It Aint Easy Being A Maple Leafs Fan

I guess it would be one thing if nobody did say there would be days like these. Problem is, Ron Wilson warned us. Way back when, Ron Wilson said that there would be dark says ahead. I wonder if he envisioned them being this dark. One has to wonder if he thought his would be so bad to continue to have the worst penalty kill in the league with an eye on becoming the worst ever.

It’s funny, (we Toronto Maple Leafs have to laugh), that many pundits picked the buds to finish dead last, last year when they never really threatened to capture that title despite the wishes of many fans. This year, when several of the same Nostradamuses predicted a playoff birth for team Burke, the squad is playing as if it as an anchor tied around it’s neck night in and night out.

Irrespective of what Wilson told 640 today about blowing his stack, the truth is the pressure on Wilson has to be getting rather immense. Face it, his steam stinks. He is about to head off to Vancouver to coach the Olympics, where many people already are snickering at his selection. Coming in with Wilson’s track record won’t help his cause in the US team’s dressing room. So it’s clear that Wilson’s gasket blowing is well understandable.

As I have said in this space many times, as Alex Tran wrote this evening as well, the problem with the Maple Leafs is really quite simple. They are totally devoid of talent. Yes the team has mustered together a win here or a couple, but hey on any given sunday. For the Maple Leafs to actually be successful every single thing must go there way. They quite simply don’t have the horses to compete. The drop off in talent upfront after Phil Kessel is about as wide as the grand canyon. The same can be said after Kaberle on the back end. In net, neither guy has established themselves as a true number one.

So, what we see is what we get. It’s really not all the surprising after all.

I loved the question Brian Burke got during the pre game tonight about his playoff comment in the pre-season. You know it’s really not that complicated an issue. Most fans got it, most media heard enough to try and twist it. For those who don’t get it, here again it is…

Burke, perhaps trying to be a tad too cute said that his goal was to make the playoffs.

What he meant was, you show up every season, every day, every game to win. You don’t prepare to lose. Losing isn’t acceptable. If you set the tone by saying you aren’t trying to make the playoffs then losing become acceptable. How would Burke or Wilson look at their team from day one, or any other day for that matter if they didn’t believe they could win?

That, my friends is totally different as how this has been spun. We expect to compete for a playoff spot suddenly became we will make the playoffs. Semantics ? Perhaps. Maybe Burke should have spelled it out clearer. I suspect that he assumed we were smarter than that. Instead what he said was that he doesn’t want one player on his roster who doesn’t come to win every night, any player who isn’t prepared to fight for a playoff spot should see him and Burke will try to trade him.

It’s really not that hard to decipher, however it has been misplayed over and over.

It’s going to be fun reading and watching as the clock crawls towards March 3. The problem with this team is simple. There just not very good.



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January 10, 2010 9:02 am

As I have written in the past; it’s too early to judge Burke’s work. He showed creativity in the off season and has added a few parts. The question I have is; what do we think he will do with what I believe is the biggest hole…center. Hopefully Kadri will come along and be at least a good #2 (maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll be more than that) but what about a #1? There aren’t too many UFA’s to choose from….Marleau? I doubt it. My gut says Nash and the Sedins represented Burke’s Plan A then Plan B….What is Plan C? And does it come in year 2 or year 3?

January 10, 2010 9:33 am

As much as I believe that Burke, more so than Wilson, has job security for one more year anyways, I really do question Wilson’s coaching. While he had great success in San Jose, he never won anything; and his team was constantly ousted by the 2nd round of the playoffs, if not sooner, and he had a very talented team to work with.

While this current collection of beer leaguers will likely be let go come year’s end, it appears to me that the team is indeed playing to lose. You know, playing well enough to keep it close on most nights so all their excuses and post game cliches still have merit and substance and surprising themselves on nights when they actually win.

January 10, 2010 12:32 pm

I like the kids we have right now. I think Kadri has potential to be a solid #2. I don’t see him as a #1 however.

Bozak and Hanson will both turn into solid NHL players, maybe even good ones…but they are both a ways away from that.

Been nice watching Kulemin come into his own this year.

Anyways, was bored and checking out team stats today…19th in the league in goals per game, yet leading the league in shots per game.

Other than Kessel – and his recent slump has been well documented – we really don’t have anyone who can put the puck in on a consistent basis. Sure, Hagman had a nice run, but that was a) surprising and b) new. We haven’t really seen that from him before. I’ve always thought he was a good 3rd line winger, but maybe he’s a top 6 forward…on most other teams. On this team, he’s our 2nd best winger. Bleh.

Oh, and 1 more team stat: Dead last in goalie save percentage. Maybe we should be worrying more about that than anything else.
Not sure who Burke is going to bring in over the off season to alleviate the issues. I’m sure he’s thinking about it and would love to bring in some more real talent…but pickings are slim.

January 14, 2010 10:38 am

It doesn’t matter about the semantics of what Burke said in pre-season or whenever, what matters is the lack of action, the continued lack of accountability for the shoddy on-ice efforts. They are simply a bad hockey team and despite management’s insistence that losing isn’t acceptable, it seems to be well accepted and ingrained in the dressing room culture.

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