The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first game of their NHL Play-In Round series tonight. It’s a battle to secure a berth in the actual playoffs, which will start about two weeks from now. This is the NHL’s ad-hoc solution to having to suspend the season earlier this year, but it’s not the first time the Blue Jackets have threatened to keep the Leafs out of the playoffs.
The previous time was in 2014, and it was famously documented by Toronto Star sports reporter Curtis Rush with a bizarre listicle “10 reasons why it’s bad for Columbus to bump Toronto out of the NHL playoffs” that mostly took one sentence pot-shots at the State of Ohio. It was not well received.
Now, on its face, it was not a bad idea. Ohio, is well, Ohio. It’s a place where this disgusting spaghetti chili concoction is considered a delicacy.
But this was supposed to be about the Leafs vs. the Blue Jackets and which team really deserved to be in the playoffs. Back in that 2013-14 season the Leafs wound up with 84 points and the first thing to note is that didn’t put them anywhere near making the playoffs. The Blue Jackets got in through the Wild Card slot with 93 points, and there were three teams between that benchmark and the Leafs, including even the Senators (ugh!)
If anything, it that was a season the Leafs clearly did not at all deserve to make it. This was a season with both Dave Bolland and David Clarkson running amok on the lines, Randy Carlyle’s tight systems being putrid, and the offence carried on the backs of Phil Kessel sniping the net and James van Riemsdyk tip-ins.
It was a season where Colton Orr played in 54 games, obtaining zero points, many of those games with his gravel-shoveling buddy Frazer McLaren, who also picked up a big fat zero points. But, hey, Rush thought that taking cheap shots at Ohio was what needed to be said. That was also a pretty bold move for someone writing for a paper in a city of which Rob Ford was the mayor at the time. It was also not the only time Rush embarrassed himself to Leafs fans.
So here we are now, six years (and a few months) later, and once again the Leafs and the Blue Jackets are hunting for a playoff spot and this time they actually are playing each other to make it in.
In memory of that past episode of bizarre Leafs journalism, I have decided to rewrite the original narrative with a positive spin. I’ve prepared my own list of 10 reasons. And mine is actually good.
10 reasons why the Leafs deserve to be in the playoffs instead of the Blue Jackets
1. Auston Matthews’ skills:
We shouldn’t lose when our star player can do this:
2. Nicholas Robertson:
He’s going to be the youngest NHL player ever(ish) and he’s a goal scoring machine.
3. William Nylander’s ass:
I mean, come on.
4. Kyle Dubas is smart:
Two phones at once! And just look at those glasses. Kid’s a genius.
5. Mitch Marner sponsoring every single business in Toronto:
He’s a strong supporter of the community.
6. Zach Hyman is the smartest:
He writes fun and inspirational books for kids. You can buy one right now!
7. Literal royalty supports our goalie:
Is there any more lovable character in the NHL right now than Ilya Mikheyev? No.
9. Our team is the best dressed:
Annie’s got more coverage here.
10. We’re the centre of the Universe.
That one is obvious.
Who deserves to make the playoffs?
This poll is closed
The Maple Leafs!