In arguably the most important off-season that Toronto will see in the 'rebuilding years' to follow, Fletcher has stepped up and pressed the 'purge-system' button.
Fletcher has served notice that Darcy Tucker will be bought out, and has placed Andrew Raycroft on waivers along with teammate Kyle Wellwood and with Sundin's negotiating rights being bantered about, it is obvious that Fletcher is holding true to his sentiments and his word in that Toronto will be a different team when it hits the ice for the 08-09 NHL campaign.
Darcy Tucker, often a fan favourite, which many Leafs fans tend to forget (remember him in the early 2000's with Gary Roberts and Shane Corson?), will undoubtedly continue his career outside of Toronto and I wish him good look down the road and hope he can stay healthy and be a steady contributer on a contending team. That being said, it is sad to think that Darcy didn't suck it up and waive his no-trade clause this off-season. In no way am I saying that he had to, or that he was wrong not to, but I just think that in this aspect, to help the team he clearly held so dear, it would have been a classy move on his part to help get them some sort of return for their rebuilding process.
Andrew Raycroft, I am sure, will receive plenty of 'Thank you' notes by supporters of his departure. I am on a different page here. I say, why not keep him in the minors? He can surely suffice as a back-up goaltender and provide future starter Justin Pogge with some form of competition for the starting role, and if not, then at the very least give Pogge the confidence to know he has the role locked up. And who out there can guarantee that he cannot return to the form he displayed in his Calder trophy year. It would be a terrifying day for Leafs fans if say he ended up in Phoenix or Florida or Los Angeles and would up facing off versus Tuuka Rask in the finals or something. That may be a little far fetched or, for that matter, very far fetched, but I am just saying what is the harm in keeping him around.
The same can basically be said of Kyle Wellwood. I am almost certain he will not clear waivers unless 29 other General Managers were out on post-draft drinking binges and didn't get the memo that Wellwood is available for free. I cannot see his value being so low around the league that there isn't a team in the league that wouldn't take the minimal risk it will be to take a shot at him. Yes, granted he has been injury prone, but 2 years ago he was almost a point a game player. He has always displayed some offensive flare, whether he is finishing or not, provided he is healthy. What I don't understand is how he wasn't worth a contract of 1.5 million for 1 or 2 years just to see if he can turn it around during this rebuilding phase. I know I am not the only one confused by this, so I guess that is enough said on that.
In regards to Mats. I really will miss seeing this guy game-in-game-out. He truly is the greatest Leaf of all time. Hopefully I can manage to get the funds together and be at the game when he retires where they honour him and celebrate his truly amazing career by retiring his number. He was the definition of consistency and it is a real shame that fans are reacting the way the are to the current situation. If he leaves, he will still be the greatest Leaf of all time, no matter where he ends up. Sure, like Tucker, some form of return for him, ideally at the deadline last year, would have made it less painful, but I think that instead of the ridicule and discontent for him, we say, "Thanks Mats for dedicating the majority of your career to a franchise that never surrounded you with a talent as pure as yours".
In any case, I hope I speak on behalf of any logical thinking Maple Leafs fan in saying, "Mr. Fletcher, I am excited about the future, let the purge and rebuild commence!"