As we get closer the NHL trade deadline I like most Leaf fans out there await the first of what seems to be many moves Cliff Fletcher makes. There has been much talk of potential trades and moves that could be made by Cliff in the days to come, but there is one question that I have and it’s a question that I don’t know if anyone has an answer to. The question is what does Cliff mean when he says that he is going to make moves that are going to leave the new full time GM with a better situation then what Cliff has inherited when he took over. How do you make a situation better for someone when you don’t even know who that someone is? As of today there has been a lot of speculation as to who the new GM may end up being. The names of Brian Burke, Jim Rutherford, Colin Campbell, Ken Holland and others have all been mentioned but there is no definite indication of who it’s going to be and there probably won’t be until the summer or at least until the final game of the Stanley Cup final has been played. It’s my guess that if you were to ask each of the above names what they would do with the current Leafs roster they would all have different answers and different ideas. Each potential GM has there own style and there own ways of putting a team together so how is Cliff setting them up for the future?
Leaving that aside for a moment, what exactly is Cliff going to do? There are many different scenarios that can be played out here but no matter what happens it could get messy. First of all it’s going to be tough to move many of the Leafs for many different reasons. Whether it be long term expensive contracts, little interest around the league or the dreaded no trade clauses that many of the Leafs have included in there deals trader Cliff has a huge challenge ahead of him. In the days of the salary cap it’s not easy to move large contracts and get any real value for them, but the no trade clauses could be what kills not just any chances of players being moved but could cause some ill will amongst the players and the team. What people sometimes seem to forget is that even though they seem larger then life sometimes and make a lot more money then you and I hockey players are people too and yes they do have feelings. Imagine if your boss told you that he/she didn’t want you around anymore and asked you to leave, but because you had a no movement clause you had the ability to stay where you were. Yes you would be able to stay but knowing that your employer doesn’t’ really want you there and has all but paid for your trip out is a little insulting. Mats Sundin and Thomas Kaberle have both stated recently that they are not interested in leaving the team, Brian McCabe basically said the same at the beginning of the year, Darcy Tucker hasn’t said anything publically but he is an emotional guy who probably wouldn’t take all that kindly to being asked to leave. With all that being said it’s going to be very interesting to see who is going to be asked to leave and of those players who will agree to go and for those who don’t how is that going to effect the dressing room for not just the rest of this season but for the remaining years of there contracts.
When JFJ was fired and it was announced that Cliff Fletcher was going to be the interim GM there seemed to be calm amongst a lot of Leafs fans, there was a feeling that everything was going to be okay. But is it? The more I think about, the more I blog about it the more I’m thinking that things very well could get a lot more messy in Leaf nation before they will ever begin to get any better.