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.

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