As the Stanley Cup Final continues, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche are providing terrific examples of staying the course with young cores of talent, even after repeated disappointments. Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs should pay heed to the process the Bolts and Avs have gone through before getting to the championship-series stage. It was necessary for both powerhouses to experience frustration and defeat, and anyone demanding the Leafs break up their larger group this summer should probably take a breather and give team president Brendan Shanahan and GM Kyle Dubas another season of runway to try and properly stick the landing.
Before the Lightning won the past two Cups, their road to a championship was not linear. Tampa began the first year of the Steven Stamkos Era by failing to make the playoffs (for the second straight year), and in four of Stamkos’ first five years, the Bolts didn’t play post-season hockey. They began to show growth competitively and qualified for their first Cup Final in 2015, but they lost to Chicago Two seasons after that, they missed the playoffs entirely. And two seasons later, they were swept in the first round by Columbus. It would have been easy for Lightning GM Julien BriseBois to take a hatchet to the roster, but he kept his nucleus together, and it has repaid him with a modern-day dynasty.
There are very similar circumstances apparent when you chart out the trajectory of the Avalanche. In three of star center Nathan MacKinnon’s first four NHL seasons, 2013-14, Colorado did not qualify for the playoffs, and they failed to get beyond the second round in any of the four post-seasons leading up to this one. That’s nearly a decade of letdowns in the MacKinnon Era before they became the leviathan they are now.
Around Full Press Hockey
This is why Leafs’ fans need to look at the macro picture and see the forest as well as the trees. There’s no denying it can be maddening for Toronto fans to go through a steady stream of the sads and feel as if the Buds are spinning their wheels. However, it’s clear why Dubas and Shanahan are sticking with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares (William Nylander may be the exception to the rule, but only because his contract gives him great value in a salary-capped league) – management and ownership can point to examples additional to Tampa’s and Colorado’s.
For instance, it took Shanahan 11 seasons to win his first Cup as a player – and for as hard as it was for him to win the first one, he had back–to-back Cup wins in Detroit, and three Cups in six years. It’s no coincidence he had plenty of adversity in his first decade, before all the stars aligned for him and the Red Wings. You have to fight through the anger and the losses, and the same has been true for Stamkos, MacKinnon and numerous others.
Now, there are limits to all things, and if the Leafs are still bowing out of the playoffs in the first round in the next couple of years, Dubas will face intense, legitimate pressure to change course. It may eventually come to that. But between now and then, it’s perfectly reasonable for Toronto brass to continue supporting their young stars. Matthews is still only 24 years old. Marner just turned 25. For as good as Matthews and Marner are right now, odds are they’ll be even better really soon.
That ought to be good enough for Maple Leafs fans. Yeah, this franchise may be haunted by the dark spirit of a half-decade of losing, but you don’t exorcise ghosts by running away from them.
Ep 32: Bruins Fire Bruce Cassidy; Avalanche To Stanley Cup; Bolts/Rangersby Full Press Coverage on June 8, 2022 at 4:09 pm
Mike, Jim, and Chris react to the Bruins firing of Bruce Cassidy, the […]
Ep 73: Bruins Face Elimination; Bruce Cassidy On Hot Seat; Patrice Bergeron Final Standby Full Press Coverage on May 12, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Ian and Chris discuss game six between the Bruins and Hurricanes and the […]
Ep 72: Bruins Acquire Hampus Lindholm; More Moves To Come?by Full Press Coverage on March 20, 2022 at 3:34 pm
Ian and Chris discuss the trade of Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins and what […]
S3E33 - Stanley Cup Final - Avalanche vs Lightningby Jim Biringer on June 19, 2022 at 12:00 pm
Jim is joined by Marc Weiss and Coach Jay as they discuss the Stanley Cup […]
S3Ep32 - Eastern Conference Final and Colorado Avalanche Advanceby Jim Biringer on June 11, 2022 at 9:37 pm
Jim is joined by Coach Jay and Marc Weiss to discuss the Eastern […]
6/24 - WSOP; NBA Finals Talk; Stanley Cup Coming To An End; NBA Draftby Full Press Coverage on June 24, 2022 at 2:15 pm
Ian and John are back to discuss the World Series of Poker, the NBA Finals […]
6/15 - Celtics Falter In San Fran, Can They Force A Game 7?by Full Press Coverage on June 15, 2022 at 4:23 pm
Ian and John discuss the Celtics loss in Game 5 and what they have to do […]
6/13 - Goodfellas; Celtics/Warriors, Stanley Cup Finalby Full Press Coverage on June 13, 2022 at 4:46 pm
Ian and John discuss the Celtics loss in Game 4 and look ahead to Game 5 […]