Tucker, McCabe, Raycroft, Sundin.. what meaning do these names hold? They are the mainstays in what will come to be remembered for the forceable future as the last Leaf team that could compete. This years round-up sells itself considerably short in comparison to the band of jolly clowns that has missed the post season by a hair in each of the last 3 seasons. So where does that leave Leafs Nation? Howard says 30th.. maybe, but I say it leaves them in the same spot, sitting in a chair just to the side of the gym floor unable to find a spot to strut their stuff in the big April waltz. So in saying that I have to relay a message... Mats Sundin, do you need a pen?
We need the big swede back to lead a top line that is destoned for failure and setback without his leadership. We need the big swede to guide the youth movement and show them what being a pro should and can be like. We need the big swede to challenge for a somewhat respectable season even if it means a close but still to far from postseason finish. Most of the faithful are saying no to Mats. "We need to take a dive to get the payoff" is what is ringing through the streets of downtown Toronto. Heres what I say to that: The Kings finished dead last and still came up short in the Stamkos sweepstakes. Although they have oodles of young talent and a future captain in Antze Kopitar, they surely were disapointed when Tampas ball was pulled by Bettman. Even a 29th finish is a long shot for the Leafs with teams like the Thrashers and Islanders out there that will surely underachieve and stumble dispite a few flashy forwards in the mix. With a coach like Ron Wilson and a goaltender like Vesa Toskala this Leaf team is just competitive enough in every game to climb to their familiar spot amoungst the outsiders. A starving kid staring through a fogged window on a cold winter night. Thats what the Leafs will resemble come February when Fletcher tries to sell off Kaberle again. Maybe even Kubina will take a ride into the sunset come deadline day. Schenn is the future of the backend, Pogge between the pipes (perhaps) and whos up front. The dreamers say heeeeerrrrreees Jonny! I say no way.
It would be nice to see the buds grab Taveres in the June draft and vault on their way to respectablility ala the Chicago Blackhawks. But the truth is, as was the case with Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos, Bettman will never let a future franchise superstar and revenue draw land in a Canadian market. Even a sale of the Pens was strongarmed by Bettman when it was clear Sid the Kid would be relocating to a northern market. Cant lose that american revenue drain you know. Why let Stamkos go to an LA market that is solidly planted with the fanbase that Wayne built when he could go to a Tampa market that may fold if he isnt there to revive it just as Vinny had to do a few years back.
Heres the problem, how long will it be before Malkin is looking for his ticket out of Penguin territory allowing teams to concentrate on shutting down Sidney. How long before Mario has to start dealing his glut of youth as salaries hit record highs on a team that just cant quite make it over the final hurdle and the 'faithful' Pens fans go back to doing whatever it was they did while Mario was flippin the bill on a lackluster team in an empty arena thus forcing the franchise back into a campaign to find a new owner to take on a few years of debt and losses and the cycle starts over with Bettman the saviour keeping the team in a failing market with a 'key draft choice'. How long before Vinny is sold to allow Stamkos to take the reigns only for Stamkos himself to opt out of the stagnant Tampa environment at the sign of his first offer sheet. And when Jonathan Taveres lands in Atlanta to revive the team that couldnt draw fans with Dany Heatley AND Iliya Kovalchuk as their poster boys, how long will it be before this kid is ruined by the pressure of saving yet another Bettman project. How long before the owners realize their faithful leader is a crook who caters to american markets that are doomed to fail in 90% of their locales.
The Leafs ball wouldnt be pulled first in June if it was the only ball in the machine. It cant be, because the Thrashers ball is safely tucked away in Bettmans trousers waiting for the fated moment when he announces, "and with the first overall pick in the 09 entry draft..."
If the Leafs cant get a shot at Taveres or Hedman they need to address a problem of lack of leadership for their youth. Mayers, Hollweg, Blake.. are these guys suppose to guide the kids to respectablility? Are these what Leafs managment feels a Leaf player should exemplify? They need something more.. they need to bring in an example setter. A player that can show the young talent drafted 5th thru 12th that there is a way of doing things. A player that can instill values in the kids already in the system and leave them with the swagger to guide the kids still to come. So, with all this being said... I have a message to pass: Mats, do you need a pen?
You Heard It Here!
Well written, but fundamentally flawed...You are suggesting the draft lottery is rigged...Hard to agree with you there...There are 30 teams in the NHL, most of which are in the US...In some of the US cities you mentioned a pimply faced Canadian teenager will not and can not save their franchises regardless of how good they are...As far as the Leafs go...they need to draft deep and draft often and take their lumps as they come...Sundin is not the answer and he will have no interest to leave his stagnant, quasi-retirement to join a bottom-feeding but building hockey team...the Leafs need to remain patient and build through the draft...History has taught us Leaf management never has the patience to do so...Interesting to see where they go from here...
Great blog man! I still feel the Leafs make the playoffs this year and until Jan/Feb I won't change my mind. Because believe it or not I feel every team has a chance until proven otherwise. The Leafs are a conundrum in the fact that this team could go either way bottom out or surprise like Edmonton did a few years back. I think the Leafs shoulc puch hard and try to acquire young centerman Patty O'Sullivan but the ??? is what do we give up for him?
No team should aim to be worst in the league for drafts sake and the Maple Leafs aren't doing that. They've simply got rid of the players that do not fit the mold for a rebuilding team, that includes Mats Sundin. But to suggest they've iced a competitive team in terms of the playoffs is far fetched. Even if they're just out of the playoffs come trade deadline, I hope they do the right thing and trade for prospects and/or picks. Don't get your hopes up for this season Leaf fans, but there is reason to get your hopes up for the Leafs future. They just need to be patient.
I strongly dissagree Mr FUZE_GUS Habs fan who is obviously jaded that Sundin turned his nose up at youre centennial clan. Mats IS the answer. Not to the leafs winning anything but to the development of the youth. What better example can be set then that set by one of the classiest players to ever pull on the big white maple leaf. as for your belief that Bettman could/would never rigg the draft to benefit his US market crusade, well... You probably believe that Saku Koivu is a #1 center too so we wont bother you about your obscured vision.-Predictions - Habs lose East Final to Rangers. Wings win it all again.-Bobby Ryan is a Maple Leaf by the 09 draft.-Sundin either signs with Leafs or retires by end of week.
I tried to post before... but I guess my rant was too big... so I'll condense it greatly.The Leafs don't need Sundin. It's the last thing they need, and I'm a huge Toronto and Mats Sundin fan. Sundin would make this team better, bring them to where they have been for the last 3 years, and then leave again. How does that help? You say that he's needed to help the development of youth. Yeah, how are Matt Stajan, Nik Antropov, Alex Steen and Alexi Ponikerovsky these days? 4 players with great promise, and yet none have reached their potential. Not because Mats Sundin hasn't taught them or help them, but because they've let Mats Sundin be the scapegoat for all these years. It's time for the team to struggle and these young players live through it. It greatly helped Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in Philly. I think a hard, tough year for these players is what the doctor ordered. Maybe with some adversity, and no-one to hide behind (Mats) they'll actually start taking some responsibility in their play.As for the draft being rigged. That's moronic. When was the last time a Canadian team had a chance to legitimately win the draft lottery, and how many times would that result in a Canadian team getting the first overall pick? You'd have to go all the way back to 1996 when Ottawa was the worst team and got the best pick. When a couple Canadian team has a legitimate chance at the 1st overall, and doesn't get it... then I may buy into that theory... but there is absolutley no proof or merit to your draft lottery argument.
Fun to read but you failed to explain how Bettman rigged a ping pong ball dropping on National television. Sounds like a little of the oft-reported Leaf paranoia.Aside from failing to support your main point and screwing up the basic facts (Tampa finished 30th last year with one less win than L.A.) you did a great job.
This from Leaf.chat.comEvidence that there are at least some Leaf fans out there who have moved out of Mom's basement:"Unbelievable!There are people here who have the brains and acumen to actually turn on a computer and log onto the internet who really think that Bettman could rig the bouncing of ping pong balls on national television and under the watch of 30 team representatives?Paranoid or just plain brain dead? That is the real question.Lets see, the team that finished dead last in 04 got CrosbyThe same team finished second to last in 06 and got MalkinThe third to last in 07 got KaneThe last place team 08 got StamkosSeems to me the lottery works perfectly. The fist pick goes to a brutal team who really needs it but there is enough "chance" involved to dissuade obvious tanking."
*editSorry for the poor punctuation in the above post. I "cut and paste" from the Leafs forum and, for some reason, the spaces between sentences evaporated.Now if only we could get the paranoid conspiracy theorists to evaporate too? Maybe the rising price of aluminum will put them out of business.
lol... you guys are really worked up about me saying the draft is rigged.. firstly theres a curtain so you dont see him pull the ball.. but obviously i dont really think its rigged, just that bettman is capable of it. reasoning behind this is all the tampering he "allegedly" did with the sale of the preds as well as the pens. this man needs to go back to basketball and ruin their sport. And I stand corrected on the kings finishing last, cudos on the correcton. Also BrHAWK, i think you may have a point about them hiding behind mats. i never lookd at it that way. I dont however think nikki OR Poni should be kept long term. they need to deal them. Stajan and steen however i would like to see start living up to their potential. lots of habs posters on a leaf blog.. cant wait for replys after my blog following the home opener saturday night. Let the heated debates begin folks! HOCKEYS BACK!!!
one concern bruhawk... if no mats, dont you agree the likes of Kulemin, Shenn, Grabovski, even Tlusty need guidance from a Sundin type mentor? i dont know that i believe they wil become the complete players they have the potential to be without someone to guide them. But I also dont know how they can have a player like that without the young guys still "hiding behind him" as you said and not taking accountability. I think Wilson goes a long way to make his players accountable but not sure that breeds responsibility if the player doesnt have it engrained in him. At least Steen has seemed to mature sitting beside Mats for a few years. I dont know, its a good topic to debate though for sure. any other points of view on this?
Well, as you know for years when the team hasn't performed it wasn't Stajan, Steen, Antro or Poni saying that they need to play better. It was always Mats, and to be quite honest I think they preferred Mats answering the critics then having to stick their own neck out there because as everyone knows, the Toronto Media is brutal, and say Matt Stajan were to say that he's not playing as good as he should be and he needs to be more productive and help the team, the media would be all over him and probably end up driving him out of town. The only player the Leafs have ever had that could back up what he was saying was Mats. I think there needs to be a mentor on this team to help the young players adapt and become great, however that doesn't need to be Sundin. A player like Kubina has won a cup, been through the grind, has international experiece and is supposidly a great guy in the locker room. He can mentor these guys, especially Shenn. You look at Tampa Bay. They bring in Stamkos and who do they put his locker next to? Lecavalier? St. Louis? No, Gary Roberts. The person you can learn the most from doesn't have to be the superstar or captain... it's the person that has been through the most, been in every situation and knows how best to handle it. That's the type of player the LEafs need to mentor these guys, and while Mats would fit this role perfectly, I don't think you can afford to bring him back because the spotlight goes directly to him and you're back where you were in previous years.
some interesting food for thought. I dont know if you have heard of it but there is a manager game called eastside hockey manager.. a few friends of mine and i play it religeously.. i dont run the leafs but its worth noting certain deals happened in the simulations time after time while playing the game. The leafs delt for a SJ goalie but it was nobokov not toskala (this happens 80% of the time when starting the game over).. other deals that came true, sakic resigning, vinny signing long term, sid resining, malkin actually optedfor FA. the glaring deal that happens 99% of the time when starting the simulation, Forsberg signs with the leafs, plays with mats for 1 year then mats goes to colorado as a FA then retires. i dont think thats in the cards but imagine mats and forsberg leafs... not with the plan of rebuilding but an interesting move should they have more talent ready to compete. incidentally, with forsberg they still miss playoffs every year and there was no 4.5 million dollar fingers involved haha.
What Curtain? Seriously what curtain are you talking about? Bettman stands on a stage and pulls ping pong balls out of a drum in plain light, on national television, before a live audience.Now you start talking about curtains? Seriously, what you write is downright libelous and should be removed. You cant just post things as fact and accuse people and organizations of fixing the outcome of a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
lol,,,, u need a valume dude? seriously, you okay? take a look back at my blogs and see im here to stir the pot as a leaf fan. get the argument goin and keep it goin.. have some fun. u need 2 relax bro, yur gonna pop a vessel.