Do The Leafs Need To Apologize?


Every since Mrs. TSM dumped her coffee on my last laptop I’ve switched to using Chrome as a browser. Love it. If you have not tried it, I recommend it.

The media, specifically those who have caught the wrath of Brian Burke in the past are circling the Toronto Maple Leafs these days. Easy target under the best of circumstances. With the team done for the year, and taking a step backwards in a big way, well the target grows dramatically.

Dave “The Dirtbag” Feschuk writes in yesterday’s Toronto Star that Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs owe fans an apology.

“Clearly there’s a more appropriate message to the people who care about his hockey club. It starts with, “I’m sorry.” And it does not assume forgiveness, let alone employment until the Winter Classic.”

Now, just because Feschuk says Burke should do it, doesn’t mean that we Leaf fans agree or even think one is owed us.

What’s more interesting than the issue itself is the response the article got from the National Post. you know the National Post, the paper that employs Bruce Arthur, who got yesterday’s comments to a level we haven’t seen in a long time.

“I’m very sorry that the Leafs (apparently) aren’t heading to the playoffs. And no doubt, well-apprised fans have all sorts of ideas for improving the team’s performance. But when did we, as a society, decide that losing at sports is some kind of moral sin — one that requires public shaming, histrionic lamentations, and the sort of grand appeals for “forgiveness” (Feschuk’s word) that we more traditionally associate with the legacy of Indian residential schools? Feschuk informs me that a pair of Leafs gold-section season tickets cost $16,000 per year. That’s a lot of money. But anyone who pays that price isn’t “owed” anything — except the right to be admitted to the arena and watch 60 minutes of NHL hockey.”

You know how much I love when non business or legal guys start writing or talking about those issues. Equally, I love when non-sports guys start writing about sports. I happen to like Kay’s work, but honestly, he should stick to what he does best.

Having said that, while I agree with many of Kay’s points, I think he’s missing the bigger picture. Those who pay for seasons tickets for Leaf games isn’t representative of all leafs fans. I don’t however thing that fans are owed apologies as much as I think they are owed the truth. So I don’t think that Burke needs to say I’m sorry as much as I was wrong.

“I am not interested…in a five year rebuild like some these teams have done. Maybe because of my age, maybe just because I know it doesn’t have to be five years because it wasn’t in Anaheim. And I am not interested in a five year rebuild here. ”

“I like the group that finished the year, I think just on internal improvement we will be better. I think we will be good enough with this group and a couple additions to say in training camp that the playoffs are a reasonable goal.”

Burke said those things in April of 2010.

Last year was not much different:

“I believe in this group,” Burke said during his end of season media conference. “I think the building blocks we put in place in terms of the defence, the way the top-six (forwards) rounded out, I do think we’re close with a few additions.
“Whether we can get access to those players or are able to get them remains to be seen.”

While I don’t think an apology is required, I’d rather hear I was wrong. It’s going to take longer than I thought.

The one question I have is despite player changes that are needed who on the management team is going to pay the price for this. At the end of 2010 season Burke called the Leafs strength and conditioning coach Anthony Belza the most important man in the organization. Randy Carlyle keeps questioning the Leafs conditioning. Is Belza going to pay the price?

Time is certainly ticking. One has to wonder whether Burke’s comments at the end of 2010 are coming closer to reality then any of us ever thought.

“I’m immune to fear of being canned,” I’ve been canned, this doesn’t scare me anymore. I’ll either get it done here or I won’t. I’ll join that long list of souls who haunt the building or I’ll be back talking to you folks for a few more years.”

Loved all the comments yesterday on the Arthur/Tebow story. Keep it clean and respectful and we are all good.


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mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
March 22, 2012 7:26 am

since i follow the Jays, i’ll make an analogy with baseball. Even though the team has not improved on the win totals put up under JP Riccardi, most followers of the team are neverthless excited about the future. The reason is that AA has stocked the Jays with a) young, b) controllable c) high-ceiling talent both in the majors and in the minors. As such, many people reasonably believe that the team is on the cusp of contending, assuming some things break correctly.

compare this with the Leafs — in the 4 years that BB has been at the helm the team has not made the playoffs. One way this could be acceptable is if the team had significantly improved its talent base, such that it would be reasonable to expect them to be on the cusp of becoming a contender. Are they? The pundits certainly don’t seem to think so.

Steve from Waterloo
Steve from Waterloo
March 22, 2012 12:46 pm

It is vogue to dump all over management, and it is easy to do.

If you consider how bare and distraught the Leaf organization was four years ago, you have to at least acknowledge that they are better stocked at each level, and that the management team, and by extension the organization, has more respect amongst NHL players and management sorts.

While I am a little tired of the blustery Burke quotes, I do respect the job that he has done and I am confident they are on the right course (though the Boston game on Monday put a little doubt in the back of my mind).

March 22, 2012 12:53 pm

I think part of the problem for the Leafs, and why panic/doom-and-gloom has set in, is that BB has seemingly rebuilt this team and organization that plays one way and now with the coaching change is going to play a different way.

I (like I am sure many others) have not seen much of the Marlies, but I think the assumption is that the Marlies play like “Ron Wilson’s Leafs”, and since the belief is that many of the current Leafs can’t play Randy Carlyle’s style of hockey, then by connection there’s a whole organization that can’t the new coach’s style, so BB has to perform a major overhaul, setting progress back a couple years again.

This season can’t end soon enough. The Leafs are already 3rd or 4th on my depth chart for interest for the local teams. just want them to go away til the fall now and stop taking away focus from the teams with some promise for this year.

March 22, 2012 12:59 pm

Steve, I thought they were on the right course too, and then panicked and pulled the chute.

As for versus Boston this year, it’s just bizarre. They’ve played fairly well against all the other top teams in the conference, but have not even been in the same area code as the Bruins.

March 22, 2012 1:06 pm

[…] Toronto Sports Media blog explores the local newspapers imploring the Maple Leafs to apologize to their fans for missing the […]

March 22, 2012 1:53 pm

I think the Marlies should play their playoff games at the ACC. The Maple Leaf season ticket holders should get free tickets to the games in the lower bowls. The upper bowl tickets are deeply discounted ($15 to $25 a seat) and market the hell out of it.

The Marlies are leading their Division, going to the playoffs, and yet no one in this city is talking about it. I know it’s the minor leagues, but these players are supposed to be the Leaf’s of the future. Shouldn’t we get excited about it?

Il Duce
Il Duce
March 23, 2012 1:45 pm

I like Feschuk but he’s way off. MLSE owes no one an apology nor should they, however the organization needs to be held accountable by the season ticket holders and their fans. With a long waiting list for season tickets there is no real sense of urgency for MLSE to do anything. Until the fans (corporate season ticket holders) stop going, which will be neverhappen, nothing will change. I’ve always subscribed to the fact that there needs to one singular progressive owner of MLSE to have any impact on this franchise. As a fan I was hoping Larry Tanenbaum was the one but unfortunately with the new ownership setup, Maple Leaf/ Raptors/ TFC Fans will be subjected to the same losing culture for many years to come.


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