Let’s face it. As fans, probably the best thing we can do through the lockout is ignore it, as I posted here last week. The longer we pine for the return of NHL hockey, guys like Krys Barch in Florida (does he play for the Panthers? I knew precious little about him- at least until he took to Twitter on the weekend...) ) will believe we can’t live without them. And they will use their “platform” to try to convince us that hockey players have it rough because the big, bad NHL owners want to take their money away—and as a result, some players may even have to work for a living after they retire from hockey.
As I’ve said here many times, maybe the players would like to try and make the money they’re being paid doing something else for a living, eh? Let’s see how that would work out.
Before I go on, I’ll set the lockout aside while pondering the following Leaf thoughts:
- Does anyone really care that Cody Franson has signed somewhere to play? For a while on Monday, there were reports that he would not return even if the lockout ended. But would it have really mattered if he couldn’t come back and sign with Toronto? He seemed like a nice NHL defenseman at times last season after some earlier career success with the Predators, but he didn’t exactly set the league on fire. So he’s just another Leaf looking to take someone’s job in Europe.
- The Kadri thing will blow over, but I’m convinced there is something not quite right in the culture of the organization. I’ve tried to say here for years that Burke is way too much about “I” and “my team” and how he does things, as though he invented the position of General Manager. The organization supposedly established this whole “earning your sweater” thing but that's a fraud, really. You mean to tell me that, on a team that has stunk for the four years Burke has been here, all those guys have earned their sweater every night? Not a chance. But they sure seem obsessed with making Kadri the poster boy for earning a roster spot.
- I never believed there was a sense of entitlement here before, or the much-discussed “blue and white disease”. But seeing a) how long Wilson stayed on the job even though he and Burke were not on the same page about being a “tough” team, b) Burke’s never-ending public comments that just don’t stand up to scrutiny (e.g. “I always build my teams from the back end…”), c) L’affaire Allaire, d) the unnecessary references to Kadri and e) the fact that this management team can’t attract top-tier UFA’s, (and those are just a few examples...) I think there is a problem now, if there wasn’t one before…
- Cap or no cap, the fact that a Leaf line-up badly in need of a jump-start and fresh blood might not be able to integrate Kadri and other youngsters in the line-up because players like Connolly and Lombardi are here is a reflection of some terrible personnel decisions by management. There’s just no way to defend that.
- I like Reimer a lot, but if the season started tomorrow, does anyone believe Burke was not trying to obtain goaltending help this past summer? Luongo was on the table, for sure (and still may be).
- Do you believe the Leafs are really and truly prepared to go an entire season with Reimer and Scrivens in goal? After last season, not a chance.
- I wonder how the Leaf players who are waiting out the lockout and fighting the good fight on the CBA front lines will feel about teammates that basically left the union brotherhood to pick up a pay check in Europe?
- Every good NHL team needs elite defensemen. Do the Leafs have any?
- Though the results don’t show it, the Leafs have been an easy team to coach in terms of motivation the last couple of seasons. Why do I say that? Well, they are a young team, filled with players simply trying to make—and stay in—the line-up. No way do young guys challenge a coach’s authority. The Leafs had no superstars (Kessel being the closest thing we have) and barely any veterans. The only time Kessel expressed frustration a couple of seasons ago, he was told firmly never to go off message again.
- That said, I wonder what will happen the first time there is an issue with a guy being benched, etc. this coming season after the revelations from Allaire that he wasn’t allowed to do his job properly. Something was going on behind the scenes. You can bet the Toronto media will be primed to look for discontent everywhere now, though the Leafs will try to shut down any perception of rebellion.
- Rick Nash was injured in one of his first games in Europe. What happens to guys like Nash, who are under contract, if they suffer a serious injury? Do the Rangers have to pay him for getting hurt playing for someone else? We wouldn’t be thrilled if he was a Leaf now (as we thought was possible at one point last season) and he was not able to play after the lockout.
- One-time would-have-been Maple Leaf Tyler Seguin struggled in his first game in Switzerland or wherever’s he’s playing. This should not surprise us. I don’’t imagine he grew up wanting to play for whatever team he’s on right now. He’s there to get paid, stay in some degree of shape—and pass the time.
- I just looked at the Leaf current roster. It does not inspire.
- Can someone fill me in on Michael Kostka? He is listed on the Leaf roster on their web site. He’s one of their top-8 defensemen?
- I wonder how Phil Kessel is staying in shape during the lockout?
Thanks to those who continue to visit VLM despite the lack of Leaf-related “news”. I’ll aim to continue to post as often as possible…