The Right Perspective On The Maple Leafs

Man where has Jeff Blair been for so long? Love or Loathe his work on the Blue Jays, his Maple Leaf work has been to date very good, borderline excellent. I only got to see 2 peiords tonight before i got to read a chapter and a half of Double Fudge to little TSM (and I mean got, time is short these days, and getting to read him a book where he laughs, REALLY, uncontrollably laughs is worth it’s weight in gold). So, I can’t provide a full editorial on the game. I can say that Vesa looked less then stellar early on and I can tell you that this goaltending issue is going to be the whipping issue of those who cover the leafs for a while now.

“And that’s what it seems to come down to for Toskala: the best nights are the ones when he’s not a factor. Nothing about this guy suggests he’ll ever steal a win for this team, and that plus his contract remain one of the most difficult issues for Brian Burke’s new regime. He’s not good enough to be a No. 1 goaltender, even when he defies the book on him and doesn’t go down early and give away the top of the net — which isn’t often. A backup? Maybe. On a good team.”

We are still a tad early to completely write him off, but truth is he has yet to return to the performances we saw last year….

“Now that Burke is onboard with Dave Nonis to watch his back the drama is pretty much gone from the Maple Leafs. Now, it’s time for the nuts and bolts part of the rebuilding program to continue — and when Wilson lamented the loss of rookie defenceman Luke Schenn for two to four weeks by calling him “our best defensive defenceman, for sure,” it tells you just how much work needs to be done.
The least they can do is beat the teams that are worse than them, and last night the Leafs found one of those rare commodities. To their credit, they buried the Islanders — something that was obvious to Toskala from his perch at the other end of the ice.”

What???? A reporter isn’t lamenting the fact they won a game? In the same paragraph he actually gave them some credit too…I don’t believe it.

“It’s only December, so it’s going to try the patience of Leafs fans to watch a team full of guys that they know management would toss over the side in a heartbeat. You know the suspects: Kaberle, Kubina, Toskala and Jason Blake. They make an announcement at the ACC before the game urging fans to cast their All-Star ballots and “help send Vesa Toskala and Tomas Kaberle to Montreal.” You keep expecting to hear the words “and keep them there!” They don’t materialize.”

That, is actually pretty funny, and it’s truthful too. At least the latter part. I don’t think it’s too difficult to watch guys who we all think (or in most cases hope/assume) won’t be around. I think we all have learned that there is a little bit of a blue and white curse where we inevitably over-value anyone who dons the blue and white (either as a prospect or pro). We all seem to have accepted what must be done and so far there has been little to show otherwise.

“But look: somebody’s going to have to stay, so there’s nothing wrong with sending kudos to Jeremy Williams for the type of game he played last night — he always plays well when he’s called up, so the question is what will Act II look like — or wondering what type of player Blake would be if he played the way he did last night.”

In 2 periods I thought he looked pretty good too. Certainly no worse then any of the other forwards that were out there. Hell even the village idiot had a good couple of shifts.

“Blake is also hardly an organizational favourite. But he makes a whack of cash and is virtually non-tradable. So, maybe, what we’re seeing now that the initial fuss over Burke’s hiring is done is an attempt to get some of the unwanted to play well enough to the point where they trade value increases at least a bit. “It’s disappointing,” Blake said. “I mean, believe me, I’m just as disappointed as everyone else with the way things have gone. It’s just nice to contribute. It’s not that you can score every game, but it’s nice to at least feel like you did something.”

We never expected him to score every game. In fact all we wanted and want him to do is play like he actually cares. We leaf fans forget pretty quickly. If the guy would just show up every night and most shifts, his life may be a tad bit easier….

“So Blake has poked his head out of the doghouse. Sniffed the air. He is aware that the winds of change will at some point become a storm and he seems prepared, even though when he was asked if he still wanted to be part of the team he said: “That’s not my decision … that’s obviously Brian’s and the organizations.”

….and then he opened his mouth again. Why can’t the guy just shut up??? Why even go there. I mean, in essence what he is trying to say is no comment. Under the circumstances the guy has to be a little bit smarter. You have a hate/hate relationship already, and I know what he probably meant by his comments, however he really should have just said “yes”. Why??? Cause it is the right thing to do.

“A 4-2 win over a non-descript team on a non-descript Monday night in December? “X” out the game on the schedule. Look ahead to Friday in Buffalo. Then, cross out that one, too, Call it one more down … and continue the countdown to a better future with a whole bunch of new faces. Put it this way: an actual win beats a moral victory any time.”

And that is why I look forward to reading this guy. You are never as good or bad as your last win or loss. Perspective. It’s such a wonderful thing and one that has been missing from our sports pages for a long time. A win doesn’t have to mean the cup is coming. It can just be nice to savor for a night or two.

You can find the entire story here

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