Friday, February 22, 2008

Trade Deadline Doldrums

Only a few days before the trade deadline and if you are a Leafs fans, I think it's become pretty clear that we should be expecting less, rather than more to happen for our team on Tuesday. The standard line coming from Cliff Fletcher for the past week has been "Hey, we sure do have a lot of no-trade contracts, huh guys?" and Sundin has been sticking to his no where but T.O (and I've started believing him), not to mention the feeling among GMs league wide has been generally "boy we did a lot of stupid things last trade deadline, didn't we". I know, I know, when people stumble out of bed Sunday morning the line is always, "I swear to God I'll never drink again" and we know how that works out, but geez, what if the General Managers have learned their lesson this time? What if this is the year they decide that that draft pick might be more useful in their hands, and that maybe Brendan Witt is not worth a first round pick?

Speaking of picks, what the Leafs need to do is get a hold of Edmonton's first round pick, currently nestled safely under Brian Burke's watch in Anaheim, and theoretically available. That pick would represent two potential top five picks and that is what the Leafs need right now. I assume Mats Sundin would secure it, but once again I don't know which way to read him. The hopeful side says that Mats has just been jumping through the hoops with the media, saying what he has to, "I want to stay in Toronto", so that no one questions his commitment to this city (imagine what would have happened if Sundin had told us he wanted out? The Vince Carter treatment all over again). Under this fanwank dream scenario Sundin does what's best for the team when Fletch eventually approaches him with the offer.

A week ago I was pretty convinced that this was how it would play out. Maybe the Leafs offer a very quiet wink nudge deal for next year, you know nothing official because there are people who frown on that kind of shenanigans, but whatever it takes to get him out the door with his dignity intact. Now, I'm not so sure. The big five, the guys with the impenetrable no trade contracts, have put up a pretty unified front in resisting trade talk; it doesn't seem like anybody on this team feels inclined to jump ship, or even that there might be a reason to bail out. These guys are still talking about the playoffs in the dressing room.

But that's the only place anybody is talking about Toronto and the playoffs. I understand that the players still need something to play for. That's why Vesa Toskala is out there every night; that's why Paul Maurice pulled said in the final minute of yesterday's loss to Buffalo even though they were trailing by three. I respect that, these are men with some pride. Just listen to Maurice these days. He is a frustrated man. He is this close to losing it.

There is talk from some that Sundin is acting disloyal in his refusal (if it is indeed genuine refusal), and that's complete bullhorckle and fiddlewash. Maybe Sundin really would rather prefer to oversee the rebuilding in Toronto than a Stanley Cup in some other city. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. Who knows. Sundin doesn't deserve the backlash he's going to get if he's still here Tuesday afternoon.

Back too the deadline. This season has been weak weak weak when it comes to trades. Two meaningful trades spread out over four months? Will Tuesday make up for this? For the Leafs sake it had better so. If Fletch can get one guy to waive goodbye, it could start chain reaction. Assuming there are teams willing to take on big contracts attached to ok players the deals will happen. For all the hand wringing, this is the one day a year that GMs are allowed to do stupid things. Just hoping for once it's not Toronto's.

1 comment:

walkinvisible said...

"waive goodbye" is genius, my friend. and i'm writing in apology that your captain is, infact, your captain. is it a blessing or a curse that mats loves toronto as much as the leafsnation faithful ? who knows... but he's yours to stay.

tomorrow i think i'm gonna get a guest blogger bit in the new york times slapshot blog. checkit: