Sometimes fewer words is indeed better. It surely has to be better when there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to say. So I’ll try to be brief today.
Some reactions to my recent post on “why the Leafs still matter” (I'd enjoy your hearing your perspective on that recent column, if you haven't checked it out already...) made me pause and think. Are many Leaf fans as pessimistic as it sounds? Has the team (as it is presently constituted—not the historical franchise, if you see the distinction I’m trying to draw…) actually become less relevant than it used to be? Are people off the bandwagon until there is legitimate proof, over an extended period of time, that the team has turned a corner?
Heck, I heard a debate recently on one of the all-sports radio stations around whether the Leafs should still be pursuing Luongo. (It wasn’t really much of a debate. You could tell they were just filling time, since there isn’t actually much hockey to chat about, except the excruciatingly slow and painful CBA negotiations.)
The conversation covered the same well-trod ground we’ve tracked here for months, dating back to the Canuck’s playoff demise and the cues we all noticed that signalled that the veteran goalkeeper would not be staying with the Canucks. One guy thought Luongo was a good idea for the Leafs because he would immediately help their chances of making the playoffs—and Luongo is, he said, better than what the Leafs have right now in the system. The other fellow said Luongo was past his prime. (You’ve heard my assessment on this subject many times: Luongo is still a very good goalie, sure, and he could indeed help the Leafs get to the playoffs. But having seen him melt down several years in a row on an outstanding Vancouver team (one that should have won a Cup by now) well, for me, he just isn’t the guy for the Leafs. Even if he was absolutely brilliant in the regular-season, I would hold my breath until he proved he could do the same for the blue and white come playoff time. (Then, if he did that, I would acknowledge, gladly, the error of my ways.)
In any event, I would like to throw a few questions onto (into?) the discussion hopper for those many thoughtful readers who drop by here from time to time. A simple yes or no by way of response is fine, but if you’d like to add any comments, as always, feel free.
Here are the “10 questions”:
- Are you happy Brian Burke is still the Leaf GM—yes or no?
- Are you satisfied with the job he has done in almost four years on the job? (I know there may be no simple "yes" or "no" response, but give it your best shot...)
- Is Burke the right guy to take the Leafs to the next step in their re-build?
- Do you want Roberto Luongo here? (Do you want Luongo here if there is a real cost, or only if the deal is mostly the Canucks taking on our un-wanted salary?)
- The fact that it hasn’t happened so far this summer clearly demonstrates that, CBA realities aside, the Leafs cannot acquire a bona fide number-one center (Marleau, Getzlaf, etc.) without giving up something big in return—like Jake Gardiner. Do you still want them to aggressively pursue a high-end centre?
- If they can’t bring in a top center, what is your next “acquisition” priority—goaltending, defensemen or forwards? (Only cite one...)
- Are you happy that Randy Carlyle is the coach heading into this next phase of the re-build?
- Can the Maple Leafs make the playoffs in the mediocre Eastern Conference with their roster as it is right now, given the apparent improvements made by their competition this summer?
- Who do you anticipate will be the Leafs’ top-six defensemen when they break camp for the regular season in October?
- Is there one well-regarded Maple Leaf that you may like a lot, but would be prepared to give up in a trade to acquire what you think the club needs?
It’s already August, so we know that guys are going to start pulling into town and showing up soon for those informal workouts they hold at the Leafs' Lakeshore practice facility every summer. Players will be itching to hit the ice, with training camp now suddenly not that far off.
If you have a second, take a look at the questions above and let me know what you’re thinking….