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
- 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.