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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.

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