This Is the Year - Dundurn
Dec 07, 2023

This Is the Year

This is the year. That’s what I’ve been writing in some of the pages of the Leafs 365 books I’ve signed so far. For many fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s a common refrain. It seems like we say it every year, even if, year after year, it’s not really the year. But unlike in past years, it really feels like this might actually be the year.

After finally winning a playoff series for the first time in almost 20 years, much to the chagrin of the rest of the hockey world that had to retire a beleaguered joke that had worn thin, it seems like the Leafs are in a good position to build on that success.

I know calling a first-round series victory a success might be a bit of a stretch considering a team needs to win four rounds to hoist Lord Stanley’s mug, but given the nearly two decades worth of futility we endured, it was certainly cathartic if not successful by comparison.

As much as the fan in me wanted the Leafs to keep racking up wins in the last post-season, there was a part of me, the author part that I am ashamed to say, was relieved it ended when it did. The team got over the hump and I managed to include a story about the series victory in the book, but what if, dare I say it, they went all the way? How would I include all these new stories in a book that was just about to be finalized to go to the printers later that summer? Would the book even feel the same if the Leafs were the reigning Stanley Cup champions when it was released?

So, quite selfishly, I convinced myself that I was fine to see the Florida Panthers stop them in their tracks, if only because it wouldn’t jeopardize a project I had spent the better part of the year working on. But the truth is, I would have gladly rewritten page after page of Leafs 365 if it meant Toronto was on top of the hockey world. My publisher might have felt differently, but I would have dutifully obliged if that’s what needed to be done.

It never came to that, but I can only hope that, in seven months from now, the Maple Leafs have already made a lot of the stories in Leafs 365 out of date. I would gladly scrub every reference to 1967 being the last time the club won a championship, and promise you that putting together an addendum about the Leafs winning the Cup in 2024 would be the sweetest words I’ve ever written.

Mike Commito is a hockey historian and author of the Hockey 365 series. His work has appeared on the Athletic, Sportsnet, VICE Sports, and in the Hockey News. Since 2018, Mike has been a regular contributor for the LA Kings. Mike was eligible to be drafted to the NHL in 2003, but is still waiting for the call. He lives in Sudbury, Ontario. Learn more here.