Jon Cooper shares strong prediction about the Toronto Maple Leafs

Dean Chaudhry
June 3, 2024  (9:10)

Jon Cooper passionately addressing the referees from behind the bench
Photo credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper believes the Toronto Maple Leafs are on the precipice of finally making a deep playoff run.

Perhaps in a rather surprising turn of events, the Lightning bench boss was very complimentary of the Maple Leafs and has a viewpoint not necessarily shared amongst the media in Toronto. The Atlantic Division has boasted the better teams within the Eastern Conference over the last several years and with the new playoff format, it's truly a dog fight just to get out of the first round if and when you have to play the likes of Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto, or Florida.
Cooper thinks that the Maple Leafs are just a byproduct of a tough division and having to face of against the best teams right away once the playoffs commence. He talked about how close Toronto has come over the last few years and had a few bounces gone their way, maybe it could've been them going on deeper post-season runs:
"We played them in the playoffs the last couple of years. One we had to eek out in an overtime win in Game 6 and then win a game in Game 7 to get through them. The next year they went right through us, that's how close the Atlantic is. At the time it was Boston, Tampa, and Toronto and any one of us could've beaten anybody and now Florida is in the mix and kinda pushed themselves past the four of us.

It's so hard to get out of the Atlantic and I think you get judged on winning one playoff round and not winning a playoff round and I think it's tough. The Leafs, they won a round against us, they could've won other rounds but I don't think people understand how hard it is to do and it's not like the Leafs went through any of these teams and got blown out. They were right there, it's just a bounce here and there and they'd advance."

He finished off by saying that based on what he's seen from the adversary's bench that the Leafs are on the cusp of finally getting over their playoff blues. Cooper witnessed it first hand last year when Toronto beat his Lightning squad to get past the first round for the first time in 6 years:
"I think in what i've seen of the Leafs, everything's been pushing in the right direction, they have a heck of a core, now hey got a new coach so let's see what happens, but like i said playoffs are all about going on a run and one of these years they're gonna go on a run, it's just what year is it gonna be."

With Craig Berube at the helm, a core that still includes Auston Matthews and William Nylander, and a general manager that is looking to make big changes this summer, the Maple Leafs are certainly still one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Florida is currently the best team in the division but with Boston and Tampa Bay lacking depth, somewhere down the line the Maple Leafs have to strike while the iron is hot and maybe that'll finally be the case in 2024-25.
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Jon Cooper shares strong prediction about the Toronto Maple Leafs

Do you think Jon Cooper's statement is correct?

Yes, the Atlantic is very top-heavy17560.6 %
No, you to have to play these teams eventually2910 %
Florida is just a step ahead of the pack now8529.4 %
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