Ever since the start of the post lockout era of the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise has failed to make the post-season. This franchise continues today to be one of the most successful franchises in the league. Lucky for the MLSE, the Toronto Maple Leafs fans are some of the most easily convinced and loyal fans to be found in the world.
After six straight unsuccessful seasons of not making the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to be a top the league in attendance and profit. This is because of the desperate loyalty by the fans of the blue and white.
MLSE recognizes the loyalty of their fans and use this to their advantage. Ownership realizes they cannot keep having subpar seasons and by not providing a winning product, the demand will eventually decline. However instead of panicking, MLSE focuses on marketing hope.
Throughout the years, fans have called the reason for the failure in their team due to management or coaching. They blame these positions as the true source for their teams failure. MLSE markets hope by hiring management and coaches with experience and excellent reputations.
First they hired an up and coming coach begged for by the media and fans. This man was Paul Maurice. He did everything he was expected to as a coach, but failed to take the team to the playoffs. The fans eventually called for the head of John Ferguson Jr. A general manager who made many questionable decisions is believed to be a prime reason for the Leafs post-season drought. This man was fired and an interim general manager, named Cliff Fletcher, was hired. He promised to select a new general manager and coaching staff that would bring championships to Toronto.
He hired a coach who has placed himself amongst the leaders of wins by coaches in the NHL. This man was Ron Wilson. A coach who had more experience than anyone you could ask for, and his track record supported his reputation. Along with the hiring of Wilson, came his best friend Brian Burke. Fletcher hired Burke about a year and a half ago and promised to bring the Toronto Maple Leafs to the playoffs.
However as I still am a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs I can assure that this promise has not been fulfilled. The leafs are currently sitting four points out of the final playoff position and mathematically their chances of claiming that spot are highly unlikely. Brian Burke and Ron Wilson receive constant criticism daily by the media and fans for their lack of success with the franchise. The media and fan base question the future of the team and whether they are even heading in the right direction.
The Toronto Maple Leafs continuous failure to the make the playoffs for seemingly seven straight years causes one to wonder how on earth does the MLSE continue to profit so massively with a disastrous product? It's simple. They have recognized that their target market is loyal corporate fans that pay top dollar to see their team supposedly develop into seasonal Stanley Cup contenders. That is what makes MLSE's marketing so successful, they sell hope to their loyal fans. By hiring management and coaching positions requested by the fans, it allows Toronto Maple Leafs faithful to believe that they will eventually become a winning franchise again.