Thursday, March 13, 2008

Praying for the Playoffs or Planning the re-build

Unlike PPP, I'm not back on the Leafs playoff band wagon (yet). While I'd love for the team to keep winning and I've really enjoyed the last few games (is there a better team to beat than Philly? I just hate the flyers) I'm still trying to focus on the big picture. The more compelling story lines for me remain: who is going to clean this mess up, what prospects might be headed for the blue and white, and can this organization make a long-term commitment to building a winning culture.

Whether you're praying for the playoffs or planning for the re-build here are some links that might be of interest:

For you playoff dreamers, check out this Yahoo site - each day they update the first round playoff match-ups as if the playoffs were starting today. Bruins v. Habs? Meh, not so much. Stars v Ducks? Now that would be an interesting opening round match-up. Hat tip to Deadspin's hockey closer Greg Wyshnyski for that link.

For those of you who dream of a re-build, here's an amazingly candid look at what's going on with the L.A. Kings. It's long but well worth the read - fascinating stuff about Mark-Andre Fleury, arbitration, building teams with free agents, etc. Hat tip to Mirtle on this one...


  1. Anonymous1:02 pm

    who is going to clean this mess up, what prospects might be headed for the blue and white, and can this organization make a long-term commitment to building a winning culture.

    Without a doubt those are the most important issues facing the Leafs.

    Having said that, it sure is fun when the team is winning. Why do they forget that from Oct-Jan?

  2. Why do they forget that from Oct-Jan?

    Because they don't have to. They know from experience that if they can just come close, team leadership will pat them on the head, mutter something about "man-games lost to injury", and declare that it's not their fault. Then they get an early vacation to go shopping with their wives.

    It's a great plan. Sure, it prevents you from actually winning anything, but we've already learned that that's not really a priority for most of these guys.

  3. Anonymous9:55 pm

    I checked out the state of the union for the Kings and found the following thing Wilson said apt for looking at the Leafs:

    From ’81 to ’70, ONE homegrown player. Dangerous. Take the names out. That’s all I gotta look at. I’m gonna guess you might not be good. You only got one homegrown player come through your system. By that time, those guys should have the Kings tattooed on their butt and that should be your Core. That’s Sakic, that’s Forsberg, that’s Foote. That’s all those guys when they were great, you looked right in that line and it was yellow and they were good.

    The Leafs only have 3 players from 77-81 that were homegrown. Kaberle, Antropov, and Ponikarovsky. They're all fairly decent, and it'd be nice if we could hold on to them. The good news is, the number of decent, younger, homegrown players coming down the pipe:

    Stajan, Wellwood, Steen, Stralman, Colaiacovo, Tlusty, Earl, Boyce, Foster, Williams, White... there's the foundation of a solid nucleus there. Patience is a virtue.

  4. With the most recent loss to Buffalo, at least the silly talk of a post-season push can now be put away for good.

    (For the moment), the team has managed to position itself exactly where it benefits the least - neither playoff bound nor lottery hopefuls.

    Although part of me thinks this is a false dichotomy. I`m not convinced its an either/or proposition to make the playoff or win good lottery positioning. Aren`t there other, more important, issues for the team at the moment?

    I can think of a few areas where the Leafs ought to concentrate instead of the draft. To name a few...

    (1) Start spending some of that surplus cash that they no longer put towards salary on the best scouting/recruiting staff in the league.

    (2) Fix management issues, ie. pick a permanent GM, (and this time can we choose someone with credentials and vision?)

    (3) Put some ideas on paper, and discuss ways, for undoing the salary cap entanglements which have incapacitated the team in the "post-lockout era"

    (4) Discover and develop the young talent that is in the system - and god, even on the team right now.

    I would love to see a team next year that recognizes it has limited potential to make the playoffs, but which is fast, young, skilled and strong. If they make mistakes and occasionally get blown out of the building - I`m okay with that. As long as I can see the upside.

    I believe that the long-standing myth about Leaf fans demanding an immediate contender is exactly that - a myth.