Maple Leafs not getting caught up in heightened expectations

The Maple Leafs have never faced expectations like this before.

With the addition of John Tavares to an already potent attack, the Maple Leafs are considered a legitimate contender by many and the Vegas favourite to win it all.

All the hype isn’t worth much once the puck drops, however, and that’s not lost on the players.

“Just because you have high hopes and high expectations doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to work out that way,” Leafs centre Nazem Kadri said before Toronto’s season opener on Wednesday. “For us, we’re approaching it the same way. Obviously there is more hype and some added excitement but nothing is going to change the way we play.”

The addition of John Tavares has amped up expectations in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
The addition of John Tavares has amped up expectations in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The Maple Leafs still have a lot to prove after getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round the last two seasons. But considering they finished seventh overall in the NHL last season, it’s not hard to imagine them taking a step forward with the addition of Tavares and the natural progression of their young stars.

“Expectations are a wonderful thing, and the pressure that comes with that is a privilege,” said Leafs coach Mike Babcock. “If you’re no good, you don’t have that.”

Pressure is never lacking under the microscope in Toronto, but things are about to be cranked up a notch or 10 this season.

It’s going to be impossibly hard for the Leafs to live up to their lofty expectations, barring a deep run in the playoffs. And so long as they can keep this core together, that’s not going to change anytime soon.

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