Toronto and Playoffs

Thursday, March 08 2012 @ 01:44 PM EST

Contributed by: John Northey

With the new playoff slot we're all dreaming big here. However, how bad is the playoff situation in Toronto with the Leafs & Raptors looking inept and the Jays being in the toughest division there is? Is this something that should be expected or is it a once in a generation thing?

Blue Jays we all know - no playoffs since 1993 with just one second place finish in that entire stretch. With the current playoff structure the Jays would've made it in 1998 but only in that year. With the NBA/NHL method (top 8 per league) the Jays would've made it in... 2011 (7th seed), 2010 (7th), 2008 (7th), 2007 (7th), 2006 (7th), 2005 (8th), 2003 (tied 6th), 2002 (8th), 2001 (8th), 2000 (7th), 1999 (6th), 1998 (5th), and 1994 (7th). The longest stretch missing the playoffs, under the NHL/NBA model, would've been 1995-1997 (3 years).

The Maple Leafs are all over the news. They, without a major charge, will miss the playoffs for the 7th straight year (every year since the loss of a full season). From 1998/99 to 2003-04 they made it every year (6 straight), missed the 2 years prior, and made it the 4 years before that reaching back to 1992-1993. Prior to the current stretch the Leafs never missed the playoffs more than 2 years in a row going back to 1927-28 which was the final year of a 3 year stretch of missing the playoffs. That 3 year stretch was the only time they missed 3 in a row outside of the current 7 year stretch.

The Raptors are on a 4 year stretch of missing the playoffs. They were knocked out in the first round the 2 years before that, had a 4 year stretch of missing before that, and a 3 year stretch of making it prior to that including their only playoff victory. They didn't make it their first 4 years of existence. Ugh. 5 playoff appearances in 17 seasons, just 4 times over 500 (5th time dead on it).

So, right now the Toronto area is desperate. You have over the past 4 years 0 playoff appearances from 3 teams. The last playoff round won was by the Leafs in 2003/2004 (4-3 over the Senators). The only times a Toronto team has made the finals since the 1960's was the Jays in 1992 and 1993 (of course they won it all both years). Semi-Finals by the Jays in 85/89/91/92/93 and Leafs in 1977/78, 1992/93, 1993/94, 1998/99, 2001/02. 5 times each for the Leafs & Jays since the Jays were formed.

Not a good record. Each year in the NHL/NBA the odds are at least 50-50 for a team to make the playoffs yet both in this century have failed to make it that often. In the past 12 years (seasons starting in 2000 to today) you have the Leafs making 4 of 12 (the first 4), the Raptors 4 of 12 (2 initial, 2 in the middle), and 0 for 12 for the Jays (but 10 for 12 under NHL/NBA rules). Purely random odds put the odds of those 3 teams not making the playoffs (if you assume 50% per year odds for each of Raptors & Leafs and 1/5 for division plus 1/11 for non-division x odds of not winning division 4/5 = 27.3% for the Jays) for 4 years in a row at 6.25% for each of the Leafs & Raptors plus 27.98% for the Jays. That works out to random odds of all 3 missing the playoffs for 4 years in a row at 0.109% or roughly 1 in 1,000 (6.25% x 6.25% x 27.98%). Remember, that is assuming random odds which isn't the case (Yankees have more to spend for example).

Is Toronto starved for a playoff team? Oh yeah. There has not been a 4 year stretch with no playoffs in Toronto for any of the NHL/NBA/MLB in the existence of teams from any of those leagues being here (1917-18 when the Leafs won the NHL title). In fact, since the 1950's there hasn't been a stretch of more than 1 year outside of 1997/1998 (Leafs & Raptors missing 96/97 and 97/98). Someone is going to break that streak. It could be the Leafs this year still (5 points out with 15 to play) but I'd bet against that (they'd have to pass 4 teams to make it). But if it is the Jays expect a massive uptick to all things Blue Jays as Toronto is in a horrible once in a millennium stretch of horrid teams.