Howard Berger right on Cliff, right on Mats, not so much on McCabe

Some random thoughts on Howard’s latest post, answering some well chosen fan emails. You can find the post here.

Here are the highlights:

On Mats Sundin, I think Howard hits the nail right on the head. “Personally, I can’t fathom any strategic incentive for Sundin to return, or for Fletcher to spend $7 million on him. The Leafs will not be a playoff team in ’08-09. All Sundin may do is contribute to a slightly higher position in the standings, and a diminished lottery outlook. It’s time for both sides to move on.”

I know they have hired Joe Nieuwendyk, Sundin’s pal and I have heard all the stories of utmost respect for Niuwendyk, and I know people think Sundin should be the first leaf captain to retire as a leaf captain since before I was born. What I don’t get is what would either party get from this marriage. The leafs aren’t looking to make the playoffs, they are rebuilding. They are trying to start from scratch. How does Sundin help here. He is and has been a terrific hockey player. I just can’t see why he would want to return and why they would want him, sentimental reasons aside for both.

On Kubina Howard thinks, correctly I suggest, that Cliff should and will deal him prior to the window to do so closes. If he can get more assets at lesser dollars Cliff should.

On Cliff: Howard is bang on here. “It appears the Leafs have finally recognized the futility of striving for a bottom playoff rung. Prior to the draft and free agency, Fletcher vowed the Leafs would be generally younger; that he would make roughly half-a-dozen changes (though not immediate improvements) to the roster, and he’d rebuff any impulse to go for the so-called “quick fix.” On all three counts, he was a man of his word.” Who knows if these guys are any good, we won’t know until they play, but what we do know is that Cliff unlike John Ferguson Jr. (who still doesn’t have job!) has some semblance of a plan. The team is younger, the dynamics of the room are changed and he didn’t go grab a player like Jason Blake, Eric Lindros or some other over aged veteran who is wanting to retire in Toronto.

On McCabe. I don’t get why people are so enthralled with this issue. Cliff has done what the press always say they want, the GM to be upfront and honest. Cliff did not come out and announce to the world I don’t like Bryan McCabe, I don’t think he can play anymore, I think he is a bad person. All he did publicly was answer your questions.

“But, I don’t think the Leafs have acted professionally in dealing with the veteran blue liner. In fact, I’m of the opinion that Fletcher – by his standards – has almost embarrassed himself. I may be old fashioned, but I believe it is critically important to honor the variables of a signed contract. That applies to both management and personnel. I understand why Fletcher is obsessed with altering the core of last year’s team. And, I agree with his strategy. But, I feel it should be accomplished appropriately – by the books. I don’t endorse a GM publicly announcing that a player with three years of contract term remaining is “no longer part of our plans”, while, at the same time, refusing to abide by collectively bargained principles (in this case, the buyout option).”

This is unreal. How has Cliff not honored the contract? He has not, at least yet anyways, done anything to dishonor the contract. He has not said he will send McCabe home, he has not said he will banish McCabe. All he has said is it is his preference that both sides move on. Is that against the contract? McCabe has a no movement clause. Either he will agree to waive it or he won’t. His agent is smart enough to know that it is in his client’s best interest to do so and likely in time he will. Cliff doesn’t have to buy him out, like Bryan doesn’t have to waive his no movement clause. This is just utter nonsense.

All in all a pretty good post by Howard please use an E not a U…

About the Author