Custom Search

What’s going to replace Maple Leaf hockey for you on Saturday (and other) nights?

I’m not suggesting we have exhausted every possible "current" Leaf topic over the past few weeks here at VLM, but I do wonder, at times, if thinking of “new” angles to discuss when it comes to the locals (and NHL hockey in general) isn’t a bit, well, futile.

I mean, in recent days/weeks I’ve posted on subjects that I thought were quite relevant.  In radio talk show terms, you could say I figured we would see the phone lines lit up with callers wanting to have their say about issues still facing the Maple Leafs.  We discussed the lack of Leaf leadershipwhether it’s time for MLSE's new ownership to pull the plug on current Leaf management; 5 things the Leafs are missing heading into (eventually) a new season; The Kadri “debate”; the Allaire Affair drama; Phil Kessel’s future after a new CBA; and 15 Leaf thoughts discussing various roster deficiencies.

The response?  A collective yawn, basically.  Oh, a few great comments here and there from the usual thoughtful VLM posters but very little passion, very little “I have something to say” debate from VLM readers.  It almost gave me a sense of…what shall I call it….a kind of hockey-related ennui. (Just trying to flex my French-Canadian background there a bit...)  

Here’s what I figure: either a) I’m in a big-time writing slump (which is entirely possible) and what I’m talking about—or how I’m saying it—just isn’t connecting with people, or b) most Leaf and fellow hockey fans have simply hit a wall.  A “wall” as in, we all realize that we can talk optimistically about a season, but as we stand here today, there is essentially no reason to be authentically hopeful about that happening any time soon.  The two sides in the NHL dispute appear to have (not surprisingly) two entirely different views of what is “good” for the game—and two CN Tower-sized egos that makes both parties feel they need to “win” this negotiation (despite denials to the contrary).  Since this is all about self-interest - and not about what matters to fans - we will be waiting for NHL hockey for a long, long time, I sense.

So with that pessimistic (but I think realistic) backdrop, I wonder if we have reached a point where we just aren’t that excited about the Leafs, since neither the league or the players want to play that badly.  (So many millions of dollars being lost every day and yet so hard to find common ground.  Oh, the lot of the rich and wealthy….) It’s almost like, if they don’t care, why should we?  More on that in a moment.

Now, some people are following the Marlies, some Leaf supporters are focusing on junior hockey and a few of our own blue and white "prospects", others still are following the KHL.  But the majority (who want the NHL and not much else) are gone fishing, evidently.  Or at least they are not visiting VLM.

And if that’s the case, I hope it’s because they just don’t have much hope and that they feel talking about what might be around the corner for the Leafs is indeed (as I suggested above) totally futile, because “the corner” (NHL hockey) may actually be years away.

So rather than try to pretend there is truly something new to bat around in Leafurbia this second week of October (when we would normally be focused on anticipating who will make the Leaf roster or  who’s the number-one goalie; why don’t we have a big, number-one center yet;  did any of the young guys—Kadri, Colborne, D'Amigo—make it; and how the Leafs look heading into the regular-season opener, etc.) I would like to know: what are you doing to either a) fill the hockey void or b) do something interesting, useful, different and enjoyable entirely apart from your usual hockey and Maple Leaf diversion?

In other words, what will you be doing this winter on Saturday nights?  I well recognize that it’s customarily an 82-game NHL schedule, and nowadays (unlike when I was a kid and all the games were on Wednesday/Thursday and Saturday/Sunday) the Leafs play all seven days of the week.  But let’s use Saturday as the one day where most hockey fans historically set aside time and plan their evening around their Maple Leaf (and NHL) hockey fix.

If that’s the case,  what will you be doing instead?

I saw that one hockey blogger I’m connected with via Twitter has started a new history-oriented site.  I thought that sounded like a great project.

I’ve said here before that, as hockey fans, if we really want to have an impact on the lockout, rather than boycotts, Twitter campaigns and all that, the wisest thing we should all do collectively is nothing.  That is, ignore both sides.  Get on with our lives.  Show that we can all live happily without NHL hockey.  The “needier” we seem, the more we lament the lack of hockey games to watch, it just signals to both sides that, hey, these people aren’t going anywhere.  We can miss another season and hockey fans will come running back to watch our product.

Bottom line, the two sides will figure that we fans need them (NHL/the players) way more than they need us.

So no, I say again, we ought to—no, we need to—ignore them.

I realize I’ve not done a good enough job of that yet.  Heck, I have this site. I do the Twitter thing sometimes.  I share my views on the lockout. I enjoy "talking Leafs" but I’ve already talked more about the lockout mess than I ever planned to.

Since I love taking and writing about the old days, I’ll be posting less but doing that more in the weeks ahead, I imagine.

But how about you?  Do you agree with my “ignore them” suggestion?  Or is that just another unrealistic notion?  Will you use this newfound “free” time to do other interesting or productive things?  Will you still be watching "other" hockey?  Will you reach a point where, if the lockout persists through yet another NHL season, you honestly just won’t care any more - or at least it will take a lot to bring you back?

The lines are open—share your thoughts, if anyone’s still listening!


  1. Your writing skills have not diminished, it's the lack of the presence of our passion that is lacking.

    It would appear that you are not the only one that is 'running out of things to say' - Joffrey Lupul seemed to say some familiar things in an article he put out today ( And, just like you indicated, a conversation about 'something new' may be of more interest to most of us in this medium as well.

    I thought I might address that by 'saying something new' in response to Joffrey's comments. I withdrew when I discovered I would need to enter the world of social media... but then I saw you have a Twitter presence!

    Perhaps you might tweet Mr. Lupul about the following response to his comments if you are so inclined. He does seem to have ties to the union... perhaps they'll give my ideas some thought!

    In the hopes of adding something new (to fill the comments page), I submit the following to Joffrey Lupul:

    I appreciate you in life and as a Leaf and am hoping to utilize my comments to help both sides of the CBA to 'move forward'! It is clear the players want no salary reductions... I agree - you signed contracts in good faith. As a union, try 'being the bigger man' for the sake of the fans, while protecting your contracts. There is your starting point to get things going... but what do 'they' need most?

    It would appear 'an equal share of an ever-increasing pie' is their end goal. I don't think the owners got 'everything they wanted' in the last CBA - it just looks that way from the players' perspective. It appears to me that the last CBA was a good plateau to see how things would work in the future. The confrontational nature of bargaining is getting in the way of solutions… both sides are strong, but fear ‘looking weak’ – I’d rather prove I’m strong by recognizing all aspects of the problem and provide a solution that benefits everyone.

    A big part of the revenue increase over which you would battle is due to the increase to parity of the Canadian dollar, in the future you can't count on those particular increases, so the average 7% growth may not happen in this economy.

    Do you realize that the big prize for having teams in difficult markets is the potential for huge future increases in broadcasting revenues? What are the players willing to invest for a share in that pie (and what have they done, beyond their job for which they are being compensated, to make that possible? Hence, my belief that the owners might actually have already invested more - deserving a return commensurate with the risk taken... is 50% of bigger pie, too much to ask?

    To help players with the offense they feel regarding the owners initial offer (and the lockout) I will address their proposal to move the player percentage to 43%... you know, the amount that the owners get now (after getting 'all they wanted' moving it up from 26% via the previous lockout). They were heavy-handedly asking the players to accept the very thing you thought was acceptable for the owners!

    Have you truly considered that the fan base, in this struggling economy, may have to cut back and buy less of the HRR extras (about which division thereof you are both fighting)?

    I think a counter/'bigger man' proposal might win you back some fans and the moral authority to accomplish changes in a way that doesn't compromise your primary contractual rights. Why not just 'step down' to a 50-50 split over the first 4 years of a long-term (10 year) CBA that allows for negotiated 'tweaks' to correct unforeseen problems that might arise along the way.

    Would the highest contracted (top 20%) players consider investing in the game, by trading some of that contract for the potential to share in the bigger pie with the owners? You know, like when you ask the top 6 revenue teams to do the same...

  2. As much as it is nice to get huge contracts, it would be better to close the loopholes that circumvent the cap... owners must compete for you all to sign as free agents, so they do these long-term deals that hurt both teams and players (and, might I add, the appreciation we fans feel for you - would you rather we focused on caring about you and your play more than your contract? If yes, consider capping your higher financial aspirations and consider using your huge paycheck to invest wisely elsewhere!).

    Have you both considered sharing some of the bigger pie by putting it into an injury / retirement fund for those upon whose shoulders you now stand? What if a lot of the squabbling problems could be resolved with a buffer fund out of which both sides could resolve problems... like franchises losing money as we grow the sport/concussed players who could be moved into retirement (and off the cap hits) while receiving care for the injury they incurred while playing the game.

    Try sharing and quit fighting... resolve the problem and I may still be around to support and enjoy you.


    A final thought for Michael... I hope the lockout ends soon, if for no other reason than the stimulating conversations that I've found because of you, here at VLM.

    Look forward to anything you decide to write and I encourage you to join me in turning our attention toward the prospects (we should still be around when they're in the NHL) :)

  3. I think there are a lot of fresh ideas in your post(s), InTimeFort62. Unfortunately, I believe that players will brush off your very reasonable observations and suggestions simply because they can't do anything, it seems, than think about "more"- as in anything that protects their already massive salaries.

    The fact is, they recoil at the idea of cutbacks or seeing their salaries reduced. But when the bar is ridiculously high to begin with, they could and (to me) should be prepared to live with less- a lot less, and still be rich beyond most people's wildest hopes. (By the way, I believe I raised that very point, about putting money into a fund for former players, in a recent post. I love that thought...)

    Fans will never "respect" owners (though owners like Mike Illitch may well be an exception to that "rule"); but players would recapture the esteem of the public if they thought beyond their own narrow interests and recognized that the very people who help to pay for their salaries AND so-called hockey-related revenue (licensed merchandize, hockey cards, etc. etc...) have suffered way, way more than players have over the past several years...

    Thanks InTimeFor62-that was a tremendous post.

  4. I think it's been difficult for you Michael because the Marlies AHL preseason has been so short (only 2 games) and because the coverage of the AHL preseason has been so poor. The AHL website doesn't list the preseason scores upfront on their daily calendar. Is that crazy or what?

    On the preseason opener I had to listen on a Hamilton comedy station. I had to look for the Marlies Monday game score. I found it on a tiny Brampton website. They could have done better. I hope they will do better for the regular season. The OHL does a better job of reporting on their website

    By the way, the Marlies won 2-0...Hamilton and Carrick with the goals.

  5. Thanks DP. I'm glad Hamilton is back with the Marlies. He's a solid guy who sets a good example for the young Marlies. I was pleased to see him get an NHL game in late last season.

  6. Well Michael, my passion for hockey will have to be fulfilled through the CHL and AHL this year. So yes, I will turn my attention to the Marlies and the Leaf prospects in the void of the NHL lockout. It is no surprise that the AHL is starting to move the start times for many of their Saturday games to the evening hour to fill the void left by the NHL.

    The lockout is an unfortunate thing, but for me I can't just turn my back and ignore it, or the two negotiation sides. They may not hear my words, but if enough of us speak out, it does have some (albeit small) cumulative effect. Ignoring the whole process is fruitless if those same fans come right back after the lockout. I've never heard about a network bringing back a popular TV show based on a lack of fan interest.

    I commend 'InTimeFor62' for his words of wisdom to Lupul. Sadly I think his words would fall on deaf ears, as the players (at least for now) are only listening to their executive and Donald Fehr. In there lies the problem, that the PA has convinced themselves they are in the right and should not accept ANY type of rollback.

    One of the worst things we can do as fans is to take sides and strongly support either the PA or the NHL. These idiots thrive off winning the public relations war and seek out the support of the fans to bolster their position. We need to continue to push them to "negotiate" and work towards a viable solution. Fans care about winning sides in hockey but only on the ice surface, not at the CBA negotiating table.

    Sorry I can't sit back and ignore the lockout. It is understandable to get tired of the process, and to talk about other things, but for me it is still the elephant in the room.

    Hey, seems McKegg is off to a good start. I was hoping to see how he would develop this year with the Marlies. He could make us forget about Kadri if he has a good development year.

  7. Nicely said, Don (TML__fan_. Believe me, I find the entire CBA process hard to set aside. I just think the less "needy" we seem as fans, the more they may get the message.

    I think you make a great point about not "supporting" either side. If they think they are "winning" the public relations battle, they become even more entrenched in their absurd positions.

    I, too, fear InTimeFor62's thoughtful words will be ignored.

    And yes, some Marlies and junior prospects look good early! Thanks Don.

  8. "The Toronto Marlies have announced seven cuts today. Forwards Sam Carrick, Tyler Brenner and Andrew Crescenzi have been sent to the organizations new ECHL affiliate, the Fort Wayne(Indiana) Komets, while training camp invitees Andrew Engelage, Jim Hughesman, Corey Syvret and Ryan Grimshaw have been released."

    Very interesting, I thought Crescenzi and Carrick might make the team and Devane would be sent down to the ECHL until the lockout is settled.

    I guess they wanted more toughness to protect all the tallent.