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Raptors' Masai Ujiri on Maple Leafs' playoff run: 'This is their year'

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This is the best iteration of the Auston Matthews-era Toronto Maple Leafs and as they prepare for their upcoming first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens, one Toronto sports legend is optimistic about their chances of lifting the Stanley Cup. 

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Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri held his media availability on Wednesday, where he outlined what he wanted from his next contract and spoke passionately about what his players and executives mean to him before looking into his crystal ball for the Maple Leafs. 

"Good luck to the Leafs. Good luck to Shanny and Kyle, I think they're going to be awesome. This is their year," Ujiri told reporters, wishing Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas well. 

It's not the first time Ujiri has been publicly optimistic about the Leafs' chances, either. After the Raptors won the title in 2019, Ujiri guaranteed the Maple Leafs will win a title, noting that his club, along with Toronto FC, won championships with many fans casting doubt about the viability of it ever happening. 

It doesn't feel like mere lip service, or Ujiri patronizing the Maple Leafs, who have yet to advance past the first round in each of the last four seasons. Toronto is an overwhelming favourite against Montreal and despite its lack of playoff success in recent years, anything short of a third-round appearance under the revised playoff format would feel like an unqualified disappointment. 

Ujiri has played a more active role with the Maple Leafs than some would imagine, as Dubas consulted with him for his advice during the John Tavares sweepstakes, as the club fended off the San Jose Sharks in pursuit of the star centre. 

In Masai We Trust, as the saying goes in Toronto, and Maple Leafs fans are hoping that the Raptors' president's prediction will hold up, with hopes of snapping a Stanley Cup drought dating back to 1967. 

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