Saturday night Toronto Sports Thoughts

I didn’t see much of the Raptors come from back, back, back win. I was watching the buds beat the habs, but once again the beauty of Twitter allowed me to follow the action as the Raptors were getting pounded early both on the court and on twitter. Good on them. Man oh man was the Palace at Auburn hills empty as the clock wore down.

I saw the spin-o-rama goal from the Oilers, Tampa Bay game. I loved it. The NHL is in the entertainment business. It wants fans and it wants those fans to go home (or turn off the tv) happy. That’s why they have the shootout. When I was working in the IHL, the arenas used to go nuts during shootouts. I think the players should have to shoot without their helmets on. It’s a dog and pony show and the goal was AWESOME. Best proof? Every kid at North Toronto hockey rink was talking about it Saturday.

Speaking of kids, little TSM has a friend sleeping over. I heard them playing hockey on the PS3. Neither team talked about being the Maple Leafs. In fact, despite the fact that little TSM was wearing a Leafs hat and the buddy a Habs hat- neither kid talked about “being” any Canadian team while playing. Later they were playing ball hockey in our basement and again, I didn’t hear Phaneuf, Kessel or any other Leafs player mentioned once. It’s so sad because when I was kid we were always Maple Leaf players, no matter how bad the team was.

“Those kinds of moves have set any meaningful rebuild back by years. And it was largely done because Burke came in thinking the fans were impatient, the media was comprised of a bunch of blood-suckers and the pressure on anyone to play in this atmosphere is suffocating.”

So says Ken Campbell of the Hockey News. While the moves may very well have been the wrong ones, I think the stated cause is erroneous. I don’t think Burke thought the fans were impatient, if anything I think Burke himself would tell you he is the one who is impatient. Burke said right from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be a 5 year rebuild because he didn’t think it would take that long.

As for the media bit, if Burke thought that before does anyone think that his attitude has changed?

“But in Toronto, it’s apparently a “disgrace” that fans boo an underachieving, mistake-prone captain or that the future of a coach who hasn’t coaxed any results out of his roster is questioned. Anyone who knows Burke quickly realizes he’s taking the heat off his team by putting it on himself, but it is born of a notion that Leaf fans are ready to pounce and eat their own.

Nothing could be further from the truth and nobody, not Burke or anyone else, is going to fix this thing until they realize that.”

I don’t quite get Campbell’s last point, but he is bang on with the first part. Burke is the master deflector. He says things repeatedly to take the pressure off of others, players and or coaches.

Pierre LeBrun must be a fan of the late Leslie Nielsen:

“Tomas Kaberle trade rumors resurfaced in cyberspace this week, but the defenseman’s agent told on Saturday that his client had no interest in leaving Toronto at this point.

Any move would have to go through Kaberle and veteran agent Rick Curran because the D-man has a no-trade clause. At this point, it appears Kaberle has no intention of waiving it, which means he could walk away July 1 as an unrestricted free agent and the Leafs wouldn’t receive any compensation.”

What exactly is Kaberle’s agent going to say, he’s dying to get traded? This horses is way beyond beaten to death. As for Kaberle, the only time he will be ready to leave Toronto is when there is a $ involved. For years we have heard how much he loves it here and doesn’t want to leave. We’ll see how much that love is worth this summer. For my money, I hope Burke forces Kaberle’s hand before the deadline and says it’s time to go and gets something, anything back for him. In other words, please disperse, there is nothing to see here.

Seriously though, Matt Millen, Mike Milbury separated at birth?

Did you see the following from Jeff Blair?:

“As much as sacrificing a better draft placing by adding Martin Gerber for an aborted run at a playoff spot and as much as adding Kessel seem now in retrospect to be a misguided attempt by Burke to force the issue, so was the naming of Phaneuf. Who says Luke Schenn isn’t the real captain? Why even name a captain? What was the rush?”

I said that same thing over and over again. What was the rush to name a captain? Every time the issue of the Leafs not having a captain I asked why it mattered. All I think it did was put a big target on the guys back.

I had a nice chat with a Toronto based MSMer this week. The topic, Brian Burke and the Leafs. Here’s the question I asked him, if Burke were to start throwing bodies overboard, in exchange for draft picks and instead of spending on guys like he has in the past offseason this coming summer, in essence, actually having a real building reminder of this season and next, would Leaf fans be forgiving of the last couple of seasons? In other words, if Burke through actions admitted that the fast track to success wasn’t going to work and traded whatever he could between now and the end of the season for picks and didn’t overpay for and wily veterans in the offseason and had yet another season next year sans playoffs would leaf fans be okay with that. The answer? A huge yes! The real question is, would Burke be willing to do it? If he could get a 2nd rounder (to go with his own) and a couple of thirds, 4th or 5ths so he had some picks this year would leaf fans be content. I think we would be a much happier bunch then we are right now.

Time will tell.

Did you guys see this awesome headline about the Miami Hurricanes search for a new head coach? Perhaps the greatest line about the CFL ever!

Maybe he didn’t get everything he wanted done, but say this about the new Wizzard behind the wall leading the Toronto Blue Jays, he has people in this town talking baseball in December. The last GM who did that was just elected to the baseball hall of fame!

Did you happen to catch Jim Hughson cheering on the Habs tonight during the HNIC broadcast? It was pretty pathetic. If i didn’t know better he jumped out of his seat with a fist in the air when the Habs got on the board.

Yes I am a burger guy. Yes a new burger joint is coming to town, it’s called 5 guys and yes you should try it. For the record, I am a big fan of Burger Priest, Allen’s and Craft Burger. I am told Stalkyards has a good burger but I haven’t tried it yet. In tier two is Mike’s Munchies, Golden Star and Burger Shack. Next time we can talk wings…

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Happy Sunday.



Jeff Blair is here

Pierre LeBrun is here

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December 12, 2010 9:39 am

Since first having 5 Guys about 4 years ago, we’ve essentially planned family vacations with an eye to getting there at least once. Two weeks ago I saw the coming soon sign at Erin Mills and Burnhamthorpe, 5 minutes from home. Maybe the Leafs will never win the cup, but a t least there’s 5 Guys to fall back on. A word of advice, order smaller than you think you need, the peanuts are very filling.

Mike S
Mike S
December 12, 2010 7:05 pm

Why do so many Leafs fans think that national NHL broadcasters are always cheering against their team?……….is it because Leafs fans are used to listening to Joe Bowen, who wears blue and white boxer shorts?

December 12, 2010 11:28 pm

I don’t know if the current HNIC crew is biased or just plain stupid but some of their comments are just awful. I don’t want a pro or against slant of the Leafs, just what’s fair. And McGuire is just plain fucking annoying. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM AND HIRE HIM TO BE A GM SO HE’S NO LONGER ON THE AIR?!?!

For the longest time Leaf haters bitched about the bias of Bob Cole towards the Leafs. I recall reading somewhere that he grew up a Habs fan. Any possible bias I think was just his familiarity with the Leafs since he always did the HNIC Leafs games for so long. For this Leafs fan, I was calling for Cole to be replaced from before the lockout. He’s been brutal for a while now.

Bowen, while a little biased, is downright neutral compared to some of the broadcasters in the US and for RDS. Bowen will call a spade a spade for missed Leaf penalties and other such stuff.

Ami Angelwings
December 13, 2010 6:18 pm

As much as every caller on the FAN, and every commenter in Toronto newspapers says that they’re more than happy to wait for a “real” 5 year rebuilding process… given that after like 8 games in the Raptors season where they even have a draft pick, callers were complaining… I really think that even if the Leafs had their 1st round draft pick and just were terrible for 5 years, it’d just be 1825 days of complaining, and possibly people just not showing up for games (I know I know, it’ll always be packed but as ppl keep pointing out there are more and more empty seats now and if you gut the thing for 5 years..) and what if we pick badly? Or it’s a bad draft year (like the Bargnani year)? Or the rookies crumble under the Toronto media pressure? As much as we look at the Chis and Pitts and Washs of the world, there are a ton of teams who have kept sucking the whole time and not become powerhouses… and what GM would want to be the one who takes that risk? I know I’d need an absolutely guaranteed can’t-be-fired 8 year deal to accept being the scapegoat for 5 years of destruction…

And look, I’m not defending Burke. I don’t think he’s done a great job… I am still okay with the Kessel deal (hindsight is 20/20 and being against/for is 50/50, everybody crowing now had better been right in every single other prediction of trades they’ve made, otherwise it’s like intelligent design, whatever survives thru natural selection seems like there must be a God that designed it) but his FA signings have been pretty bad, and I’ve worried for a long time that he has too much of a free reign to enact his ideology (North Americans and fighters vs Europeans and skill players) where the Leafs have essentially become his personal petri dish to prove that he’s right about his philosophies… but I understand not wanting to just tear it down and suck for 5 years, cuz he won’t be the one who is around to take the credit when things turn around (or be paid)…

The thing is that the way the Leafs are in Toronto, fans get a 24/7 sounding board in the media to be angry, and they build off each other, and in this environment, you can’t win for losing basically… because the anger doesn’t grow at a standard rate, it grows exponentially, and each year will get way way way worse.. and you better hope it works in 5 years if you do it… and as I said, no GM would risk their job on guaranteeing failure on faint hope 5 years away… :\

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