The Leafs suck. Stop talking about them.
Harrison Brooks – Contributor
If you are a fan of any NHL team in the league not named the Leafs, you know just how annoying it is listen to Leafs fans talk about their team. They go on and on each year about how ‘this is their year,’ or how they have a Norris-calibre defencemen or Vezina candidate, or whatever it may be. It gets to the point where you can just laugh at these predictions and move on with your day, but it is incredibly hard to ignore it when the entire sports media in Canada is doing the same thing. It is infuriating that TSN, SportsNet, and the Hockey Night In Canada panel are all huge homers when it comes to the Leafs. The Raptors and Jays get the same kind of obsession from the media, but because they are the only Canadian teams in their respective leagues, it makes a little more sense. The NHL, on the other hand, has six other Canadian teams that get shadowed by the overrated Leafs. The most annoying things the media does? Overhyping players and assuming free agents will, or should, sign there.
Sure, Phil Kessel will score 80 points in a year, but he’s lousy in his own zone, and lazy without the puck. Then there’s the captain Phaneuf, who, first of all, shouldn’t be a captain and second, is not capable of playing top-line minutes. With players like that as your best forward and top defenseman, respectively it is no surprise that the Leafs rarely make the playoffs, but you wouldn’t know that based on how the media projects these guys. The overhyping of players shows up in trade rumours a lot, stating how much each of these guys could bring in if they’re traded. Based on how bad the team has been, none of their players have nearly as much value as they are projected having. Really, the only two players who’s value is still high at the moment would be Kessel, because he does score goals even if he is “hard to coach,” and Morgan Rielly, who is very young and skilled with a ton of potential.
The free agent speculation has also gotten out of hand. I constantly come across articles about which players should sign in Toronto when their contact is up, and it is always guys like Drew Doughty, or Steven Stamkos, or John Tavares. Do you really think any of these guys want to play in Toronto, even if they are from the area? Because I don’t. Doughty has won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, while living in frickin’ California! Sure, maybe he’d win a couple Norris trophies if he wasn’t on a Darryl Sutter defence-focused team, but I think he would rather take his chance at the Stanley Cup than personal accolades. Stamkos is in the same boat as Doughty, where if he went to Toronto he might make them a contender, but it’s no guarantee. This would be a great deal for Stamkos if he weren’t already on a contender in Tampa Bay.
Another reason no big name player is going to sign in Toronto is Ontario’s income tax. Ontario has one of the highest income tax rates in the league, at nearly 50 per cent, Florida, on the other hand, has one of the lowest around 39 per cent, meaning Stamkos will earn way more money if he just stays put in Tampa Bay. When it’s all said and done, the NHL is a business and the players are going to go to; A) The place with the best shot at a Stanley Cup or, B) The place where they will get paid the best, and I’m sorry TSN and SportsNet, but that place is not Toronto, so drop it already.