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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Look Both Ways: Are the Leafs a better franchise than the Blackhawks?

Ria Pathak
The Chicago Blackhawks’ logo and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ logo are split down the middle. Assistant Sports Editor Alex Crowe and Sports Reporter Sana Polizzi debate which of the two franchises is currently moving in a better direction. (Ria Pathak | Northern Star)


By: Sana Polizzi

The Toronto Maple Leafs are better than the Chicago Blackhawks.

During the 2022-2023 season, the Leafs were the superior team with almost twice as many wins as the Blackhawks.

Toronto won 50 games, and the Chicago Blackhawks won 26 games.

Chicago finished 30th while Toronto finished fourth overall during the 2022-2023 season. Chicago was only above the Anaheim Ducks and the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Ducks are rebuilding this season and the Blue Jackets were last in the playoffs in 2020. It is evident the current Blackhawks don’t live up to their Stanley Cup-winning legacy.

While the Blackhawks were ending their season, the Leafs were just beginning their playoff run. 

Toronto has been in the playoffs a total of 72 times in its 105 seasons of existence, while Chicago has appeared in the playoffs 63 times in its 96 seasons of existence. Historically, Toronto has proven to be the more dominant team. 

Toronto has 13 Stanley Cups, while Chicago has six Stanley Cups, three of which were won in the span of six years. 

Despite the fact that Toronto has not won a Stanley Cup in 56 years, Toronto has made the playoffs every year since 2017. While Chicago has only made the playoffs three times since 2016.

Chicago last won the Stanley Cup in 2015 and only made it to the playoffs when they had both center Jonathan Toews and right winger Patrick Kane. The Blackhawks traded Kane and will not re-sign Toews who were their only two players left from their 2015 Stanley Cup win. Starting over without two of their best franchise players will be a struggle for the Blackhawks as 17 of the 26 games they won last season were with Kane. 

Even though Toronto has lost in the first round every year since 2017 except for 2023, the Leafs have taken their playoff series to a Game 6 and a Game 7 multiple times.

Toronto is making a comeback. The Maple Leafs won their first series for their first time in nineteen years during the 2022-2023 playoffs. The Leafs have a chance to make it to the second round once more in the 2023-2024 season and have a stronger team with players like left winger Nicholas Robertson finally getting more time on the ice. 

Toronto has players that perform consistently during the regular season. With franchise players like center Auston Matthews, right winger Mitch Marner, newly acquired center Max Domi and left winger Tyler Bertuzzi, Toronto stands a chance in the playoffs this year.

During the 2022-2023 season, Matthews had 85 points. Marner had 99 points last season. Other franchise players like right winger William Nylander had 87 points last season and center John Tavares had 80 points last season.

First overall draft pick for 2010 and newly acquired Blackhawks left winger Taylor Hall only had 36 points last season. Left winger Nick Foligno, traded to the Blackhawks from the Boston Bruins, had 26 points last season.

Players like Foligno and Hall are new to Blackhawks hockey, which means head coach Luke Richardson will have to figure out which line combinations work the best. 

Though line combinations are a common struggle for teams, there are Leafs players such as defenseman Morgan Rielly that have been Leafs players since they were drafted. Finding combinations with experienced franchise players will not be as difficult as it is compared to having brand new players on a team. Having experienced franchise players ultimately makes the Leafs better prepared to handle new traded talent and rookies.

The Blackhawks did have six years of glory, though there are not any players from the Stanley Cup winning rosters on the team today. The team itself is in the middle of a rebuild which means the Blackhawks will be an average team going forward unless their new players perform a miracle.

In fact, none of the current Chicago Blackhawks players scored over 50 points during the 2022-2023 season. 

The Leafs are not the only team with playoff-worthy talent. With the first pick in the draft, the Blackhawks drafted former Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard. 

With the Pats, Bedard scored 143 points during the 2022-2023 season which is 23 points more than Connor McDavid had during his junior career with the Erie Otters. 

Although Bedard is an impressive talent, he is one player. One player can have an impact, but one player is not enough to turn a team that ranked 30th into a team that wins a Stanley Cup with its current roster. 

Fans place emphasis on how future prospects can improve the team without acknowledging how players currently on the team from their 2022-2023 roster contribute to their team if at all. Relying on prospects, traded talent and Bedard to improve the team will only get the Blackhawks so far. Without serious roster changes, six or seven players don’t automatically improve a team.

The Leafs already have cup-winning talent on their roster. With their core four players and newer players like forward Matthew Knies and right winger Easton Cowan, the Leafs are building a Stanley Cup contending team with already solid players as the foundation.

The Blackhawks’ current roster is average. They do not have strong, experienced players who can score goals nor do they have strong defenseman to back up their forwards. 

The Blackhawks have had subpar success and this reliance on prospects and new players is unrealistic and won’t benefit them like they think whereas the Leafs have an established team with players to help guide the younger players and will do so more successfully than the Hawks because there’s already that establishment.


By: Alex Crowe

I want to preface this column by making something clear: The Chicago Blackhawks will not be a good team this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs are a better team with Stanley Cup aspirations while the Hawks are in the middle of a rebuild. 

As crazy as it sounds, I much prefer the direction of the Blackhawks than the path Toronto is currently going down. 


If we want to talk about championships, the Leafs hold the edge with 13 to the Hawks’ six. 

What just looking at the numbers doesn’t tell you is when those championships were won. Toronto’s last Stanley Cup came all the way back in 1967, while Chicago’s was much more recent in 2015. 

Toronto cannot talk about its edge in championships when all 13 happened with 12 or less teams in the league, with the last coming one year before the end of the Civil Rights Movement. 


Toronto has had more regular season success than Chicago since star forward Auston Matthews was drafted first overall in 2016. But as the Boston Bruins proved last playoffs, regular season success means nothing. 

Since Matthews and forward Mitch Marner joined Toronto to begin this “core four” era of Matthews, Marner and forwards John Tavares and William Nylander, Toronto made a first-round playoff exit in five-straight seasons. 

Toronto finally shed the first-round exit label last season, only to get exposed as pretenders once again by the Florida Panthers in Round 2, who trounced them in five games. 

Even if we want to be nice to Toronto and only talk about playoff series wins since the start of the Matthews-Marner era in 2017, the Leafs still don’t have ground to stand on. Chicago beat the Edmonton Oilers in 2020, and Toronto finally caught up in series wins last season against the Tampa Bay Lightning – its first series win since 2004.

This brings me back to the players. The Leafs’ core four is a fraudulent group that will never get the job done. 

Time and time again, Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Tavares have dropped the ball when it matters most.


Toronto has a whopping $40.5 million wrapped up in those four players who have proven they can’t get the job done when it matters most for the last six years. 

Even after all the failure, Toronto is sticking with this group, hoping things will be different. This is the definition of insanity – to do the same things while expecting different results.

The Blackhawks don’t have the star power right now that the Leafs have, but general manager Kyle Davidson has them on a much better trajectory than Toronto. 

Insert the 2023 first overall draft pick Connor Bedard, who is seen as a once-in-a-generation talent. Bedard had 143 points last season in juniors as a 17-year-old.

If junior hockey doesn’t convince you of Bedard’s superstar ability, then look no further than his preseason debut on Sept. 28, where he had two primary assists – including on the overtime winner – against NHL caliber talent. He can hang with the big dogs.

Chicago also brought in veterans such as forwards Nick Foligno, Corey Perry and former first-overall draft pick Taylor Hall to mentor Bedard and show him what it takes to be a professional. 

Bedard headlines a Blackhawks prospect pool that has been ranked No. 2 by The Hockey Writers. He joins fellow first round picks defenseman Kevin Korchinski, forwards Oliver Moore, Frank Nazar and Lukas Reichel in the loaded crop of up-and-comers. 

Toronto comes in at No. 23 in the rankings, headlined by forward Matthew Knies. Knies is a great player, but he is miles ahead of the rest of the pool for the Leafs. 


Looking at the two teams on a surface level, it’s easy to think Toronto is the team to side with. But when analyzed deeper, looking at the situations the teams find themselves in and the players they have, the script oddly flips to the side of the rebuilding team in Chicago. 

After looking deeper into the conversation about Toronto and Chicago, consider this: The Leafs have nearly half of their salary cap tied up into four players that have proven six separate times that they are pretenders and soft. Help will also not be on the way with a bottom-half prospect pool. 

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have elite talent ready to begin their careers, learn the ropes and build a better, more successful version of Toronto’s core four.

So, when you see the Toronto Maple Leafs and its so-called amazing core four disappoint when it really counts come April, look to the Windy City. There, you will see Bedard up for the Rookie of the Year award, and the rest of a loaded group of young talent molding into championship contenders.

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