Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fallin' Leafs, Fallin' Leafs, Fallin' Leafs on the Ground

What a week for sports news. Former Real Madrid and Manchester United midfielder David Beckham is coming to Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham will receive a 5 year $250 Million dollar contract. Now with him coming over the LA Galaxy will be making this money up fast in ticket and merchandise sales but wow, move over A-Rod, here comes another overrated player not deserving of all this money. This move has pushed ticket sales in Toronto over the top just to see England’s Former Captain, and the Toronto F.C. team of course.

Barry Bonds apparently failed an amphetamine drug test taken during the 2006 season. Not quite the positive steroids result the whole entire world outside of the San Francisco area wants but it is a small start. Although I am wondering how this information was leaked because first time offenders who fail amphetamine tests do not have the names or results revealed. Yet, after so many months someone leaks the information and now he is in damage control. You have to feel for the guy, don’t you?

Some talks that the Rory Fitzpatrick all-star saga being fixed has surfaced and has had conspiracy theorists thinking up ways to bring down NHL officials and expose the fix. What fix, it was assumed that he would make it in. Hell, even I stopped voting for Rory.

But then again the Home Town team the Toronto Maple Leafs are in trouble again…it is such an occurring theme, to turn on the Radio dial and listen to ‘Maple Leaf Fans’ bitch and complain about Sundin, Raycroft, Young Kids, Maurice etc with no viable solution or even an idea on how to fix it. Oh it is simple to say trade for a better goalie but how are you going to do that? Whom are you going to give up? Who are you going to get? How does it affect the cap? Remember the salary cap is why the players were locked out and fought so hard to keep out of the league.

As it is known I am not a Leafs fan but being in the great and I do mean great area of the City of Toronto. You turn on the television and there is something new about the Leafs. So lets take a quick look at what Jack Jock would do to ‘help’ the Leafs. I do put ‘help’ in quotations because to a Maple Leafs fan this plan may suck.


First of all lets leave the front office staff alone. Sure JFJ is not doing a good job but he will not get axed as he is doing what they want of him. Make a lot of money for MLSE and make a semi competitive hockey club. So put a check next to that point.

Paul Maurice will stay as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Just like Pat Quinn a year ago, he is just a victim of JFJ’s plan and would also want to get rid of a few players that are on the team but has no real control over who he coaches.

Lets start at the back end of the Rink. So who should be the starting goaltender? Former Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft? Or NHL veteran journeyman J.S. Aubin. Well I do not see a clear-cut winner; at this point in the season they could have been better with old Ed Belfour in net. Of course by getting rid of him they are able to have both Raycroft and Aubin for two-thirds of Belfour’s contract. Instead of playing their ‘number one’ goaltender Andrew Raycroft a good rotation based on 2-3 games of play will still get the leafs the results they desire. And that is simply being mediocre enough to make the playoffs and make a few million on at least 2 home dates in the playoffs. But take a look at the free agent market for goaltenders, not much out there. How about a trade? Well they got rid of Mikael Tellqvist, and no team at this point in the year will look at trading a number one goaltender. Unless the price is absolutely right. But right now the best bet would be to just alternate and give Aubin an actual chance to get on a roll.

The blue line is a complete mess. There are injuries all over the place, but not with the front four for the Maple Leafs. There is Thomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Hal Gill and Pavel Kubina. Now Thomas Kaberle’s problem has always been that he never shot enough. A great defenseman who can go end to end, dance around all 5 opposing players and then pass the puck off for a failed scoring attempt leading to a 3 on 1 breakout for the opposing club. Hal Gill is tall and lanky and can get his stick into a lot of places that can give the Leafs a penalty. Yet for the longest time he still leads the team in plus/minus, I suppose the counter argument is that he cant get a minus when he is in the penalty box. The thing is, that if the Leafs let up a power play goal, the 4 Leafs on the ice will not get a minus either. Kubina has had injury trouble but is now back and really not that bad and is fitting into Maurice’s system. The big problem on the blue line is number 24 Bryan McCabe. Yes look at what he did on the power play in the previous year. But look at what he did in the second half of 2006; he had like 5 points in 41 games. He was completely useless on the power play as everyone figured that if they keep a man high McCabe would not get the pass. Well they were right, and his scoring decreased substantially. Add a stupid over priced contract with a no trade clause and this is the problem that is on the leafs blueline. The answer for this blueline is to trade McCabe, get him to waive his ‘no trade clause’ ask him where he wants to be traded to, even if you can only get picks for him, should be able to get at least 2 2nd round picks. Keep the other three and pair them with healthy kids from the Marlies, let them get the experience they need so that in the 2007-2008 season they will be prime time ready and have had their learning curve.

Now the big problem is the forwards. Lets see who are the true Maple Leafs forwards??? There is Mats Sundin, there is… oh I guess that is it. Contrary to popular belief that the Leafs only have Mats Sundin there are some other talent on this club that have just been under utilized and mismanaged. Kyle Wellwood, Matt Stajan, Alex Steen, Chad Kilger, Bates Battaglia, Darcy Tucker, even Alex Ponikarovsky. I did not mention the likes of Jeff O’Neill for a reason. Trade him. Get a 4th round pick. Get rid of him. Line management is a must and so far their isn’t much success. Steen has been put with Sundin and good things happen. Wellwood with Sundin and good things happen. Ponikarovsky with Sundin and good things happen. But what about the rest of the team? There isn’t anything that can be done unless Sundin is in the middle. That is something right there. The long and short of this team is that they need to get rid of bodies and just ‘tank’ the rest of the season. They need to let their kids play and learn for the future.

Possible Trades: With Michael Peca out indefinitely they desperately need a new 2nd-3rd line centre. Here is a list of players that could see new homes and teams would actually want them.

Bryan McCabe
Jeff O’Neill
Darcy Tucker
Matt Stajan
Nik Antropov

Now What is out there with just these minimal players. Well combined there is about…
2 1st round picks
3 2nd round picks
7 3rd round picks and
3-4 conditional picks

What players are out there that could be a good move to at least add a lil depth so it looks like the Leafs are not going to tank the season.

Matt Pettinger (WSH)
Jamal Mayers (STL)
Mike Richards (PHI)
Jeff Carter (PHI)
Mike York (PHI)
Scottie Upshall (NSH)

I think you are getting the point. There is no need for these superstars to come here. I am a firm believer that these ‘average’ players for some teams will become superstars in a different environment. And making the avg. age of the team younger can also help morale as everyone will know how to use an iPod. These 2nd and 3rd line players, the grit from these players is what is missing from the Leafs line up. But this is one man’s opinion and maybe I just like those players listed. But tell me if any of them are on the decline. I don’t think you can.

No comments: