Scapegoating Jake Gardiner

A weekly sports column for the 100 Mile Free Press

Being from the Toronto area, my Facebook feed blew up when the Boston Bruins eliminated the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs.

The posts ranged from blaming the refs to people expressing their lack of surprise. But by far, the most posts were blaming long-time blueliner, Jake Gardiner.

Yeah, he had a bad game and he even admitted it to the Toronto press but to put the defeat solely at his feet is not just unfair, it’s wrong.

He was -5 in game 7 and had only two assists in the seven games he played in the post-season, but it could be argued that the Leafs would not have made it to the playoffs without the help of the Minnesotan native during the regular season. He played every single game and contributed to 52 goals, five of them his own.

During post-game and locker clean out interviews, many Leaf players such as Vancouverite Morgan Reilly, Tyler Bozak and a host of other players defended Gardiner and were upset with how he has been treated by the media and the fans.

Hockey is a team sport. How come no one is singling out centre Nazem Kadri for his three-game suspension? Why is Austin Matthews getting very little flak for his uninspired play?

The truth is, the Leafs never really had a chance. The team is still on the young side, with the majority of them such as Matthews, Mitch Marner and Connor Brown having next to no NHL playoff experience. Even Kadri and Gardiner who have been with the team for seven or more seasons have a very limited exposure to the playoffs.

Leafs fans should be happy they made the playoffs two years in a row and are emerging as one of the premier teams in the league. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Gardiner has been a scapegoat for the Leafs in the seven seasons he’s been on the payroll and is just shy of reaching 500 games played and will turn 28 this summer. With one year left on his contract, it’s hard to say what his future with the franchise is but fans and whoever replaces Lou Lamoriello as general manager shouldn’t pull the trigger without thinking about it first. Afterall, Ontario’s favourite team has a history of trading away players who become great players such as Phil Kessel and Larry Murphy.

Boston, on the other hand, is emerging as a force to be reckoned with. They have three players in the top ten scorers list for the playoffs, including David Pastrnak who is tied with 17 points with Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins (as of April 30).

Just Posted

Little Britches junior rodeo action

‘Some of the times they were turning in were really good’

Wildfire sparks near perimeter of devastating 2017 Elephant Hill fire

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Increased respiratory problems persist after wildfires

TB Vets looking to fund another respiratory unit

Administrative changes on the way for SD27

School District 27 announced several new administrative appointments moving ahead

Search continues for missing woman

Saskatchewan woman believed to have fallen into Raft River

Little Britches junior rodeo action

‘Some of the times they were turning in were really good’

Early learning programs for Indigeous kids get $30M boost

B.C. government to help expand Aboriginal Head Start Association programs with three-year funding

Ferry sailing cancelled after ship’s second officer falls ill

Coastal Inspiration’s 8:15 p.m. sailing to Nanaimo on Tuesday cancelled, passengers to be compensated

Prince Rupert woman reported missing

Victoria Lynn Fraser was last seen on May 22, 2018

B.C. man recounts intense rescue of couple caught in mudslide

Something told Dan Anderson to go back to the scene of a major mudslide on the long weekend.

The priciest home for sale in Canada: A $38M Vancouver penthouse

Canada’s luxury real estate: The top 10 most expensive properties for sale right now

9 temperature records broken across B.C. as warm weather continues

Clearwater, Golden, Williams Lake, Malahat a few of the cities that broke records Wednesday

COLUMN: Stanley Cup final prediction

Upstart Vegas Golden Knights clash with Washington Capitals

Big brew tanks headed for Chilliwack wrapped to look like beer cans

Snap a #beertanks selfie if you see massive tanks en route to Chilliwack

Most Read