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Which Maple Leafs do you want to see step forward in the final weeks of the season?

With Dion Phaneuf out of action for what will likely be several weeks (when a team talks week-to-week as opposed to day-to-day, we have to assume it will be a while before he returns), there may be an opportunity for some young Leaf defensemen to step forward.

Of course, the names Gardiner and Rielly jump to mind. At a minus 19 on the season so far, it’s hard to argue Gardiner has shown the kind of improvement most would have expected.  As for Rielly, while he certainly hasn’t disappointed, he has perhaps not quite taken the jump that we might have anticipated, either. (That said, he turns  all of 21 in March, so he clearly is on a positive career trajectory, and playing in a difficult environment.)

But with the Leafs looking up at a playoff spot, mired in a lengthy slump coming out of the All-Star break, the coaching situation in obvious flux and the captain out of action, Leaf fans are looking for evidence on the current roster that this team has a pulse.

I think the effort has been there of late, despite the record—though there is effort and then there is the kind of hard-to-find desire that propels athletes to fight through sports-related adversity with even greater effort. The Leafs don’t quite seem to have found that kind of gumption.

That said, it’s always worth finding reasons for optimism.

Every team has slumps. Every team is facing injuries. The Leafs are no different.  Whether the playoffs are a possibility or not realistic, it’s important that the guys on this roster demonstrate they still have a will to win.  Maybe a late season surge will be seen as too little too late by the team’s supporters, but determination and a strong work ethic are preferable to walking aimlessly through the last 34 games of the season—draft choice dreaming aside.

So who are the guys you are looking to take advantage of this opportunity to impress the brass while Phaneuf is convalescing?  Goalies, forwards, defensemen, Marlie call-ups—everyone has a shot.

There should not be a lot of roster spots guaranteed for next season (a recent post here asked which Leafs really deserved to be Maple Leafs), so plenty of individuals should be looking to step forward and fill the captain’s void.

Who’s on your list?


  1. Hi Michael. You're making me think again.

    I can't remember the last time Phaneuf was out for any amount of time.
    Robidas is reported to have been injured since November so our defense is really taking a beating this season. I think Polak will step up--he always does. It's an opportunity to see Percy and Granberg but a hard test. It will be difficult for Horachuk to shelter anyone right now. I think the best we can hope for is that Gardiner and Rielly continue to skate well.

    Komorov and Holland are just back from injuries. I expect them to need a few games to get back to speed but they've had some success together. Kadri has played well but he came back a week early from his own injury and was probably not 100%. I think these three could make a difference in the forward group if they're healthy. Just having them all back should provide a spark.

    This is the first real opportunity for Horachuk to have any quality practice time with this group. He took over during the very worst stretch of their schedule of the entire season. I think I'll add him in as a factor as the Leafs close out January. There are so many rumours right now, I have no idea what this team will look like in two weeks into February.

    1. Hi Colleen- Holland is on a lot of fans' radar, I think. We want to know what he can be at this level, but he still needs game experience. Percy and Granberg are absolutely among those who can make an impression, if they get a real shot.

  2. Hi Michael

    The first name that sprang to mind for me was JvR. I'd like to see some evidence that he is a genuine 1LW and not merely someone who is cashing in on Kessel's hot streaks. I never believed it, but he's been so appallingly absent for much of this season, my faith needs a booster.

    I would also like to see more from Bozak so that he can increase his tradeworthiness, because I think he could be prime piece in February if he'd pot a few goals now. As he's been playing recently, I'm not sure he's on too many people's radar.

    I'd like to see more from Gardiner, not because I'm particularly concerned about him just yet (how many times have we discussed the value in showing patience with young defencemen?) but because I think his confidence could do with it and, worse case scenario, if the front office decides to pack it in for the year, like Bozak, he's a precious trade piece that we wont get full value for given his current form.


    1. It's hard to know what has happened with van Riemsdyk this season, KiwiLeaf. He has shown he can be a very good player around the net. Could just be a short term thing like a lot of players go through.

  3. Filling the Captain void going forward is an interesting question, Michael, since I'm very suspect about our current choice of Captain to begin with. I'm not looking at a turn around this year, as I think a playoff spot has passed us by, but that may be a blessing in disguise. Hopefully it pushes our management group to stop throwing (very high priced) band-aids on this roster, and mortgaging another decade of our future.

    I was looking at a Salary Cap list of the league today, and while it was no surprise, as a Leafs fan it really was depressing. Toronto has $700K of Cap space currently, which puts them in a small group of statistical anomalies.... that group being teams with little success, and zero wiggle room going forward for years. Ottawa, Calgary, Buffalo, Arizona and Nashville (yes, Nashville!!) have over $10Million in Cap space available, which seems obvious, since most of them are in a rebuild mode. At least they will draft high (other than Nashville), and have available money to spend once some of the younger talent comes to fruition. Even Anaheim has over $5Million of Cap space available, and look at their record, along with Nashville! The Leafs management group seemed to either overestimate League revenue, or underestimate the drop in the Canadian dollar, or just ignore the Cap completely. We are sadly crippled for a few years to come, unless we can trade some of those big-dollar contracts and clean the books up a whole bunch. Every NHL team has bad contracts, but the Leafs wrote the book on it. Maybe Nonis should start watching one of those terrible TV shows like Extreme Couponing, to help emphasize the importance of every dollar spent.

    As far as players that might step up right now and show some leadership, forgive me if my list is shorter than some might have. I think that if Leafs management grows a pair, and actually builds a young NHL talent base through the draft, most of the current roster won't be relevant by the time we become an annual threat to go deep in the playoffs. I love players like Komarov and Santorelli, but you don't build a roster around them. Those are complimentary pieces that occupy lower lines, but not game changers that lift you to elite NHL status. I'd like to see slow and steady development of Kadri and Rielly, and some sort of resurgence for Gardiner, after what's turning out to be a really rough season for Jake.

    It's time for management to show a defined, long-term direction here, not necessarily publicly stating it, but it will be obvious in their actions and transactions. NO more trading of draft picks, regardless of the round they come from, unless they're trading draft picks to move up in the draft. It would be an exciting time for fans, seeing the slow development of real assets, regardless of what the Leafs accomplish in the standings the next few years.

    Sorry for drifting horribly off topic Michael, but I can't help but look at the next couple of seasons as a building exercise, as opposed to getting too bogged down with the pieces we currently have. Don't get me wrong, as I still love watching Leafs games, but we're overdue for a proper makeover here.

    1. There's no question the draft has always been, and continues to be important, Russ. Teams will always look at free agency and trades as well, but ultimately, you need to build with your own draft picks to have success.

  4. The answer to your question is pretty simple Michael - our young defensemen need to step up and show that they can hold the fort while the leader of their corps is out. I actually feel pretty optimistic about that happening - Gardiner has been playing better as of late, Rielly has been coming along well and I've really enjoyed Holtzer's physical game this year. Percy and Granberg should be ready to show they can play in the NHL. If Polak can step up a bit and bring what Phaneuf has been bringing - solid defence, timely pinches and scoring and some fist action once in a while I think we're set especially given the fact that we have the defensive expert behind the bench in Peter Horachek. In other words, I'm not worried about the defence.

    What worries me is the our attackers. Wouldn't it be nice to see Bozak or Kadri elevate their game and take that #1 Center spot? Do they have it in them? I'm not so sure. Kessel and JVR will do their thing - hopefully go on a hot streak as they are due for it. Clarkson and Komarov, Santorelli and Winnik will continue to work hard and fulfill their roles, but as the poster above has pointed out, they cannot bring what they don't have, namely skill and leadership that is above average. Lupul will probably go on a tear when he comes back but he'll just as surely fall again to another injury. Perhaps Holland and Panik can elevate their game - get more physical and score some goals?

    But realistically, it's only Kadri and Bozak that can lead and between those two I don't think Bozak has much of a chance because even if he starts scoring at point per game pace I can't see the Leafs' fandom recognizing him for it. He's better than Kadri in my opinion but he doesn't have the flare and charisma that is required to truly lead. And Kadri does. So, here we have it once again: will the real Nazy please stand up? We need the first-line center to lead and the time is running out for our top two.

    I think not all is lost despite the fact that the management seems to have it's mind set on a rebuild. I'm not so sure this coaching staff is capable of winning. But I do believe in this team and I do think they have a chance of being in the playoff spot by the time trade deadline rolls around. Will the management allow them to give it a shot or will they shoot down any chance of that happening by trading away out best players? That, to me, is the real question right now.

    1. A lot of fans are watching Kadri, for sure, leafdreamer, and hoping he continues to progress. Bozak is in a tough spot here- talented guy but maybe fans want him to be something he's not.

      You raise a good question- management is no doubt deciding what they need to do. No approach is risk free.

  5. Also, the starting goalie position is wide open again - Bernier wants a starting goalie deal in the summer and Reimer still has a chance to prove again that he is good enough and that there is no need to spend big bucks on Bernier. More than anyone, the goalies need to play better because they haven't as of late and because, as we've seen here in T. year after year, goaltending really does make all the difference.

    Finally, I'd like to point out something that is so obvious yet lost on most people and it seem our management as well: you shouldn't trade from the position of weakness. That's why Carlyle shouldn't have been fired - even if we do nothing and play out the season, get into playoffs and go a round or two it will be easier to make traded and signings in the summer. Our players will simply be worth more to our trade partners while UFAs will want to stay or come here. There is no virtue in tanking. Tanking takes care of itself if your team is simply not good. I think we're far from that and that it would take a lot of work to make it happen. Trading all out good players only so we'd have to replace them over who knows how long if ever.

  6. MIchael,

    I typed out a really long post, then thought about it some more, and deleted it. The answer for me, and I hope that others understand where I am coming from, is all of them. Each and every player on this team needs to prove that they want to be here. None of them have proven themselves to be anything more than they are. A mediocre, low work ethic, easy to play against, team that fails every season.

    They all have more to give, all of them. They fall into a couple of camps, unproven NHL'ers who should be busting their asses to stay in the League, mediocre veterans who have never won a God damned thing, or younger players who would probably like to be rich when they finish negotiating their next contract.

    The fact that for the last three years the very best players on this team have been unable to find any answers as to why they aren't able to consistently put forth a solid effort tells me everything I needed to know. When the steady answer is the bounces didn't go our way, it's time to stop asking them the question. They just don't know, or care enough to consider changing course.

    1. Well said, Jim. I've long thought (and have written here in the past, going back many years) that, as you note above, this team has not achieved and given the number of unproven/young players, one would think they would play to the limit virtually every night. In that sense it should have been an "easy" team to coach, because they would be motivated from within. However that hasn't been the case.

  7. Hello Michael,

    I would answer your question by saying that EVERYONE on this team at or under the age of 27! Franson, Gardiner, Granberg, Holland, Holzer, Kadri, Kessel, Leivo, Panik, Rielly, JVR, and maybe Reimer. Notice Bernier is NOT on this list because I have bigger plans for him - see below.

    I am using 27 as the bubble age as I think this will eliminate everyone currently on the roster who will, most likely, be past their prime by the time the Leafs have become serious contenders - not the pretenders we have grown accustomed to these past few years. If they are not going to be here when the Leafs are contenders, I don't care how they perform now so I would start looking to ship them out for young players, prospects, picks and/or cap relief - whatever they can fetch on the open market.

    The next thing I would do is make a call to Mac T in EDM as he has said he is open to trading his 1st round if he can improve his team NOW. Under the assumption he wins the lottery, I would ask him what other pieces (after Bernier and our 1st round pick - maybe as "high" as 5th) he would want to trade that 1st overall pick. I'm not a huge supporter of Reimer but I would trade Bernier to secure McDavid in a heartbeat.


    1. I hear you on the age cut off, Wayne. As for a deal with Edmonton, I'm guessing the Leafs are not alone in thinking along those lines, but the Leafs may well have the players to entice the Oilers...

    2. That is one juicy transaction, Wayne! I agree that we should unload any of the more mature assets, and move up in the awesome draft that next year looks to offer. I worry about Edmonton wanting pieces of the Leafs though. Both clubs have players that are bogged down in a pit of failed expectation, and the Oilers may want players that came from a more constructive environment, as opposed to inheriting a group of Leafs that are similar to his own squad. Beaten down mentally by the weight of failed expectations in a big marketplace.

      But you are spot on, Wayne, with the idea of creating a youth movement here, even if that means tossing valuable mature players over the side, and accumulating draft picks. Hey.... we gave away our picks for years and years, in exchange for veterans that would supposedly offer a band-aid solution for the Leafs. It never worked, so let's try to turn the tales and point this ship in the right direction for the long term.

      Maybe look at accumulating first round picks from teams that are Cup contenders, but see their window closing as their roster ages, and they want a serious kick at the can this year. Maybe Boston, Pittsburgh, San Jose and NYR could be on our radar. No McDavid waiting for us with those trades, but still plenty of 1st round picks to build our inventory for the future.

    3. I really should have pointed this out when I first read this interpretation a few columns ago. MacT was asked if he was willing to trade the late first round pick he acquired from Pittsburgh, or his second rounder.

      I could not imagine anyone being stupid enough to trade the possibility of McDavid. We as Leafs fans do this a lot. "Why doesn't Nonis just phone up Yzerman and ask what he wants for Stamkos?". He's not available people, and neither is the first overall pick in next years draft, unless you win the lottery. Dream on fellas.

    4. Jim,

      As a Leaf fan, all I can do is live in hope...

      I may have misunderstood what Mac T. said, but I can't see how he thinks a current 22nd overall pick from Pittsburgh is really going to help him improve his team NOW.

      He needs to show that the team is progressing (in the right direction!) to the fan-boy owner or he could find himself on the unemployment line with Eakins. This kind of situation leads people to do strange things.

      My (delusional?) thoughts on a package for McDavid went along the lines of something like this:

      1. Bernier - shores up their goaltending NOW and in the future
      2. Our first round pick in this years draft - anywhere from 5th to 10th - a piece for the future.
      3. Any and/or all of our defence (except Rielly) - Phaneuf, Franson, Gardiner, etc.
      4. Any and/or all of our centres (except MAYBE Kadri) - Bozak, Santorelli
      5. Any and/or all of our other players (except MAYBE Kessel and JVR) - Polak?

      I know we, as Leaf fans, always over value our players, but I think a package like the above goes a LONG way towards improving their team now and takes them out of the lottery hunt the next few drafts - less competition for us.

      Can you honestly say that EDM would not be a better team with as many pieces as they wanted or could carry from the above package?

      I'm not saying Mac T. makes the trade but I really want to make him think hard about it - improve now or put another young player (McDavid) into the mix and hope for the best. But really, now much difference is McDavid going to make on that EDM team next year? Mac T. will be LONG gone by the time McDavid leads them to a Cup.

      BTW, I agree with your statement that NOTHING the Leafs (or any other team?) have is going to pry Stamkos out of Tampa (or Tavares out of NYI) - no team in their right mind is going to trade an established star player for a bunch of spare parts.

      Back to dreaming...


    5. As Leaf supporters, we do over value but at the end of the day, reality sets in even for us, Wayne. We all try to be realistic but it's OK to dream!

    6. I am the last person to suggest that it isn't right to dream. I daydream all the time, about all sorts of things, even the Leafs. More often than not, the dream ends with the Leafs being a competent organization. Drafting, developing, and nurturing the abundance of draft picks they have so wisely not traded. In my dreams they are like the hoarders I see on A&E. Trade a seventh round draft pick five years from now, never I say. One day, that box of floppy disks will be worth all the clutter.

      I guess if I was to follow up. Why would the Oilers be willing to trade the number one pick in a draft where the top two picks are possibly generational talents? One more likely than the other, but this is hardly a whitewash for McDavid. Don't forget that the Oilers are also selling hope to their fans. The hope of the next Crosby, Lemieux, or Gretzky. Edmonton already traded away one of them. They can't really afford to have the next one end up somewhere else, solely because some idiot GM decided he had to improve now.

      Last question, if you agree on Stamkos, Tavares, etc. Why do you perceive McDavid as not as special, when most scouts see him as even more promising? Is it solely that he is at this point unproven? Guess that was two questions

    7. Hello Jim,

      I think that is a dream all of us Leaf fans would share - an organization run competently. I have hope that Shanahan might be the one to get us there!

      I think EDM is in a tough situation - they have already sold their fan base hope for the past 5 to 6 years and now the reality has set in that they have to sell more hope for the next 4 to 5 years - or as it has become known Rebuild 2.0.

      I think McDavid has the potential to be special but he is unproven and the fact he is unproven would be the only reason he might be available. Once he is proven he will most likely never be traded - though as you pointed out we have seen Gretzky traded.


  8. Throughout the organization, I'm looking for everyone to step up and stand out.
    My list starts with Brendan Shanahan. Once again the MLSE hired someone with practically no experience at the job he was hired for (hello, John Ferguson!). I want to see some real results from Shanahan. Not firing Nonis and Carlyle was a bad start, but maybe he'll surprise me. So far, he hasn't.
    I want to see the coaching staff prove they belong at this level. Since Carlyle's firing, the team has regressed. Sure, there are extenuating circumstances - having training camp on a swing through the west coast teams, for example. But the scorers have forgotten how to score, and there's very little cohesion on lines that change game by game. It's not enough to say "they played well in a losing cause" - that's a line Toronto fans have heard a lot of over the past 4 years. I'm tired of "looking for positives". Pro sports is all about winning. Period.
    I agree with those who say they want every player to show they belong here. To date, who can you say has made themselves irreplaceable to this team? Don't get me wrong - there are a lot of players I like. But besides Rielly, as I said the other day, I'd say no one has really claimed the irreplaceable award - assuming the right deal came up to replace them.
    Leaf fans have been fed a steady diet of mediocrity for years now. We're expected to be content with "a good effort". For me, that's praise for a kids' league. It's time for everyone in the organization to show they belong where they are.

    1. Thanks Gerund O'- so many things go into creating a sustainable winning environment. The Leafs haven't been able to accomplish that yet. Lots of talk but the results remain similar.

  9. Hi Michael,

    Like Jim, I've started to post and deleted several times. I can't even come up with an amusing expletive. What can we say? A season has been wasted and it started with so many things unsettled. We knew Carlyle would probably be gone at some point during the season, but there he was to start it, Nonis should have been gone last summer but he's still here. Shanahan has done a few things I like but I'd almost swear he kept them both just to irritate me.

    Nonis started the 2013 off-season with a young, fairly talented team, cap space and two buy-outs available and in a matter of weeks caused more damage than a person should be able to do without trying. He made every attempt to increase the damage last summer, with Shanahan's approval. We could have ended up with Bolland at almost 5 mil. and Georges' contract to add to the three years of Robidas.

    Shanahan is not a GM, Dubas, Hunter and Pridham weren't around last summer but none of these four have any experience as a GM at the NHL level. Nonis is still in the driver's seat because there is no one who can step up to replace him. Having approval from a group with no experience doesn't mean a hill of beans. It actually helps Nonis because when fails he can shift the blame to Shanahan and say he had approval for every move. I'd feel better ignoring the trade deadline completely than have Nonis in charge but it's the best opportunity to move contracts out. I truly dread what may be coming.

    I don't enjoy discussing the business/management side of hockey. It usually doesn't interest me in the least. It's not the sort of discussion I've come to enjoy here at VML, but these days it's impossible to ignore.

    1. Well said, Colleen, as constantly discussing the business side of the Leafs is downright irritating.... but here we are. The ever changing management group here in Toronto IS to blame for being up against the Cap, with plenty of crappy long term contracts on the books, and no results to offer for it. A hockey analyst the other week jokingly guessed that the only reason Nonis was kept around is because he's the only one that knows how the phone system works. Silly, but there's an ounce of truth in that statement, as Dave is the only one with the pedigree to navigate the day-to-day operation of managing an NHL squad. That's not to say that he should still be employed by the Leafs, but more a comment on how they should have replaced him prior to the start of the season. Nonis actually seems like a really nice guy, but I don't want him leading our team.

      A question we all need to ask is, if Dave Nonis is going to still be around in a month, as fans, do we trust him to start the rebuild process that seems imminent, and decide which pieces get dealt for future prospects? The answer, as you've stated Colleen, is an emphatic NO. All it will lead to is Nonis making a bunch of changes, getting fired off season, and yet another new GM (stop me if you've heard this one before!) stepping in, and claiming he's in evaluation mode, and clearly stating that he's not responsible for the current trainwreck. Just look at the last video of MacT offering his 'state of the union' address in Edmonton, and it will more or less be identical.

      Shanahan, Dubas and Hunter are support pieces at this point as they grow into their new careers, and hardly the captain of the ship you want to look to for guidance. Also, look at Hunter's brother Dale, walking away from the league after a single season, as the horse crap (swearing, just like Colleen!) he dealt with in Washington with failed expectations wasn't that far removed from the Toronto experience. The London Knights are a cash cow, and these guys have a day job they can return to if they don't enjoy the politics of the NHL experience.

      When the season ends, make a push for Babcock, McLellan or Bylsma behind the bench, as we don't need a rookie coach trying to find his feet in this shooting gallery of a marketplace. But before then, find a quality out-of-work GM to start the ball rolling around here. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on a potential GM, as I'm honestly a bit clueless about the contract status of the employed good ones. The unemployed group includes Ray Shero and George McPhee. As far as dudes that presently have jobs, we could dream for Kenny Holland, but it won't happen.... he's soft spoken, and I doubt would touch this market. I wonder if Doug Wilson, Bob Murray, or David Poile might be willing to have a dump truck full of money pulled into their driveway? Poile would be interesting, as a GM from a cash strapped market would be used to penny pinching, and way more reluctant to offer David Clarkson a cash-for-life lottery winning ticket.

    2. I really enjoyed your post, Russ. I know I sounded a bit negative towards Shanahan but I really think Nonis is here because Shanny wants to avoid the revolving door of NHL GMs that are fired by one team and hired immediately by another. As you noted, the pickings are slim--he may indeed need to pry one away from another organization. He needs a smart decision here.

      (My very lady-like Mom, at 90 years of age, repeated the word "crap" once and I almost fell out of my chair. (I fear she picked it up from one of my kids.) Raised on a farm, she did however, on several occasions when driving, make use of the term "jackass" under her breath. As a Leaf fan, and a smart one, she may have had a few more my tender ears never heard.)

    3. Hello Russ,

      I think the Leafs are sitting pat on the GM front because they will make a full court press for Babcock in the off-season.

      I think everyone knows that Babcock has said he wants to be the highest paid coach, but has anyone else heard that he also wants to be the GM!

      I respect him immensely as a coach but am not sure we can afford to have another rookie getting on the job training - but that might be the price we have to pay to have him come over as a coach.


    4. I wondered about that one as well, Wayne, as Babcock has as much currency as any NHL executive, in terms of picking and choosing the next position he fills. I honestly think it might be a bit much for Mike, or anyone for that matter, to occupy those two position in this particular marketplace, based on the state of the team presently. The GM position might arguably be more important than head coach at this point, based on the long term Cap issues we have, and assuming there's a desire to completely retool this squad.

      What about Head Coach and VP of Hockey Operations for Babcock? A gigantic salary attached to it, and the ability to wield a really big hammer in meetings with the management staff in terms of player transactions, and overall team direction. Hire a GM that's experienced (as Mike and the rest clearly are not), and use the new GM to handle a lot of the day-to-day mechanics, and handle the bulk of the press responsibilities.

      Babcock might actually be looking for that sort of arrangement, as his resume is damn near flawless right now, and having an experienced GM to at least help shoulder the expectations of the Leafs high profile situation might be a comfortable route for him.

      Regardless of the specifics of Babcock's contract, should he decide to join the Leafs, he will ultimately be their most listened-to and valued management asset anyways, and the direction the team takes will be his doing. Mike has an aura about him that reminds me a little bit of Quinn, where the "suits" at MLSE would get a bit sweaty under those expensive collars, if they attempt to meddle where they don't belong.

    5. That worries me too.
      In other news, Nonis is scouting the AHL ( L.A's farm team) in dogged pursuit of Mike Richards.

  10. Re: Babcock... We have to remember that he's part of a tandem with Ken Holland. If we don't have a competent GM first, then it'll be difficult to saddle him with a coach brought in by the previous guy ( a situation we're more than familiar with here in Leafland). The Wings also have a passionate owner - just one, by the way - who's committed to winning. We have a fractious board of governors who seem more interested in milking the MLSE cash cow, engaging in media battles and knifing each other in the back. Hardly a recipe for success!
    I'd love to know how many sports teams owned by a consortium, much less a bickering one, have ever won a major championship. I can't think of one. I wonder how many members of the MLSE Board of Governors even watch the games?
    Currently we have that above mentioned ownership, a President who's learning on the job (another frequent MLSE feature), a GM who's just plain made terrible decisions and hobbled the team, and a coach who was engaged to start training camp in mid-season. Not only do I pity the players, I pity all the incredibly patient season ticket holders, who actually have to pay exorbitantly for this Cirque du Lunacy every year. Each one of them should be given a copy of that old sign that used to hang in the Roman slave galleys: The floggings will continue until morale improves!

    1. Well said, Gerund. If Babcock does happen to show up in Toronto, it's meaningless if it turns into and exercise in frustration, arguing with a fractured upper management team that has much different ideas than that well tuned Detroit group made so wisely.

      Regardless of the coach that's ultimately chosen, I hope he isn't a 'touchy-feely' type, as this roster has been coddled enough over the years. One of the big knocks on Carlyle was that he was too hard on the players, and I had a few gripes about Randy, but that definitely wasn't one of them. Earn those massive pay cheques, boys. I heard a retired Red Wing (Kurt Maltby, I think?) on the radio the other week, talking about how much the team hated Scotty Bowman as a coach. He mentioned that the coach would be standing right behind him on the bench, shouting to an assistant... "Maltby has nothing to offer, bench him.", and he would sit there, humiliated for a period, then come out strong once ice time was made available. His moral of the story was that he liked the coach a LOT more, when he was sitting there and staring at his Stanley Cup rings, an elusive pot-of-gold that the vast majority of players never claim.

      This partially new management group of Shanahan, Dubas and the rest seem like OK guys, but they definitely seem to be given a lot of rope by an optimistic fan base. The reality is that these guys have zero pedigree in their current positions in the NHL, so it's nothing more than just admiring a 'shiny new object', until they prove they can steer the Leafs in the right direction.

      I'll cast one more vote Gerund, for an all around flogging.

  11. Michael,

    With respect to the GM situation that Gerund, Russ, and Colleen have been discussing. I find myself conflicted over what the Leafs should do. In my mind there are a few options, standing pat and letting the GM emerge from the ranks of who they already have, Dubas being the choice for me, trying to acquire a proven NHL GM, looking at a current assistant GM and handing him the reigns, Jim Nill comes to mind here, you know a well groomed star in the making, the former player route, Rob Blake is the prominent name mentioned.

    For me there is no way Nonis is here next year. He hasn't made more than one trade or long term signing that doesn't currently make me nauseous. I have my own opinion on what I think the Leafs should do, but, I was wondering what you thought about the path for the future. Maybe this could be a blog topic, I know tomorrow is short notice, and your usual day to post, so I'll leave you the option. Who knows, maybe I'm stealing your thunder a day early. Hope not, and apologies if it is.

    On the topic of the Kings. It is my impression that a trade with LA, and Phaneuf going the other way would have been finished, except for the fact that the Leafs refuse to take Mike Richards.

    Note to management in Toronto. No more band-aids. Do a job once, and do it right.

  12. I've felt all along that Shanahan wants youth and fresh ideas and I'm all for that. Blake, who I thought was of interest since the summer, has stated he's not going anywhere but it seems to me assistants training under strong GMs like Holland would be the targets. On the other hand, Shanahan may feel Hunter, Dubas and Pridham can get the job done.
    I wish we knew if Shanahan has full rein.

    Moving a big contract can be tricky but can be done. While you hope to get something back, I think of what went on in Vancouver with Luongo, where getting several players and prospects back became the focus instead of moving the contract. We saw how that worked out and Nonis came very close to a deal there, had Gillis not been over greedy. I guess we can add that to the list of "bullets dodged by Nonis purely by accident".

    I'm still watching the games but it's not easy. Komorov is avoiding checks so he's still injured, Kessel can't do anything that involves reaching, he can't pass, he's losing the puck and missing the net. I don't think it's all due to a lack of confidence/lack of effort--it looks suspiciously like a shoulder issue. ( he handles the puck just like Phaneuf did with his shoulder injury) Even Winnick and Santorelli's offense has disappeared and Kadri hasn't been drawing penalties. I thought Holland was our best forward last night. Reimer was solid.

    In this post, Michael asked who we wanted to see step up and I looked to the veterans. I never would have thought it would be Morgan Rielly and to a lesser extent, Jake (in spite of his mistakes) Gardiner with whom I'm most impressed. Holy Cow, Morgan! We're just beginning to see what we have in this brilliant young player.

  13. Hi Michael,

    I do not believe in tanking, I want them to win. And winning is very important, if you have learned to loose once, you will never be able to step out of it. There are reporters that ask for what they want to win because they won't win a Cup but they will never get it.

    To your question:

    There are some players on the Marlies that deserve a chance Leivo, Percy, Kozun. Granberg is getting a chance now and I hope we see something good of these kids.

    But everybody else has wasted his chance (exept from Rielly who is still very young). We want to win and we need to see that players are able to win and willing to do everything that is required to win in this league. And that they can score when we need a goal and defend a one goal lead if needed. We can not make the playoffs anymore (for at least 2 weeks) and nobody should dare to play brilliant now. Most of the players were here for the collapses from 2012 until now (the most at least for one season). I am not interested in players now stepping up. It is to late!!!
    The worst somebody has ever said about a player is what multiple people said about Gardiner last year: He was the best player through their last twenty games where they lost everything.
    That is worth nothing. Such a player is worth nothing.

    We need the best of our players every night, not only when it doesn't matter anymore.