Bernier was solid again. Gardiner was strong and Phaneuf played his usual role- and key minutes. A win has to help the psyche. I’m sure you all noticed a Leaf or two that stood out for you against the Devils.
That said, while a win certainly helps, the fact remains the Leafs are not winning games in regulation. They remain a team that is better, I believe, than their record. They need to start taking games to the opposition. But you usually have to walk before you run, so this is a step in the right direction, after a solid effort in Washington on Friday night.
I’m not sure if it has already happened, but if not, I still wonder if we are on the verge of a full-out Maple Leaf “players only” meeting at some point. (That is one of the usual steps when a team hits the skids, or is just as baffled as their fans about why they are struggling to win games.)
My question today, though, goes beyond whether such a meeting would actually be held. I guess my real point is: if such a meeting were to take place, who would call the meeting? Who would speak in the meeting? Would anyone really and truly listen?
Hey, I get that teams can sometimes get off the rails, as it were, and there are times when they need to get together and hash out whatever issues may be hindering performance on the ice—and togetherness off the ice. Forget the coach, forget the system they are asked to play. These are the guys on the ice. They need to get it done.
This much I know, however: these kinds of meetings—whether in the business world or the sports world (or within our families, for that matter)—will generally only be useful and have a long-term, lasting impact if the people who call and conduct the meeting are already well respected and well-regarded.
I think we need to add that, in hockey terms, the individual in question who calls the meeting must also be playing well and working their tail off on the ice. If not, who is going to listen to someone exhorting his teammates on to greater effort if they are sitting there thinking, “Who is this guy to be telling us how to play…?”
So who is that individual with the Leafs?
I’m guessing who some of you might name or suggest. And that’s fine. But my next question then is: if the Leafs already have these leaders in place, are they really leaders if no one is following their cue?
To me these are simple but pretty darned important questions.
Who calls this meeting? Who leads? Who listens? Who actually will respond? Would a meeting have any impact at all in the long run?
The win may stave off any need for this kind of player gab fest, but for me, the questions remain...