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January 22, 2008 - Cliff Fletcher re-hired as Leafs Interim GM...as stated by the silver fox himself, Cliff was to take a couple of weeks to evaluate the roster and it was widely speculated in the media and online that he was brought in with a mandate to clear cap space, re-make the roster and put the team on a path to re-building similar to the Flyers model of this past off-season.

Fast forward to February 21 - as close to a month later as you can get - and what has happened? Well, the Leafs are no closer to the playoffs, in fact you can all but mathematically eliminate them from the post season - and all the deals completed by trader Cliff amount to a big fat zero.

So what can we assume from this?

A) There are no tradeable commodities on this team.
B) This re-building process can't commence until the last of JFJ's immoveable no-trade clause, long-term contracts expire.
C) MLSE huffed and puffed (or mouthed along) about the willingness to re-build but had absolutely no intention of actually doing so.

I think probably a combo of all three, but look a little closer at C. Anyone else notice the camera shots were a little tighter on the ice Tuesday night and not showing so much of the ritzy platinums at the ACC. Heck, the broadcast even seemed a little darker...well, behind all that smoke and mirrors you couldn't help but notice the abundance of empty seats. I'm sure no one on the board missed that...the only thing they have missed is the boat in regards to this hockey operation.

Coincidence? It has to be noted that the tone in Toronto regarding the Leafs is very apathetic...no one expects much and everyone believes that finishing as poorly as they can is the way to go. Why pay $300 a seat to watch a crappy team that will no doubt miss the playoffs?

One month later and nothing. No trades, no re-org of the hockey department, no anything tangible to say that all of that circus media conference about change will amount to anything. No word from Richard Peddie about re-building, Larry Tannenbaum, nobody; nothing. Next Tuesday is rapidly approaching, and beyond the Sundin rumblings I can't see ANYTHING happening to improve this team and move toward a re-build rapidly.

Strange coincidence that all is quiet on the Western front or does the abundance of empty dark grey seats have something to do with this lack of movement? Couple more days left until we figure that out, but if I were a betting man, the prospect of more empty seats has won out over a silver jug yet again in Leafland.

"The mediocrity that unites us all" continues...
Filed Under:   Leafs  
February 21, 2008 11:33 PM ET | Delete
YOu need to remember one thing, those seats are already paid for, whether or not someone is in them doesnt matter as MLSE already has the money.
February 22, 2008 7:24 AM ET | Delete
I'll agree that the seats are paid for, however they are usually perks or gifts to clients/employees which would translate to potential residual sales in merchandise and concessions.Bear in mind also, Columbus is not a team that would've been in 'demand' for tickets either by most.
February 22, 2008 10:36 AM ET | Delete
Thanks for the comments - admittedly they are paid for seats (and I was basing that observation from before last nights game) but the optics of Toronto as hockey-mad is taking a hit and should be an embarassment for MLSE.
February 23, 2008 7:48 AM ET | Delete
I read somewhere that the only thing worse than a empty seat is a SOLD empty seat. Although I think the Leaf's are far from being in trouble at the gate I'm hoping this will mean they will commit to the rebuild, it was quick fixes and a lack of scouting/drafting that got them in this position.
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