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) ...

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