The Toronto Maple Leafs battle the Tampa Bay Lightening in the first round. Photo: NHL.
The Toronto Maple Leafs battle the Tampa Bay Lightening in the first round. Photo: NHL.

Sports Shorts

That’s a Rap

Major questions surround the Toronto Raptors this offseason after they were eliminated from playoff contention by the Chicago Bulls. During the play-in game of the 9th and 10th ranked teams, the Raps gave up a twenty point lead, shot a dismal fifty percent from the free throw line, and were outscored 37-24 in the fourth quarter. The season-ending loss was a bitter finale to a season marked by poor bench performances, a struggling halfcourt offense, and a lack of team chemistry.

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has the option to sever the final year of his contract, Jakob Poetl is a free agent, and trade rumours surround OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam. Additionally, many NBA insiders believe head coach Nick Nurse’s days with the team are over. (Update, April 25, 2023: Nick Nurse was let go as head coach as of April 21.)

Raps fans now join Raptors President Masai Ujuri and GM Bobby Webster in asking “where do we go from here?”

Grab Your Peanuts and Binoculars, It’s Blue Jay Season

After losing their opening series to the Cardinals, the Jays have gone on to take series from the Royals, Angels and Tigers. These results, paired with the outstanding play of newly-acquired third baseman Matt Chapman, have given fans cause for cautious optimism. While the consistency of the bullpen will be something to keep an eye on, the early-season Jays have shown us they have the potential to be one of the top teams in the AL East.

The Toronto Maple Leafs battle the Tampa Bay Lightening in the first round. Photo: NHL.

The Great Barrier Leaf

After a Game 1 thrashing from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Leafs’ fans are facing that all-too-familiar sinking feeling. Lightning left winger Pierre Edouard Bellemare found the back of the net one minute and nineteen seconds into the first period and things only got worse from there. Tampa stunned fans at Scotiabank arena with two more goals in the first period to take a commanding 3-0 lead en route to a 7-3 victory.

While the leafs entered the series as series favourites, buoyed by Mitch Marner’s 99-point regular season performance and Ilya Samsonov’s .919 save percentage, their Game 1 loss reminded us just how fleeting hope can be.

Will 2023 be the season where the Leafs break the first-round curse and make a serious push for the Stanley Cup? We’re not throwing the towel in yet but, after Game 1, we’re all feeling a bit less optimisitc.
(Update, April 25, 2023: The Leafs have since gone on an impressive 3-game win streak in the series to take a 3-1 lead over the Lightening.)

Women’s Soccer Funding

The good news is that after almost going on strike, the Canadian women’s soccer team reached an interim funding agreement with Canada Soccer in March, and players will be paid about the same as mens’ team players. The bad news is the players keep being disrespected. Canada Soccer went public with details about the private bargaining process on the day that several womens’ team players spoke at a House of Commons committee, adding tension to the ongoing negotiations.

The women’s team lost 2-1 to France in a friendly match April 11th, and will play in late July in the group stage of the Women’s World Cup, taking place in Australia and New Zealand.

This article appeared in the 2023 May/June issue.