Did The Maple Leafs Improve? Zherdev Needed A Locksmith?

Doug MacLean was on the fan’s morning show this am with Don Landry and Gord Stellick. Richie Rich was asked his opinion on Burke’s offseason his response was quite interesting:

MacLean said that Ken Holland, the Detroit Red Wings GM always says that you don’t invest to much money in non point generating defencemen. Brian Burke has brought in multiple non-point generating defenceman. Michael Komisarek signed on for $4.5m/year for 4 years and he has never put up more than 20 points in the NHL. Don’t shoot the messenger, I am just telling you what you have missed on the radio this am. Francois Beauchemin is a little bit better, having put up over 30 points, however, according to MacLean, he did so with some pretty other defencemen named Progner and Niedermayer, Beachemin’s $3.8m /year for 3 years is hefty again for a non point producing defencemen according to MacLean. The same comment was made about Garnet Exelby.

Maclean said that the Leafs (maybe not the fans) are really going to miss Pavel Kubina in that he was a point producing defencman. He also questioned Kaberle’s ability to produce points as the only guy on the team. He said that yes they are tougher, but the pressure on the defence to generate offense (not necessarily in terms of actual points) is going to be great. His point was that guys like Nik Lidstrom, which admittedly are one in a million generate about “200 points a game”. No he doesn’t get that many points, but goals are scored as a direct result of his plays.

This weakness on the blueline, according to MacLean will make it way more difficult for the limited offensively gifted forwards that the Leafs have. They haven’t really added any guns up front who can be counted on to score.

MacLean suggested that the biggest question mark for the Leafs will be in net. Toskala, he said is a number one goalie. Question is, can he play like one. Secondly, until Gustavsson actually plays some games, no one knows how good he will be. As goes the Leafs goaltending, according to MacLean, so to will go the Maple Leafs.

The Leafs, MacLean said may be in the hunt for the playoffs but certainly aren’t a shoe-in to make it. They have to pass a lot of teams including teams like the Senators who didn’t make the playoffs last season. A tall order he suggested.

Of greater interest was MacLean’s take on Nikolai Zherdev. Zherdev, is the reason MacLean got fired. At least, according to MacLean. The contract situation and the fallout from it got him canned. MacLean said that he should have known that Zherdev was going to be a handful when he asked him at the draft after he picked him at 18 years of age what car Zherdev drove and the response was “a Mercedes”. It was interesting that when MacLean told that story, there was silence after the “punch line”. Nikolai Zherdev, according to MacLean is one of the most talented kids he has ever seen. He is also one of the biggest enigmas. MacLean said that he tried literally everything to motivate Zherdev and instill a work ethic in him. He even signed Sergei Federov whom MacLean considers the greatest Russian born NHLer of all time. MacLean took lots of lumps for signing Sergei, but thought if only he could get through to Zherdev… One day Federov came to MacLean and pretty much gave up. Federov said that he couldn’t talk to Zherdev anymore, that Zherdev simply didn’t want to listen. Then MacLean out a real gem. He said that when he went to Zherdev’s place after he was gone, the landord of Zherdev’s place said that he was called to change the locks on Zherdev’s apartment 6 times in the one season he played there! The guys asked MacLean if perhaps Zherdev was guilty of poor judgement, MacLean just laughed and said “ohhhh the book I could write!”

MacLean talked about how the role of the media has made a GM’s job so much more difficult. He said that he has had some time to reflect on his life after being out of the game for a bit. He said that the pressures of the job are one thing, but that the intense media scrutiny on everything really makes it more difficult then in the past.

It was a good interview with MacLean. The problem is, it was the exact same interview MacLean gave only hours earlier with Bob Mccown. As I have said about Bill Watters, you can’t over-expose these guys. No talent is good enough to be on multiple times, especially in the off-season. If you listened to MacLean the other night, there was no reason to listen again today. As I flipped back and forth this am, I heard the same jokes, the same stories and analogies that he used with Mccown. It’s not a knock on MacLean. It’s just over exposure.

In the same vein, have you noticed that Mccown seems to be spending more time with his guests on PTS? Over the last couple of days he has been taking longer, fuller segments with guests and even running later than usual breaks. While he may be driving his producers nuts in doing so, the results, in my opinion anyway are significant. He did it again tonight with Dan Shulman in talking about the Blue Jays. Mccown maybe the only radio host who spends considerable amounts of time on the Jays and seems to think they are going somewhere(and I don’t mean Portland) He made it clear again tonight that he strongly believes that the Blue Jays are not only going to spend the Rios and Rolen money just saved but get to a payroll between $100-120m.

I have to admit, I am not a soccer aficionado, but the Champion League banter tonight on 640 was good stuff too. If only I understand who the hell they were talking about.

Have a good night.



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