By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
It’s been an up and down week for Toronto and GTA sports teams, as some have lost and some have had big wins.
One big win is the Toronto Blue Jays calling up super-prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Another is the Raptors dominating the first round of the playoffs.
Some losses are the Maple Leafs losing in the first round again, and the Generals being swept in the Conference Final.
Every team has ups and downs. I mean, most of my time as a baseball player was a down seeing as I never won a championship.
All I know is, to paraphrase Chumbawumba, if you get knocked down, you get up again.
It’s like Mitch Marner said to media after the Leafs lost in the first round for the third year in a row, second time to the Boston Bruins in those three years, “We believed in this team, had a lot of confidence in this team. When your season ends early, it sucks, but [the anger] has got to stay with us. We have to be hungry for this next year and make sure we come back pissed off.”
Pro athletes know you take that frustration and you learn from it.
A lot of fans have been griping about the Leafs losing again, with some calling for the ouster of head coach Mike Babcock.
Other fans have blamed long-time defenseman Jake Gardiner, despite the fact his one blunder resulted in only one of five – yes, five – of the Bruins goals.
I understand the need to place blame, but it was a team loss, and they know it. They also know they had a strong season and need to come back stronger next year.
However, fans online voiced their frustration over the Game 7 loss, which I get. I want to see the team I grew up cheering for win too, but let’s just remember these players and coaches are still people, so maybe attacking them online (or in person) isn’t exactly the best idea.
I for one, will understand if Gardiner chooses to go elsewhere next season after all the boos and the vitriol spit at him by fans.
Now, let’s look at how Oshawa reacted after the Generals were swept by the Ottawa 67’s.
There’s been no calls to fire head coach Greg Walters, no vitriol towards goalie Kyle Keyser because a goal was scored with just over 30 seconds left in the game.
Oshawa has been a prime example in how to handle a tough loss, whereas Toronto has been the opposite.
I’m a Leafs fan and I’m upset by the loss too, but everyone needs to calm down and look at the bigger picture.
Auston Matthews and Marner are still in their early 20’s, William Nylander is due for a bounceback season, they still have one of the best goalies in the NHL in Frederik Andersen, and John Tavares just had a career year. They can only go up from here.
Yes, there will be some salary cap issues when it comes to signing Marner long-term, but after the upcoming season, veteran Patrick Marleau will either retire or sign a shorter, probably more team-friendly contract, and the Toronto market is bound to either attract a second defenseman who could live up to playing alongside Morgan Rielly (who is another positive with his 72 point, 20 goal season from the blue line), or there are plenty of promising prospects for the Leafs.
There’s plenty to still be positive about with this team.
Also, Toronto, you still have plenty to look forward to this year.
The Raptors had a dominant first round, only losing once, and yeah, the Jays haven’t been great, but Guerrero just made his debut, and his minor league numbers project him to be potentially the best hitter to ever wear the Blue Jays uniform.
So, be more like Oshawa and realize there’s more to life than watching your favourite team win.
I know for some fans it feels as though they’ve fallen, but they need to get up again. Don’t let it keep you down.