Saturday was an all-time low for Leafs fans after both Carolina goaltenders were injured in game, forcing the emergency back-up goaltender David Ayres into the game. While the story of Ayres, a part-time employee of MLSE for the Toronto Marlies, is incredible for the sport, it’s equally embarrassing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. After a week-long saga of debate surrounding work ethic and quality of on-ice product, the Leafs exhibited arguably their worst performance in recent memory. After Petr Mrazek and James Reimer both went down to injury, the Toronto Marlies Zamboni driver, 42-year old David Ayres, came into the game. While most parties thought this would have led to an absolute offensive onslaught by the Leafs, the ‘Canes came out of the 2nd intermission buzzing, putting 2 more goals up on the board to make it 6-3. The Leafs never responded and ultimately ended up losing by the same score.
This seems so incredibly unlikely that I’m personally surprised I’m writing about it. But it’s a very real and very embarrassing story for the Leafs and their fans. Most people would think that with a backup goalie in net, teams would elect to alter their game plan and force shots on net, right? Well, the Leafs elected to do the exact opposite and only log a total of 6 shots the entire third period. But the shot count isn’t the real story, the real story lies in the continuous lack of effort by the Leafs players and their very apparent lack of urgency, as evidenced by this tweet regarding Mitch Marner below:
If the “Let’s Go Raptors” chants weren’t enough to show you the displeasure of Leafs’ fans, the social media reaction certainly was. Once again, the Leafs are under a microscope because their highly-paid stars can’t produce during a very important game. I used to be an advocate for patience and expecting the best out of Leafs players, but it seems that it may have been through some heavily rose-coloured glasses. Toronto has a very apparent problem with their attitude and level of compete. If a loss to a 42-year old Zamboni driver isn’t enough to signify that, their constant fluctuation between being a playoff team or lottery pick might. Ultimately, there clearly needs to be a change of attitude in their locker room. I won’t speculate about where that fault lies, because there are clearly many faulty parties, but this loss has to spark some change.
I didn’t think there would be a worse loss for Leafs’ fans than the infamous Game 7 collapse to the Bruins… I think David Ayres just proved me wrong,