Maple Leafs Are What They Are…

That didn’t take too long. What is it, 25 games and the one guy who stood up and said the Toronto Maple Leafs would make the playoffs has written them off- And in a good way:

“nobody would disagree any more that the Maple Leafs are a lousy hockey club this season, destined to finish in the lower rungs of the NHL.They are second worst in the league, with a four-point gap between themselves and the third worst outfit. If not for disastrous Carolina, the Leafs would be looking up at 29 other teams.”

Yup, Damien Cox, who pronounced prior to the season started that Brian Burke’s team would make the playoffs has come to the realization that 2009-2010 is a write off for the good ship maple leaf. Oddly enough, he views it in a positive light.

“No one would seriously suggest any longer that Vesa Toskala has either the stamina or ability to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL, or that Matt Stajan or Alexei Ponikarovsky are bona fide top six forwards in the NHL. Luke Schenn is a prospect learning the game, not a player poised to be youngest captain in team history. Jason Blake just isn’t in a slump — that’s what he is. Lee Stempniak is just the residue of a bad trade, not a player set to re-discover his lost scoring touch. Mikhail Grabovski is speed and energy but not a No. 1 or No. 2 centre in the making.”

The world will no longer be viewed in blue and white colored glasses because the reality is what the reality is. Change will be imminent and the build will be slow and painful. In the end though, the talent evaluator will have little doubt in his mind what he has (or needs).

“Tomas Kaberle should be put on the trading block, and if he doesn’t like it, too bad. A first round pick is the asking price and somebody will pay. The players set to be free agents — Stajan, Ponikarovsky, Stempniak, Toskala — shouldn’t be re-signed, and so should be moved if anything of value can be retrieved.

Having so few players under contract after this season should open a world of possibilities for Burke, and he knows now more than ever he’ll be spending money on college free agents next spring.”

Yes the NHL version of the expiring contract trade. Brian Burke must, unlike Randall and Winthorp Duke in Trading Places , SELL! The sooner the selling begins the better, at least for those of us who still follow this team.

“The only uncertainty in this picture is that of Wilson and his coaching staff. Burke will have a tough decision to make on his coaches if this turns out to be a 20-win season.

Otherwise, nobody’s fooling anybody any longer. The state of the Leafs is crystal clear.”

I can’t disagree with anything in Cox’s piece. I think he is right on. Now, with Gustavsson’s health a major question, wins are going to be more difficult then ever. Gutavsson’s brought hope to not only fans but also his teammates. For the first time in a long we all felt confident that not every shot on net caused by a Maple Leaf miscue would end up in our net. We all need to face it that Gustavsoon has some sort of heart issue. Burke and co. aren’t going to fool around with that in a year that is already quite predicatable and nor should they….

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