Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Time to break out that crystal ball and predict what will happen this season to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
1. By November, when it matters, the love affair I have with every player on this team will start to wane and I will begin to hate certain players (I'm looking at you Jason Blake).
2. No matter how well the Leafs do the mittenstringers will find their way to criticize them. If they are in a playoff position, it will be for rebuilding too fast and not accumulating draft picks. If they are not in a playoff position, then Cox et al will break out the playoff drought articles and the obligatory 1967 references.
3. Grabbo will be the most entertaining player to watch. Maybe he won't score 50 goals but with that hair, that truculent spirit, and his destruction of pineapples he doesn't need to.
4. Luke Schenn will not suffer from the so-called "sophomore jinx" and will be amazing as usual. He will make several ladies pregnant just with a glance.
5. Tomas Kaberle will not end the season as a Leaf but it won't be on the team Hockeybuzz "predicts". In fact Hockeybuzz will be wrong about all things Leafs (e5).
6. Gustavsson/Toskala arguments will dominate the airwaves and it will be a good thing.
7. The Leafs will finish higher than the Senators. This unlike an Alfredsson guarantee, will happen.
8. The Leafs will be accused of having a lack of scoring even if they finish 10th in the League in scoring, again.
9. The Montreal Canadiens will not be able to cross the Leafs blue line due to fear of decapitation. Even I'm not short enough to make that team.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Rios is done in Toronto. I for one couldn't be happier. Rios had all the talent in the world, but like Pogge was completely out of the game mentally, making mistakes like getting caught off second base after being called safe and failing to run home on a tag. JP managed to get rid off him without taking on any of the cost of the remainder of the contract. Sure, the Jays didn't get anyone but more importantly it gives the Jays major salary relief. This, hopefully can be used in the attempts to resign Halladay. It may be possible that JP has a plan or perhaps JP too is adopting the Burkian attitude: Play hard, play proud or get 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.