Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Post For Wonderful Surprises

I hope you did not get your hopes too high at the prospect of wonderful surprises because today's title is a misnomer, in fact you might call it an out and out lie because the focus for today is on completely unsurprising things and has very little to do with wonder and a lot more to do with depressing reality.

Where to even start. The Canadian Juniors won the gold medal today and this isn't actually depressing so much as it is unsurprising and uninspiring, especially after so many people rang the alarms so furiously after that one single loss back in the first round, the first loss for baby Team Canada since I don't know how long but we are talking years here and suddenly that's all it takes to question whether this team of maybe-one-day-future-studs can win the gold. It was pretty silly. I don't know what it is but maybe it's because I don't follow the tournament much farther than Story is Cont. on page S4, but it was easy money for me to pick Canada as the eventual winner. I don't know how many more straight golds it will take for Canadians to realize that they have the best junior system in the world and that these yearly international tournaments provide the same level of excitement and competition of your average round of mini-golf. Canadian domination of international ice hockey was fun at first, now I think it's just boring.

Surprise number two. The Toronto Maple Leafs are not a very good team. This is pretty much indisputable these days even if nobody on the company payroll wants to say it. Toronto lost to Philadelphia earlier tonight, and get this, this is the really unsurprising thing , they blew the game with two minutes to go in the third. I know! Who could have seen a finish like that!

It's not even surprising anymore when the clock hits five left in the third you just need to keep one eye behind Toronto's goalie because you know there will be some heavy action back there before the buzzer goes. So when Toronto fell behind a man to Phillie with just minutes left to play with the score tied 2-2 you could have reliably turned off your tv right then and gone off to do something more productive, confidant that your Leafs would find some special new way to lose and disappoint you.

The Leafs are 1-5 in their last six if I read the results properly. The Leafs occupy a special portion of the NHL standings reserved for only the really mediocre, the teams that can win two in a row and than just as easily peel off three straight losses and come back with a straight face and tell their fans that there is something more in the tank even though that is what they have said all season. It has been noted by those deliriously devoted to this hockey team that thanks to the particularly mediocre East Conference, the Leafs are never more than four or five points out of a playoff spot and that anything can happen, you know?

Oh but they are so hopelessly romantic. The Leafs are never far from that final eight slot but they are never really close either. To think that this team can suddenly reel off five or six straight wins and then motor on down the home stretch at some wonderful .600 clip is some bizarre dream work that completely ignores the body of work this team has put up all season long.

There is no consistency and no secondary scoring on this team. And yet we the fans must continue to listen to John Ferguson Junior and Richard Peddie tell us that it is not wise to make hasty decisions in this business. Hasty! It's like they lack any sort of perspective or sense of irony or at the very least have nothing but contempt for the fans, the only people who would deign to hold them accountable for turning this team into a mediocre halfway home for players with no where better to be. Hasty! It's like they are incapable of remembering anything farther back than five games ago. The team we have now is just as bad as it was a month ago, two months ago and it is not improving visibly. But we can't act just because the team isn't playing well right now. Right now? I can think of just one stretch of hockey this season when you could have reliably called the Leafs a good team and I think that lasted about ten games at the top.

Don't misunderstand me. I don't want Fergie to do anything. I'd rather he didn't touch the team because you can only see him making some ugly desperation act on deadline day sending more draft picks and prospects for another goalie as he, in that JFJ way, mumbles triumphantly that he has fixed the goaltending situation except he won't mention that this is the third time in his three years that the goaltending needed saving and this is all too depressing because it is all too plausible because we already know what our GM is capable when he's desperate.

I've said it before but obviously not loud enough but Toronto needs to fire Fergie, and Pettie too while we're at it and they need to install someone with experience and iron balls and the courage to trade Mats Sundin and the GM savvy to trade McCabe or Kubina or both and then he needs to start actively rebuilding for next year.

I know how tempting that four point gap looks right now and how close that this team may look on paper but if you have been following this team honestly, I don't know how you can conclude they can or should make the playoffs. I'd rather see them tank now and come back next year with something plausible than to see them continue to bundle along blindly wishing and hoping for that multi-game win streak to happen. Because it won't. And if it does, you know that the Leafs are just as capable of matching it with a losing streak of equal or greater value. This is our hockey team.



walkinvisible said... is my buddy MG's buddy's site....

walkinvisible said...

courage to trade Mats Sundin and the GM savvy to trade McCabe or Kubina or both

it is my understanding that all three of those fine fellows above have no-trade clauses (thanks, of course, to your pal JFJ). if they were all to WAIVE that clause, i think only mats would hold any value on the market, being that mccabe and kubina are both obscenely overpaid [and, additionally, why we will lose phaneuf next year since he's clearly better than both combined, thus worth appx 11.1 million, if you add their worth]. all, of course, done with the fine tuned negotiating skills of your boy, fergie.

mats at 5.5 was a steal, though, but i'm pretty sure he built in a clause that gets him traded at the deadline if the leafs are out of contention...

how good is my iggy lookin' though ?!?! :)

Jason said...

Yeah... fully realize how impossible Fergie has made it to move McCabe and Kubina. I can't really think of any teams that could or would want to fit in a 5 or 7 mil contract for a purely average defenseman at this point. But a boy can dream...... The Leafs really need to get out from under those contracts whatever it takes. Who knows, maybe Caber will come back from injury and he'll finish the season well and then we can give him back to the Islanders or someone. I don't know.

And there's no point in keeping Sundin anymore and if we could send him to a team with a chance, even if that team was Ottawa (D:) I think it has to be done

walkinvisible said...

sundin will never be traded to ottawa. just wouldn't happen....

but the real question is: how good is my IGGY LOOKING, THOUGH ??!??!