Toronto Maple Leafs
Finally we get to the end of the division and the best rival for the Wings. It's probably kind of sad that the perennially terrible Leafs make Detroit's best foil right now, but it's where we are. Toronto is at the center of the hockey universe (just ask them and their $1.2B demand for an expansion fee into their back yard), and no matter what they do or how bad they are, they're going to make way more money than any other NHL team will this season.
The two teams may look dissimilar in a lot of areas, but when you think about it, they share one very major thing in common: they're built like their management is built. Detroit has been around forever and is probably a bit too reliant on the old guard and proven models while Toronto is a hot mess where nobody is really sure who is actually pulling the strings from one shift to the next.
What to Like About them
Phil Kessel will never not be hilarious to me.
This is the face of one of the best pure scorers in the NHL. It's a league of finely-tuned athletes driving themselves through grueling schedules to chase the ultimate trophy and Slingblade the ice cream man up there is actually among the creme-de-la-creme of his peers.
It's too good to be true, but it is.
What to Hate Most About Them
Being the center of the hockey universe makes the narratives coming out of Toronto unbearable. The last several years when the Leafs were ignoring analytics to suck on their own, the story was all about how the whole NHL ignores analytics too. Now that Toronto has seemingly embraced the trend, the story from those same writers has magically shifted onto discussions about how they've ALWAYS embraced the trend.
In the not-sour-grapes category of hatred for the Leafs, I am not only legitimately concerned that the team hiring people who know what they're doing is going to make them better, but also pretty upset that they hired away the guy who ran Extraskater, which was an amazing site.
How to Take the High Road
When it comes to flipping shit at an opposing team or its fanbase, it's important that you act with a bit of grace and dignity. We should strive to keep the topic to hockey itself. It's even better if we have an opportunity to grab a position from the moral high ground while we're at it.
The Leafs may be closer to the right track on how to look at the game and they may actually be moving away from having goons on their fourth line who make the game worse in every way, but they still have Tyler Bozak as their number one center on purpose and Randy Carlyle is still the head radish in charge.
How to Deliver the Low-Blow
While I never ever EVER support taking cheap shots at your opponents' expense first. Sometimes they ask for it. You can pretend to cast your eyes down at them from your ivory tower or you can jump in the muck with them. Here's how to do the more-fun version.
By now, there's not a single new joke about how the last time the Leafs won the Cup was all the way back in 1967. Leafs fans will use that as a point about how bored they are with being reminded about it or how little it affects them. Good. That means they're dead inside. Their opinions don't matter.