Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It took a Tattooed Boy from Birkenhead

There was a time (roughly 1979 to 2008ish) when the only thing more porous than the Leafs' defence was the Leafs' front office.

Every move the Leafs made: management changes, upping concession prices, free agent signings, internecine board squabbles, waiver moves, logo changes, likely even mascot issues, appeared in the media at least five days prior to being officially confirmed by MLSE.

Now, sometimes an organization needs to float a trial balloon or two to soften the news before it hits (the McCabe - Van Ryn trade is a case in point). But the Leafs went way beyond trial balloons. For decades this organization was like a fingerless Dutch boy, unable to stop even the smallest leak.

How times have changed.

Joe Nieuwendyk started interviewing with the Dallas Stars three weeks ago. The news didn't break until Dallas announced he'd been hired.

This week the Leafs signed three prospects. Again, the news didn't break until the Leafs put out a press release.

Burke is actively trying to move up in the draft. The only rumours that have emerged to date (Kaberle and Schenn for the #2 pick) were addressed personally by Burke within hours of the news being reported. Fold in his recent appearance on the Watters show and you've got a GM who's shooting down the media as if they were Sonny Corleone in a toll booth.

I'm not a trade rumours kind of guy, so I love this new organizational silence. Others may differ.

In 30+ years of following this club, I can't recall a time when news from Leaf-land broke after the fact or was so controlled (although I likely wasn't paying that close attention to media trends as a six year old when Roger Neilson was behind the bench).

Perhaps it's just a coincidence that when Peddie was removed from hockey operations the leaks stopped.

The draft is less than three weeks away, it will be interesting to see if the controlled flow of information from the Leafs can be maintained. Moreover, it will be fascinating to see how the media adapt their approach to covering the Blue and White.

With so many reporters on the beat and so many Leaf fans clamouring for information, I don't think the cone of silence can be maintained. But I am enjoying it while it lasts...


  1. There are few things I hate more than trade rumors.

  2. Finally there's some discipline in that office. You have to wonder how many teams stopped dealing with the Leafs because of the fear of trade rumours negatively affecting the players being discussed.

  3. The lack of rumours and leaks means that the talk radio types have to now do explicitly what they always did secretly in the past - just make shit up to talk about.

    I for one welcome our new silent overlords.

  4. I love trade rumours but I have always hated the fact that the Leafs front office so blatantly floated (or seemed to) float information critical or otherwise about players that turned into columns the next day.

    I am not sure that Petty was the only source of the leaks though. I believe certain players including Mats Sundin were also sources.

    No evidence I can point to just a gut feel especially considering the TSMs near catatonic fits of rage at any hint of criticism by the fans during his "Muskoka 5" stage.

  5. Also it appears Burkie has adapted a strategy that the local media is still trying to figure out how to deal with:

    Being completely upfront and honest as he can.

    Prior GMs like Quinn were incredibly secretive and JFJ took doublespeak to a whole new level.

    Burke's candor is refreshing but I think for the local scribes somewhat offputting.

  6. What will we bloggers do without unsubstantiated rumours!?!?!?

  7. Gooner4ever12:12 pm

    Just make your own shit up eyebleaf!!!

    Stamkos for Kaberle anyone?

    See how easy it is?

  8. Stamkos for Kaberle? No way. Kaberle's worth more than that!

  9. I just wonder how long this containment can last. I've never seen the Leafs this controlling with information (seriously, how did nobody know about Nieuwendyk?). Eventually reporters will uncover a new source. Be interesting to see who's the first with a scoop...