Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Reasons There's a Serious Buzz Surrounding the Team
The Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL have been the buzz of the hockey world in the past few weeks. The team is just awesome to gossip about. So many stories, so much to talk about. It's almost like I'm back in high school.
Toronto, as the Mecca of hockey, is always buzzing, but recently there has been a greater buzz that has echoed across the entire world of sports. The Toronto Maple Leafs, led by Coach Ron Wilson and GM Brian Burke, are the real deal.
Here are 10 reasons why there's been serious buzz surrounding the team over the past couple weeks.
1. The Team Is Finally Winning
Is there a more obvious reason?
The Toronto Maple Leafs have continued to find ways to win hockey games. They sit near the top of the Eastern Conference and have looked the part.
It has been along time since Toronto has produced a winning hockey club, and the fanbase is ecstatic. The hockey world is finally respecting the team as a legitimate threat.
The team must keep up its stellar play, as it has now become expected, in the city, that the Leafs perform at the highest of levels. With the buzz comes an even greater responsibility.
2. Leafs Are Putting the Puck in the Back of the Net
The Toronto Maple Leafs are not only winning, but also winning by large margins. A recent 7-1 thrashing over Tampa Bay Lightning is evidence of this.
At the beginning of the season, much talk was about the team's lack of scoring options and potential issues scoring goals. All that talk has been put to rest, as Toronto is one of the top three scoring teams in the NHL.
There have been no issues finding scoring options as the top line featuring Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel has been lights-out. Nothing is more exciting than goals being put in the back of the net, and the Maple Leafs are playing exciting, high-scoring hockey.
3. Little Competition from Other Sports
The NHL has been given a gift with the current NBA lockout. The league has no competition, as many dried out sports fans will have nowhere else to turn for their pro-sport demands (NFL plays once a week and does not cross over NHL games much).
With Versus network becoming increasingly powerful in the US, the NHL looks to gain considerable attention this season.
In Toronto, an already hockey-heavy fanbase has lost out on the Toronto Raptors of the NBA. This has resulted in, literally, no option of sports this time of year for the city of Toronto. All of the attention, or scrutiny, from Toronto will be on the Maple Leafs.
All eyes are on the hockey world.
4. Kessel Is Leading the NHL Scoring Race
When was the last time you saw a Leaf atop the NHL league leaders?
Phil Kessel has been on fire to start the season, playing an excellent two-way game that has attributed to his success. Kessel currently has 16 goals and 30 points on the season, faring far better then any of his competition.
It's just simply exciting. Seeing a Leaf up there brings butterflies to my stomach. And to add to it, Joffrey Lupul isn't too far behind.
5. The Top Players Are Playing Up to Their Potential
The Leafs have had several top NHL players over the past few seasons, but they kept failing to meet expectation.
Finally, the likes of specifically Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf are earning their paychecks. Both had been brought onto the team to play a substantial role and failed to do so. They have put the team on their back and it is creating a buzz in town. Toronto now has elite athletes.
The likes of Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, Clark MaCarthur, Luke Schenn and Carl Gunnarsson all are finally impact players for the team. They are living up to their contracts and have become solid contributors for the team. These core players stepping up are the reason for the team's success.
6. Constant Talk of a Big Trade Looming
With all the success the team has enjoyed, there is this continued rumbling of a big trade happening in Toronto. The buzz is that GM Brian Burke wants to bring in a bigtime name to slot on his first line. He wants to do this by trading away several smaller pieces the Leafs currently have.
Now, this is particularly thought-provoking because the team has been successful. Even through the success, these rumours have appeared as it seems Burke feels he will need an extra scorer to be effective in a playoff run.
There is no way of knowing what will happen, but getting deeper into the season, teams will be more willing as trade partners and a potential blockbuster could occur. The only worry in LeafLand is if this big move would shake the team off its stellar run.
7. Goalie Controversy
James Reimer gets injured. Cue the Hollywood film saga.
As if it was written out of a fairy tale, James Reimer took the reins of goaltending for the Leafs and put on performance after performance of calm and steady play. But a shot of bad luck from the wicked stepmother/witch or whatnot has derailed this dream, leaving Reimer sidelined for the near future.
Who will now lead this team?
It has been up to the backup tandem of Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens to hold this team together and provide the goaltending support to keep the team atop the league standings. This has also been the most talked about part of the team over the past couple of weeks.
The buzz is that the two have shared the duties, with neither of them solidifying themselves as the go-to option. On top of this, the team needs to consider if one of these guys can hold it down at the back or if a new option needs to be explored.
Hopefully, James Reimer will be back sooner rather than later, as goaltending controversy seems to be the big buzz around town.
8. Prospects Far Exceeding Expectation
This year, the Toronto Maple Leafs have several new contributors and many of them are prospects who have made the successful jump to NHL play.
Atop this list is young Jake Gardiner, who was acquired from Anaheim Ducks last year. Gardiner broke into the team during training camp, where the coaching staff could simply not find a reason not to have him on the big club. He is an amazing skater who is able to move the puck effectively from the back. Jake Gardiner is a game-changer and has been an important part of the Leafs team this season.
Other prospects who have become key contributors have been Matt Frattin and Ben Scrivens. Frattin has been a great energy guy for the Leafs, but still needs to find his scoring touch. Scrivens has done well as a replacement for injured goaltender James Reimer.
These guys were not expected to do anything significant this year and the collective exceeding of expectations has truly been a treat.
9. The Team Has a Personality Again
This team has a personality again, as the players in town have become comfortable in their new home. It has become the next generation of Leafs as the team finally has a face. Dion Phaneuf. Colby Armstrong. Tyler Bozak. All have integrated well into the city and all have great personalities.
This hasn't been seen since the likes of Mats Sundin and Tie Domi. The team has turned a new chapter and is headed in a new direction.
The use of social media like Twitter has been a great avenue for these players to reach out to the fanbase and connect on a more personal level. The Twitter hashtag #TeamUnit has become a revelation in Toronto, between the Leafs and the Blue Jays and their love of the city. Sports has life in the city again, and it's great to see.
The buzz is simply that the Leafs have their mojo back.
10. The City Has Been Craving Sports Success
The city of Toronto has had a drought in sports championships. Years have gone by since any Toronto-based franchise has enjoyed success in pro sports.
This leads me to believe that because of the fast start to the season for the Leafs, the entire city has taken note and is watching closely to see if the team can flirt with a championship.
The city has been craving sports success and with the great start, there is hope the Maple Leafs can finally break the spell.
The buzz has generated an eager fanbase to fantasize about the idea that it's finally their time for sports glory.
Probably best not to jump the gun...but, we are talking about Toronto.
So those are the reasons for the serious buzz surround the team recently. The Toronto Maple Leafs are truly heading in the right direction and have become the spotlight of the sports world.
Now, you just have to wait and see what transpires and if there is an expiration date on this buzz.
Can the Maple Leafs finally bring success to the city of Toronto?
What are your thoughts?