You have to pardon my lack of enthusiasm for the good ship Maple Leafs these days. I have to admit that their on ice performance and more so results has got me a tad bit apathetic. More so, the coverage of the team has done nothing to excite me. I know it seems a little bit odd to say it but I miss the days when the Leafs were getting carved for everything they did…
When those who used to bash them all the time, are telling us that things aren’t as bleak as they appear, well, where the hell is the fun in that? I watched a good part of last night’s game tonight and was left with the conclusion that there are 3 players on the Maple Leafs that are potential difference makers.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, I mean how big an idiot would I be not to mention Phil Kessel? That being said, he is the one guy on the Leafs team who you noticed every time he was on the ice. When little TSM plays, there is always one guy on every team who is eons ahead of the rest of the team. Kessel is that guy on the Leafs. There is no one who compares with his speed of talent- no one close. The hope and I do mean hope is that Kadri resides somewhere in the same zip code.
The second is Gustavsson. He stands tall has a presence and despite only playing in a few games, he has earned the confidence of his teammates. Yes he has made mistakes. What he hasn’t done is let in the crap goal at the most inopportune time as Toskala always seems to manage to do. As Gustavsson’s plays goes, so too will the fate of this team.
Lastly is Kaberle. The guy who I said they had to deal last summer is playing out of his head. He, is eons ahead of the rest of the pack on defence right now. There is no one playing at his level.
The problem is, that the drop off from those three is gigantic. Brian Burke talked about having his skill guys and then his plumbers- a top group and a bottom group. Right now the distance to getting to that point appears to be huge. The fall off from Kaberle to the next defenceman is amazing. What’s more unbelievable is that the next best guy, in my opinion is Ian White! The guy who didn’t dress early next season. Here is a guy who doesn’t have a ton of talent but works his ass off every shift. The drop in forwards is worse. There isn’t one guy right now who can score. After Kessel went 0-10 last night (and I am not knocking him), who is left to score the goals? i have confidence in no one.
A friend emailed me last night that the Maple Leafs are 19 players away. You have to laugh. The alternative is much worse isn’t it? I don’t know why it has happened but the skill level, especially upfront is embarrassing. Grabovsky, Blake, Stajan, Hagman are all, for the most part totally infective. You have to think that at some point relatively soon it will make sense to bring the college kids up and let them go. I mean last year Luke Schenn played well when he was getting tons of minutes. Why not say to Hanson and Bozak (who may or may not have had h1n1 flu) guys, go out there and play as hard as you can and don’t worry about screwing up- I will still throw you out there again. It’s pretty much what Wilson did last year with Schenn. I can tell you this as a fan, I would be much more interested in watching those guys then the aforementioned group now. I watch the current group and I just get angry. At least if they were kids, you would be patient, feel that there is a system in place etc.
So….Burke has a foundation of 3. Kadri, as pathetic as it sounds right now is the great hope to get to 4. It’s no wonder Burke has been so quiet of late, the magnitude of the job ahead has to be incredibly daunting.
You have to love the television business… Sportsnet drew huge numbers for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning game last night. It was in the top 10 most watched events in Sportsnet’s history. So, what does David Akande say? ““This number proves once again that Sportsnet is the destination for hockey that matters. Whether it is for the pre-game show, intermissions
or the game itself, we are the home for the Toronto Maple Leaf fan.”
Classic! Hell, this game could have been on Rogers 10 and it would have drawn the number. I think what Akande meant was thank you Phill and the entire Maple Leafs training and medical staff for getting him back so early as otherwise we would be shitting bricks.
Meanwhile, one has to wonder about the pressures and limitations on writers for the MSM. I say that because when you read Bill Houston’s blog these days, he is a lot more daring than he used to be while writing for the Globe and Mail. Case in point:
” Don’t take it personally, Bruce. Avery trashes everybody. Besides, you are fat. And if Avery motivated you to lose a few pounds, that’s a good thing.”
No, “Bruce” doesn’t refer to the author of “off the post”, rather it is referring to the head coach of the Washington Capitals. Boudreau was apparently taken back by Sean Avery’s comments about Boudreau’s weight.
Am I alone in thinking that now that Houston is out from under the Globe and Mail he is going to be a lot more candid than he was before. For some reason I just can’t see him calling Bruce Boudreau fat while writing his old column. A refreshing change to say the least. I guess he subscribes to the truth hurts philosophy.
Lastly, I am sure i am in the minority here, however i don’t think it’s that big a deal if some professional athletes got their H1N1 shots ahead of the rest of us. To be honest I kind of expected it. Oh, and I think what David Branch did today took enormous balls. I would have preferred it if he had tossed the Erie coach as well. Branch’s rationale was that players lack the respect and that is why the injury took place (combined with the current health of the victim). Well, if a player skates 40-50ft at breakneck speed and pulverizes another player, one has to think that part of that follows the coaching philosophy of the team. I feel for the kid who got suspended- but not nearly as much as I do for the victim or his family.
Houston is here