Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Failure(s) of MLSE

Odds are sometime Saturday night or Sunday afternoon when this year's Leaf team is officially eliminated from the post-season, all the usual excuses will come out: the list of players who are playing injured, the guys who were playing over their heads.

Sub-heads will intone, The most man games lost to injury this season (never mind that 100+ of those games are Woz and Peca; this is a team played better with Tucker injured than healthy).

JFJ and Coach Mo will be quoted about how this team of great young guys just ran out of gas.

There will be the usual talk of holding heads high, that this team was expected to be in a dog fight for the playoffs and they took right up until the final game of the season. Right to game 82.

Well, don't believe it.

The playoffs were there for the Leafs to grasp and this team just blew it.

There shouldn't be any excuses when this team comes to clean out their lockers.

This team was most notable for playing as if there would always be one more chance. One more must-win game that they could lose before playing the next one. In a fight for their lives they went an unremarkable and uninspiring 5 and 5 down the stretch.

The best this team could do was play five hundred hockey when it mattered most and that's not good enough.

Losing to Washington 5-1? Blowing lead after lead against the Habs (and then losing in the shootout). The total and utter collapse against the Sabres. Losing to an AHL goalie in Long Island. The Leafs coughed up at least five points the in the past ten games. Those five points would put the Leafs sixth in the east. A post-season lock.

I know the Leafs haven't been eliminated yet and there's still a chance for them to make the post-season, but it certainly didn't need to play out this way (and it certainly isn't looking likely that they'll be in the post-season dance).

That's why when those excuses from the players, coaches and MLSE hit the papers, get repeated on call in shows and fill up message boards, I hope people will question them.

I hope Leafs fans will wonder why nothing was done to solidify the goaltending. Telly dealt and Aubin ignored while Raycroft tumbled along with the 32nd worst goals against average and the 35th worst save percentage. A tendency to go down early combined with a weak glove hand exposed for every team to see.

Ask why the PK was allowed to slide from 17th to 27th without management making any moves.
Ask why the club didn't move O'Neill at the deadline when they scratched him for the final dozen games.

Ask the coaching staff about team discipline (7th most penalties in the NHL - not a good combo with the 27th worst PK) and the inability to hold a lead (22nd worst record in the NHL when leading after 2).

Most importantly, ask yourself if this: is the management team you trust to turn this ship around.

There was a dog fight to end this season, and with one game left to go, this team played like dogs.

They have one last chance to put off those excuses, we'll see what they're made of on Saturday night.


  1. Anonymous9:13 am

    It is what it is. This team is a 8th-11th place team at best. Why you continue to believe this team has the skills to be a top notch team is beyond me. With the exception of Sundin, every Leaf forward is a career third liner at best. What do you expect them to do? Win the East? With this team??? Just be thankful the last game of the year will mean something. Unlike last year.

  2. Jim - Thanks for the post.

    I have never at any time said or indicated this team was top notch at anything other than blowing leads, coming out flat and making AHL goalies look like Vezina winners.

    It's a very sad testament that MLSE can't even build an 8th place team in the mediocre East.

    The last game of the season may mean something to you and me, but judging by the way this team has played and JFJ's failure to do anything to improve the team, I have a strong feeling that game 82 doesn't mean anything to the Leafs organization.

  3. Anonymous10:47 am

    I agree, Jim. This team needed to miss the playoffs by a mile for the message to get through to the upper level of management. Now all management will do is "tinker" in the off season. The Andrew Raycroft gamble was a complete, and utter, total bust.

    Paul Maurice as a coach does not exude confidence, knowledge, a game plan or even a clue. Any coach who hands the goaltending job exclusively to a gloveless, kneeling and a disturbingly porous Raycroft is waaay over his head in this job. Add lack of a game plan, poor team conditioning, lousy special teams, inconsistency, and an uncorrected propensity to blow third period leads, and you're left with another hunt for a coach.

    Undoubtedly management will heartily endorse JFJ, Mo, and Roycraft. Uggghh. I need a new team to cheer for. I'll be 46 this year and I'm really running out of time and patience with this slipshod organization.

  4. Anonymous8:26 pm

    MLSE could care less about wining anything sports related. They are in it to sell condos and anything they can slap the Toronto maple Leafs name on.

    The organization sickens me to the core.