Maybe your team is out of the playoffs and you need a backup. Maybe you’re a Toronto resident who wants to cheer while the city is cheering. Maybe you’re an old-time Leafs fan who heard “playoffs” and “Leafs” in the same sentence and lost the battle against hoping for great things.
However you got here, you want to be a Leafs fan and you need a bit of a refresher.
6:51 into the third period of the second last game of the season. Jake Gardiner scores an own goal to put the Penguins up 3-2. Anyone who's watched the Leafs for more than 5 minutes was utterly convinced the season was over in that moment. The Leafs were going to lose that game and the next, Tampa was going to win out and playoffs would slip from our grasp yet again. If you can relate... welcome. If you can't... we may need your optimism over the coming days.
If you want to be a Leafs fan around here, your next step is "don't assume". Don't assume the fan you're chatting with is a dude, is white, is straight, speaks English as a first language, lives anywhere near Toronto and isn't also a fan of some other hockey team. A good chunk of the masthead doesn’t fit at least one of those categories and hey, maybe you don’t either. Awesome. Welcome to PPP.
If you’re looking to go on a deep run in the playoffs, so are we. It’s just that Vegas has the current odds of the Leafs even getting out of the first round against the Caps at 38%.
Okay, dire warnings are over. Time for the fun stuff.
Toronto is a hot young team! Very, very young.
This is Auston Matthews. He will save us all. The 2016 first overall draft pick and the first player in the modern era to score four goals in his debut game. Auston Matthews holds the Leafs all time rookie records for points in a season (69) and goals in a season (40). He is the first American-born NHL rookie to score 40 goals in a season, and the first rookie to do so since some guy named Alexander Ovechkin. He’s also the first Leaf to score 40 points in a season since the 2001-02 season. (Leafs fans: we’re happy, but it’s been awhile) He also has his own song.
This is Mitch Marner. He led the Leafs in assists this season (42). Why yes, that’s another Leafs rookie record. Mitch was our first round pick in 2015. There was extensive debate at the beginning of the season about whether he had gained enough size to stay in the NHL or if he’d be going back to the OHL for his draft +2 year. Gunnar Carlsson wrote an extremely erudite article on the subject. He’s a tiny bit enthusiastic. We swear he’s older than Matthews.
This is Zach Hyman. He holds the Leafs rookie record in shorthanded goals. He is awesome. If you want to say otherwise, you have to go through Acting the Fulemin.
William Nylander was once the shiniest prospect on the team. He was their first round pick in 2014, back in the dark days when everyone was convinced the Leafs would skip skilled European Nylander and go for big Canadian Nick Ritchie. He represented Hope and the possibility of a Bright Future. Now he’s just really, really good.
In pretty much any other year, Connor Brown would be the Leafs best rookie. He scored 20 goals this season. His 20th goal was the game winning goal in game 81 that sent the Leafs to the playoffs. Watch him bounce. He stated after the game that he wasn’t sure it was even him that scored. Connor Brown grew up a Leafs fan. You can tell.
Nikita Zaitsev is an NHL rookie at the tender age of 25. We lured him away from the KHL. He took a hit in game 82 and will miss the first game of the playoffs. This is Ungood.
This is Tyler Bozak. On this team, he’s a grizzled veteran. Grizzled, I say. He has played 513 NHL games, all of them with the Leafs, which makes him the longest-tenured Leaf in the dressing room. With the advent of the rookies he is no longer the first-line centre. We are all very grateful for this.
Nazem Kadri once held the title of “Prospect who will Fix Everything”. Those were dark times. Last season he led the Leafs in penalties drawn. This season he gets called if he steps on the ice half a second after some guy on the opposing team thirty feet away from him twitches funny. He’s also our shut-down centre, so his job this series is not exactly easy.
All Leafs posts at PPP are contractually obligated to contain a picture of James van Riemsdyk. For more details, talk to Species.
Leo Komarov spent time on the Randy Carlyle Leafs, escaped and came back again. We’re not sure why either. Affectionately referred to as Uncle Leo, he’s a pest and a nuisance in several languages. Occasionally he scores too. During the most recent lockout he played on a line with Ovechkin in the KHL. This means their various interactions aren’t so much hits as lovetaps. Really.
Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner used to be a codependent pair of young d-men who were hardly found one without the other. Also they lived together in some sort of dork heaven. Now they’re both important pieces of the Leafs defensive corps and Rielly is still rumoured to be a contender for the next Leafs captain. Everything is fine. (Kidding, most of the time we’re pretty pleased about both of them)
Frederik Andersen is our new starting goalie. His team puts him through a lot and owes him many steaks. If he doesn’t stay healthy through the series, Bad Things will happen.
This is OMG Ben Smith. He is terrible. Someone in the comments will tell you why.
These men are allegedly on this team. Also the Leafs have a lot of money. Allegedly, they own an island. These statements are in no way linked.
This is Nathan Horton. One day there will be a statue in his honour outside the ACC. Don't worry you don't need to know why.
This is James Reimer. He was too good for this team and now he’s gone. (it’s my post, I can put in who I want)
This is hockey. Everything is better in motion.
Rookies doing what rookies do on the bench
Because this is PPP where we speak with one voice, the regulars and the rest of the masthead will now shred this post to pieces. Everyone is invited to write more (or include a lot of pictures and gifs) in the comments. Have fun!
This Leafs primer was...
|fun and informative.
|missing my favourite player.
|too low on stats.
|missing the history that Real Fans need to memorize.
|too low on gifs.