worth it?
I don't mean to say that the Stanley Cup is a priceless chunk of metal and the ring you get is the equivalent to those candy rings you can get at the store, but just how much is it worth?
Let's jump back a step or two. Before you can even start dreaming about winning the cup, you have to be able to make the playoffs, something the Leafs haven't been able to do for a while now.
How do you make the playoffs?
You work hard and give it all you got. How do you do that? You do it with a good team.
I'll admit, the Leafs' roster isn't very impressive this year in some aspects. There are no more all-stars like Mats Sundin, or fan favourites like Darcy Tucker, but the Leafs aren't really doing worse than they were last season.
So think about it, we have an OKAY team, with OKAY players.
Well, some are OKAY and we have a couple that might end up becoming even great players, but for now, we have an average roster.
However, an average roster does not get you into the playoffs, folks. An average roster always leaves you in the worst place in the standings, not dire enough for a good draft pick, and not good enough for the playoffs.
I'll admit that the Leafs play great some nights and could win playoff games with that amount of confidence and motive.
Is there a chance to make the playoffs?
Yes, but we have to work hard and play like there's no tomorrow if we really want to make the playoffs. Before we get carried away though, let me just say the point of this article so there isn't any confusion later on. I didn't write this to get everyone saying "Yay we're so cool we're going to make the playoffs."
So imagine this now, after a long hard second half of the season, the Leafs clinch a playoff spot. Celebrations in Toronto begin, everyone's happy, and things couldn't be better.
Then comes the first round, hard fought, and the ACC is packed with people that just won't shut up. The Leafs feel like immortal kings. Fortunately, the Leafs advance to round two and so on, to the Stanley Cup finals.
It's now game seven. It's overtime (how dramatic), and the Leafs are on the attack; a shot fires off from the stick of Schenn, and he scores!
I don't think I have to explain what happens next. The Stanley Cup is right there, waiting for a Leaf to go pick it up, but who will go?
Matt Stajan? Luke Scheen? Justin Pogge? (Yes, he comes in and takes the Leafs to the cup). Interesting scenario, eh? These would be your 2008-2009 Toronto Maple Leafs Champions, the long awaited saviors.
Personally, I would never let that happen! I know we haven't won the Cup in over 40 years, but would it be worth getting all cocky about?
Leaf Fan: "Burn! we won the cup!"
Cap Fan: "So? we have Ovechkin! Who do you have? Dominic Moore?"
Leaf Fan: "..."
Wouldn't you feel better if it was more of a...
Leaf Fan: "Burn! We won the cup!"
Cap Fan: "So? We have Ovechkin! Who do you have? Dominic Moore?"
Leaf fan: "No! We have [insert name here] and [insert name here], and of course our captain [insert name here]."
Cap Fan: "..."
Leaf Fan: "Yeah! That's what I thought!"
I don't think we'd receive the same reaction as we would if the Leafs won the Cup this season compared to if they win it a couple of seasons down the road with a great team that has developed over time.
I know there's the "rebuilding" stage going on, but there have been lots of people that are saying "we can make the playoffs and win the cup!" I agree with them, we can make the playoffs, and we can win the cup. But is it all worth it? That's for you to decide.