Monday, August 10, 2009
Just In: Pogge's out.
By all indications over the weekend Justin Pogge's done in Toronto. He's heading to Anaheim, California to hopefully hang out with the Governor,sipping mimosas, while relaxing on the beach. It was inevitable. The moment Jonas Gustavsson signed with the Leafs or further the moment the Leafs began the pursuit of The Monster, it was clear that Pogge's days here were done.
The move, while not earth-shattering, crystallizes the rapid departure from the plan of JFJ to the plan of Brian Burke. Most of JFJ's additions to the team are slowly being moved out of town by Burke. Some of the dear departed may be successful elsewhere, but unlike Burke's tenure in Anaheim, where Brian Murray shared much of the credit of the Ducks' success, when the Leafs ultimately achieve glory the credit will fall on Burke's shoulders. This is Brian Burke's truculent Maple Leafs and a mentally insecure goalie did not fit into his plans.
Could Pogge have been the future number one here? Perhaps. He's still young and still has a chance to make it in this League. Pogge, though never impressed me. He was ordained as the saviour (a role now taken over by OLAS) by his performance in the World Juniors leading Canada to gold. This was a great disservice to both him and the Leafs as it resulted in them and JFJ, in particular, overvaluing him. Hell, with this team in front of me, even I could have won a gold medal. By far the star goalie in that tournament was another Leaf prospect Tuukka Rask, but don't get me started on what the Leafs did with him. Rask and Pogge were to be the future of the Leafs for years to come. This pressure may have gone to Pogge's head but that is no excuse as any player who plays in Toronto needs to be able to handle that pressure.
Less than 3 years after that World Junior Championship both Rask and Pogge are gone and the Leafs have absolutely nothing to show for them (except a conditional draft pick). This is still not bad news as they now have a GM, who has made it clear he has a long-term vision for this team to be successful. He is not going to mollycoddle players or force them to play in a city and for a team that players should kill to play for. Instead of focusing on the loss of assets Leafs fans should focus on the new Burkian attitude: Play hard, play proud or get out.