Friday, February 15, 2008

Steve Simmons, you can kiss my ass

What a great night. Everyone who we've been covering in the Stamkos Standings won last night, except for the best of them all: Toronto. We're four points out of last. We can win two straight games and probably still be in the bottom five. We're in second place and have a three point cushion between us and fourth. This is absolutely wonderful. The Kings look more reachable this morning than they ever have.

1.  LAK 59 GP, 24 W, 51 PTS, -27 DIFF
2.  TOR 59 GP, 23 W, 55 PTS, -29 DIFF
3.  TBL 58 GP, 25 W, 56 PTS, -21 DIFF
4.  FLA 59 GP, 26 W, 58 PTS, -9 DIFF
5.  CHI 57 GP, 26 W, 58 PTS,  EV DIFF
6.  NYI 58 GP, 26 W, 59 PTS, -28 DIFF
7.  EDM 59 GP, 27 W, 59 PTS, -16 DIFF
8.  ATL 59 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, -28 DIFF
9.  WSH 58 GP, 27 W, 60 PTS, -13 DIFF
10. STL 56 GP, 26 W, 60 PTS, -14 DIFF
11. CLB 59 GP, 26 W, 61 PTS, -12 DIFF
12. PHO 58 GP, 29 W, 62 PTS, -1 DIFF
13. NYR 59 GP, 28 W, 63 PTS, -3 DIFF

The only addition is Washington (courtesy of another Carolina win), and while there are some key developments, like a reshuffling of the top five and just regular position jockeying, none of it is nearly as important to us as moving into second.

I was so excited this morning when I woke up. Sure, my neck hurt like hell for some reason, and I barely got any sleep, and my cat had left me a Valentine's shit on my couch, but we were in second place. My hand STILL stings from high-fiving everyone in sight. And then I hit Kukla's Korner to see what was going on in the NHL today, and I saw a Steve "Fuckdick" Simmons article up there. I used to like Simmons, be it from the back pages of those Hometown Hockey magazines they'd send everyone who had been registered for minor hockey in Ontario, or from his Toronto Sun columns that were always had a fun format and didn't take any real thought to them.

Little did I know how little thought.

Ordinarily I'd wait for Cox Bloc to handle it, as I don't do press criticism anywhere near as well as those guys (or the masters at Fire Joe Morgan, for that matter), but I'm sorry, but he ruined my fucking day and now I'm pissed off. Very pissed off. Fuckdick's 'thoughts' will be in what passes for bold here, so if you find it hard to read, well, I'll be the one saying 'fuck' every other word.

Mats holds key to Leafs' future

By Steve Simmons

If Mats Sundin is to be taken at his word, that he truly bleeds blue and white, then in the best interests of the Maple Leafs he must act accordingly.

I whole-heartedly agree. He should invent a time machine, go back to 2003, name himself GM of the Maple Leafs (while still playing, mind you), pass on the Owen Nolan trade, re-sign Brian Leetch for cheap coming out of the lockout, trade Bryan McCabe and Alex Steen to Edmonton for Chris Pronger, keep Tuuka Rask over Justin Pogge, re-sign Ed Belfour on a cheap one year deal instead of bringing in Raycroft, pass on Jason Blake, not assume that a bunch of young, homegrown defensemen will actually form a good defensive core, not sign like 30 of the same Chad Kilger-type player, um, let's see, what else... basically just pretend John Ferguson never touched the team. That's what he must do. But I bet that's not what you're about to suggest, is it, Fuckdick?

He must waive the no-trade clause in his contract and allow Cliff Fletcher to trade him at the Feb. 26 deadline.

Didn't think so.

Look, I know that sportswriters are... dumb. I know you guys can't come up with any new angles on your own and play the same story over and over and over again until the new one comes along. But: seriously? Trading Sundin is the literal definition of a quick fix. We've all been over how we don't need a quick fix.

That way, he can impact the next decade of the Leafs, just as he impacted the past decade.

This is a lie. Look at the best possible trade any of us can think for involving Sundin that might actually happen - Bobby Ryan and Edmonton's first pick. Bobby Ryan will never be a Mats Sundin. The draft pick will likely yield a defenseman and will likely never come close to the impact Sundin has had on this franchise. If someone was dangling the next Mats Sundin in exchange for 1971's Mats Sundin, maybe you'd have an argument here. But they aren't, and you don't.

That way, he can enable the Leafs to build for next season and beyond

Smart management would do this. Clearing off some of the more than $40 million already committed to next year's cap would do this. Trading Sundin for, at best, a draft pick who won't make an impact next year and a future top six forward (but more realistically a less significant return than that)? Not so much.

Why does everyone lock onto Sundin and think he is the only thing that should be changed from this losing equation? The Leafs have made the playoffs with Mats Sundin. They have not made the playoffs with Andrew Raycroft, or Jason Blake, or Pavel Kubina, or Hal Gill, or Ian White. They won't make the playoffs as long as they have nearly $9 million of the salary cap tied up in Bryan "Fucking" McCabe and Darcy "Shayne Corson" Tucker. These are the problems you target. Why the fuck do you target the ONE player who is actually a positive for the franchise? Stupid writing, that's why.

if he chooses to return as a free agent in July, then he returns to a team that has a Steven Stamkos or a Drew Doughty, a team with fresher, younger legs, a team he can resume his captaincy and leadership of, while surrounded with a better cast and crew.

We might very well end up with a Stamkos or a Doughty. Finishing last in the Eastern Conference would be a pretty good place to start if we want one of those two. So yeah, you've convinced me, Fuckdick, we need to trade Sundin so we can finish lower in the standings. I'm sorry, what's that? We're already in last in the East? Oh. So we're on track to get Stamkos/Doughty/whomever with or without Sundin? But I don't understand, Fuckdick, you were so adamant that we need to trade Mats in order to get one of those two. How can this be?

Not to mention: the team's legs will be 'fresher' at the start of next seasons regardless and the team won't be any younger or better if the other players on the team, you know, the non-Sundin ones who actually NEED to be traded but we don't hear about in the papers because everyone writing for a newspaper is fucking retarded, get moved.

He must allow the Leafs to do what they haven't been able to do since the lockout ended -- and that is compete in the top half, not the bottom half, of the National Hockey League.

This would be a good argument is Sundin was preventing the team from being in the top half of the league. As opposed to trading the top goalie prospect in the league for Andrew Raycroft. Or giving $9 million to Tucker and McCabe. Or giving $4 million to Jason Blake. Or $2.5 million to Mark Bell. Or letting Andy Wozniewski play ever. But that is not the case; it is those players who are preventing Toronto from being a better team, and Sundin is the only reason any of us even bother watching the games. Sundin is to this team what Curtis Joseph was in 1999, or Dominik Hasek was to the Buffalo Sabres of the late-90s: a player who can win a game by himself.

Look at the Detroit game last week. The second goal went in the net because Sundin decided that he was going to score a fucking goal. But no, you're right, Fuckdick, the only way to improve is to trade that. Who the FUCK wants a game changer on your team? Not this guy.

Sundin can bring that kind of price, make that kind of difference. No one else on the roster else can, especially no one with an expiring contract.

Bobby Ryan and an 18-year-old defenseman is not going to get Toronto into the top half of the league next year. If anyone is, it will be Mats Sundin. As for the second sentence, well no shit. But that doesn't mean you don't try to move them anyway. Build a fucking team instead of trying to get a quick fix. But that's no fun to write about, is it, Fuckdick?

Sundin is a perfect fit for a San Jose team that plays the down low game he has come to specialize in -- and it has no shortage of admirable prospects.

More things San Jose has no shortage of: expensive, top-flight centers. Sundin is not waiving his contractual right to stay put to go play the wing or the third line somewhere. If we want to dangle someone to San Jose, why not McCabe? They need another defenseman.

Recently, I asked two of Sundin's closest friends whether they believed Sundin would waive his no-trade clause. One said yes. One said no. Neither seemed certain they had the right answer.

So what you're saying is: he might waive his no-trade clause, or he might not. Thank you for clearing that up.

Oh, and nice name drop. Fuckdick knows some of Sundin's closest friends. He's BIG TIME~!


With Sundin, answers are always a bit of a mystery.

No! No they are not! He has been saying FOR YEARS that he does not want to play for another NHL franchise, that he wants to stay in Toronto and retire here. FOR YEARS. WHAT THE FUCK. Answers have never been a mystery with Mats Sundin. You fucking newspaper idiots write things like this because you aren't getting the answer you want out of him. That is an entirely fucking different thing. This is literally the equivalent of everyone asking Sundin what colour the sky is, and even though he keeps saying 'blue', a bunch of idiots with a journalism degree and a public forum want him to say 'red', so they write that no one can get a straight answer from him. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

Sundin has never been made like other NHL players. He isn't Ray Bourque or Lanny McDonald nearing the finish line, thinking ring. Sundin won his gold medal, captaining Sweden, at the 2006 Winter Olympics. That was his Stanley Cup. That was the dream of his youth. His smile lit up the sky that night in Turin. That was as good as it gets.

YES. THANK YOU. European players tend to value the Olympics and World Championship higher than the Stanley Cup because it is a bigger deal there. Do you think that Sundin doesn't want to win a Stanley Cup? Of course it does, it's the one thing he hasn't done yet. But I doubt he's losing much sleep over it. He's had a hell of a career, accomplished just about everything you could ever ask for, and won the two most significant championships to him. You clearly are able to grasp this here, but you seem to want to condemn him for it. A couple of paragraphs earlier, Fuckdick rips him for being 'not terribly frustrated' that the team doesn't make the playoffs anymore. What the fuck?

First, it's clear by just watching and listening to Sundin that yes, he is frustrated by it, but he, as a mature individual who understands the nature of pro sport, realizes he can't do it by himself and that the cast that surrounds him has as much to do with making the playoffs as he does. You, as an immature joke of a sportswriter, do not. That is not a slight on Mats Sundin. That is a slight on YOU. Second, you also brought up that he's not the only one on the team like that. WHY THE FUCK AREN'T YOU CRUCIFYING THEM, THEN?

Fletcher's job is reaching crunch time. He has two weeks to accomplish two difficult goals. One is to strengthen the Leafs roster with younger players, draft picks or prospects. Two is to somehow reduce the $40-million-plus US the Leafs have tied up in salaries for next season. Reaching either place will be challenging, to say the least.

Yes. This is correct. The Maple Leafs will have a high draft choice this year, so that really helps for the first part, as would selling off a bunch of the other junk laying around. The second part is helped by selling off the other junk, because they are the ones tied to expensive, long-term deals. Sundin, an unrestricted free agent, cannot help free up cap space for next season at the moment because he does not go towards the cap. So the entire article was pretty much pointless. But hey, in the end, Fuckdick realized that the problems facing this team going into the future are not related to Mats Sundin. This is the guy that suggested Kevin Lowe would be a good choice for GM of the Leafs (because he somehow has a better track record than Ferguson for giving big contracts to not-very-good defenseman or third line forwards or players who scored a bunch of goals the year prior...), so that's saying a lot. I'm proud of Steve.

This is how Mats Sundin can help build the Leafs for the future. If he's about the Leafs -- and not necessarily about himself.



Kiss my ass, Simmons.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


My hand is literally red from high-fiving everyone in my general vicinity. I slapped someone's hand into someone else's face. I am so happy right now. Second place, fuckers!

#59 - vs. Islanders

In before the puck drops? God I hope so.

A loss tonight and a Tampa win puts us in second. Here's hoping. Go Islanders.


Jared tells me that we played well tonight, despite the 1-0 loss, which is fine and dandy with me. I'll take a quality game of hockey from the team with a loss every night the rest of the way. And not just because 55 points would be a guaranteed 30th overall. Well... mostly.

1.  LAK 59 GP, 24 W, 51 PTS, -27 DIFF
2.  TBL 57 GP, 24 W, 54 PTS, -23 DIFF
3.  TOR 58 GP, 23 W, 55 PTS, -28 DIFF
4.  CHI 56 GP, 25 W, 56 PTS, -5 DIFF
5.  EDM 58 GP, 26 W, 57 PTS, -17 DIFF
6.  NYI 57 GP, 25 W, 57 PTS, -29 DIFF
7.  FLA 59 GP, 26 W, 58 PTS, -9 DIFF
8.  STL 55 GP, 25 W, 58 PTS, -17 DIFF
9.  ATL 59 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, -28 DIFF
10. CAR 59 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, -17 DIFF
11. PHO 57 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, -4 DIFF
12. CLB 59 GP, 26 W, 61 PTS, -12 DIFF
13. NYR 59 GP, 28 W, 63 PTS, -3 DIFF

Key Developments:

Chicago's win, combined with our loss, moved us back into third (as I mentioned it would earlier in the day). Other than that we had some jockeying for position, which is only really significant because it created more space between Toronto and some of the other teams here. We can win another game and still be in the top five. That's not a very big cushion, but with this much hockey to play, it's still a nice one.


Boston (by winning) and Washington (by losing in overtime) ended their one night stays with us by moving back into playoff spots. Carolina returns by virtue of having an off-night and Washington flip-flopping with them yet again. Atlanta's win means that there is a three-way tie for first in that division right now, and the Panthers are only two points back.

The Rangers also make their first appearance here. Both Boston and Buffalo won, moving them up a spot; the Rangers were the victims of this. They also happen to be playing sub-.550 hockey, so: welcome! At least they got Lundqvist's name on a nice deal.


After looking at Darcy Tucker's relative value in the NHL trading world a couple of nights ago, I've been asking a couple of my friends who are fans of other teams what they'd give up in a deal for Bryan McCabe. This one is a little trickier, since we still only have the one trade (Commodore-for-Corvo) to use as a market-setter for defensemen, and that's not going to be the kind of trade that McCabe would be involved in. It would be really nice if we didn't have to try to pinpoint McCabe's perceived value to other NHL teams and he was just... you know... traded... but oh well. I imagine that I'll look at this again when another defenseman gets traded.

Anyway. I brought up three teams (Blackhawks, Islanders, and Avalanche) to these two and here are some deals that were deemed in-range for McCabe, according to them:

From Chicago: Tuomo Ruutu, Rene Bourque, and a 2nd round pick in 2008 (don't shoot either me or my friends; the one who okayed this is a Hawks fan). I don't know what to say about this other than 'hell fucking yes'. The second rounder should be in the top 40, Bourque is a decent young guy, but Ruutu is the real value pick here. His stock has fallen in Chicago, but there's a lot of talent there, and I'd like to think he could get back on track in Toronto.

From Colorado: Brad Richardson, Karlis Skrastins, and a mid-round draft pick (from the Avs fan). Skrastins basically helps clear a declining body and cap room for McCabe; with an expiring contract after next season, I said I'd have no problem taking him. Cody gave me a nice scouting report on Richardson, who I haven't seen play but always confuse with Cody McCormick. I guess he's a speedy young center with an untapped offensive game but a solid defensive one. He's stuck outside of the top six in Colorado for the foreseeable future, so he's expendable to them, and he would be the kind of player we need here. The pick is just another asset.

From New York: Chris Campoli, Jeff Tambellini, and this year's first rounder for McCabe and Kyle Wellwood (both said they'd have to think about this one long and hard from the Isles side). The pick should be somewhere in the 8-12 range, I'd think. That puts it just out of reach of the very best players in the draft, but it'll still be a good pick. Campoli is a smallish offensive defenseman (TSN's scouting report has his career potential listed as "powerplay quarterback"), Tambellini is a small, quick forward who's scoring a lot of goals at the AHL level this year. I wanted to discuss this as a trade possibility last night but didn't get around to it; I brought it up to my friends today and they said that it was close. Campoli and Tambellini would effectively replace McCabe and Wellwood, while getting younger, cheaper, and, hopefully, better in the long run. New York gets McCabe back to lead their defense, Wellwood gets a fresh start (and as a more established player at this point, the Isles would probably value him over Tambellini), and we get their pick because we're dealing with Garth Snow.

Now, none of these trades are rumoured and probably haven't been discussed outside of the confines of my crazy thought process. I think it's actually probably more likely we'll move McCabe closer to the draft than at the deadline, but these all still apply there. I think all this exercise really shows is that we can get something substantial in a McCabe deal, which is all I really wanted to show. Why dump him for crap when we can get something good, right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

#58 - in Buffalo

I can't watch the game tonight because I have work, but here's the game day post nonetheless. Hopefully no one gets their throat cut this time.

Buffalo needs a win to leapfrog the Rangers into seventh place and are 7-1-2 in their last ten, so hopefully we get our asses kicked. Hopefully Chicago wins tonight, too, so that we can move up into third place.

Ponikarovsky is probably back tonight. Line combinations from Tuesday's practice, courtesy of TSN's Ice Chips:

Tlusty - Sundin - Antropov
Tucker - Stajan - Blake
Ponikarovsky - Wellwood - Steen
Earl - Moore - Devereaux

I'll be back later with tonight's Stamkos update.

Standings Update

I am a fuck. It turns out that Vancouver wasn't even eligible for the standings yesterday or the day before, because their winning percentage was above .550. I also didn't change LA's point totals two nights ago for whatever reason despite having the rest of the numbers bang on.

Lots of games tonight, including some important ones, none more important than the Los Angeles-St. Louis game that should have ended in a Kings OT win if this was a just world. It wasn't, so the worst option of the possibilities, St. Louis winning clean (in regulation) happened. Oh well. Updated Stamkos Standings:

1.  LAK 59 GP, 24 W, 51 PTS, -27 DIFF
2.  TBL 57 GP, 24 W, 54 PTS, -23 DIFF
3.  CHI 55 GP, 24 W, 54 PTS, -10 DIFF
4.  TOR 57 GP, 23 W, 55 PTS, -27 DIFF
5.  EDM 58 GP, 26 W, 57 PTS, -17 DIFF
6.  FLA 58 GP, 26 W, 57 PTS, -8 DIFF
7.  NYI 57 GP, 25 W, 57 PTS, -29 DIFF
8.  ATL 58 GP, 27 W, 58 PTS, -29 DIFF
9.  STL 55 GP, 25 W, 58 PTS, -17 DIFF
10. WSH 57 GP, 27 W, 59 PTS, -12 DIFF
11. PHO 57 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, -4 DIFF
12. CLB 58 GP, 26 W, 61 PTS, -7 DIFF
13. BOS 56 GP, 28 W, 61 PTS, -6 DIFF

The bold wasn't really showing up before, so the separator is now a line.

Key developments:

Tampa won tonight, which is not only fun because it was a third straight loss for Montreal, but also because they're left only one point in front of Toronto for second place. Of the three teams in front of the Leafs, Tampa Bay and Chicago are both only one point ahead - Tampa in the same amount of games, but with more wins and a better goal differential, and Chicago in two less games as well as more wins and a better DIFF. That's good news. LA is definitely peskier, being four points ahead and having already played two extra games.

New York, Edmonton, and St. Louis also won tonight, creating more separation between Toronto's fourth place and the less sexy fifth (or worse) places.


Carolina and Washington have flip-flopped once again, making my life hell by having to add a new set of numbers almost daily. Vancouver has left us because, as noted above, I am an idiot. Buffalo also passed Boston for eighth place tonight, eliminated themselves from contention, and Boston has made their first Stamkos Standings appearance of the year. Welcome, Bruins!

I had something for the rest of this post, but I am way too damn tired right now. I'm going to go to bed, wake up, and write again tomorrow. Sorry, duty calls.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Outdoor Game in Toronto ... ?

Apparently Toronto is exploring the possibility of having an outdoor game at the Dome some time in the future. Link

I would absolutely love this. Sure tickets would probably cost an arm and a leg, but there would be 30,000 + more tickets available than there would be for any given game at the ACC. Not to mention I simply love seeing the Dome turned into another type of venue. I've seen so many live baseball games there, but seeing another sport or event is just extremely exciting. Here's to hoping they get it done.

Considering the popularity of hockey in Southern Ontario, it probably shouldn't be that difficult to sell to the NHL. The only issues that are involved are the functionality of the Skydome.

Here is the full article from the Toronto Sun

What does the Cory Stillman trade mean for Toronto?

Only one game in the league tonight so there wasn't going to much to update here anyway, but Phoenix lost to Dallas by a goal, so literally nothing changes except for me adjusting two numbers slightly. Convenient, but boring.

1.  LAK 58 GP, 24 W, 49 PTS, -25 DIFF
2.  TBL 56 GP, 23 W, 52 PTS, -24 DIFF
3.  CHI 55 GP, 24 W, 54 PTS, -10 DIFF
4.  TOR 57 GP, 23 W, 55 PTS, -27 DIFF
5.  EDM 57 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -19 DIFF
6.  NYI 56 GP, 24 W, 55 PTS, -30 DIFF
7.  STL 54 GP, 24 W, 56 PTS, -19 DIFF
8.  FLA 58 GP, 26 W, 57 PTS, -8 DIFF
9.  ATL 58 GP, 27 W, 58 PTS, -29 DIFF
10. CAR 58 GP, 27 W, 58 PTS, -17 DIFF
11. PHO 57 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, -4 DIFF
12. BUF 55 GP, 26 W, 60 PTS, +9 DIFF
13. CLB 58 GP, 26 W, 61 PTS, -7 DIFF
14. VAN 57 GP, 28 W, 63 PTS, +7 DIFF

But we value-add here at Bring Back Potvin, so you're going to get a bleary-eyed, number-filled blog. Never say I don't give you what you pay for.

Jared called me at work today and informed me that the first trade of this year's deadline season had taken place: Ottawa sending Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to the Hurricanes for Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore. I have taken the liberty of breaking that up into two separate trades: Commodore for Corvo (a defensive defenseman from a team that needs an offensive defenseman for an offensive defenseman from a team that needs a defensive defenseman) and Stillman for Eaves. The second one is the part that is of more interest here; ideally, the Leafs aren't going to be affected by the trade itself in terms of on-ice impact because they're going to start losing more games, and soon. Ideally.

Anyway... Cory Stillman. Nice player, albeit aging and broken down. The last time he played 45 or more games and didn't score 20+ goals was 96-97. He's working on a cheap contract ($1.75 million) and can walk in the summer as a free agent. At age 34, he's breaking down, and can barely skate at this point, but he's still piling up traditional counting stats and might finally crack the 30 goal mark this season. He has two Stanley Cups rings and will add a valuable secondary scoring presence to the Senators.

Stillman has become very important to the entire NHL today, but especially to the Leafs (maybe not especially, but for our intents and purposes it is, and that's what counts). That's because the market is always set with the first few trades of any given deadline season. If another big deal goes down tomorrow, the market is adjusted; but for now everything is based off of Cory Stillman (for forwards, anyway... although I'm not really sure how Commodore-for-Corvo sets the market for defensemen, other than you have to give quality to get quality at that position... but this is a unique situation where both teams had something the other needed that was of roughly equal value, so that swap meshed well. I can't imagine you're going to see many contending teams add extra defensive depth by giving up an equal defender). As of today, the market for a player like Cory Stillman (mid-30s, good offensive numbers, small cap hit, free agent at the end of the summer) is set at Patrick Eaves: a young forward who is two years removed from a 20 goal rookie season and was picked at the end of the vaunted 2003 draft's first round. This is a nice precedent to me, because I want to trade Darcy Tucker.

If you can think of someone who is more firmly on the 'trade Tucker' bandwagon than me, I'll be shocked. I like him but he's never been one of my favourites, and to get him, we had to trade Mike Johnson, who WAS one of my favourites. He was always a fun guy to have around, but when his contract came up last year, it was time: he, like Bryan McCabe, should have been sent out of town long before a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract was thrown his way. With a no-trade clause, no less. But here Tucker remains, and here the team circles the drain. The time to trade Darcy Tucker was last season, but that doesn't mean we can't do it this year, anyway. And I think we should start looking for a return comparable to Patrick Eaves.

At first glance, Tucker doesn't really seem to match up with Stillman, so there isn't much relevance to this comparison. They're roughly the same age (Tucker is a year and change younger), both seem like a pretty good bet to score 20 goals for you, but they don't really play the same style of hockey. Stillman is a deceptive scorer (so deceptive, in fact, that when asking around for people's thoughts on the trade and Stillman in general, I got a lot of "I have no idea how Stillman gets so many points, he's so slow and bad and never seems to be anywhere near the play"); Tucker is an agitator. Tucker is also not having a very good year, and Stillman's stats dwarf his (21G/25A/46P for Stillman, 9/8/17 for Tucker in six less games). Tucker has another three years and $9 million left on his contract, taking him to the age of 36. When today's trade first broke, I figured "well hey, maybe we'll get something better for Tucker than I was hoping", but I expected that an Eaves-type player would be a high ceiling on any type of Tucker return. I mean, he's not Cory Stillman.

Where it gets interesting is when you bring up Behind the Net stats. Looking at even-strength numbers (in a select few categories, because I know not everyone knows/uses/understands these stats, and I am only beginning to myself, so...) they're actually a lot more comparable than I thought:

TOI/60: Stillman 14.01, Tucker 11.61

GFON/60: Stillman 2.49, Tucker 2.21

GAON/60: Tucker 2.42, Stillman 2.65

Goals/60: Tucker 0.74, Stillman 0.70

First Assists/60: Tucker 0.63, Stillman 0.62

Second Assists/60: Stillman 0.70, Tucker 0.11

Some thoughts here: Stillman isn't NEARLY as productive as it looks based on his G/A/P numbers. You'd expect his GFON/GAON numbers to be higher than that, and he is actually getting less goals and first assists per 60 minutes of even-strength play than Tucker is (in 2.40 less minutes of EV ice-time, no less). Where Stillman kills Tucker is in secondary assists, which would seem to match up with my low-rent scouting reports of Stillman being a player who gets points despite being invisible.

Stillman also racks up a lot more points on the powerplay than Tucker. Stillman gets more ice time on the PP, and Tucker has been a PP bust this year, despite being pretty dependable in the past. Obviously, they're not the exact same player, but at least in terms of EV play, it's not really as far as you'd think. Plus, Tucker brings the bump-and-grind style that playoff teams (especially after the Ducks last year) covet, and he's under contract for another three seasons. If you're going to give up a recent first rounder for a player, wouldn't it be nice if you could actually keep him around for more than 20 games plus playoffs?

So maybe Stillman is a decent comp for Tucker, and maybe we can get a nice return on him yet. You'd have to think Tucker would fit on teams like Detroit, Dallas, and Vancouver, teams that need more offensive depth and are hoping for lengthy playoff runs AND have spare cap room for next year. I'm not sure, I haven't really looked into it. But our players aren't as worthless as we might think.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Here With My Two Cents ...

Sorry to be pushing the Standings down the page already, but I really couldn't help give a "rebuttle" to what Dave had said in the the previous post.

Cheering for losses is fucking difficult.

Common sense (brain) says this is what we need, this will help us in the future. It "should" give us stability for years to come. Even if we don't finish 1st and get the best shot at Stamkos, we should still be losing so that we can get a top pick; something we've been desperately lacking for years now.

Emotion (heart) says the complete opposite. The Heart wants the Leafs to win. The Heart is secretly hiding deep down, waiting to jump out and cheer the Leafs on to another 9th place finish. I'll be damned if it isn't doing it again this year.

How Dave was feeling during that Detroit game ... exactly how I felt too. Before the game I tell everyone how we need to lose, and that because we are playing a top flight team we WILL lose. Moments later the game starts and I find myself rooting for the Leafs to win ... and I feel dirty.

I know what's best for the franchise (and so do you) but does that stop us from cheering these god-forsaken pieces of shit on to victory? Of course it doesn't. Why? Because we're fans ... and true fans never give up, regardless of how dire the situation is. Out front we may suggest that we want the Leafs to lose, but deep down we want them to win, we want them to make the playoffs.

It's like watching TV, finding nothing, and finally settling on a movie that you've seen hundreds of times. For some reason you watch it anyway. You still get excited, you still yell for your favourite character to escape the situation ... even though all along you know what will happen. All that yelling and excitement didn't change anything did it?

Nope the character made an honourable effort, but still fell short of 8th in the East by a single point. You sit there feeling cheated, wondering whether that mad dash to the finish was worth it. You look back on the wins that slipped away, if only something would have changed along the way to gain that final point.

Now you look forward to next year, disheartened, lonely, and upset. Upset that management cheated you yet again. They didn't trade away Sundin. They didn't dump terrible contracts to someone willing to accept them. No, they, like you, saw the light in those meager wins in February, and decided that - just maybe - this team could do it. Just maybe they could make the playoffs, you know, where anything could happen.

But they never do. And year after year you're sitting right where you are now. "Cheering" for loses because that will signal a change, a rebuild. But secretly we all want wins, and the excitement of that race for 8th.

We are Leafs fans. Disappointment is what we are made of. Why would we settle for anything less?

Stamkos Standings, Feb. 11

1.  LAK 58 GP, 24 W, 49 PTS, -25 DIFF
2.  TBL 56 GP, 23 W, 52 PTS, -24 DIFF
3.  CHI 55 GP, 24 W, 54 PTS, -10 DIFF
4.  TOR 57 GP, 23 W, 55 PTS, -27 DIFF
5.  EDM 57 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -19 DIFF

6.  NYI 56 GP, 24 W, 55 PTS, -30 DIFF
7.  STL 54 GP, 24 W, 56 PTS, -19 DIFF
8.  FLA 58 GP, 26 W, 57 PTS, -8 DIFF
9.  ATL 58 GP, 27 W, 58 PTS, -29 DIFF
10. CAR 58 GP, 27 W, 58 PTS, -17 DIFF
11. PHO 56 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, -3 DIFF
12. BUF 55 GP, 26 W, 60 PTS, +9 DIFF
13. CLB 58 GP, 26 W, 61 PTS, -7 DIFF
14. VAN 57 GP, 28 W, 63 PTS, +7 DIFF

New, fun twist: the teams who have a shot at the number one pick are now in BOLD~!


The only addition tonight is Carolina, because Washington won to take over the division lead again. Those silly SouthLeasterners. That would also subtract Washington from the list, logically.

Steve wondered why I hadn't included Vancouver originally: they were playing above .550. Now they are below again. Out of the playoffs + sub-.550 = on the list.

I realized a significant flaw in the "for the love of all that is holy, lose every damn game" plan while watching Toronto play Detroit on Saturday. I don't actually WANT to see Detroit beat Toronto. I want the end result of a Toronto loss, a Tucker trade, a Maurice firing, a Stamkos pick, but when I actually try to watch it happen... something inside of me clicks off the logical part of the brain. I cheered for the overtime winner, before saying "FUCK" real loud.

I bring this up because I know I'm not the only one who thinks these things. I'm not the only one who looks at the standings and thinks "well... at least if they start their run now, they might actually make the playoffs...", dejectedly as it may be. And don't get me wrong - I don't want them to go on that run. The only run I want is a run of high profile losses that will bring change. But then, I was bitching to people about how McCabe needed to be traded and the team needed to tank in 2006 before getting sucked up in the rush for the playoffs at the end. I pulled the same thing in 2007, demanding a Tucker trade, a new GM, a way for McCabe to get off the team, and a top draft pick. I didn't get any of those. What I got was a run at the playoffs that had me on the edge of my seat every game.

We missed by one point. Again.

So once again, the logical thing to do is throw a bundle of money in a barn somewhere, lure the deadweight (be it skill-wise or contract-wise) into said barn, and set the thing on fire. That's the logical thing. But as we all know, this is the Toronto Maple Leafs we're dealing with, not a logical organization. As Jason commented yesterday, it will take a few more wins before the higher-ups realize that there is still a chance to make the playoffs, however disastrous that would be for the franchise, and push Fletcher to trade for a Marian Hossa instead of trade away a Mats Sundin. Someone is going to look at this team, see that right now they are six points out of a share for eighth with 25 games left, and decide that things should be dealt with one game at a time.

All year I've been saying to anyone that will listen that this team sucks ass but will find a way to end up ninth or tenth. It looks like that might very well happen.

The morale of this story, in two forms:

1) It is very important that Fletcher dumps someone THIS week. Preferably before the next game. I know it won't happen, but make the statement that you are going forward for the future. I could live with making a run at the playoffs if we still dump who needs to be dumped and don't sacrifice the few kids we have. But really, John Ferguson didn't get fired so that the Leafs could make the playoffs in 2008. So let's get something done sooner than later before the tone around here changes, shall we?

2) The tone will almost definitely change soon. I can't help myself. They're going to make a run this month. I pray to God they don't. I pray that they keep up this "kill good teams but fold against bad teams" gimmick they've been working, given that we draw Ottawa once more and no one else in a top seven seed at the moment all month, and we end up with an abysmal record and four or more trades come the deadline. But fuck, honestly: three wins in their last four, all above three of the best teams in the league, 5-4-1 in the last ten, and two of their better players just game back. The momentum is swinging. This is going to be a bad month for the long-term future of this organization. I hope I will be wrong, but I doubt it.

So I'm just giving everyone a warning that if I start openly rooting for the Leafs to make the playoffs... don't be surprised.

(P.S. at least we didn't lose much ground in the Stamkos slide this weekend)

(P.P.S. fuck Chicago for not being able to close the deal, seal up that second point, and let us have third place back)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Stamkos Standings

What are the Leafs doing? Winners of their last 2, and 3 of 4 ... this is not helping out in the Standings, especially when teams ahead of us are losing. Stupid Leafs beating stupid Detroit ... hopefully Sundin accidentally got on the Wings team bus at the end of the game and is on his way back to Detroit right now (of course we'll want something in return once we realize he's gone). That'll slow the winning streak down.

Anyway here are the updated Standings to include all of Saturday's action.

1. LAK 57 GP, 23 W, 49 PTS, -26 DIFF
2. TBL 56 GP, 23 W, 52 PTS, -24 DIFF
3. CHI 54 GP, 24 W, 53 PTS, -9 DIFF
4. TOR 57 GP, 23 W, 55 PTS, -27 DIFF
5. EDM 57 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -19 DIFF
6. NYI 56 GP, 24 W, 55 PTS, -30 DIFF
7. STL 53 GP, 24 W, 55 PTS, -17 DIFF
8. FLA 57 GP, 26 W, 57 PTS, -6 DIFF
9. WAS 56 GP, 26 W, 57 PTS, -13 DIFF
10. ATL 58 GP, 27 W, 58 PTS, -29 DIFF
11. BUF 54 GP, 25 W, 58 PTS, +7 DIFF
12. CLB 57 GP, 26 W, 60 PTS, -6 DIFF
13. PHO 55 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, 0 DIFF
14. VAN 56 GP, 27 W, 61 PTS, +6 DIFF

The 3-2 OT win this afternoon certainly did not help the Leafs chances very much. We now find ourselves in the middle of a very crowded 55 point pack. With another win, we could find ourselves vaulting all the way down to 9th (I'm not sure you can "vault" down, but whatever). Not to mention, the current leaders (the Kings) lost to the Penguins 4-2, and the Lightning got a pity point (for losing in OT to ATL). Chicago, the other team ahead of us, was inactive today.

This is not what the Leafs need to be doing right now ... no, no, no!

Stamkos Standings

Oh dear Dave, won't you just be shocked to come home and find out that your brainchild has been updated even without you? Why am I doing this you ask? Well it's quite simple actually; 1) Dave has been coming up with a lot of good ideas lately (the Game Day previews, now this) and we struggle to commit to them. 2) With real commitment, and consistant posts, I think we could pull off quite an excellent blog. 3) I'm pretty bored and I've had enough of my history for the evening.

So enough of my ramblings, here's what you really want ...

1. LAK 56 GP, 23 W, 49 PTS, -24 DIFF
2. TBL 55 GP, 23 W, 51 PTS, -23 DIFF
3. TOR 56 GP, 22 W, 53 PTS, -28 DIFF
4. CHI 54 GP, 24 W, 53 PTS, -9 DIFF
5. NYI 55 GP, 24 W, 54 PTS, -29 DIFF
6. EDM 56 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -16 DIFF
7. FLA 56 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -9 DIFF
8. STL 52 GP, 24 W, 55 PTS, -14 DIFF
9. ATL 57 GP, 26 W, 56 PTS, -30 DIFF
10. WAS 56 GP, 26 W, 57 PTS, -13 DIFF
11. BUF 54 GP, 25 W, 58 PTS, +7 DIFF
12. CLB 57 GP, 26 W, 60 PTS, -6 DIFF
13. PHO 55 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, 0 DIFF
14. VAN 55 GP, 27 W, 61 PTS, +10 DIFF

These standings have been updated to include Friday Nights action which worked out fairly well. CLB lost in OT, BOS beat BUF in a shootout, and CAR leap frogged WAS. The only other game was Ducks win over the Devils but doesn't have any bearing on our standings.

New Additions

Canucks - Not sure why Dave didn't include them in the first place (seeing as though Phoenix made the cut), but there they are at the bottom of our standings. I chose to include them because it puts all 14 teams who are currently out of the playoffs on the board.

Capitals - Having lost the Atlantic Division lead by losing to Carolina on Friday the Capitals make their first apperance on our board. They're only out a point though so don't be surprised to see them jumping in and out over the next little while.


Hurricanes - With their win they moved out of 10th and off our board.

24 of the 30 teams are in action tomorrow, so it should be a busy day in the Stamkos Standings, we'll let you know how things shape up (hopefully).

#57 - vs Detroit (3:00pm start time)

I have to be honest, I really don't know what I'm doing. But Dave asked me to do this because he won't be around a computer this weekend. I'll do my best.

The Wings have been unstoppable this season (minus Thursday's loss to the Kings). I mean year in and year out they are always one of the better teams in the league, but did everyone else just get really shitty, or did Detroit get even better? They are 15 points clear of ANYONE else in the ENTIRE NHL. They're 24 up on Nashville for their division. They could pack it in now, and still win the conference. Hopefully for us Leafs fans they don't give up (I'm on the "cheering for loses because loses are good" side of the fence too).

The Leafs are coming off a very spirited win against the Canadiens Thursday. It was a pretty physical game that turned out to be quite entertaining (I actually watched the whole game). Unfortunately the Leafs were on the winning end of a 4-2 score. I thought the Earl - Sundin - Tlusty line looked fantastic. If I could come up with just one reason to keep Sundin it would be so he could center a line with these two youngsters for the rest of the season. Sundin has got to have a positive impact on their development, no?

The NHL has screwed with the time though (assumingly to accomodate the battle atop the Northeast), so if you're planning to watch the game, notice the 3:00pm start time.

(PS. If Dave is going to overlabel, I will try to underlabel).

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'm back...


So I'm going to start making posts on here again. I will start by posting one of my favourite hockey images...

The Slide for Stamkos

Just so we're all clear, the goal from here on out is for Toronto to end up in the bottom five of the NHL, with the lower we finish, the better. The idea is to beat the draft lottery, land the number one pick, and draft Steven Stamkos. What we're going to do here every day from now on (or pretty much every day, hopefully) is update these 'reverse standings'. These will be standings that, instead of sorting from most points on down (with the first team on the list being the best in the league/conference/division), it will have fewest points at the top of the list. That's because you WANT to finish last. Because this is the first post in this (again, hopefully) daily series, I'll lay down the ground rules and some other important information.

1) How does the lottery work?

The lottery contains all of our hopes and dreams. Designed to prevent teams from tanking (losing intentionally) a season in order to grab the top pick, the lottery takes the fourteen teams that miss the playoffs and give them weighted odds to win. If you win the lottery, you can move up a maximum of four places. This is important because it means that only the teams ranked 26-30 in the league (or, in our Stamkos standings, 1-5) actually have a chance at getting the top pick. Finishing last gives you the best chance of getting the number one selection in the entry draft. Here are the actual odds:

30th: 25.0% 
29th: 18.8% 
28th: 14.2% 
27th: 10.7%
26th: 8.1%
25th: 6.2% 
24th: 4.7% 
23rd: 3.6% 
22nd: 2.7% 
21st: 2.1% 
20th: 1.5%
19th: 1.1% 
18th: 0.8% 
17th: 0.5%

But, as I mentioned, only the 26th-30th teams can actually get the top pick. If 17th-25th win the lottery, they'll move up four spots, but the 30th team will still get the number one pick. The most recent example I can think of this, off-hand, was in 1999, when the Chicago Blackhawks, the 23rd finishing team, won and moved from 8th to 4th with their draft pick. Last-place Tampa Bay kept the first pick. This ended up meaning pretty much nothing, since Vancouver grabbed Chicago's pick, Tampa traded down to fourth and then traded that pick to the Rangers, and Atlanta ended up picking Patrik Stefan first overall. Therein lies a good example of risk: just because you do pick first doesn't guarantee you a real difference making player. Of those bottom four picks, Stefan went first, Vancouver took the Sedins second and third, and then the Rangers took Pavel Brendl fourth. The Sedins have turned out nicely, but the other two pretty much sum up the '99 draft: it sucked.

That was a pretty odd tangent to go off on, and I can't think of a way to segue from that into re-listing the odds for who actually ends up with the top pick, so let's just post them anyway:

30th: 48.2% 
29th: 18.8% 
28th: 14.2% 
27th: 10.7% 
26th: 8.1%

This shows that while it's important to finish in the bottom five to get yourself a shot at the top pick, it's way more important to finish in dead last to give yourself the BEST shot at getting that pick. Have teams finished 26th, won the lottery, and picked first? Yes they have. Chicago actually pulled this off last year, moving from 5th to 1st and taking Patrick Kane. The Islanders did this in 2000 as well, ending up with the top pick, which they turned into Rick DiPietro. Still, the odds aren't in your favour. That's why every loss counts.

2) Reverse standings? Stamkos standings? What the hell are you going on about?

This is really simple. All we're doing is taking the overall NHL standings and flipping them upside down. We're simplifying them to only show pertinent information. Example: TSN's standings show home record, away record, conference record, last ten game record, present winning/losing streak, regulation losses, overtime/shootout losses, and goals for and against. With the Stamkos standings, only Goals For and Goals Against from that list are kept, although it's combined into one number, goal differential. It's the same concept as a regular set of standings, except that we're rewarding whoever is the worst team (the reward is the best chance to get Stamkos, hence the name of the standings... I really feel like I'm repeating myself here).

3) So, are you listening the entire NHL here every day?

No, definitely not. Are you kidding? Look at how often we post here. That's waaaaay too much work for us. No, there are certain qualifications to get on this list. It isn't a fixed number of teams or anything, and you can be on it one day and off the next, or vice versa. Here is how you qualify:

a) Do not presently occupy a playoff spot (this mostly goes for the Southeast leader, presently Washington, who are like six points ahead of Tampa Bay for last in the East). If you are in the top 8 in your conference, you don't make the list. I'd say sorry, but you're in the playoff hunt, and I'm a Leafs fan, so fuck you.

b) Have a winning percentage of less than .550. Why .550? Well, we're all familiar with the .500 standard, right? With all of the loser points being thrown around post-lockout, 95 point teams (Colorado last year) not making the playoffs, and Toronto actually only being three games below .500 this year despite the fact that they are awful and should be shot into the sun, .500 isn't a good standard anymore. .550 is the new one. Why .550? It's a pretty good separator between 8th and 9th place at face value, and if you do the math, the NHL is actually playing .5505 hockey this year. I guess we could round that to .551, but not only does it leave for uglier math, but it doesn't stroke my ego in the way that eye-balling .550 does.

4) Does Toronto beating Montreal last night royally fuck us then?

Thankfully no, because Edmonton won the night before, and (somehow) Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, and Chicago all won last night as well. We didn't fall back at all. Plus, Montreal didn't win, which is always good news. That's not to say it's not ALL good news: with another Islanders loss, they're suddenly only one point behind us, a Blues loss puts them closer to Stamkos and farther from the playoffs, and Steve at Hockey Analysis outlines just how badly this month could go for us. But that's ok, because we still have hope. And hope is a good thing.

5) Tiebreakers?

Points is the first tiebreaker, obviously. The less points you have, the higher you are. Beyond points, we're going to rank by games played (because if you have games in hand, it's more likely you'll get points and move ahead), wins (since that's the official first tiebreaker in the NHL at season's end anyway, and if you aren't winning a lot of games, that's good for your Stamkos hopes), and goal differential (again, if you're getting badly outscored, it's more likely you'll lose more games).

I think that about covers it, so let's take a look at the Stamkos standings themselves, posted in what I really hope will end up as a nice little table. It probably won't be. GP = games play, W = wins, PTS = points, DIFF = goal differential.

1. LAK     56 GP, 23 W, 49 PTS, -24 DIFF
2. TBL     55 GP, 23 W, 51 PTS, -23 DIFF
3. TOR    56 GP, 22 W, 53 PTS, -28 DIFF
4. CHI     54 GP, 24 W, 53 PTS, -9 DIFF
5. NYI     55 GP, 24 W, 54 PTS, -29 DIFF
6. EDM    56 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -16 DIFF
7. FLA     56 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -9 DIFF
8. STL     52 GP, 24 W, 55 PTS, -14 DIFF
9. ATL     57 GP, 26 W, 56 PTS, -30 DIFF
10. CAR   56 GP, 26 W, 56 PTS, -13 DIFF
11. BUF    53 GP, 25 W, 57 PTS, +8 DIFF
12. CLB    56 GP, 26 W, 59 PTS, -5 DIFF
13. PHO   55 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, 0 DIFF

And there you have it. I'm out for the weekend, so I guess the next possible update for this will be Monday. Christ, day one and we're already not doing it every day. We suck.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

#56 - at Montreal

Yeah, so I did decide to do game day topics from now on. Neat, huh?

Tonight we are in Montreal to battle the hated Canadiens. But, of course, we want Montreal to win. Why? Two reasons:

1) If Montreal wins AND Ottawa loses, Montreal will pass Ottawa for first in the division and conference. Which is awesome, because while we should all hate Montreal, fuck Ottawa.

2) If we lose, combined with Edmonton's win yesterday, we keep pace in the race for the number one pick, namely: Steven Stamkos. I say keep pace because the two teams that are beneath us in the standings are Los Angeles, who plays Detroit tonight, and Tampa Bay, who play Nashville. A loss is always helpful these days, but especially tonight, when there is no chance Detroit takes a loss, and Nashville will probably win, too.

Toskala gets the start (why? Is Maurice not with the program? Does he not read the blogosphere? No? Oh...) and McCabe might be back, replacing Wozniewski in the lineup. This somehow doesn't scream loss to me. Oh well, here's hoping.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Brett McLean Five-Point Special

You know, I considered watching the game last night. I've been itching for some hockey lately, I've liked watching the Panthers since the Pavel Bure trade, Toronto was coming off of a big win in a season where there haven't been many. Was I naive enough to think that doubling up Ottawa was going to kick the Maple Leafs into a playoff push? Of course not, but I thought that maybe they'd be up for playing a good hockey game.

I was wrong.

Thankfully, much like the night before when I had the option of watching The Baby-Sitters Club on television but decided to stay in bed, I passed. Judging by the 8-0 score, the hat-trick (and assist) from Richard Zednik and a five point night from Brett "What the FUCK?!" McLean, and Andrew Raycroft's magnificent 4 GA/7 SV/31 MIN stat-line... I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

There's not many positive things you can say about this team these days. Actually, I've narrowed it down to two:

1) Andy Wozniewski was waived today. Yeah, you can look at this as a "Bryan McCabe is finally back" moment, or you can look at it as "Wozniewski is finally off the damn team". I'm going with the second one. It's cloudy outside, but I could have sworn I could see sun when I read about this.

2) The real big wins for this team are the big losses. In which case, HELL FUCKING YEAH WHAT A GAME

Really, since Tampa and LA won (not to mention Edmonton the night before), and since we were somehow closing in on the Panthers, this just helps solidify a top pick in the draft. While I haven't lost my faith that this team to completely fuck this up and end up in 9th place yet again, every loss brings us closer to that not happening.


Steve and I have discussed what we think Fletcher needs to do in the next 20 days to right this ship, or at least cover the sinkholes and give the next guy buckets to bail the water out. Steve is very much a "trade Sundin" guy, believing the first priority should be to dump Mats to the highest bidder. I don't think this is necessarily an anti-Sundin sentiment. I know that Steve thinks the key is to get rid of Sundin so that those who are left behind are so demoralized that they only play worse, securing a higher draft pick. I suppose there's merit to that idea, except that I really don't think this team can get much worse. This is probably easy to write after last night's game, but they already play like shit with Sundin in the lineup. This just isn't a good team.

Me? Well, my stance was defined a couple of posts ago. That said, I'm more open to a Sundin deal now, and have singled out a couple of teams I wouldn't mind doing business with. The problem there is that I've been watching Mats toil for the blue and white for as long as I've been a hockey fan, and while I've never really considered myself a huge Mats guy (I've always liked him and thought he was one of the best players in the league, but it's not like I'm naming my hockey blog after him or anything), the thought of him in a different lineup makes me rather sad. So, I tend to want a lot for him, the kind of return that probably will have people laugh and think of me as a traditional message board Leafs fan who ridiculously overvalues Toronto players. Whatever. Here's what I've looked at around the league and decided I would be content with as a return on Sundin:

From Anaheim: Bobby Ryan and the Oilers' first pick (basically two top five picks in return for giving Mats his best shot at a Cup and probably a mortal lock that he'd come back in July).

From Carolina: Tim Gleason and two of Andrew Ladd, Brandon Sutter, and Carolina's first pick this year (probably a lot and this depends on the Hurricanes sticking around the playoff hunt and Rutherford not really thinking things through, but I like Gleason and think he'd be a good fit with the direction the blueline should be headed, plus you get a player, prospect, and a pick in the teens, or at least some combination of those three).

From Calgary: Alex Tanguay (yeah, I'd do this straight-up... doing this trade helps Calgary because it clears money off the books for next season, allowing them to try to keep Huselius/Langkow since you know Sundin wouldn't stay, it gives Sundin a decent shot at winning the Cup, and the public sentiment seems to have turned against Tanguay in Calgary. Here, it gives us a great, top-flight forward locked up - yeah, he's another big ticket guy, but Tanguay is the type you WANT to be dropping 5.75 million on. Plus, you get Sundin back next year, and you have two-thirds of a great top line already).

Of course, none of these are realistic and it's probably more likely we'll get an abortion of a return like the one suggested by Pierre LeBrun last week (Sundin and a one year extension to Detroit for Hudler, an '08 first, and an '09 second... the picks are worthless because Detroit always finishes so high, and I don't think Hudler is ever going to be anything special) and that I will be angry.

Anyway, I still don't think you need to trade Sundin, and I've started to sway myself on not dumping Pavel Kubina for whatever you can find. When Steve and I were discussing this, he asked me that if I can put together such a good argument for how he's valuable, then why not just keep him? And I really didn't have a good answer to that. I'd still move him if you can get something back, because he does have a large contract, but it's only for another two seasons and I'm no longer opposed to keeping him. A similar thing is happening with me and Jason Blake. His contract is horrible, but a 20 goal, 50 point guy has some value to a team, and that's assuming he doesn't rebound slightly. Past that, what are the options? Again, if you can find someone to take him, do it, but why buy him out and eat a 2 million cap hit for the next EIGHT years? $4 million sadly isn't bad for a top six guy and Blake is one of those. He just needs to be better for next year. But I mean, it could be worse... he could be Dustin Penner.

McCabe, Tucker, and Raycroft NEED to be off this team by next season. I think Gill will get moved at the deadline, and Bell will probably get bought out. I think Tucker would work well in Edmonton's lineup, but a) why would they try to add a veteran at the deadline? and b) why would Tucker waive his no-trade clause to go to another rebuilding team? Maybe it's just my unbridled desire to get Rob Schremp that's giving me these thoughts.

I think we might start doing regular game-day topics around here like you see on a real hockey blog. Who knows?

Oh and Steve, no, I am not going to stop ridiculously over-labelling my posts.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Long Awaited, Long Overdue, Long Deserved, Celebratory, Ritualistic Dance - Post

If by some horrible force of nature you are completely ignorant (or possibly retarded) then the title of this post does not make sense to you. Even those that aren't completely ignorant/retarded probably need an explanation as well though, so don't feel all that out of place dear readers (haha).

This is the long overdue post to celebrate the firing of Mr. John Ferguson Junior. I have been calling for this man's head since Day Two (day one I was still trying to decide what I thought of the guy). I never liked him, and that is no lie. I was willing to give the poor guy a chance though. Unfortunately he turned out to be even worse than I could have ever imagined. He dealt out bonehead after bonehead contract to mediocre players, and crippled a once proud - I can't even type this without laughing - franchise, and then beat it when it was down.

Now to Ferguson's credit, he was never really given a fighting chance. Toronto is the hockey mecca of the world (or at least we in this mecca like to think). It's bad enough that a player's, a coach' s, and management's every move is scrutinized (all the way from the latest performance, to which side of the bed they woke up on this morning). But Ferguson also had to constantly deal with his power and authority being undermined. As Dave mentioned below, Richard Peddie, an excellent business man, somehow feels the need to intervene in an area he seems to have little to now knowledge in (that being the sporting operations side of the organization, whether it be formerly with the Raptors, or currently with the Leafs). Peddie certainly did not make the situation any easier or manageable for Fergie. I won't sound off on Peddie any further because Dave has captured my sentiments perfectly, so if you really want to know what I think, read his long ass post below.

Now I acknowledge I hate Ferguson, and I think he was terrible for this franchise, I'm going to take the high road today. I'm sure many individuals have chosen to further bash the man today, scrutinizing everything he has done leading up to this fateful day, but not I. I am here to mention some of the things - albeit few - that JFJ did right in his time in Toronto.

1) Locking up Tomas Kaberle at $4.25 million per season for 5 years (contract ending in 2010/11).
- Kaberle has been arguably our best player over the past few season (yes, yes I'm aware Mats Sundin is STILL a Leaf). Compared to some of the contracts dished out to defenceman over the past few season - primarily our own players - Kaberle looks to be a solid investment at a reasonable price for years to come.

2) Aquiring San Jose's Cheaper Goalie (Vesa Toskala).
- Sure we had to (I assume) take Mark Bell in the deal as well, but we needed an upgrade in net. I liked Raycroft last season (06/07), contrary to most. He set a Leafs record for wins in a season, and in my opinion that was pretty astounding. The problem with Raycroft is that he didn't make the easy saves when he needed to. It seemed he would let in a lot of soft goals which undoubtedly cost us a playoff (when looking at the entire season). Toskala served this purpose. We have him for two seasons at 1.375 million (less than what Razor is making) and then we have him for another two seasons after that at 4 million, which could be getting steep by the end of the contract (09/10) ... but for now, we'll give JFJ the benefit of the doubt and say this was a good move.

3) Trading Tuukka Rask
- Now this is going to be a controversial one but I'm going to try and justify this. Here goes. I'll start by saying the trade was initially good because Razor played a ton of games for us in his first season as a Leaf (I'm too lazy to look up the final total) and that was exactly what we needed after putting up with Belfour and his back for a few seasons. With a better defence and greater confidence this former rookie of the year could have excelled here.

But more importantly than that we freed up room for Justin Pogge. I don't know, and only time will tell which goalie is better (Rask or Pogge), but one of them had to be moved. JFJ decided that Rask was the one to be moved. In the long run it may backfire, but for now I'll say it was good because it gave them a full time job and time to develop - even if it meant one wasn't going to be a Leaf. Also it filled a need for a starting goalie ... unless you wanted to bring back "EDDIE" "EDDIE" "EDDIE".

4) Signing Hal Gill
- I don't really like the guy, but he's played pretty solid in his year and a half in the blue and white, and at just over 2 mil a season he doesn't have the albotross of a contract that McCabe and Kubina both have, making him a very valuable piece of this franchise. It's a good signing because it worked out, and gives us a fairly moveable defenceman that we may be able to get an overpaid return on ... I can hope.

5) Keeping Chad Kilger
- Every team should have a Chad Kilger. I think he's a hard worker, that appears to be a good locker room guy. At 1.2 mil this season, and 800,000 and 700,000 the next two seasons, he should be kept around.

6) Signing Boyd Deveraux
- Another guy like Kilger, and that seems to be the Leafs problem ... all our players are in this mold, except some are being paid way too much money. Assuming we had some talented players on the top 3 lines, I'd have no problem putting out a 4th line where 2 of the 3 guys were Deveraux and Kilger.

So JFJ, I have chirped you all these years, and now finally I am giving you some credit. I suppose it's a little too late now that you are at the ACC cleaning out your desk, but find solace in the fact that there is one individual offering you praise for your time here in Toronto.

But please, excuse me, I'm off to do my ritualistic celebration of your firing dance around a fire I current have lit on my living room floor. The face paints are all laid out nicely, and I will soon be dancing to "Apache jump on it, jump on it, jump on it".

Here's to hoping Cliff Fletcher can save this miserable franchise (at least in terms of on ice performance, everyone knows they're still a cash cow) ...

So much for that

See what I mean by things changing momentarily?

I guess this means we can retire the 'Fire JFJ' tag.

Dave being Dave

Come on, we should all know by now that whenever I say 'I'll finish this later', I don't mean 'later in the day', I mean 'next week', or (more likely) 'not at all'.

Last time, I looked at the problem this team has in a very general sense. You know, the players aren't good enough to win more than they lose regularly in the National Hockey League, the front office is filled with people who probably shouldn't have the jobs they do, and the people who run the team from the board room are a meddling group of incompetents on a good day. Everyone knows the problems with the Toronto Maple Leafs. If you couldn't figure it out just from watching the past few years, you've surely figured it out by the non-stop media bombardment over the past month or so. The Leafs are a mess, people, we all know it, let's go a little deeper today, shall we? I want to look at what this franchise needs to do to get back on track - from a hockey perspective, obviously, as everyone with money invested in the organization is sitting pretty.

The first step, I think, is pretty obvious. Richard Peddie needs to be removed from the hockey operations side of the company. He's done a wonderful job of making money for MLSE. That's great. I'm happy for him and them, I truly am. More power to Peddie for doing... well, whatever it is that he does that makes them so much money. Good for Richard Peddie.

But that doesn't qualify him to be making decisions about the day-to-day hockey operations. It doesn't qualify him to be anywhere NEAR that department. And yet, there he sits, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. So the first thing that needs to be done is move him out of the job.

(I'm not going to suggest that Peddie be outright fired - are you kidding? From 1998 to 2003, when Steve Stavro sold off and Peddie got involved in the hockey operations, he did nothing but make fistfuls of money for MLSE. He's not making them lose anything now. He won't get fired, and doesn't deserve to. But they should move him back to his old job so he can make them money while not hampering the hockey team.)

Many people, apparently including myself, looked at the chain of events that happened with the Raptors as a good model to take. Peddie hired someone as GM of the Raptors, it didn't work out, so he snaked a proven, young executive to be the new GM. Most importantly, he gave Bryan Colangelo the unilateral power to reshape the team however he saw fit. Colangelo was hired in February of 2006. The Toronto Raptors made the playoffs in 2007. This is the model the Maple Leafs need to adopt.

But if Peddie does not step aside, back to the money-making shadows of the board room, and give control of the actual hockey team to the new people in charge of building it, nothing is going to change, and nothing will matter. As long as Peddie remains president of the hockey team, the team will spin its tires. Period.


Next step is removing John Ferguson, Jr., from the position of general manager. Now, I like Ferguson. I like that we hired a young guy (he was 36 when hired, and is still only 40), and I feel really bad for the situation he was thrown into. Let's be honest with ourselves - Ferguson was never going to succeed regardless of how good he was at the job. And, again, being honest with ourselves - he didn't do a very good job. Is he capable of doing better? I'd think he'd have to be. Does he deserve a shot somewhere else? Maybe. Does he need to go now? Absolutely.

Again, this is someone I don't know if I'd fire outright. It's not like he made the Owen Nolan trade or anything. All kidding aside, can't we give him a scouting job or something? He's a young guy who was handcuffed by the situation he was given. He's worked as a professional scout before, re-assign him to that department. Just keep him away from contracts.

At this point, we've removed the president (Peddie) and the GM (Ferguson Jr.), which brings us to the next guy on the blame train: Paul Maurice.

I personally believe Maurice is the right man for this job. I enjoy his personality, I believe in his style, and I think the blame should fall to the inferior player personnel, not the coach.

That said, I give him one more year. Ideally, the roster is so dramatically reshaped next year that you're able to get a real sense of what he can do with this team. If the results aren't strongly positive, go back to the well. I'm not saying "get us to the playoffs next season or you're gone", but he has to prove that he can steer this ship back to respectability. I keep him on, but with the understanding that he's out of a job if things don't change.

More or less, that takes care of the office jobs that are already filled. I'm still on a very light hockey diet these days - I read a ton, but I don't watch all that much or follow the inner workings of the organization closely, so I'm not the guy to tell you that, say, the head European scout isn't doing his job. Now we need to look towards filling them.

One of the fun parts about this entire mess (assuming you're neither Maurice nor Ferguson, that is...) is that things are changing more or less by the hour. I was fully PLANNING to this post last week the day after I wrote the last one, but then it took a big part of the day to get caught up on what I missed while I was sleeping, and then by the time I was caught up, I had a host of new things to read. And by the point that the day's news had finally slowed, we were all expecting Cliff Fletcher to come back and blow the team up. The tone of my post would have changed, since I was planning on saying something like "I have absolutely no fucking idea who we hire right here and now", so I decided to wait things out. And I waited, and waited, and we still don't have Fletcher making his triumphant, Rock-esque return speech, and here we are a week later. But I digress.

The point of that was to segue to my suggestion for the GM spot: hire Cliff Fletcher. I know, ground-breaking and all, given that the entire mainstream media and blogosphere has been buzzing about this for a week. But still, I'm sticking with it.

I like the idea, a lot. The only condition is that it has to be understood that it's an interim position. We all love Fletcher, but he hasn't executed a successful, long-term plan on a hockey team since he worked for the Calgary Flames. And he left them in 1991.

However, we're looking for a short-term thing at the moment. Specifically, I want Fletcher to come in, cut the fat, stock the cupboards, and position the team to be young and competitive in the coming seasons. His track record (joined the Maple Leafs in 1991, traded five players to Calgary for five better players - including Doug Gilmour - the next season, had the team in the playoffs the season after that; joined the Coyotes in 2001, had the team in the playoffs by the next season when he was kicked upstairs so that Michael Barnett could destroy the team; and I thought he did more with Tampa but Wikipedia has nothing and I can't be bothered to look elsewhere) suggests he can do that. Really, what is he being asked to do? Fill the job until someone with a long-term vision can come in. Until then, clear out as much dead cap space as you can, get whatever young players, draft picks, and general assets as you can, leave the new guy with cap room and young talent to work with, and then sit back in a nice, comfy advisor's job. In the process, you're throwing the fans a bone by bringing back a name from the Passion teams. Why not?

However, I wouldn't expect Fletcher to be calling the shots by the draft, when I'd hope that THE new guy is in charge. So, who is that guy going to be?

Well, I don't have the first fucking clue.

Darren Dreger and other MSM outlets like throwing around names like Ken Holland, Jim Rutherford, and Brian Burke. Holland is the best GM in the league and has some serious tenure with Detroit, as Rutherford does in Carolina. Burke and Rutherford are no slouches, either. How the hell does anyone figure that they're going to bail on their jobs to come and work for this team? ESPECIALLY if Peddie doesn't get out of the way and give them complete control? Don't get me wrong, I'd be utterly ecstatic if MLSE convinces Holland to jump ship, but I'm not counting on it. Most of the other presently employed GMs aren't particularly desirable to me, and the ones that aren't employed, well, aren't employed for a reason. We're not going to be able to go and steal the direct architect of one of the best teams in the league like Peddie was able to do with Colangelo and the Raptors (unless, of course, there's fire to the smoke re: Holland), so I think that means we should look at the best and brightest 'understudy' executives working for other teams who haven't got a shot yet. I'm talking specifically about hiring either Jim Nill from Detroit (he's highly regarded, and if we can't take Holland, why not swipe his assistant?) or Wayne Thomas from San Jose (another well-thought-of guy who's working in a successful organization). My personal pick is Thomas, but I'd be satisfied with either one.

Then you have the president's spot, and I want Scotty Bowman for that - assuming he's still interested, that is. I don't know that he really wants to have the day-to-day grind of the GM job, but hiring him first (and yeah, I wrote it backwards, whatever) and letting him pick his own GM (and if Bowman is doing the hiring, you have to think the chances of it being Holland or Nill increase) and then letting him sit back and get involved when necessary might be tempting. If you can't get Bowman, give Fletcher the president's job when you hire a new GM. Or make the next GM take the president's job, too. I don't know. The goal should be Bowman.

So, if we follow, we're replacing Richard Peddie with Scotty Bowman, John Ferguson, Jr. with Cliff Fletcher and then Wayne Thomas, and giving Paul Maurice one more year. Cool.

Dealing with the mess of the actual team is both way more complicated and way more simple. Get rid of the old guys with big salaries. I'm not one of those message board Leaf fans that dramatically overvalue all of their own players, nor am I expecting significant returns. But, come on. It's trade deadline season. You're seriously going to tell me that in a market with MAYBE five teams committed to selling (Tampa, Los Angeles, Toronto, Edmonton? Buffalo?) and everyone else within striking distance of the playoffs, you're not going to be able to find someone to flip a draft pick or prospect of some sort for some of what needs to be moved? You're going to tell me that Columbus, the last NHL team to have never made the playoffs, sitting on the bubble with ten million in cap space and another ten million coming off the books next year in Sergei Fedorov and Adam Foote's expiring contracts, are going to tell their fans that "sorry, Bryan McCabe doesn't fit in with what we're trying to do here"? A team like Chicago, desperate to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002, isn't going to think long and hard about bringing Hal Gill (who's actually having a pretty good year, oddly enough) on board? Phoenix, in a similar situation as Chicago but a lot more cap space, is going to pass on secondary scoring players in the form of a Jason Blake, Darcy Tucker, or Mark Bell?

Again, I'm not saying get huge returns for them. You can't. McCabe has three years and a 5.75 million cap hit left, Kubina has two years and 5 million per, Tucker has 3/3, Blake has (an absolutely FUCKING insane) 4/4. Bell and Gill each have one more year left at 2.5 and under, so they're actually not entirely that unreasonable, except that Bell pretty much sucks and Gill likely isn't going to play this well anywhere else, ever again. But that isn't the point. Cliff Fletcher does not need to hit a home run with a Pavel Kubina trade, he needs to clear Pavel Kubina's salary off of the books and get him out of here. And, by being aggressive and ruthless and playing on all the factors of a seller's market at this time of the year when teams have cap space and prospects to spare and need to show their fans they're serious... I think at least a few of these guys can be moved.

If I'm running the team, the only three people I DON'T trade are Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle, and Vesa Toskala. I'll look at my evidently contrarian stance on Sundin later in the week, but I think you can build a solid team around those three in the short term. I'm looking to the New York Rangers here. When they blew their team up in 2004, they kept Jaromir Jagr. So I keep Sundin. Trade him if you can get a massive return and you know he's coming back next year, but keep him otherwise. Other than those three, everyone is available.

I think Fletcher, or whoever is hired to stick and light the dynamite, has a few goals in order to get the team ready for next year:

1) Clear out as many of the Tucker/Blake/Kubina/McCabe/Bell/Raycroft sucktet as possible. Bryan McCabe is a very useful player in this league, no question, but at 5.75 million on a team that needs to be blown up, he's worthless. Get what you can for these guys. Don't try to swing for the fences unless you're given your pitch, just try to get on base. Clearing these guys out cleans up a LOT of dead cap space and opens up a lot of roster spots. And all of them are moveable. All of them. But do it in the next month, while teams are making retarded decisions. If you can get someone to give up something of value for Raycroft right now, you're not getting it any other time. Pull the trigger.

2) Trade Hal Gill. He's having a good year, he's got one more year at 2.075 against the cap, he's big and he's a veteran. I would never have predicted it, but Gill is pretty much our best non-Sundin/Kaberle trading piece. You should be able to get something decent here. I mean, realistically, how many teams are going to be dedicated sellers? If we go with the five listed before, what is everyone's options on defense? Rob Blake and Brad Stuart from the Kings, Steve Staios and Dick Tarnstrom from Edmonton, Brian Campbell from Buffalo, and then the Toronto guys. Play the market. Play it hard. Teams like Columbus, St. Louis, Chicago, Phoenix, Florida... they're not going to be able to NOT make moves at the deadline unless they fall way out of the hunt.

3) Get Andy Wozniewski off of the team. He's a UFA at the end of the year. Good. Keep it that way.

4) Explore trading Alexei Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov, and Ian White. Ponikarovsky is the guy I'd most be satisfied with moving, since I think he's pretty much reached his ceiling. While 20 goal, 35 point guys have a place, at his price tag, I'd see what you can get for him. Antropov is finally having the great year he's been teasing since 02/03, and White is a young, puck-moving defenseman. These are players that will help for the future, but if you can get something that will help more, look into it.

5) Stock up on prospects and draft picks. Look, when New York did this in 2004, I remember looking at a lot of the returns they got and thinking "wow, they stacked their cupboards". They didn't. Prospects don't always turn out. Toronto gave up a lot for Brian Leetch - two prospects and a first round pick for Leetch and a swap of mid-round picks - but neither of those players turned out and the pick ended up being flipped to Calgary for another pick - and neither of THOSE two players, Lauri Korpikoski and Kris Chucko, have done anything of note yet. Hell, neither have even played an NHL game. The point is, by getting lots of prospects and picks, you're increasing your odds. Think of it as buying lottery tickets. The more you have, the better shot you have at winning, right? This is the same thing. Get in bulk and hope enough of it turns out so that you break even.

6) Stay away from retarded contracts like those of everyone in point 1.

Now, obviously, there are no guarantees with anything, especially in this business, but I think that if the interim GM can come in and execute these steps, it will clear the slate nicely for the permanent GM. Yeah, it's asking a lot, but what the fuck is the point of doing this if you aren't going to do it right?

This weekend is the All-Star Game, and after thinking about it over the last couple of days, why did any of us really think a big move was coming last week? The ASG provides the perfect opportunity to give everyone a chance to regroup after a big change like this. So I really think that something is coming down the pipe this weekend. I'm guessing Ferguson gets fired and Fletcher is given the interim job. Peddie won't go anywhere, at least not yet, and probably not at all. Why now? This year is a write-off anyway, and Fletcher isn't the guy who's going to get the long-term power. Peddie will step back in the summer, or this team is fucked, period.

Ah, but who are we kidding? This is the Toronto Maple Leafs, people. The three game winning streak we had last week wasn't a fluke, it's how things are going to be for the rest of the season. They're going to pick their game up, McCabe is going to come back, and we'll have another ninth-place, one-point-out finish. Ferguson will keep his job, sign Brendan Morrison to a stupid contract, and trade Jiri Tlusty for Dwayne Roloson. I'll be writing this exact same post next January, just like in March, I'll be writing the exact same "holy shit guys we can make the playoffs for really real" posts I wrote last year.

The sad part is, I actually believe that that is probably what will happen. I mean, this is Toronto. Nothing is ever, EVER, going to change.

That's about it for me. I'll leave with a link to Tom Benjamin's take on the crisis. I need some sleep.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I'm just starting to think that hockey is a really hard sell for me in the late part of the year. Last year I got really into things after the calendar turned, and this year it's the same - otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. Then again, we're under different circumstances this time around, so let's get into that rather than make yet another apology on lacking posts, shall we?

The Toronto Maple Leafs, as presently constructed, are a sham of a hockey team.

There's not much more to say about it than that, really, but why not go into the gory details? The team is completely unwatchable. We went to a bar last week to watch the game against the Kings, and we ended up leaving well early (well, at least I did - Jared stayed to get drunk, I'm sure).

Everything about the team is set-up wrong. The goalie situation has been botched again and again and again, and that's coming from someone who really likes and believes in Toskala. The defense is terrible and has precisely one quality, top-flight player. The offense scores goals, but not enough to make up for all the goals that go in the net, and there are some seriously rotten contracts up front. The players have stopped listening to the coach, the general manager is dangling in the wind, the team president is meddling and in over his head, and the ownership is fractured and apparently unwilling to do anything. At least, unwilling to do anything with any sort of speed.

The Leafs have been bad all year, a culmination of the post-lockout teams being just good enough to almost make the playoffs with a big run at the end to hold off sweeping changes, at least two seasons of short-sighted trades and signings pre-lockout, and a messy ownership situation that has crippled the team ever since Steve Stavro sold off in 2003. That was when most of us first heard of Richard Peddie, the man who became the public face of the team's upper-management and the one who became more hands-on in decisions for both the Leafs and the Raptors. Peddie will probably never lose his job - since he joined the team in 1998, MLSE has tripled in value - but he's proven, both with the Raptors and Maple Leafs, that he shouldn't be involved in the sporting operations of these teams. The Raptors turned their organization around when Peddie hired Bryan Colangelo, gave him full control and stepped back to the board room. Unless the MLSE board and Peddie are prepared to do something similar with the Leafs, nothing is going to change.

Pretty much everyone out there sees this thing coming to a climax by week's end, and I'm in with that group. Apparently, there's a board meeting tomorrow, and I expect they'll make a decision on Ferguson then. That decision, I assume, will be to fire him. That said, I think they won't announce it until later in the week to try to get the interim guy under contract. We'll see.

There are numerous great reads on the internet about the Leafs' situation that have been written in the last couple of days. I've sort of become sidetracked since I started writing and my thoughts aren't as focused, so while I take a little bit to jot down what I think needs to be done, why don't you go ahead and take a look at some takes that are out there?

James Mirtle: Where the Leafs sit, Leafs look to Fletcher

Pierre LeBrun: Career Suicide

Lowetide: He's a Real Nowhere Man

Alec Brownscombe: 'Trader Cliff' Makes Sense

Damien Cox: Leaf directors need to act now

Eric Duhatschek: Scotty Bowman: Mr. Right

Scott Burnside: Leafs' limbo driving team into NHL basement

Jason Voulgaris: A Post For Wonderful Surprises, This Thing I Have Become, I Hear Ottawa Has a Good Team, It's Mess, I Confess

Needless to say, things have gotten bizarre here. The sky is falling and the tornado alarm has been sounded. We've got a crisis on our hands - or at least, that's how it certainly feels. I'll be back with more on this later.