I'm afraid fans in Toronto are still delusional. They may have opened their eyes after having them closed for so long, but they are still blinded by the sun.
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I cannot see any well respected and established General Manager taking a job with the Leafs. The team is currently coming off of a disaster of a season, with little help coming from within the organization. Top that with an aging superstar captain who may or may not be back next year.
Is creating cap space and buying free agents an option for the Leafs? Any idiot can throw boatloads of money at Vanek, Gomez or Briere. In a cap world with an approximately 50 million dollar ceiling, you have just used up nearly 20% of your payroll on a player. There are not many players who can honestly claim to deserve 20% of their team's payroll, and those three players are not among them. Offering overinflated contracts to free agents (and potential free agents) is one of the things that got them in trouble in the first place.
The secret to success in a cap system is value, and the best way to get the value is homegrown talent. Entry level contracts max out at $850,000 annually for three years. The Leafs, unfortunately, have nothing in the system resembling a young valuable asset. Their considered top prospect, Justin Pogge, can't find playing time in the farm system. It appears the Leafs do not believe he is worth developing.
A General Manger enters this environment knowing it will take YEARS to rebuild this team. What established manager will tarnish his reputation by associating himself with these teams? Will the Toronto fans and media patiently all agree three years from now that progress is being made? Does anybody believe Jiri Tlusty is going to lead this team to the Promised Land?
Enter Andre Savard.
Andre Savard has been in this situation before. In 2000, Andre Savard was asked to clean up the mess that Rejan Houle (Houle the Fool) left behind. The once proud Montreal Canadiens were all but extinct. Savard came in and slowly filled the bare cupboards with prospects. Montreal fans were skeptical but expectations were low. After all, this wasn't exactly Bob Gainey at the reigns of the organization.
Over the next three years, Savard filled the cupboard with prospects Christopher Higgins, Maxim Lapierre, Tomas Plekanec, Mike Komisarek and Ryan O'Byrne.
At this point Savard recognized his limitations as a manager and stepped aside to allow an established Manager to take over. Suddenly, Bob Gainey was interested in the position. While working as an Assistant General Manger under Gainey, the team continued to fill the cupboard with Carey Price, Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn and Guillaume Latendresse.
Now Montreal is an exciting young team with a strong potential to win, and Gainey looks like a genius. But remember, the foundation was already laid for Gainey to come in and have success.
Savard came into a hockey market in complete shambles and laid that foundation for Gainey under the microscope of the Montreal media.
I do not believe that Toronto is ready for Brian Burke or Ken Holland. I believe Toronto needs their Andre Savard to lay the foundation. Is Dave Nonis your Andre Savard? Has Nonis left Vancouver with a cupboard full of prospects?
Sadly, Leaf fans, despite your pessimistic outlook on the current state of affairs, the team is actually farther away from success then you might care to imagine.
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