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Leafs aim to move past being “the butt of jokes”

Jan 21, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT

Randy Carlyle Carter Ashton

When former Leafs GM Brian Burke calls the Maple Leafs “the crown jewel franchise of the NHL” and James van Riemsdyk compares Toronto to the New York Yankees, people snicker.

The Leafs might be the most financially successful franchise in the NHL, but they haven’t made the playoffs since 2004 and they know they’re being laughed at.

“When you’re the butt of jokes in the hockey world it’s not fun and we take that very serious,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, according to the Toronto Star. “What we’ve tried to do is create an atmosphere we can be proud of, and try to earn respect back for the organization.

“We’ve taken that upon ourselves. Every guy in there has the same mandate.”

Of course, they need to win to be respected. Toronto got off to a good start with its 2-1 win over Montreal on Saturday, but that’s only one contest. Still, it was a strong outing for 22-year-old Nazem Kadri and goaltender Ben Scrivens.

The Leafs will be looking to build off of that game in their home opener against the Buffalo Sabres at 7:00 p.m. ET on Monday.

  1. pensfan603 - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    I hope the leafs can win, they have the best fans in the league.

    • bcsteele - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      Not a fan of the Leafs myself, but hockey does well when they do well so I always pull for them to at least be competitive.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      You mean you hope they can win AFTER this Wednesday.

  2. ebergevin - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    That title belongs to Mark Sanchez.

    In all seriousness, the Leafs need to continue what they’re doing right now which is allowing some of their younger guys to skate. The future looks bright as long as they don’t start shipping the youth out of town.

    I think part of the problem was their expectations year in and year out that the skill they had could compete for the Cup. I think they’ve come to terms with that (trading Lombardi and demoting Connolly suggest that) and if they continue to develop players then things are looking up.

    • jimeejohnson - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      Bill Belichik.

  3. jaybird22seven - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Keep playing your young talent. What good is it if you trade away picks and young talent for veterans that nobody wants. Your on the right track. Bring up some more young talent.

  4. spongebobsportspants - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Great start but they beat the only team ranked below them in their devision. Games against Pitts, Bos and Buf may be hard to watch. Go Leafs Go!

  5. steelers88 - Jan 21, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    I hope they are competitive but I don’t see sorry Leafs fans but the Leafs have to contend with Boston Buffalo and Ottawa I just don’t see it.

  6. valoisvipers - Jan 21, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    The Leafs should continue to shed salary and players with very little upside. This will allow them to pick up some talent next season when the salary cap is lowered. They should play some of their best minor league players to give them NHL experience and sure they season will be a wipe out for them but this will ensure that they are set up for a chance at top pick in the upcoming strong draft. They will also be some great UFA’s available this summer so cash will be king once again. The new CBA has presented it GM’s with a chance at a quick rebuild if they are in position to take advantage of it and the draft.

  7. nflfan4now - Jan 21, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Oh, you mean there name isn’t really the Maple “Laff’s”?

  8. misterchainbluelightning - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Leafs have been a league wide joke since the 70’s and just NOW they are getting it?
    Not Surprising NY Jets fans are just figuring it now too.

    Here’s the Leafs since the 70’s in a nutshell
    Embarrassing owner who players refuse to play for, kids being raped in the Garden, incompetence, make money, have a small window with Gilmour and Clark, back to making money, incompetence, hire the best GM in hockey (lol), extreme incompetence and ego feeding, make money.

    40 years later they are getting the idea that maybe there are some jokes being made?

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