Like the average NHL fan, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul watched the 2014 Western Conference Finals from the comforts of home, largely in awe of the effort put in by both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings.
At the same time, he came to the realization that his team has some work to do before reaching that level.
“You felt like no one deserved to lose,” Lupul told Sportsnet in a recent interview. “Watching some of that, it’s safe to say our team has a ways to go before our team is competing with them year in, year out.”
Lupul qualified that statement by adding the following:
That’s not to say we can’t get there. Both of those teams, before they were champions, had to go through some adversity. We need to use some of the adversity we’ve had over the last couple years as experience and turn ourselves into one of those championship teams that contend regularly.
That adversity, of course, includes infamous collapses in each of the past two seasons, which Lupul adds the Maple Leafs must learn from in order to be successful.
It’s still equally as disappointing now. The difference between winning and losing is so small in the NHL, and I think a lot of those games I look back and think we played well enough to win but we didn’t.
A key for us going forward this season is just to keep our foot on the gas. If we’re in a playoff spot, try to extend that lead, try to go for first. Don’t just be satisfied. Things happen: a couple of injuries, some bad luck. Next thing you know, you’re on the outside looking in.
Lupul went on to talk about what he feels it takes to build a winning team, and how his summer training is going.
The full interview can be read here.
Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Eric Hartline