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Saturday, October 8

Toronto Maple Leafs - Probable causes

 The future of the Maple Leafs is bleak. Every year, the faithful have somehow renewed hope for the upcoming season, and every year the team have fallen short. Every year since the 2005/06 season this has been the case. The legions of fans that do remain faithful is frankly astounding. I do include myself in that number as well, but more and more have been questioning why I should. At this point, it will be the sweet after the bitter, and somehow it will be that much more glorious once we do reach the playoffs. (Yes, at this point most leafs fans would be ecstatic with just the playoffs, let alone hoisting the cup for the 14th time.)

 There's a lot of talk about how this is the way ownership has wanted it, but I seriously doubt that. Because of this nagging feelings I have, and the bitterness of disappointment I felt the need to come up with a few reasons why the leafs have failed. Included below are some of the reasons.

Post lockout - Before the lockout the leafs were very similar to the New York Yankees. We had money to burn, and GM's definitely traded draft picks and prospects for older players that helped the team get to the playoffs. Cliff Fletcher traded a jumble of things to get Doug Gilmour back. I love the killer, and was glad he was back, but have a hard time justifying the trading of first round picks. (The 4th overall pick that NY Isles got from us turned out to be Roberto Luongo.) This would have become a perennial post season team with a real monster in the net. Shoulda, coulda, woulda...but shoulda traded a couple lower draft picks.

Pre-lockout, we get another Gm cast-off from Vancouver in Pat Quinn. I loathe Quinn immensely.
Due to him we lost Steve Sullivan on Waivers (890 Nhl Games, 266 Goals, 416 Assists and 543 penalty mins.)
Pat Quinn traded also traded Alyn McCauley, Brad Boyes and a 1st round pick (Mark Stuart) to the San Jose Sharks for Owen Nolan. Figures for that are 1287 games vs 69, with 233 goals vs 26, 323 assists compared to Nolan's 34 with the leafs, and 643 penalty mins when compared to the 126 a near-retiree rental player had. Horrible trade. He knows it. Prob didn't care much then, and probably still doesn't. The team gained a little in the short term, and lost a lot when he was no longer running the leafs.

 Then there was Adam Mair and what would become the pick for Mike Cammaleri in a trade for Aki Berg. ( Horrible)
 Compare the games played for those players: 1111 vs 606, Goals: 215 vs 15, Assists: 283 vs 70 & penalties: 1092 vs 374.

This man started the trading of picks for the possibility of making the playoffs, and in turn diminishing the leafs future chances to win the cup. (Or even make the playoffs in later years.)

Next, we have John Ferguson Jr as the leafs GM.

He is responsible for one of my personal favorites that could be considered a horrible trade - JFJ traded Tukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft. No real figures are needed for this trade. On one hand we get the Goalie of the future who currently fights for the no.1 spot with the reigning Vezina winner, Tim Thomas. In return we got someone who could currently be considered the water boy and locker room mascot - Raycroft. If John Ferguson Jr had a draft pick he most likely traded it. That's bad, but what's worse is that he also traded future picks so the cupboard would be bare even after his astronomical failures would cause him to be fired. The following is just a snippet of players who could have been/remained leafs but were traded: Maxim Kondratiev, Jared Boll, Lars Eller, Ken Klee, Ric Jackman, Nathan Perrot, Jarko Immonen, etc. What we got back was Expensive contracts handed to underachievers, Jason Blake, and  Vesa Toskala. In my opinion, Vesa was one of the worst Goalies ever. The worst Leafs number one goalie in my lifetime. In fact, both my wife an I used to call him the "tosser".  Even when Vesa was thankfully traded away by Brian Burke, Tosser's last gift to leafs fans was the comment "I can't wait to wash the blue and white off." Good riddance. All of these things makes me despise JFJ more than any other GM so far.

Next was Cliff Fletcher.
He got rid of Hal Gill, Wade Belak, Carlo Colaiccovo, and Bryan Mccabe. I liked all of these players. Cliff, to his credit, was trying to re-stock picks and get rid of players that felt entitled to their roster spot. (The only problem was that all three of those players did deserve their roster spot.) We did get Luke Schenn and Grabovski from Cliff. But, on the other hand could have had Colin Wilson instead of Schenn. Wilson is a really good center. Overall, I'm ok with, wait... I'm not. Lee Stempniak.

This leads us to Burkie. It's kind of final for him unfortunately.
The chances are that Burke will need to answer for JFJ's destruction.

It's a shame that less people know just what Burke has done. He got rid of Vesa Toskala & Jason Blake for a J.S. Gigeure rental. This was huge drop in salary and the removal of a taint/fungus to the locker room. Unbelievable trade.

Hagman, Mayers, Stajan, and White for Aulie, Phaneuf and Sjostrom. Huge trade. Get rid of garbage (sorry Stajan, but it's true) and pick up Aulie and Phaneuf. This was also an unbelievable trade.
Burke dropped all of the old overpaid schmucks and stocked up a bit. He picked up some amazing prospects from Pittsburgh and the Bruins, and got rid of Kaberle. Two thumbs up!
He traded Beaucheman and Versteeg away, which also made me happy, but cannot be counted as good things Burke has done as he originally picked them up. Kinda cancels the pick up and trades after.

Burke's failings: The 2010/2011 1st round pick + 2nd round pick for Phil Kessel.
Sure Kessel will score 30+ most years. In my mind that doesn't count much if opposing teams score a point for every point that Kessel gets. Phil is a bit small, weak and sometimes appears kind of lazy. My wife calls him Cheeseburger. We'll never have Tyler Seguin, or Dougie Hamilton. There's no question that the leafs now have more American players than Canadian, and a couple of bad contracts and liabilities. The future is unclear, and it makes me wonder how many other teams would consider trades with Brian Burke.

Maybe he'll be know as a savior of the team...Or maybe we'll just make the playoffs and trade our future for years to come. Here's hoping.

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