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Maple Leafs are an embarrassment

The Toronto Maple Leafs are an embarrassment to their city, fans and the National Hockey League. One of the Original Six, Toronto is supposed to be one of the pillars of the sport, being the Mecca of hockey. Instead, the Maple Leafs have proven that much like the New York Knicks of the NBA, money and a great city mean nothing with bad management and a losing culture in place.

After the action on Feb. 27, the Maple Leafs are dead last in the Eastern Conference by a five-point margin with only 52 points. The Buffalo Sabres, a team that was supposed to be the worst in the league while it rebuilt around Jack Eichel, looks like the 1996-97 Detroit Red Wings by comparison.

Toronto has not won a Stanley Cup since 1967 and from the looks of it, won’t be breaking that streak anytime soon. The Maple Leafs have really not even come close more of the last 49 years, with the exception being 1993, when the team pushed Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings to a seven-game series in the Western Conference finals. Between 1967 and 1993, the Maple Leafs failed to win a single game in a series beyond the second round.

After the run fueled by Doug Gilmour and Co., Toronto again made it to the conference finals but fell to Pavel Bure and the Vancouver Canucks. Since then, the Maple Leafs have been back to the third round twice, but both times have been bounced by the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes. In the early 2000s, Toronto had a solid team with Pat Quinn on the bench, and stars such as Mats Sundin and Curtis Joseph dotting the roster.

Since the lockout of 2004-05, Toronto has made the playoffs one time in 11 seasons. This campaign will make it 12.

The Maple Leafs are under new leadership with Lou Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan, who have a combined six Stanley Cup championships. However, the team is barren and Lamoriello is older after spending nearly 30 seasons with the New Jersey Devils. Lamoriello is 73 years old, and time is ticking on how quickly he can turn around this sinking ship.

Currently, Toronto has Leo Kemarov leading the squad with 35 points. While six players have scored double-digit goals, the Maple Leafs rank 27th in goals per game and 30th on the power play. The defense is also a legitimate problem, with Toronto sitting 24th in goals allowed per contest and 19th on the penalty kill.

The Maple Leafs have not had a consistent goaltender since Joseph and are without a true go-to star after trading away Phil Kessel this summer to the Pittsburgh Penguins. At this point, the team has to rebuild through the farm system and hope to sign a major free-agent or two, perhaps including Steven Stamkos.

Toronto is the best hockey city on Earth. It’s time to make it proud of its team again.

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