June 7, 2023

The sky isn’t falling yet in Toronto, even though it may sometimes feel that way if you’re a fan of the Maple Leafs. The club is off to a less-than-stellar start again and losing to teams the club should be beating. There are reports of failed communication between the coach and the stars who are underperforming, potential leadership issues, injuries, and construction problems when it comes to the team, along with the usually high-stress issues that come with such a skilled team letting its fans down.

Not all hope is lost. There are ways for fans to deal with the emotional struggles that come with being a part of Leafs Nation. Here are just a few:

1) Know The Team Can Still Turn This Around

It’s fair to doubt the team considering the early blunders and the way the team is built should they make the postseason. The Maple Leafs have a 4-4-2 record and are mired in a four-game winless skid. They keep giving away wins and rank 27th in the NHL with only 2.7 goals scored per game this season. There are too many turnovers and other preventable mistakes, but all of that can be fixed.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Remember, the team went on a 12-2 run in November last season and Auston Matthews‘ six percent shooting percentage will undoubtedly go up. It won’t be easy to recreate that magic from a year ago, but it just goes to show that anything is possible when you play the right way and start to limit mistakes.

2) Stay Off Social Media Following A Bad Loss

If you want to beat yourself up and feel really terrible about the team’s poor performances, the first place you should go is social media. It’s a cesspool of negativity that only makes fans of this team feel worse than they already do. Conversely, if you want to let the sting of a bad loss wash away rather quickly, simply avoid Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms where Leafs Nation comes out in droves to rag on the club.

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Some fans see this as a place to vent, but as I’ll show you in a minute, there are better options.

3) Spin Your Frustration Into a Positive Narrative

Choose not to focus on the really bad situations — see talking about Mitch Marner in the loss to the Anaheim Ducks — and focus on the positives. It might be hard to find them, but every game has one or two. For example, Marner is too good for his woes to continue and perhaps his little explosion in the hallway was just what he needed. I already discussed what’s up with Matthews, but John Tavares is off to a great start, which few would have expected and that’s important because if he keeps it up when Matthews and Marner come around, the Leafs could be dangerous. William Nylander is on a point-per-game pace and Nick Robertson has four points in six games.

Fans are quick to operate in hyperbole. For example, someone might say, “We never hold a lead,” when that simply isn’t accurate. Others might say, “Keefe is nothing more than an AHL coach”. If you’re feeling that way, try to say to yourself, “That was a bad bounce, they won’t always go that way” or “look how many Stanley Cup-winning coaches cut their teeth in the AHL first.”

4) Try Not to Play Armchair GM

Another thing fans do a lot is playing armchair GM and that rarely turns out well. The reason is that the Maple Leafs simply don’t have the means to make a major (or minor) change. See the Ethan Bear trade as an example of how little Toronto can actually do right now. Elliotte Friedman noted that the Maple Leafs were in talks to try and acquire Bear but they weren’t willing to include the fifth-round pick or accept as much salary on Bear’s contract as the Canucks did.

Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If you consistently tell yourself as a fan of this team that Kyle Dubas never does anything to solve the problem, when the reality is there isn’t much he can do, you’re putting yourself behind the 8-ball before realizing that most of the solutions are going to come from inside the organization.

5) Bet On Other Team’s Players

If you’re a fantasy junkie, — whether Draft Kings or Fan Duel — here’s a little trick that works. Don’t necessarily jump off the bandwagon by betting against the Maple Leafs, just choose to construct your roster for the night without putting any Maple Leafs’ players on it. That way, even if the Leafs lose, you still have a chance to rank in your pool and take home a little money or pick up a different kind of win.

Trust me, dealing with another emotional loss is a lot easier when you pick up a “W” or have even as little as $10 bucks in your digital account. You know what they say, money won feels a lot better than money earned. This also diverts your focus a bit from the Leafs’ game as you’ll be keeping up with other players and their production.

6) Profit Off Of Your Fandom for the Maple Leafs

Speaking of money earned, you can always start a side hustle as a fan of the Maple Leafs. If you want to get into writing, podcasting, or video work, there are plenty of examples where fans have made quite the income off of their passion for this team — and that includes venting about their struggles. Steve Dangle has done quite well for himself and that all started by making videos in his room where he simply talked about how hard it can be to keep supporting the team he loves. Anytime your team has a bad night, you can make money from it. And, when team the team turns it around, you can profit off of talking about that too.

The Hockey Writers is always on the lookout for new contributors and there are literally countless ways to get started in over 10 different side hustles that pay a nice little side income. If you’re frustrated about the team, start a blog. If you need to vent, make a video. If you want to talk about the team and how it’s letting you down, get on a podcast and discuss it. Therapeutic releases that pay are wonderful for coping.

If you don’t know how to get started, click here and you can get a free download. I write full-time now and it all started when I needed a place to vent about a team I regularly cover the Edmonton Oilers and I write a daily news and rumors column.

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