The Toronto Maple Leafs may have the second most Stanley Cups (13), but it doesn’t mean they haven’t been the NHL’s laughingstock for much of the past 50 years. This team last won the Stanley Cup in 1967 during the Original Six era. While they have had a few seasons they could feel good about since then, they’ve suffered a lot more headaches than joy. The Maple Leafs haven’t reached the Stanley Cup Final since, and they’ve been prone to plenty of savage jokes and memes from the rest of the hockey world.
Many say that folks in Toronto believe they’re “the centre of the universe”. Couple that with how often the media talks about the Leafs like they’re the golden franchise, and you can easily see why it’s caused haters to rejoice in the wonderful world of memes. Though things are looking up for the Maple Leafs (thanks to drafting Auston Matthews while hiring Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock), we won’t soon forget the frustrating years the Maple Leafs had to endure in the late 2000s and most of the 2010s. From missing the playoffs to signing or trading for terrible players, there is no shortage of material when it comes to making fun of this team.
Here is a look at 15 priceless memes that show the failures of this team over the years.
15. Win Streak? What Win Streak?
It’s probably safe to say no NHL team has struggled so much since the 2004-05 lockout like the Maple Leafs. They’ve only made the playoffs twice (in 2013 and 2017) and haven’t won a playoff series. Toronto has consistently ranked in the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
It’s paid off in many ways, however. They were able to draft William Nylander (2014), Mitch Marner (2015), and Auston Matthews (2016), with high draft picks. That being said, the Maple Leafs have still been accustomed to a lot of losing. By the way, for what it’s worth, the Maple Leafs actually posted six different three-game win streaks last year. But other than that, it was previously an accomplishment for them to win two in a row. This meme is savage, but was once true in so many ways.
14. Choking Hazard
As everyone knows, many toys come with warnings about choking hazards for young children. Take a look at this Dion Phaneuf action figure, and it’s hard to identify any real choking hazards. But now take a look at the meme, and you see why your kids should stay away from these toys. The Maple Leafs choked during the 2013 playoffs, of course. They also had a postseason spot just about locked up in 2014, before losing 12 of their final 14 games to miss out altogether. It was truly a big-time embarrassment for the franchise.
And so, this meme is out to warn you about the failure of the Maple Leafs. Considering how much former captain Dion Phaneuf struggled as both a player and a leader, it’s only fitting that his action figure was chosen by the meme creator.
13. Lucky Phil Kessel
Former Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke traded away the team’s 2010 and 2011 first round picks to get Phil Kessel in 2009. That turned out to hurt the Leafs, as the Boston Bruins wound up selecting stars Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.
Kessel did have some great years in Toronto, becoming one of the league’s most prolific snipers and goal scorers. But even the perennial 30-goal man couldn’t prevent the Leafs from consistently ranking near the bottom of the NHL standings. He became the whipping boy of fans and media after a disastrous 2014-15 season, and Kessel would get traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins that summer. Of course, Kessel went on to win consecutive Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017. So yeah, this meme is a reminder how great life has been for him since the trade.
12. No Lead Is Safe
That cake looks delicious. As everyone remembers, the Maple Leafs were about to pull off a shocking upset over the Bruins in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs. Toronto erased a 3-1 series deficit to force a winner-take-all Game 7. The Leafs jumped out to a 4-1 lead halfway through the third period, and looked poised to win their first series in nine years.
The Bruins quickly cut the lead to 4-2 then scored a pair of goals in the last 1:22. Patrice Bergeron would score in overtime to pull off an improbable comeback. The Leafs let a huge lead slip away, and they wouldn’t reach the playoffs for another four years. Nobody really knows how the Maple Leafs blew the lead, so just let this cake do the talking.
11. What’s A Playoffs?
Thanks to the arrival of Auston Matthews, it’s unlikely this meme will be relevant any time soon. Nonetheless, it’s a classic for the many Maple Leafs haters that occupy Canada. After all, this team failed to reach the playoffs every year from 2006 to 2012, plus 2014 to 2016. Despite their perennial losing, it seemed like many folks in the media (and old GM Brian Burke), hyped up the Leafs to be a playoff contender.
Truth be told, they mainly qualified in 2013 because of the lockout-shortened 48-game season. Considering how they unraveled in the second half of the 2012, 2014 and 2015 seasons, it’s quite likely the Leafs wouldn’t have made it in 2013 if the season went the full 82 games. But for a good nine years, the many Maple Leafs haters could pull off this meme any time.
10. Blue Jays Score More
It’s not extremely rare to hear about an NHL player registering a hat trick. It’s a completely different story for MLB players, however. Consider that the best MLB hitters usually bat around .270 or higher and only club 40-45 home runs a season. They also have over 600 at bats in a season, so it’s extremely rare to accomplish three homers in one game. It just doesn’t happen.
Many NHLers are able to pull off a hat trick, though. Wayne Gretzky owns the most career hat tricks with 50. According to our math skills, that means some Leafs players should be getting a hat trick every so often. But this meme tells us that former Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion has more hat trick luck than any Leafs player. Savage, again.
9. No Cup For You!
Steve Harvey is one of the most powerful, rich and beloved men in all of Hollywood. However, the whole world started laughing at him when he made a ghastly mistake while announcing the winner of the 2015 Miss Universe contest. Harvey called Miss Columbia the winner, only to realize his mistake a few minutes after. He corrected himself by announcing that Miss Philippines was the real winner. Boom, and great memes inspired by Mr. Harvey were born.
This one’s just priceless. Here we have Harvey incorrectly announcing that the Maple Leafs have won the Stanley Cup, even though everybody knows they haven’t done so since 1967. It pokes a bit of fun at the comedian himself and the Maple Leafs, who’ve become quite the NHL laughingstock.
8. Back To The Future
Ah yes, the classic Back To the Future trilogy, and my personal favourite movie series at that. For those of you that haven’t seen it, the trilogy is based on ‘Doc’ Brown and his buddy Marty McFly, who use a DeLorean DMC-12 car to travel back in time. So here we see a photo of that exact car; the one that the two men used to go back into 1955 and even the ages of the American wild west. So if a Maple Leafs fan wants to experience this team’s championship success, they can only find a DeLorean and head back in time. It’s been 50 years, after all. Otherwise, fans can only use the DeLorean to travel into the future if they want to see the Maple Leafs (possibly) win a Cup.
7. Stats Don’t Lie
Auston Matthews didn’t take long to impress the hockey world early. He scored four goals in his NHL debut last season. Considering how crazy the Eastern media tends to be about the Maple Leafs, you can only imagine how much they were raving about Matthews’ first NHL game. There was only one problem: Even with Matthews’ 4 goal explosion, the Leafs’ STILL managed to lose the game!
As this meme from Twitter points out, the Maple Leafs have yet to win a game where Matthews scores less than five goals (this came out right after his debut). Yes, scoring that many goals in a game is nearly impossible in today’s age, but the stats don’t lie. The goal now is for Matthews to find a way to erase this terrible stat. It’s probably easiest for him to get a hat trick and then stay on the ice for two empty net goals. But no matter how he does it, Matthews has to find a way to end this streak.
6. Fundamentals 101
Oh gosh, this one is just not kind at all. The 50-plus years without a Stanley Cup championship. All of the blown leads. All of the failed Brian Burke trades and free agent signings. All of the head coaches being fired time and time again. It just never ends with people laughing at the Leafs, because they’ve truly done everything wrong over the years.
But this meme is yet another classic example of a picture being worth a thousand words. All of the Leafs failures can be pinpointed on this one meme that shows a player not using his stick properly. Since when did NHL players start playing ringette during a hockey game? This meme just about summarizes all of Toronto’s failures over the years. Well done to the creator of this one.
5. Source Of the Problem
Alright, so this meme may have just offered a scientific explanation as to why the Zamboni at your local hockey arena doesn’t work. As you can see, there are a few too many Maple Leafs jerseys trapped underneath. Okay, more than a few. The inspiration for this editorial comic was when Leafs fans would start throwing their jerseys onto the ice in protest of the team’s poor play.
Can a hockey team be so bad that its jerseys caused a Zamboni to break down? We don’t think so, but that’s the beauty of memes and comic strips. This one is a classic in itself, there’s really no need to go about it. For you Maple Leafs haters, feel free to print this off and hang it up in your office. Or simply give it to one of your friends who supports the Maple Leafs. This one is creative and to the point.
4. Fear Thy Enemy
Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara is one of the most intimidating players in league history. Given his giant 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame, it’s easy to see why other players would be scared to go near him. Well, former Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel had several run-ins with Chara. This meme suggests that Kessel was secretly enjoying the 2012-13 lockout, meaning he could avoid Chara altogether. But when a deal was reached in early January to save the season, Kessel had no choice but to go along with it.
Kessel and Chara threw out some big hits on each other during the 2013 playoffs, so maybe Phil wasn’t as scared of him as the meme says. But it kind of is funny, so we had to include it. At least Kessel’s won two Cups since then, so maybe him and Chara can bond over that experience and become buddies again.
3. Playoffs?! Don’t Talk About Playoffs?!
Former NFL head coach Jim Mora is best remembered for all of his epic post-game rants against his team. After a humiliating home loss during a 2001 game, Mora (who was coaching the Indianapolis Colts), was questioned by a reporter about the team’s chances of making the playoffs. His response? Infamy: “Uh! Playoffs!? Don’t Talk about playoffs! You kidding me? Playoffs?! I just hope we can win a game! Another game!” So for the Maple Leafs, Mora’s quote often rang true to this poor team. Many fans (and probably coaches), felt like a win was worth celebrating in itself. With so many years of being terrible, the fans didn’t really get to feel what the playoffs were. Thanks coach Mora for your epic rant, because some genius turned it into a hilarious Leafs meme.
2. What Lead?
Unfortunately for Maple Leafs fans, they’ve become all too accustomed to this team blowing leads. Though many will remember that dreadful collapse in Game 7 against the Bruins a few years ago, it wasn’t the only time they blew leads.
Remember, Toronto also had a 2-0 lead in Game 4, which they wound up blowing before falling in overtime. We also saw them cough up numerous two-goal leads in the third period during the 2016-17 season, and it almost cost them a playoff spot. They also struggled to defend leads against the Washington Capitals in the opening round of the postseason. The point of a lead is to feel safe and win the game. For Leafs fans, it almost seems like having a lead is a bad thing, as this meme would like to suggest.
1. Nice Jersey
The Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings were supposed to play in the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. An Original Six rivalry between two of the league’s most popular teams. What more could we ask for? But in typical Maple Leafs luck, the NHL lockout proceeded into January and therefore cancelled the New Year’s Day event. And just like that, no Winter Classic took place. It just had to be the Leafs in the Winter Classic. There just had to be a lockout. It just had to stretch into January.
Okay, but there is good news. Detroit and Toronto were awarded the 2014 Winter Classic, with the Leafs winning the game 3-2. But at the time, it was hilarious yet sad to see the poor Leafs and their fans get screwed by the lockout. The meme just tells the story.