Custom Search

Where do the Leafs go from here?

A week or so ago, when the Leafs had just beaten the Kings in LA, a loss in Washington (that could easily have gone the other way) seemed like it was just another sidestep in a long but generally hopeful season for the blue and white.

Days later, fans are left wondering if the season is on the brink of, well, something short of a playoff spot.

My guess is many will put this all at the feet of James Reimer.  While I would have liked to have seen him play a lot better since the third period of the Detroit game, I am not inclined to say this is all about goaltending.

I recognize that the prevailing view is that “the team has actually played better lately, but the goaltending stinks”.  While there may be some merit in that assessment, I’m not sure the problems don’t go beyond that.

I’ll only share a few comments, and then leave you to ponder where the Leafs are a:

  • MacIntyre did all that could be asked of him, in a very difficult situation—and more.
  • Bolland seemed less noticeable in his second game back, not surprisingly so given what a huge adjustment it must be after being out of the lineup for so long.
  • As tough a night as it was for Reimer, the Leafs were still allowing breakaways (I thought I counted two) against a team that struggles to create any offence.
  • I liked Kadri coming out publicly in support of Reimer before the game—a sign of a teammate saying the right things to support someone who is going through a tough time. If only the coach had the same instincts, some of this might have been averted days ago.  (Did anyone notice that Don Cherry said, on Saturday night, what I’ve been saying here for months—that Reimer needs to play somewhere else?)
  • Rielly and Gardiner have played some of their most poised, confident and eye-popping hockey during this losing skid.
  • Will Clarkson be a better fit next season, when he has a better sense of how the Leafs play and what his role needs to be here? (Though I’m not sure I know “how” they play, and I’ve been watching all season…)

The Leafs deserve credit for coming back yet again—they continue to fall just short.  If they were receiving the kind of netminding that was the standard most nights earlier this season, there seems little doubt the outcome in some of these recent games would have been different.

So where do the Leafs go from here?  Are you still confident about the playoffs? Is this all on Reimer?

Your turn…


  1. I could see by the body language that this would be a rough game for Reimer, and no wonder, It's become known that his wife, April, has been receiving threatening and quite disgusting tweets. It made me feel sick. How can anyone think this sort of anonymous cruelty is acceptable? It's unthinkable to me. Colleen

    1. As I've stated for months, James simply needs a change of scenery. A lot of fans don't see it, but he was dealt a lousy hand and has tried to handle it as best he can. In another market, on another team who will appreciate what he brings to a team, he'll be fine. Once a goalie loses the faith of his organization, he loses confidence win himself. But he will get it back.

      Steve Mason was being thrown under the bus by virtually everyone in the hockey world (including a lot of Leaf fans) just a year ago. He doesn't look too bad right now...thanks Colleen.

  2. "So where do the Leafs go from here?"

    If Bernier can't go on Tuesday against St. Louis, play McIntyre, who looked more confident than Reimer. Perhaps Reimer needs a rest? McIntyre looked sharp and has played very well in the minors, 25 wins .919 save %...maybe he will surprise.

    It's a good thing that the Leafs have fewer games this week and don't play again until Friday against the Flyers and Detroit on Saturday.

    "Are you still confident about the playoffs?"

    No 50/50...they have to get a win in the next three or they are done, 3 or 4 points would better. With the exception of Boston their schedule is relatively easy after : Calgary, Boston, Winnipeg, Tampa Florida and Ottawa to close the season. They could still make it with a run at the end.

    "Is this all on Reimer?"

    No, lots of blame here. Management went after Clarkson when they needed a top four defenseman. Carlyle played Orr tonight for 2:17 when he was not needed and they could have played a more useful player. Notice some of the Leaf winning streaks match Orr's injuries?

    Kessel was soft as a kitten on the first Montreal goal. I could go on.

    If they miss the playoffs, perhaps it will be a good thing. Carlyle will have to adjust and be better or be fired. Orr gets waived. Trade some players some players like Franson and get a defensive dman and make some room for the young guys coming up.

    1. Thanks for chiming in, DP- teams, coaches, fans often talk about overcoming adversity and "character". Maybe the next while will reveal a bit about where the team is at in those areas.

  3. Thanks Michael. I've always believed in Reimer, not so in the actions of a minority of my fellow man. And it is a minority.
    Sorry for venting, Michael. ( I have four kids around their age) Some things are more important than a game. I know Reimer is strong and will bounce back, on his feet, where ever he lands. C

  4. It seems pretty evident to me that this team is seriously flawed and on most nights needs stellar goaltending to have a chance to win. I feel for James Reimer. Last June, he and many Leaf fans felt that he had earned the positionof #1 goalie. Since then I am sure he has undergone an emotional rollercoaster. The fact that he has struggled should come as no surprise, given that he has sat for long periods of time with little chance of staying sharp.

    I agree with you Michael that he definitely needs a change of scenery. I agree with Colleen that any attacks on James and his family are sickening. Some "fans" take to the internet and say some outrageous things, safe in their anonymity. The beauty of VLM is that it is populated by true thinking fans who measure their words before posting.

    Where do the Leafs go from here? I don't believe this team, as constituted, will go very far unless they get lights out goaltending. They need to set on 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines and keep them together so they can gel. They definitely need an upgrade on defense and especially on team defense.

    This team was purported to be molded to fit Carlyle's system. I expected to see a much improved defensive system but we have been treated to the same looseplay as in previous years. The Leafs will not go very far until this deficiency is addressed.

    1. The "team defense" issue you cite, Pete Cam, may be the single most baffling thing of all for me. Carlyle and the players talk about it constantly, but nothing seems to change to any great extent. The same mistakes are made almost nightly. Like you, I would have expected at least this aspect of team play to have shown a marked improvement by now.

      I genuinely believe Reimer will be himself again some day- just not with the Leafs. Thanks for visiting, Pete. (I hope you enjoyed "The Maple Leafs of my Youth", by the way.)

  5. "Where do the Leafs go from here?" The Leafs are in the midst of a late season swoon that isn't showing any signs of letting up. But more importantly, they're still exhibiting many of the bad habits that have plagued them all season. As I've said a few times here this year, it's "if" we make the playoffs precisely because these problems - flat starts, horrible shot differential, shoddy defensive play, lack of team leadership, bizarre line usage, and lack of team "compete" across the board on many nights - have not been addressed. Not to mention many other baffling coaching decisions. Factor in the non-impact of two of our three big signings last year and, well... there you have it. They need to address the above if we hope to make progress next year.
    "Do we make the playoffs?" I doubt it - but I've felt that way for most of this year. Even if we do, for me, the bigger issue is, why have there been so few games this year where it felt like the Leafs definitively won, forced their will on the other team? Why do we once again have to hope we can squeak into the playoffs by the back door?
    "Is it on Reimer?". Look, even his supporters can't deny he's given up some stinkers over the past few games.I don't think he'd deny it. But he's been terribly mismanaged by Carlyle and the staff. And there isn't a goalie in the world, let alone the NHL, who could continuously face the onslaught both Reimer and Bernier have faced this year without looking suspect. The failure of the coaches to address Leafs' defensive woes is worth more attention, to my way of thinking.
    This season is slipping away, and this year's Leafs have never come up big for a big game - another baffling trait. They won't get much bigger than the next few. It will be interesting to see where we are at this time next week.

    1. Well said as usual, Gerund O.

      As I mentioned to Colleen above, all those cliches- gut check time, character, overcoming adversity - will be heard in the days ahead. How the team responds may tell us something about the future.

  6. I'm admittedly down given this entire situation.
    I've heard some ppl say the Leafs need to win 6 of 9 to make the playoffs? Do you know where this comes from?

    1. I've always been terrible at math, Antoni- so unfortunately I'm out of my depth trying to figure out things like how many games one team has to win to make the playoffs if a bunch of other teams do or don't win!

      But they do have to win some games, for sure.

      By the way, I hope will stay around- it makes a valuable contribution to the Leaf universe. Thoughtful writing.

  7. Hi Michael
    Just when we thought it could not get any worse, it learn in leafland it certainly can. Seeing is believing. How fragile confidence can be. For some players like Reimer this is at an all time low. It is hard to see Reimer still remain a Leaf after this collapse. It was like the goal that the Monster let in against NJ a few years ago. Like the last few games that Toskala and even Raycroft played before we let them loose.

    We can point the blame for this horrific sudden turn of events to several directions. Starting with Carlyle who is as reluctant to change as anyone I've ever seen coach this team. There is no compromise or adjustments to his game plan whatsoever. Continuing to play Orr on the forth line, sticking with the same power play defencemen, burning out the top line late in games by overplaying them.

    One of Pat Burns and Pat Quinns coaching qualities was to identify early in the game which players were hot or having an off night and play them as often accordingly. Carlyles has an inability to identify a legitimate forth line with his reluctance to play Holland or Ashton any significant minutes. His persistence to go with the same 5 on the powerplay and the same 6 players on the goalie pulled situation even when they just had played a long shift the shift before. Why not try a rested Kadri and Gardiner and Reilly who can skate with the puck.

    McClement who was great earlier in the year at the pk, puts himself out of position by over committing way too often. Clarkson and Kuleman are paid handsomely not only to try hard but to actually perform whether it is in the offensive or any other way. A benching for a game or two is at least a fair accountabililty. But instead Carlyle has called out Reimer several times and contributed to destroying his confidence. Although Reimer has not held his own in the nets, but a coaches confidence is essential for any success. Kadri has not been surrounded with players who can utilize his skill set and has been sent out to play with inning killers. Franson is a shadow of himself playing as poorly as we've ever seen him on this team.

    Sorry Michael but I had to let that out!

    But .... Of the flip side. Bernier will eventually return. Our top line especially with Kessel shows emotion shows he cares. Bolland who is a very smart player is still finding his game and bring calmness to the team. The offensive emergence of Gardiner as dangerous as we've seen him.

    We still need to play 9 more games so its not over by any stretch. But its time to dig deep.

    Our playoffs and elimination games has officially begun now. As we still control our destiny. If we win our share of games we get in. I'm gonna pay special attention to these 9 games left to see who amongst the players will step up their game and deliver and use that as a measuring tool for their worth to this team.

    Its time for ALL the players to show the urgency as in my mind,
    Our playoffs have already begun.

    1. Hi BlueANDwhite- not only passion but so many good points (as always) in your post today.

      Carlyle is accountable, as is Reimer along with the rest of the players.

      I've been wondering lately why the Leafs would not bring in a true "kid line" on the fourth line, whether it's D'Amigo, Ashton and Holland and let McClement rest for a bit. There are other players who could use a break as well.

      Guys do care, including and maybe especially Kessel. While he does let things slide defensively still at times, he is flying most nights, trying to make things happen.

      Phaneuf is working but seems exhausted. The kids (Rielly, Kadri and Gardiner) have the jump to get the power play moving if needed.

      As you say, there is time. Thanks BlueANDwhite.

  8. First let me say that the mouthbreathers wishing all sorts of terrible things on James Reimer are truly dreadful human beings and should settle their own colony somewhere in Antarctica or Middle Earth and leave civilization to the rest of us.

    Having said that, I feel like the polarization here has made Reimer's defenders way too defensive and apologetic for his foibles this year. First he was playing too little. Now he's playing too much. Randy wasn't giving him a chance. Now Randy's setting him up to fail. Fact is, James has played horribly since December--essentially sub replacement level (read-Toskala level) goaltending. I'm not sure what is exactly wrong, but the fact that Randy Carlyle is a bit of dick is not an excuse for a professional goalie to let in close to four goals a game in the modern day NHL.

    I don't doubt that James will likely come back stronger next year, especially in the right situation, but I don't think his resigning is essential.

    Fact is, the goaltending talent in this league is so tightly bunched that it really is difficult to tell who is elite and who isn't. According to the stats, the best goalies in the league are Rask, Bishop, Harding and Varlamov. A few years ago it was Thomas, Rinne, Hiller and Lundqvist. It's hard to know who is elite--is Jon Quick (who I had always figured as one of the true unimpeachable elite goalies in this league) truly a great goalie or is he just a product of his environment? How is Ben Scrivens all of a sudden awesome? There's so little consistency among goalies in this league--success stories come from nowhere, and back-ups often outplay their superstar starter counterparts, that it seems bewildering to even attempt to make an investment in netminding in today's NHL. Maybe James will play next year. Maybe not. With his--and most other goalies' lack of consistency it's hard to know.

    Who knows, maybe at this time next year (or next week!), Drew Macintyre will be the toast of Toronto. At this point, that isn't nearly as outlandish a possibility as one would think.

    1. I don't see myself as a Reimer defender. I think he has been a solid NHL goalie and believe he brought a refreshing attitude to the organization.

      He has not been near good enough for the most part lately. His issue right now is not playing too many games. The much larger issue I have talked about for months- when an organization replaces you dramatically and publicly as the top guy- when you truly believe you have earned the job- is more than most guys (even highly paid professionals) can handle. I've worked professionally with enough athletes to know this is true.

      Could he have handled things better? I guess. But when the new President refers to you from Day One as "the guy we inherited", the chances of you ever really finding your confidence in that environment is unlikely. And you can't play at that level (or any level in sports) without absolutely confidence.

      You cite the fluctuating goalie reality- it's true. As I mentioned above, plenty of folks were highly critical of Steve Mason a few short months ago. He started out tremendously with Columbus, then flailed for quite a while. People knocked Holmgren for trading for him and then signing him. Yet he has helped lead the Flyers to a rather remarkable turnaround. I have to believe the fact that management and the coaching staff has believed in him and stuck with him has made him play a whole lot better.

      That's what Bernier has here that Reimer doesn't. And yes, you could argue that Reimer had to play better to "deserve" that support. But he played some outstanding hockey early this season, and still never was allowed to play a string of games. To me, it was obvious the brass wanted Bernier to be the guy, and he has played well, for sure.

      This last week is the first time Reimer has been the guy for a string of games and it's only because of injury. Carlyle made it clear after the Detroit game he wasn't happy having to use Reimer. So why is anyone surprised at what we're seeing?

      If you have the ability to play at that level, you don't just lose that. In my view, what players lose is their confidence. That can leave in a hurry- but usually takes time to get back. Thanks CT.

  9. Leafs have a 34.5% chance right now. This was around 80% after the LA game. So yeah they probably do have to win about 6 of 9 to get in since every team around them has games in hand.

    Lots of blame to go around. RC has is favourites and Reimer isn't one of them. So he gets called out while others haven't like Clarkson as an example.

    RC is VERY stuck in his game management and it hurts the team a lot. Good coaches can tell after a few shifts who has it or doesn't that day. Heck, most fans can tell watching TV too. But he will not adjust for some reason. Why wasn't Rielly and Gardiner on the ice in the last minute in New Jersey last night going after that tyeing goal?? No one can tell me they are not more dynamic offensively than Phaneuf and Franson and would have given the team a bit better chance for the hail mary. But no, that is not the way RC thinks. The league has changed. RC said when he was hired by the Leafs he had changed from his time in Anaheim and learned. I disagree. He needs to go.

    I feel for Reimer and lots of things were against him. RC, lack of even decent team defensive play, etc. The bottom line as a goalie is you have to stop pucks. Reimer has made some great saves but it has been his lack of stopping them at the right time plus letting in a softie almost once every game that has hurt in this run. He is a battler but not a higher skillset goalie and that has shown through lately. I feel for James I really do and he really does need to go somewhere else. How many teams in the NHL could he be the starter for? I can think of 6 or 7 for sure but it isn't a large number. I wish him the best. He is genuinely a nice guy and deserves it.

    This team is in a massive nosedive. One thing I have not heard from the MSM or even bloggers is, where is the leadership that is an absolute must to pull of it?? Maybe the team have given up on RC and totally tuned him out.

    1. I appreciate your input today, Pep. I was nodding along.

      I've spoken here many times about leadership. I've commented regularly that the Leafs need experienced playoff leaders to get them to the next level. They likely thought they were getting that in Clarkson and Bolland. They, along with Phaneuf, are the guys that will have to lead the way. Thanks Pep.

  10. Hi Michael,

    I'll start with Reimer first. He has not looked so uncomfortable since he last came back from the Gionta concussion. Ever since the LA game, he has not looked right. He has not track the puck well. If you spotlight him he is not making even fundamental saves. To me there might be more to his lack of confidence play.

    No doubt this his play has been very bad and it is obvious he will unlikely be on the roster when the next season rolls around. I do hope he bounces back but the game is cruel and it can happen to anyone and at this point, his future is not looking good.

    Doesn't this feel like "Deja Vu all over again?" Year in year out, this team has not responded when adversity rears it's head. There is no stemming the tide, no response when thing go from bad to worst, from worst to 18th wheeler. From the Wilson days to game 7 to multiple points this year, it is perplexing to me that no one in the organization is questioning the obvious reason and fundamental flaw. Why do this team lacks so much leadership to prevent it from happening over and over again?

    True leadership prevent bad becoming worst, good becoming complacent. Success becoming failures. They are there to lead, to prevent and to elevate. Clearly history has proven that this is not a team but a bunch of individual playing a system that they don't want or unwilling to while suffers no repercussion for it. Whether this is behind the bench or on the ice, it is because that of vacuum that this team continue to fail at the very first opportunity.

    When we look at the system that Carlyle has employed, it is without question the players are not executing it or simply is refusing to do so. Whether this system would be effective is beyond the point but I do not for one thinks the strategy is without merit given Carlyle is way more successful than any of the players or armchair critics in regards to system play. Skills and personnel is not an excuse when there is not the WILL to execute, the never ending failure to fight for pucks, the continue lack of defensive acumen.

    When a directive is given, it is expected that it is to be followed. When it is not you ask why. Why are they ignoring it and if it happens what to do about it? If the captain and the coach is on the same page, the captain then is expected to get the troop in line. This is not happening. Either the coach or the Captain is not on the same page thus allowing the crew to run the ship or there is already a mutiny and the result is the same.

    This team lacks leadership whether from behind the bench or on the ice and it has been happening for way too long to ignore.

    1. I appreciate that you used the term "will" today, Lukas. You know I am in agreement. Hockey is all about being willing to do the things needed to outlast the other guy. That may mean blocking shots, going hard on the back check when you don't want to or not taking retaliatory penalties that hurt the team. It can also mean accepting a system of play you don't like but can be successful if everyone buys in.

      Leadership is the other issue we have raised for years here at VLM. When the team was winning before the Olympic break, many, myself included, figured they could overcome their flaws because they were findings ways to win. Lately, they are, as I said here recently, playing just well enough to lose. Good post- thanks Lukas.

  11. I hope we won't be seeing the whole "18 wheeler" thing again. It does seem similar but i think the guys will handle it.
    Now, can anyone find out what a coach has to do to get it in the heads of these players to defend? Haven't they had enough time to do what Carlyle says? In other posts I wondered if the players on this team could play the way this coach wanted to. I don't wonder anymore. They can't. Carlyle is forcing square pegs into round holes. He should have seen that by now and tried to find a system that these guys could be better at. You have to use your assets accordingly, and I don't think Carlyle is doing that. It's partly on him not to recognize this.
    As for Reimer, it's not all his fault. The team defense is horrible and he is as always letting in a soft goal (or two) every game. I know fans like the way he battles and bounces back to make a big save, but if he wasn't on his belly he wouldn't have to battle back. If he hadn't let in the soft goal, he wouldn't have to make a big save or two to get the team "back in it". Being a good guy doesn't get you a free pass. I do like Reimer the person, but Reimer the goalie doesn't do it for me. Put me in net and i'll try hard too, i'll even eat pucks, but it doesn't make me an NHL goaltender. A goalie that doesn´t know where the puck is half the time (seriously, count the times in a game he doesn't know where the puck is) and is out of position so often can't be a #1.
    Some things need to change. Maybe it's e few players, or the coach, or both. The way we play doesn't cut it. We went from out-shooting every team every night (mostly weak wristers from the blue line - but still...) in Wilson's last season to a defense first coach who gets gets out-shot badly every game. Maybe Wilson wasn't that bad after all.
    Also, last season we were one the toughest teams to play against, seems like we've lost that too. There's a lot to fix, but it is fixable. I just don't know who will be doing the fixing.

    1. I think your last comment is key, portuguese leaf- a year ago the Leafs were tough to play against. I don't think that is at all the case now.

      Even when they were on a roll prior to the Olympics, they weren't tough to play against (not in the way I see as tough...puck battles, grinding, physical play in the corner and in froth of the net, the edginess that Komarov brought last season...).

      There is time this season, and for the future. And as you say it is fix-able.

  12. Michael, I suspect you are loathe to keep bringing up the Reimer situation for fear of repeating yourself too much, and you have made your feelings on it all quite clear in the past year. I will focus on it here again though...

    James Reimer is a much better goaltender than he has shown in this final stretch. He proved it when he first broke in, he proved it last year in shaking off injury, and he proved it while fighting for his job the first half of this year. He has only faltered after it has finally been made clear to him by management that he is not the man moving forward. The fight is gone in him, the frustration has mounted, and his confidence is shattered.

    A lot of people will say that professional athletes have no excuses, pressure and competition and adversity are things they should be completely numb to. I disagree. They are human and they feel these things weigh on their psyches as much as anyone, and more so. Playing in the hockey mad market here, it's even worse. I can recall writing here a couple years ago, when Gustavsson was done in Toronto, that I felt he was ruined by Wilson. Reimer might have been too at the time had he not been so giddy just to be there as a rookie. You simply cannot mess with a goaltender's confidence this way and expect a positive response. Management has done this to Reimer, and placed their bets on Bernier for the rest of the season. They didn't plan on Bernier getting hurt and now they are stuck with what they created.

    As a whole, this team isn't much different than they were earlier in the year. Sometimes even better, as they haven't been dominated in their own zone so often. They still face the same number of high volume, sometimes low percentage shots, they still have the too-often defensive lapses. What's different during this losing streak is a goalie who has nothing left to give this city, who is giving up a couple early goals each game that they cannot overcome.

    1. I do indeed loathe bringing the subject up, Pete. But you've saved me by detailing the reality of the Reimer question succinctly, clearly and aptly.

      I guess sometimes fans just see what they want to see and fail to recognize that human nature (and what happens to individuals when their confidence is shattered from the outside) applies to everyone, including athletes. Thank you, Pete.

  13. Hi Michael, been awhile since I've posted but I have kept up on all the posts...... I don't think they are going to make it, it does look like the year the 18 wheeler went over! there must be something in this group that isn't quite right, the collapse the year Wilson was fired, the Boston collapse and now this. In the last 5 games I have not seen one player exhibit the determination to win, that quality of "I will not be denied." The closest has been Kessel who seems to be mad as hell over what is going on. If they don't get in it will be a huge disappointment. When I see the Red Wings clawing and fighting to make it how I wish the Leafs had that disposition. I agree with those who have posted here on the various topics ie Carlyle, the pp or pk etc. One thing is certain is that there is going to be changes. And Michael, is it possible that we are missing Komorov that much?

    1. I think it's always more than one player, purch, but I will say this: Komarov brought a nastiness/edginess that helped make the Leafs harder to play against last season. There was an agitating quality about him. Teams didn't like playing the Leafs last year. They may not love the idea of playing against Bernier when he is on his game, and may fear our top line, but I don't get the sense that teams "fear" playing the Leafs. Thanks purch.

  14. Different strokes for different folks is one of the most common acknowledgments whereby we know that different people find different motivations in life, and it strikes me that what we do for others provides great insight into what motivates us in our own lives.

    Reimer waited to encourage McIntyre when he took over the net (and I hope that 30 year old guy gets a chance to become a Bower or Tim Thomas, because I like him, too)...

    James Reimer is one of the most positive and optimistic personalities I've ever seen in sport (save for, maybe, Pinball Clemons), so it stands to reason that if he is surrounded by some positive 'affirmation' and belief, he will thrive. Yet, as you have often noted, Michael, Leiweke 'inherited' the guy, Carlyle wouldn't give him the string of games he earned last year. And now, despite needing the best from Reimer in a difficult situation, he shows no empathy or appreciation for the young man, calling his performance 'okay... just okay'.

    I could imagine Luongo jumping onto his Twitter moniker to 'pump his tires' in a positive way (like the "James Reimer for the Olympic team" comment he made when James was on top of his game).

    I think Carlyle's intransigence has more to do with a lack of 'personality type' training (recognizing what motivates his players) than an absolute 'unwillingness' to try new things. He could become far more well-rounded and aware if he took some training in the easy to apply personality assessments available through "Colours" analysis.

    He could even go deeper and find out what fills up peoples 'love tank' (where they feel appreciated), by finding players' love languages (are they motivated by 'gifts' (perks like shootout chances/ powerplay time - Clarkson(?); quality time (just hanging out together/hearing what they are thinking - eg. Paul Ranger); words of affirmation (James Reimer); acts of service (extra things pertaining to what's important to the player - maybe they have routines/superstitions that training staff can facilitate); and touch (which guys are always patting their mates on the back? ...Then do it to them!).

    Sometimes we all get stuck doing what we've always done, but then you get what you always got!

    Is good, good enough, if better is possible?

    I feel things could turn around quickly, if the focus were to change... perhaps these 'professional players' are just people who are a shell of their former selves because they aren't motivated by the same things as the favourite guys on the benche might be...

    Guys may even 'buy into' your system, if they thought you cared about them, not just the bottom line... Food for thought :)

    1. You raise a lot of food for thought today, InTimeFor62.

      I try not to get into my professional work with athletes and coaches here too much, because that's not what this site is for. This is a forum for Leaf fans. But you bring up a lot of things that coaches simply need to recognize and understand to be really good at what they do nowadays.

      Most coaches are still clueless when it comes to handling goaltenders- at all levels of the game.

      In the 'old' Leaf days, I don't believe Pat Burns or Pat Quinn would have have thrown a goalie under the bus. They both understood how important the position is and how necessary it is for goalies to believe in themselves- and to know the team and the coaching staff is behind them, especially during difficult times.

      When it comes to treating people with respect, Felix Potvin was traded within a reasonable time after Quinn signed Curtis Joseph to be the team's new number-one goaltender back in 1998. It was the right - and fair - thing to do.

      The current Leaf brass (even taking the cap into consideration) should have done the same. Thanks InTimeFor62.

  15. Hi Michael,

    Well this is another fine mess the management of this club has gotten us into, isn't it?

    Where do the Leafs go from here? Be happy to tell everyone. Whomever is actually running this franchise marches into Nonis' office and explains the situation to him. He is told to fire the coach, today, not tomorrow, not after the season, today. It would also be in order to tell Mr. Nonis that a young team that is on the rise, is good. One that is stagnant, out of the playoffs, with zero blue chip prospects in the minors, is not good enough for a team that is at the top of the cap. So Nonis would be allowed to continue only if he is able to restock the cupboards in the offseason, otherwise he gets fired too. No more Clarksons either, should go down as obvious but. That was the mulligan, he gets no more.

    It would also need to made clear that the organization will not tolerate any more one dimensional NHL'ers. Orr, McLaren, Bodie, Smithson, all gone immediately. Whichever of the assistant coaches are put in charge will be told that the kids need to play. Ashton, Holland, D'amigo, in the lineup and playing significant minutes. Clarkson needs to be on the fourth line, or the pressbox, don't care. If he is seen on the second line, another assistant will replace you post haste.

    Organizationally, it needs to be decided if Phaneuf, Bozak, Kessel, JVR, Lupul, are really guys that the Leafs can win with. Remaking this team if needed, is possible, but hard decisions have to be made.

    It's excuses aplenty today in Leafworld, its really sickening to listen to. Getting outshot and out possessed every game is not a recipe for success. It never was, unless you have the absolute best goalie in hockey. The Leafs don't, neither of Reimer or Bernier has proven to be a guy that can give you top ten numbers for 60 games a season. They needed both of them this year to succeed, and the coach pissed that opportunity away. Two number one goalies said with a smirk on your face fooled no one, and the fact that he is sure to be fired, seems a lot like good karma.

    Fans all over make excuses for the team they cheer for, I get that. Pretending all season that this team was anything more than a garbage fire, was ridiculous. The ostrich in the sand act about who is on the farm, has also run its course. Recently, The Hockey News, in a poll of NHL GM's and scouts, ranked Toronto's prospects 29th. A capped out team, 2nd last in prospects, and missing the playoffs for the 8th time in 9 years is not good enough people. Heads need to roll, they have for a long time now.

  16. I'll let your comments stand without the need to add anything, Jim. (I know you said a couple of weeks ago they wouldn't make the playoffs. It will be a challenge now, for sure.)

  17. Further to my earlier comments Michael, the top teams do not stand for incompetence from players managers or coach's re: Philadelphia. They do whatever it takes to win and have successful teams. I agree with Jim, time for action not excuses

  18. Interesting thought; the Flyers are only three points ahead of the Leafs and are playing LA tonight.

    They have a killer schedule in this order LA, NYR, Toronto, Boston, St. Louis, Columbus, Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Carolina.

    Maybe they only get 8 points to end the season? maybe 7?

    Detroit's schedule might be worse: Columbus, Montreal, Toronto, Tampa, Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Carolina, St. Louis.

    Currently at 80 points, perhaps they get 7 or 8 points and the Leafs sneak in?

  19. All I can say is I am pretty disappointed with the results from the last five games. Things were actually going pretty good and the Leafs looked certain to make the playoffs and even home ice advantage. So I was pretty excited and never expected this turn of events. It does look like Reimer has lost his confidence because he has never played this bad ever. Maybe he is playing concussed from that collision in LA. I have thought all along that Bernier is the better goalie with Reimer being a solid backup that the Leafs could count on but he has simply not got the job done these last five games. It really was his chance to show he deserved to be a #1 goalie but now he can't even be relied on, at least right now, to provide a solid backup role. Maybe Reimer will get his game back eventually like Mason but his time on the Leafs could be up. I don't believe though that he will ever be a #1 goalie on a contending team.

    I don't agree with all the Leaf bashing that is going on now because of this losing streak. Five games ago they were a team going in the right direction with a solid offence and some good young defensemen like Gardiner and Rielly on the team and from all reports some very good defensive prospects in Finn and Percy. And they have an excellent goalie in Bernier. What is happening right now really doesn't change anything or any of the future expectations for the Leafs. They are still on the right track and Reimer playing poorly is simply an unfortunate setback which could turn into a blessing in disguise. What would happen if the Leafs were a contender and Bernier was injured and they put Reimer in and he played like he has these last five games? At least now they have time to address the situation. All they need is a solid backup as in all five losses Reimer let in goals which should have been routine saves for an NHL level goalie.

    1. It's entirely fair to say, Alton, that as of a week ago things seemed rosy in Leafland. In the same breath, many observers have noted that even when the team was winning, they were often being outplayed. So there may be two sides to this coin.

      As I often say here, it may be the team is nowhere near as bad as the current losing streak makes them seem, nor as good as they perhaps appeared when they went on a run before the Olympic break. Thanks Alton.

    2. Just listened to your episode 27 Maple Leaf Hangout. I have to agree with most of what was and especially the discussion about keeping Gardiner and Rielly. Have to keep them because they are the future. Mentioning Todd Gill at the end brought back memories - I remember that Chicago playoff game, I also have his autograph on a program from years ago and I also saw him play his first game in the Montreal Forum back in the days of Big Man Chappy Hockey Bus Trips from Ottawa to Montreal. The only point I disagree with is Hope Smoke saying everything they done this year is because of Bernier and Reimer. Sure the goalies have stolen some games and they give up chances. But all teams give up chances and every 2 on 1 is not a reason to rejoice every time the goalie makes a save. I think the last five games they should have won. The other factor is if the team is not confident with the goaltending and the team is always trying to play catch up against a team playing with a lead from a gift goal it makes everything harder.

    3. As I mentioned in a response comment to a previous post above, teams are generally not as bad as they appear when they lose a few, nor are they as good as we sometimes think when they win a few. The Leafs of the last few games were not, to me, that different from when they were winning. A goal here and there was the difference.

      I always liked Todd Gill a lot. I remember him from his junior days. He had a big heart and was a 'proud to be a Leaf' kind of guy. Thanks Alton.

  20. We're a frustrated bunch, and rightly so. Several problems and concerns that we all recognized at the beginning of the season are still there, including a few leftovers from last year. We all knew things weren't quite right even with the Leafs sitting well up in the standings. I'm not sure whether to keep hoping or give up now so I'm not so disappointed later.

    The Leafs had a bad stretch late last season too. I still believe if they can pull off a minor miracle and get in they will hand us a few exciting games. We've seen that they are capable when they're focused and very determined to be but it's a very poor time for the media and twitter to become such distractions If some sports writers weren't so determined to feed the flames, much of what has gone on this week might not have happened. There's nothing like a little encouragement. C.N.

    1. This is when a team needs to know their fans are behind them. A big ovation when they hit the ice tonight would help, Colleen. Two wins and the mood will change very quickly.

  21. Hi Michael:
    Haven't posted for a while, but have been watching

    1. James Reimer
    - Don't Let Your Son grow up to be a Cowboy (i.e. Goaltender).
    There is little difference from being a Hero or a Goat. The first minor hockey team I coached was a bunch of seven year olds who had never played before. At our first chalk talk, I asked who wanted to play goalie, and 15 hands went up. Go Figure???

    -Don't Leave me Now Lucille (James) - All goalies run into bad spells - The real problem is when this happened - The Leafs have been allowing breakaways, giveaways,two on ones, own goals, deflections, screening in abundance all year.

    2. The time for reality is fast approaching. It is becoming apparent that the team is less than the sum of it's parts. In truth, the team is more enjoyable to watch when they get behind, but unfortunately most of us need to ignore the score.

    Now, we will get to see what they are made of??

    1. Thanks for the smile and the customary thoughtful post, Ralph (RLMcC). I'm with you. We've both seen goalies who go from hero to bum in short order- and often back to hero again throughout their career. (Carey Price in Montreal is a recent example). Roger Crozier comes to mind from the old days, as well as Rogie Vachon and countless others I could cite. Those guys were considered "done" (like many are saying about Reimer now) at various points early in their career and went on to long and outstanding NHL careers. They also both lost the "number-one" job and it took a massive toll on their confidence.

      Fans have remarkably short memories and too often don't seem to understand psychology and human nature.

      Reimer likely won't play again this season. But I have little doubt that in the right environment, while not likely ever being an All-Star, he can give a team solid netminding. I use the Steve Mason example. People were saying exactly the same thing about Mason two years ago, last season and even early this year- "He can't stop a breach ball...". Philly gave him a shot, gave him the job and showed confidence in him even when he wasn't great.

      Remarkable what that will do for a goalie. He is rewarding them most nights.

      As for the bigger question regarding the Leafs: as you well note, we'll see how they handle this next stretch of games. Thanks Ralph.