“What do you do?”
How many times have you asked or been asked that question since the end of Game 7?
I’ve heard answers calling for Dubas and Keefe’s job, the trading of certain #16-wearing players, and some have held onto their optimism hoping the core is given another chance at a run. As for me, I’ve answered the same question over and over again: I don’t know.
I don’t know what you do, and at the same time, something needs to be done. And the only thing I can do is do what I do best: compare the Toronto Maple Leafs to pop-culture events in history.
Who here has watched Pokemon? You know, “I want to be the very best like no one ever was...” It’s a story about a 10-year-old boy named Ash Ketchum who builds, what he thinks, is a strong team of Pokemon to win a championship and year after year, he finds a way to lose. Whether it’s because he is completely outclassed or his ability as a leader is put into question, something happens, and he’s eliminated from the Pokemon league.
It was the same occurrence up until 2020 when the showrunners finally decided to give Ash a trophy putting an end to the 23-year drought. He went through strong Pokemon after strong Pokemon, and it was eventually a roster we didn’t expect to do anything that wound up making the difference.
It was a big win for the fanbase who continuously watched Ash lose, and even the fans who grew out of the show returned for that moment to take in the victory.
Unfortunately, professional hockey isn’t Pokemon. You can’t start over with a completely new team every season. But what Ash did, and believe me, I was surprised as well, was learn from his defeats and keep those memories in mind when building his new team and being in those circumstances during his championship run. Even that wouldn’t work consistently; however, the moment it did was huge.
It’s sad that I can only apply this Pokemon analogy to the Leafs just winning a single playoff round, but you have to walk before you can run. That said, this is what I will be waiting for. What combination of players gets it done? What combination of players are able to step up when it matters? What combination of players can hit a new gear when the games mean something?
Too bad we’ll have to wait until next April to figure that out.
P.S. I have a yearly Leafs-Pokemon analogy, so this was coming at some point.
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Around the Hockey World
oooo playoff goals cool
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Friedman: “I’m betting that Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are back, too.” - PensBurgh
In Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts piece, he discussed Letang and Malkin’s futures.