Leaf fans at Humber College said they haven’t lost faith just yet, but they’re finding it increasingly difficult to keep their heads up after Toronto’s 7-3 loss in the opening game of the Stanley Cup playoff series.
In a rematch at the Air Canada Centre of last year’s first round matchup, three year consecutive finalists Tampa Bay Lightning made a statement performance as underdogs.
The Leafs are currently haunted by an 18-year drought where they have not been able to escape the first round, and in a season where they have proved to be a major threat, fans do not want their run to end early, again.
Paralegal student Zackary Buchan said that regardless of what may have been controversial calls, the Leafs need to take accountability for their performance,
“A lot of bad hits were taken and they just played sloppy overall. I thought they were outmatched and the worst team on the ice,” Buchan said.
Whatever the Leafs have been through, their fans have remained loyal, he said, butthe team has to help inspire the city.
“I don’t think the fans should be the ones giving them hope. They need to be the one giving us hope. Toronto has given them hope for the last 20 years,” Buchan said.
Humber’s Dean of Students Ian Crookshank said Wednesday that he was quite disappointed following the loss.
Crookshank said he’s been a Leafs fan for as long as he can remember, traveling all the way to Philadelphia during one of their past Game 7 losses.
“There’s a lot of anticipation since last season’s disappointment, but that’s kind of what comes with being a Leafs fan,” Crookshank said.
In his opinion, the only way to talk about title contention is if the Leafs finally break the deadlock.
“That’s the challenge: Get the monkey off the back,” he said.
In typical Leaf Nation fashion, Crookshank said he will not give up on the team until the series has concluded.
“It’s well said that you need four games to win a series.’
Jonathan Mendy, another Humber Leaf supporter, was struggling to keep his head up.
“They really just didn’t come out to play. They didn’t look like they had much energy or intensity,” Mendy said.
Mendy is viewing Thursday night’s Game 2 as the decider. He said the last thing the Leafs can afford is to drop both games at home.
“You gotta win Game 2,” Mendy said.
Humber student Shaleem Gill was not also in very positive spirits but, being being a Leafs fan is stressful and he said it’s all he could expect .
“It was very disappointing, every time we got close Tampa Bay scored again, draining all chances of a comeback,” Gill said.
Electrical engineering student Keavin Elias was adamant about the Leafs surviving the Lightning, and he said once Toronto overcomes their nerves, the sky will be the limit.
“Once they make it past the first round, I think they’ll make it to at least the conference finals,” Elias said.
Still he was blunt about what many saw as Tuesday night’s embarrassment at home.
“You can’t be starting off your playoff run that way, it felt like deja vu all over again.”
Leaf fans also took their frustrations to Twitter last night to let off some steam.
Sometimes I think the Blue Jackets are cursed
…then I watch a Leafs playoff game. That’s an actual curse.
— Nasher (@TheNasher61) April 19, 2023
Meanwhile, Montreal Canadien fans at Humber took pleasure in Tuesday night’s no contest.
Accounting student Joey Corveil was smiling ear-to-ear when talking about the game.
“It’s great. They scored seven goals against them. It felt nice to watch,” Corveil said.
Corveil said that although it may only have been one game, the Leafs in his opinion aren’t prepared to survive the drought.
“First round curse man, they ain’t getting through, they’re bound to lose,” he said.