Anyway…before I left the province at some ungodly time this morning I noted that the T.O. sports media was already working itself into a frenzy over Larry Tanenbaum’s comments a couple days ago that the Leafs would rather build a team that was good for the long run, rather than winning the Stanley Cup once then sucking for a bunch of years.
Tanenbaum suggested that MLSE would like the Leafs to be like the Detroit Red Wings. That’s great. I’d like to have Stephen Brunt’s job too.
Ok, here is the thing. As the grumpiest hockey writer on the planet, Damien Cox, pointed out today this latest proclamation from Leaf Land should be taken with an ample helping of salt. Sea salt even. MLSE says whatever MLSE thinks it should say to convince the delusional masses that this time they know what they are doing. Found that GM yet?
But, even if you do think that Tanenbaum and company are in this for the long haul and have finally figured out that the way to consistently win hockey games is to consistently develop good hockey players, one overriding thought has got to keep popping into even the most stupidly loyal Leaf lover:
You know what else is good?
WINNING A BLOODY CHAMPIONSHIP MORE THAN ONCE EVERY 41 YEARS.
I think I speak for most of Leaf Nation (of which I’m a landed immigrant rather than a full citizen) when I suggest that the “deal with the devil” approach would be fine if it ended with a joyous parade up Young Street. That get as good as the Red Wings thing is a good idea too, but, you know…crawl before walking and all that.
In the meantime I’ve recently learned that the Leafs are in fact going to have to play in the NHL this season. There was some hope that they may have been relegated to the ECHL, but evidently they don’t do that in North America. So, we’re stuck with this mess. But, as I sit back and observe the activity at the ACC I can’t shake a funny feeling about this team. Maybe I’ve been slipped some Kool-Aid, but I can’t help but think that Ron Wilson’s humourless, systems-driven coaching combined with some of the gritty, bound to feature prominently on coach's corner “talent” the Leafs have brought in is going to mean two things.
1) – Toronto is going to be a God awful, trapping disaster that’s less entertaining than Bob Saget. And…
2) Against all odds they are going to grind their way into an eighth place finish and first round loss to Pittsburgh (in five. But, that game four OT win will cause riots on the street).
Yes, the Leafs are going to make the playoffs. Barely, and tragically. You read it here first.
NOTES: nothing to do with the topic at hand, but as I picked up the local rag here in Fredericton I couldn’t help but notice that the hockey heroes from a certain university located in south-eastern Ontario are here to play STU. In the advance story on the game, writer Bill Hunt informs his readers that said team’s nickname is…wait for it…the Golden Gaels.
I’m just sayin’