After years of living in the dark, Maple Leafs fans can see the light now — even if the team is still finding ways to lose games.
First it was Auston Matthews, bursting on to the NHL scene with the best-ever debut in the modern era by scoring four goals in his first game against Ottawa. Linemate William Nylander notched two assists that game and 10 days later logged his first multi-goal game with a two-goal effort against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Maple Leafs lost both of those games, but that’s beside the point, right?
Coming in to Thursday’s games, Matthews was second in NHL scoring with 10 points in six games and Nylander was one point behind him. But Thursday night was another youngster’s time to shine.
Mitch Marner excited Leafs fans with a three-point effort against the Florida Panthers — all assists, and all nice ones, too. You can see all his points in the video at the top of this post.
And hey…they won!
When training camp opened, it wasn’t clear what the Leafs would do with the fourth overall pick of the 2015 draft. Since he’s coming out of major junior, Marner was not eligible for the AHL so it was either sticking with the Leafs, or going back to OHL London where he dominated last season. When he made the team out of camp, the initial reaction was to ask whether he was really just on a nine-game tryout, until GM Lou Lamoriello squashed that:
“First of all, (Marner) is not on a tryout. At this point, he has made the team. And what we have seen of him, not only offensively but defensively, he has done very well. We are not thinking of anything other than how he can help us right now and his commitment to get better and better. He is extremely mature and I’m extremely impressed with him from seeing him in camp last year and this year. He will be given every opportunity.”
Thursday was Marner’s turn to show Leafs Nation a sign that greater things are to come from this team.