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Toronto, ON • Canada • 24 Years Old • Male

It wasn't Ferguson

Posted 1:53 AM ET | Comments 9
The 2007-2008 NHL season has pretty much become a write-off for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans. Most of the blame for the mediocre season has fallen into the hands of one John Ferguson Jr. for many of the questionable decisions he made as Leafs General Manager. Trading Tukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft obviously tops that list , but neither of those players had a real affect on the 07-08 Leafs. Sure he gave a NTC to Mats Sundin (who deserved one), Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina, and Darcy Tucker, but again those decisions affect the future of the Maple Leafs, not the Leafs' 07-08 season.

Others have taken the heat for the 07-08 season and they include, but are not limited to:

Bryan McCabe: that changed after the Leafs struggled without him in the line-up and media/fans realized that the team had a winning record with him in the line-up.

Jason Blake: Amazingly this guy is playing through a serious illness, something that most wouldn't dare to do. He has been getting some heat for not being able to put up the 40 goal season that he had last year. If only people realized that 40 goals is not an easy task, considering in 2004, 41 goals won 3 players the Richard Trophy.

Richard Peddie: ironically for not firing Ferguson soon enough

MLSE: for not having unity amongst its board members and have been accused of having no passion or desire for winning.

But this really isn't the reason that the Leafs are sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference, trying to do the impossible and make the playoffs.

I mean, all year the Toronto Maple Leafs have been characterized as having:

- Great goaltending
- Great Leadership
- Loyalty
- Players with career years

so if it isn't John Ferguson Jr., or Bryan McCabe, or Jason Blake, or Richard Peddie, or MLSE.....then you must be asking, why are the Leafs in 12th, especially with all the positives surrounding this team? Well the answer is the team's lack of discipline and the answer as to who is to blame.......well that would be Paul Maurice.

No it wasn't the NTC that held this team back, it wasn't Andrew Raycroft again, it wasn't even Bryan McCabe, it was Paul Maurice.

Leaf fans, remember the 3rd period meltdowns that had become the norm for Leaf games earlier this season? well that's why the team currently sits in 12th:

Oct 3rd: vs. Senators - Leafs lose in overtime after leading in the 3rd period, the game tying goal came with less than 6 minutes left.

Oct 4th: @ Senators - Leafs lose in regulation, game is tied in the 3rd, Leafs allow the go-ahead goal with 5 minutes left. The goal came on the powerplay (Chad Kilger for Holding)

Oct 13th: vs. Penguins - Leafs lose in regulation, game is tied in the third, Leafs allow the go-ahead goal with less than 6 minutes left. The goal came on the powerplay (Bryan McCabe for Tripping)

Oct 15th: @ Sabres - Leafs lose in overtime after leading in the 3rd period, the game tying goal came with less than 4 minutes left.

Oct 20th: vs. Blackhawks - Leafs lose in regulation even though they had a 3-1 lead in the 3rd period.

Nov 13th: vs. Canadiens - Leafs lose in overtime after leading in the 3rd period, the game tying goal came with 6 minutes left.

Dec 18th: @ Hurricanes - Leafs lose in overtime after blowing a 2-goal lead with less than 2 minutes left in the 3rd period.

Dec 20th: @ Lightning - Leafs lose in regulation, game is tied in the 3rd period, the go-ahead goal came with less than 1 minute left in the game.

Jan 5th: vs. Flyers - Leafs lose in regulation, game is tied in the 3rd period, the go-ahead goal came with less than 3 minutes left. The goal came on the powerplay (Pavel Kubina for High-Sticking)

Jan 12th: @ Sharks - Leafs lose in regulation even though they had a 2-goal lead in the 3rd period.

the 3rd period meltdowns have really killed the Leafs this season and is the reason that the team sits in 12th.

I worked out the Leafs record had they held onto their late 3rd period leads and received at least 1 OTL point for games they lost late in the 3rd period that had been tied (I did not give the Leafs any wins for games that were tied in the third, only games they were leading late in the third.....the games that were tied late in the third I only gave the Leafs an OTL, so this new record does not factor in the potential games that the Leafs could of won in overtime, therefore this new record is the bare minimum that the Leafs would be at.)

Leafs current record (30-29-10), this record has them at 70 pts and 12th in the Eastern Conference

Leafs record without the 3rd period meltdowns (36-23-10), this record has them at 82 points and 5th in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Montreal for the Division and Conference lead, as well as one point above Ottawa.

So there you have it, if this team had some discipline, there would be no calls for the immediate destruction of the team, there would be no requests of the greatest player to wear blue and white to accept a trade, and there would be Leafs hockey in April. This team doesn't lack skill it lacks direction. Way too many times do the Leafs take bad penalties late in the game, way too many times do the Leafs find a flurry of goals in the back of the net, with no time-out called by their 'coach.'

Maurice's record says it all, he has only made the playoffs 3 times in 10 years. His teams have always been inconsistent, one year he leads them to the Stanley Cup Finals and the next they miss the playoffs.

Paul Maurice is constantly defending his players in the media and always making situations seem less than they really are. There needs to be accountability on this team.........look what happened when players were threatened with trade.......the team started playing well.

Don't be fooled by the Leafs recent run, they're not doing it because of Maurice, it's obvious Maurice lost the ears of the room long ago. They're playing for one Mats Sundin.

The Leafs probably won't make the playoffs, they probably won't have a top five draft pick, they won't sign any big name free agents, but the best move that the team can make in the offseason is replacing Paul Maurice, with a coach that brings passion, commitment, accountability and most of all...........discipline.

The Leafs have been playing very well recently and it's not because of Fletcher.....he made 3 minor moves. This team still has Ferguson stamped on it, and this season is not his fault, especially with the rumour that he tried to fire Maurice before he himself was axed.

This team doesn't lack skill or potential..........it lacks discipline.
Filed Under:   Maple   Leafs   Toronto   Ferguson   Maurice   NHL   Sundin  
March 8, 2008 10:43 AM ET | Delete
While Ferguson does share some blame, his firing I think was entirely justified except in the disgusting, shameless and unprofessional manner in which it was carried out, Maurice I think is a far bigger problem. Many of the Leafs woes can be traced to coaching. Good article
March 8, 2008 1:25 PM ET | Delete
I honestly think that this has been thge Leafs problems for years. PAt Quinn in some ways was the same. But ya for this year i think Maurice should of been sent his walking papers long ago. At the end of last season they go out and get a real good goalie and bring back pretty much the same team and you only missed the playoffs by what a point. This year should of been much better. Real Good article.
March 8, 2008 8:43 PM ET | Delete
I think the problem is that we are always trying to post the blame on one person...I think there are a lot of people that are responsible for this mess. And although this will be recognized as a colossal failure, I think there are a lot of people in the room that should feel the pressure of this move. Frankly, I think the blaming is done. It's easy to sit back and blame Paul Maurice because the Leafs will not make the playoffs and he will not be back I think even if the club does make the playoffs. Frankly Darcy Tucker, Pavel Kubina, Jason Blake, Bryan McCabe (who has been much better since), Andrew Raycroft and Alexei Ponikarovsky have all seriously underperformed. The players should take the blame. These guys are professionals and should have been earning their salaries since the beginning of the year and they just weren't. End of Story.
March 8, 2008 10:16 PM ET | Delete
There's no doubt Maurice has been the problem. His team's inability to hold a lead in the 3rd even when up by 2 is pathetic.He has to be replaced or it will be more of the same. His team did the same thing last year. Blowing leads in the 3rd is one of the things Maurice does well besides interviews...lol
March 8, 2008 11:49 PM ET | Delete
I'd love to edit the blog and add tonights game in, but I think you guys get the point. Although I will put some of the blame on the officiating for this one. The last NJ goal was fine, Toskala lost his balance, but the first goal was clearly interference, and the hooking call on Sundin late in the third that took the Leafs off the powerplay was rather embarassing.
March 9, 2008 12:12 AM ET | Delete
great blog and add to many stupid ntc contracts
March 9, 2008 1:08 AM ET | Delete
The last NJ goal tonight was on a loose puck, I'll give you that. But Langenbrunner didn't hit the puck with his stick....he got Toskala's pad and pushed it into the net. In fact, looking at the replay....as Toskala gets pushed into his net and loses his balance he brings the puck in with him...then the puck reappears outside of the net when the youngster Parise puts it home. A nice goal, but a botched goalie interference call. The same play in NJs end gets called.
March 10, 2008 6:03 PM ET | Delete
Nice work. I do agree that the Leafs should have honed their "closing ability" in the 3rd period when they go in with a lead. There are too many good teams in the NHL that know how to close a game going in to the 2rd with a lead. Still running and gunning in the 3rd can give you heartache losses like the Leafs have shown this year.
April 3, 2008 12:19 PM ET | Delete
I missed this one the first time around - your detail and coverage of the 3rd period meltdowns is much appreciated. The discipline thing has irritated me for years with the MLs... yes going back to Quinn. I say bring back Pat Burns, and light a few fires EARLY in the season. I believe if you look at many of the plays leading to those goals and perhaps the penalties that preceded them, you'll see an undisciplined(read bad) offense zone pass or a forward not willing to take a hit (Blake was a huge culprit early in the season) - turning it over at the opposition blue line.Thanks for a great article.Players play - coaches should make players accountable for playing. I would suggest relieving the coach, sending RayCroft to the minors, trading Toskala for high pick(s) at the draft, signing Huet, "trading Blake" to a team in Europe, paying his salaray and suspending him, hence killing the cap hit, moving Kubina or McCabe for pick/prospect and replacing with Jason Smith or Mike Commodore, move Kaberle for pick/prospect at the draft, replacing with Liles or a very hard nosed defenceman, to play with Coliovacovo,White,Stralman, Kronwall, bring Vorobiev to compete, accompanying either McCabe or Kubina. Upfront sign Hagman out of Dallas, Tucker 3rd or 4th line minutes only. let the younger guys continue with more ice time, Steen, Stajan, Antropov, Poni, Tlusty, Williams, Earl, Boyce, all look like they can play. If Mats returns great, manage his ice time for the sake of the team, sign Laraque or similar and perhaps a banger type forward - maybe get Kilger back if he can straighten his head out. Moore and Devereaux with Tucker might be a very interesting 3rd/4th line combo. Don't draft anyone under 72 inches tall any more.
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