The Toronto Maple Leafs ended their three-game losing streak tonight when they beat the Winnipeg Jets in overtime on a beautiful goal by Auston Matthews. Last season such a losing steak would be cause for complete panic. Truth be told, the Maple Leafs of the recent past had a difficult time dealing with adversity.
Why the Maple Leafs’ 2020-21 Season Is Different
However, the 2020-21 season is completely different for the Maple Leafs. And, by this I don’t mean simply the impact of COVID-19 on the team. Although the core of the Maple Leafs roster remains intact, there’s been substantial changes to the roster – in both areas of skills and attitudes.
One of the big differences is the impact that veteran Joe Thornton has on the team’s psyche. Thornton is a hard worker both on the ice and off, but he also brings some perspective to the team.
Hey Guys, We’re Lucky to Be Here – Enjoy Yourselves
Thornton is a player who realizes just how fortunate he and his teammates are. How many young Canadians grow up dreaming they might one day have a chance to play in the NHL? And, in contrast, how many actually make it?
In that light, Thornton is somebody who understands that hockey is a game so many young people would love to play but only a few have the skill and opportunity to so so. He’s happy to be one of them. And, from what I hear from his teammates, he reminds them of that fact.
When You’ve Been in NHL 20 Seasons, You’ve Seen It All
In addition, the fact that Thornton has played so long in the NHL gives him a better perspective about both losing streaks and winning streaks. In short, you simply don’t want to get too up, too down, or too caught up when things don’t go right. That message is something the Maple Leafs need to hear, and when it comes from a veteran presence like Thornton, others are wise to listen.
For Thornton, Humor Translates to Success
In the video, Thornton relates that having a good sense of humor helps keep everyone in the dressing room relaxed and usually translates to a better performance during games.
Specifically, Thornton teaches that “It’s a long year and you have to enjoy the process. There will be ups and there’s going to be downs, but you have to fight through it all.”
He adds that he thinks “having a good sense of humor helps.” Obviously, he notes that “when there’s work to be done, you do it.” However, you have “to both do the work but really enjoy what you do.”
Thornton Thinks the Maple Leafs Have It Right
Thornton thinks the team in general has been great about keeping their collective heads screwed on straight. He notes that “We’ve responded a lot this year and we’re going to in the future.”
However, he thinks just keeping the guys fresh and keeping them light tends to show up when the team plays.
What do his teammates think? As Alex Kerfoot notes, “He’s got more excitement every day than anyone else and so we can all learn from that.”
Thanks Yoda for Your Insights
The word about Thornton is that he loves to create nicknames for his teammates. Given that backstory, we want to thank Joe “Yoda” Thornton for the valuable lesson.
And about a losing streak, as the “real” Yoda notes: “The greatest teacher, failure is.”
/ 31 mins ago
According to a report by TSN's Darren Dreger, the buzz is that John Tortorella...
/ 22 hours ago
Robin Lehner absolutely slammed the NHL today for what he calls blatant lies about...
/ 23 hours ago
Jason Robertson should get consideration for Calder Trophy, 2020-21 NHL season for Dallas Stars.
/ 1 day ago
The Canucks have found themselves in a playoff crunch. Here's what they'll need to...
/ 2 days ago
Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Carey Price has entered concussion protocol after a mild bump-in with...
William Nylander might see the press box Tuesday after being late to a meeting...
Patrick Marleau got emotionally talking about the enormity of his breaking Gordie Howe's games...
/ 3 days ago
Saying, "I'm not going to get into it... it's a healthy scratch", it seems...
Alex Edler will have a hearing for his hit on Zach Hyman, plus there's...
/ 4 days ago
The Oilers recalled Ryan McLeod from the Bakersfield Condors to the taxi squad. He's...