Looking back at 2016, Toronto had a very busy and successful year. Record breaking seasons from the Raptors, Blue Jays and Toronto FC caught the attention of an entire nation.
Although this recent trend has changed the city, it was not long ago that Toronto was viewed as the cellar of the sporting world. Year after year, season after season, Toronto had continued to disappoint; trying to find answers, trying to find a way to put an end to Toronto’s dark era in sports.
Beyond the Vince Carter era there had been little to no success in the Raptors’ history. With star player Chris Bosh leading the Raptors to two short first round stints, the all-time leading scorer at the time was looking for a change and abruptly left, signing in Miami to join forces with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, leaving Raptors fans betrayed.
For five long years the Raptors sat at the bottom of the NBA stockpiling draft picks hoping to change the culture of the organization. Since then, draft picks such as Demar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross have developed. Along with the additions of Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson, the Raptors have not only made a name for themselves, but are now a major threat in the league.
Coming off a historic 2015-16 season, which saw the Raptors linch their franchise’s first ever Eastern Conference Finals berth while winning a franchise best 56 games. Now the Raptors are as hungry as ever to do whatever it takes to remain one of the elite teams in the league.
Following back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, the Toronto Blue Jays looked like an organization that was destined for a bright future. The actual result was 22 years of torture and mediocrity. Twenty-two years of non-playoff baseball was long enough for a city that was patiently waiting to see its team once again play baseball.
That all changed in the 2015 and 2016 seasons as GM Alex Anthopoulos decided to make a big splash. In the off-season Anthopoulos traded for Josh Donaldson and signed veteran catcher, and Canadian born, Russell Martin. Although the Blue Jays had a busy off-season, it still was not enough to bring them atop the division.
At the trade deadline Anthopoulos was busy once again trading for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher David Price. This put the Jays over the top, and with these new additions, the Jays won the AL East title, advancing to the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. With most of team still intact, the Jays will be a competitive team for years to come.
The leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since the 1966-67 season. A span of almost 50 years! The Leafs have had many playoff appearances since then, but since the 2003-04 season the Leafs have made the playoffs only once, losing a heartbreaking series to the Boston Bruins.
The 2016-17 season looks much different from seasons past. The Leafs organization is putting time into rebuilding a young core, rather than wasting money on mediocre free agents. With Brendan Shanahan at the helm, the Leafs are finally heading in the right direction with budding stars Austin Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner.
Toronto sports is out of its dark era and it’s time to celebrate and appreciate this while it lasts.