Friday, February 02, 2007

Long Odds

It’s disappointing to me as a Leafs fan that the new measure of success in this town and for this organization seems to be making the post-season.

With expectations well-managed (how many times did someone at MLSE use “playoffs” and “dog-fight” in the same sentence as the season began) this team sits in 10th place, on the outside looking in, and all signs point to JFJ trying to gear up for a playoff run.

Friends, clients and colleagues are all talking about the Leafs current streak and hoping that it might be just enough to help the Leafs squeak into 8th place.

This is what we have to root for?

I realize that the post-season is what it’s all about and you can’t drink from the big silver mug if you don’t even qualify, but isn’t it time somebody at MLSE stepped back and looked at the big picture?

In a nutshell MLSE, here's your big picture: teams that struggle to make the post-season don’t win the Cup.

It’s that simple.

Since the NHL expanded to 21 teams in 1979-1980, the 1985-86 Montreal Canadiens are the lowest ranked club to win the Stanley Cup. That season they were 5th in the Wales(now the Eastern) Conference (they also had a young goalie named Patrick Roy).

Think about that for a second. No team ranked lower than 5th has won the cup since the league expanded to 21 teams. Only twice in the past 26 years has an 8th seeded team even made it to the finals.

Of the 27 teams that have won the cup, since 1979 nineteen were first (11) or second (8) in their conference - that’s 70% of the winners coming from the top 2 spots.

Have a look for yourself...

Season

Cup Champion

Final Standings

Losing Team

Final Standings

1979-80

New York Islanders

2nd Campbell

Philadelphia

1st Campbell

1980-81

New York Islanders

1st Campbell

Minnesota

4th Prince of Wales

1981-82

New York Islanders

1st Wales

Vancouver

4th Campbell

1982-83

New York Islanders

3rd Wales

Edmonton

1st Campbell

1983-84

Edmonton

1st Campbell

NY Islanders

1st Wales

1984-85

Edmonton

1st Campbell

Philadelphia

1st Wales

1985-86

Montreal

5th Wales

Calgary

2nd Campbell

1986-87

Edmonton

1st Campbell

Philadelphia

1st Wales

1987-88

Edmonton

2nd Campbell

Boston

2nd Wales

1988-89

Calgary

1st Campbell

Montreal

1st Wales

1989-90

Edmonton

2nd Campbell

Boston

1st Wales

1990-91

Pittsburgh

3rd Wales

Minnesota

7th Campbell

1991-92

Pittsburgh

4th Wales

Chicago

3rd Campbell

1992-93

Montreal

4th Wales

Los Angeles

6th Campbell

1993-94

New York Rangers

1st East

Vancouver

7th West

1994-95*

New Jersey

5th East

Detroit

1st West

1995-96

Colorado

2nd West

Florida

4th East

1996-97

Detroit

3rd West

Philadelphia

2nd East

1997-98

Detroit

2nd West

Washington

4th East

1998-99

Dallas

1st West

Buffalo

5th East

1999-00

New Jersey

2nd East

Dallas

3rd West

2000-01

Colorado

1st West

New Jersey

1st East

2001-02

Detroit

1st West

Carolina

8th East

2002-03

New Jersey

2nd East

Anaheim

6th West

2003-04

Tampa

1st East

Calgary

6th West

2004-05

LOCKOUT

NO

CUP

AWARDED

2005-06

Carolina

2nd East

Edmonton

8th West




Standings indicate overall points ranking, not seeding by division/ *lockout shortened season

As the table above shows, Championship odds aren't good for a team sitting in 8th place (nevermind those in 10th that need everything to go their way just to make the post-season).

As a fan, I’d love the Leafs to qualify for the playoffs – it’s why the games are played - and I really hope they do make it.

But as a fan, isn’t it time we set our sites a bit higher than 8th place? Isn’t it time we asked a bit more of MLSE?

Aiming for 8th place isn't how droughts end.

2 comments:

  1. Bitter,

    I'm in total agreement that just making it to the dance should not be team management's goal, despite the unfortunate evidence to the contrary. The marketing mantra of 'anything can happen' rings of hollow optimism.

    However, though the team is in ninth at the moment, if they can continue to play at this level, three games over five hundred the rest of the way isn't that hard to fathom.

    Blowing up the team just won't happen with this ownership. JFJ has said as much, which I take to be him saying what his boss-collective wants to hear. And with only six points separating 4th from 9th, throwing in the towel would probably do more harm than good.

    I can't decide if the team should buy or sell. Though I am starting to believe, and not just hope, that team will make the playoffs, and that leads to battling for seeding for whatever that is worth.

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  2. Anonymous2:26 p.m.

    I think they should deal Peca and Tucker...the Leafs are going to decide their fate without them in the line-up anyways, so you might as well get what you can for them...yeah, the club will miss them if they make the playoffs, but their ice-time can go to some of the kids so they can get a taste of the post-season...

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