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The Existential Crisis of Being Maple Leafs’ Fans

Being a Maple Leafs fan can be painful because of the team’s history of playoff failures and disappointments. The Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, which is the longest championship drought in the NHL. They have made the playoffs consistently over the years, but have failed to advance past the first round in many seasons. 

The problem is that this Maple Leafs’ team is very good. As a result, the expectations on them are high. Those expectations, combined with a history of repeated disappointments, can cause emotional pain for fans who invest time and energy into supporting the team. 

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Are Maple Leafs in Trouble or Not?

The Toxicity of Hope

The fact that the team hasn’t escaped the first round of the playoffs has come to make people feel guilty for actually believing in this team. They are under the curse of Harold Ballard, or some other of the unknown and evil hockey gods. 

As a result, there’s a toxicity of hope. When the Maple Leafs have lost again and again, fans feel both stupid and guilty for being sucked in again. Some even come to blame themselves for the team’s failure.

Such is the pain of being a Maple Leafs fan.

Are Maple Leafs’ Fans in Panic Mode?

In the video below, JD Bunkis of Sportsnet FAN 590’s Leafs Talk joins Mike Halford to discuss how the Maple Leafs’ history of playoff failure has fans already nervous after the team failed to close out their round-one series against the Lightning in Game 5. 

What Bunkis Says in the Video

In the video, JD Bunkis makes five key points. In this post, I’ll share what these points are.

Point #1: The Maple Leafs’ playoff failure history is making fans crazy.

Bunkis discusses the Maple Leafs’ history of playoff failure and how it has made fans already nervous after the team failed to close out against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5.

After that loss, the Maple Leafs have now lost eleven straight playoff games that have been elimination games. That’s simply outrageous and puts fans in the “Oh, here we go again” territory.

Point #2: Hockey is the dumbest sport.

Bunkis shares his belief that hockey is the dumbest sport because it can be so unpredictable.

How can Ryan O’Reilly help carry the Maple Leafs?

In hockey, the best and most dominant team does not always win. That was recently evidenced by the recent Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers game where the Bruins dominated but still lost.

Point #3: Maple Leafs’ fans have started to blame themselves.

Bunkis discusses how fans are blaming themselves for the Maple Leafs’ playoff failure. In fact, he believes fans are having existential crises and are looking at themselves as the cause of the team’s failure.

For Bunkis, such an idea is toxic. It’s also the worst kind of relationship to have as a fan with the team they care about.

Related: Three Key Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-2 Loss to the Lightning

Point #4: There is a toxicity of hope emerging in Toronto.

As Bunkis shares, he speaks about what he calls the toxicity of hope and how it can be detrimental to fans.

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs Upper Deck card
Can captain John Tavares lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a series win? (Upper Deck card)

Speaking for himself, despite the Maple Leafs’ history of playoff failure, he is still hopeful. He believes the team will win Game 6. However, he also gets it that such hope can be toxic because it also leads to disappointment.

Point #5: Toronto’s current state is despair.

Bunkis talks about the current state of Toronto. He shares why it sucks so bad after the Maple Leafs’ loss in Game 5. 

In fact, he shares the odd sense that being up 3-2 in the series and failing to close out the series is much worse than being down 3-0. Such is the situation that has created what he calls a “nightmare factory” in Toronto.

The Existential Crisis Maple Leafs’ Fans Are Facing

Maple Leafs’ fans are facing an existential crisis because of the team’s history of playoff failures and disappointments. These repeated disappointments have caused some fans to question their own hope and optimism, and even blame themselves for the team’s failures. 

As Bunkis notes, fans are asking themselves questions like, “Is this my fault? Am I doing something bad?” 

He believes that this kind of thinking has led to a toxic relationship with the team and that causes emotional pain for fans who invest time and energy into supporting the team.




  1. blorp

    April 28, 2023 at 9:55 pm

    Are you saying leaf fans have PTSD?


    Yes we do

  2. gfinale

    April 29, 2023 at 3:14 am

    What do you define as very good? Is it a team that does well in the regular season? There are several examples of teams that did well in the regular season but failed miserably in the playoffs. None of these teams tend to be remembered over time. Teams are remembered by their playoff performance. The past 6 years of Leafs have failed miserably! In reality, Matthews, Marner, Tavares and Nylander are nobody and will not be remembered over time.

  3. Jon Harding

    April 29, 2023 at 7:48 am

    Compliments OP for tackling this complicated social experiment as a subject. Interesting. As far as deep, mental anguish and crazy improbabilities go. I’m fond of raising the fact the Maple Leafs haven’t even been in a Cup final since ‘67. Forget winning one. There, I said it. Now my morning is wrecked …. again.

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