Thursday, May 08, 2008

Often Wrong, Never in Doubt

There is nothing wrong with being hopeful. There is no shame in being an optimist or leaving oneself open to the possibility of miracles.

Hope is why sports fans return season after season.

Hope is why we watch the games, even when we know the coach should be fired and the team has a 3% chance of making the post-season.

Hope is what fans do.

Hope is pretty much all that Leaf fans have.

Or, to take it all the way back Epictetus circa 600 B.C. (when the Leafs Stanley Cup drought was just days old): When Thales was asked what is most universal, he answered, hope - for hope stays with those who have nothing else.

While hope may indeed be universal and the mainstay of Leafs Nation, it is another thing altogether for the men who run our favourite teams to predicate their plans or strategies on little more than hope or the remote likelihood of something positive happening.

And for far too long down at MLSE it has seemed that hope was the cornerstone of this franchise: sign the high-risk UFA and hope for the best; trade for the goalie in decline and hope for a return to form; trade away draft pick after draft pick and hope it doesn't hobble the franchise; hope to make the post-season where anything can happen but seldom does...

There didn't seem to be any discussion or consideration of the underlying principles that are required to transform a team from also-ran to elite status. There didn't seem to be much transparency, understanding or commitment to the cultural and institutional requirements of building a team that could eventually challenge for the Cup.

And I, for one, am hoping that all of this has begun to change at MLSE.

John Ferguson Junior - arguably one of the worst GMs in Leafs history: Fired
Paul Maurice - qualified for the post-season three years out of 11: Fired
Randy Ladoceur - assistant coach and special teams failure: Fired
Steve McKichan - Raycroft's goalie coach: Fired
Dallas Eakins - assistant coach: Demoted
Mike Penny - assistant GM: Demoted

And the reaction from the media to this great news? The media's response to the return of accountability to the Leafs?

Given that we can't seem to get any coverage in this town that doesn't mention 1967, MLSE's greed and the need for qualified hockey men to run the team one would think the media would react positively to this decisive leadership.

And you'd be wrong.

Steve Simmons has much to ansewr for

Of course, the media's reaction has nothing to do with currying favour and maintaining access.

It has nothing to do with trying to secure future book deals and inside sources.

It has nothing to do with the fact that for the first time in a long time the Leafs are controlling the message and limiting leaks.

Apparently, the media's current round of disdain for all things Leaf has everything to do with the quality of the men who were fired.

You know, the same fine men that have managed to make the Leafs one of just seven teams that hasn't qualified for the post-season since the lockout.

The same fine men that traded away the majority of their first round picks and coached the Leafs into 24th spot in the NHL with a 29th ranked penalty kill.

The same fine men that have steered the ship during the last four or five years of foundering.

The same fine men that have ensured that I will not be able to open a sports page nor turn on TSN or Sportsnet without being reminded of 1967 and my favourite team's failings for years and years to come.

I for one am happy that these fine men are no longer around to make a mess of my team.

The lesson here is clearly that for every silver lining, the media will find the black cloud. All that's left to figure out is how Leaf fans are to blame for this one too.


I love the fact that the Leafs are simulcasting the media conferences on their web-site (Maurice is here, Fletcher is here). Nothing like being able to see a newser first hand to compare what was actually said with what gets reported.

Great big tip o' the hat to the Leafs PR department - I hope this is a service they'll continue to provide.


What the hell was Dave Perkins smoking last night? He thinks the Leafs timed the announcement of Paul Maurice's firing to hide the fact that Tannenbaum is going to make money off bringing the Bills to Toronto?

Um, Mr. Perkins, you may want to listen to the Prime Time Sports puff piece that ran last night. Bobcat did about 15 minutes live to air with Rogers Communications' Vice-Chairman Phil Lind and Rogers' Director of Strategic Alliances Adrian Montgomery, neither of whom could stop talking about the overwhelming demand for tickets, ticket prices and the sound of ringing cash registers down at the Rogers Centre. You may also want to open a portfolio account with Canada News wire. As a member of the media, I know these news releases are emailed and faxed directly to you, but you may have missed the fact that publicly traded companies LOVE to talk about new revenues from things like excessive demand for NFL tickets in Toronto.


And I'm rather late to the party here, but hockey reference has opened their site to sponsorships of team and players. Leaf Fans should know PPP is working on a master plan that's worth checking can read more about it at Cox Bloc and Down Goes Brown.


  1. great fuckin post, man. you are absolutely right about the media. it's always negative, no matter what.

    and that cover is exactly why i don't read The Toronto Sun. i work for a current affairs television program and we get a ton of newspapers everyday - ny times, wash post, financial times, globe, star, post - but never, ever, the sun...if i were caught reading the sun at my desk i would be laughed at...what a joke of a paper...

    and in regards to hope, you're damn right it's all we have. and i have no problem with that. to quote the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

    "We must accept finite disappointment, but never give up infinite hope."

    keep up the great work, my man

  2. Anonymous5:37 pm

    Great article!

    Not only is it extraordinarily written, it is absolutely dead on correct.