Interesting place we are at this juncture of time. The Toronto Maple Leafs are just about to conclude their first off-season under new GM Brian Burke. So we are really about to start the first season under the new regime. This, unlike last year is the first season of building the Toronto Maple Leafs. So of course I have lots of questions for you….
What do you want this coming season? What are the expectations, what will you be happy with? None of us, not even an overly homeristic blogger expects the Leafs to compete for the Stanley Cup this season. What then are realistic goals? Does it include the playoffs? Does it have to include the playoffs? Here is my take, I want a season where we don’t get embarrassed at home. I want a season where they show up 9/10 nights. I want a season where the kids play a lot and they are afforded the opportunity to make mistakes as Schenn was last year. Most of all I want a season where they are fun to watch. The outcomes of the games to me is secondary. I don’t care if they make the playoffs. I want ever young kid to get their chance and to grow as a player.
On a more specific point, which Maple Leaf do you want to really break out, have an incredible season, won where you can say, he is a true Maple Leaf? I am not sure which player specifically it is as I don’t’ know much about them, but I am rooting really hard for the US college players. I have so much respect for the guys who go that route. I have a lot of time and respect for guys who are bright enough to get educations in case things don’t work out for them on the ice. I am not so naive as to think they are all rocket scientists, but there is something admirable about having a college degree in your back pocket in case things don’t pan out. I would love to see more and more players go that route. I firmly believe that if the NHL is sincere in it’s hope to grow the game south of the border than it has to fully endorse and help grow the college game. Hockey isn’t basketball or football, but if they could get 1/100th of the focus on college hockey that they do nationally for football and basketball then the game would grow.
Now, I am also curious, if you aren’t cheering for the Maple Leafs, who is your team? Which teams do you want to have break out years, which do you want to see fall back? Me, I am a huge Capitals fan. I love their coach and I think Alex Ovechkin is a rockstar on skates. I really want to see them continue their climb upwards in the standings. Same goes with the Blackhawks. I am a little less enthused with them after they turfed Dale Tallon, but I love the young guns on that team, they are fun to watch and I think they play the game the right way. Of course, my two favorite teams are the Maple Leafs and whomever the Senators are playing on any given night, so as a die hard Leaf fan I really hope the Sens improve just enough to not make the playoffs but high enough to not have a good draft position.
From a media perspective, I hope that Jonas Siegel grows as a reporter, that someone new emerges as the voice of reason in covering the Maple Leafs. Jeff Blair was a fresh voice last season, Steve Simmons has grown by leaps and bounds in my books and Damien seems to luke warm on the Maple Leafs prospects as well. Finally, I hope that the Howie rants are greeted as warmly by Ron Wilson and Brian Burke as they are by each of us. How about you, what are your wishes from our beloved beat writers and broadcasters for the 2009-2010 Maple Leafs season.