Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category
in the best interests of their franchise, from a long term perspective, is:
i. Baton down the hatches;
ii. Resist all trade overtures from other teams across the NHL;
iii. Display confidence in the ability of their current group of core players – e.g. Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, James Reimer, Jake Gardiner and Luke Schenn – to rebound from their present 10-game slumber and qualify for the playoffs this season by playing solid hockey down the home-stretch; and,
iv. Get a win on Tuesday night, playing at home against the Florida Panthers.
If the team, as is, fails to respond positively and falls short of making the playoffs … then … head coach, Ron Wilson, will be relieved of his duties in the off season.
The team’s core group of players would stay together heading into next season.
This would really be a long term “win” situation for the franchise, when one more year’s worth of draft picks are added to the current group of players who, then, would have just gone through their first legitimate battle for a playoff position together.
If the team, as is, responds positively and regroups to qualify for the playoffs … then … head coach, Ron Wilson, will not be relieved of his duties in the off season.
The team’s core group of players would stay together heading into next season.
This would also be a long term “win” situation for the franchise, when one more year’s worth of draft picks are added to the current group of players who, then, would have just gone through their first legitimate battle for a playoff position together.
The simple facts are …
1. This year’s version of the Maple Leafs has better players than the previous 6 incarnations each of which missed the playoffs.
2. The only “sucker play” [i.e. OPTION 3] which the Maple Leafs can possibly make at this stage of their long term building process is to buckle under to the mostly media-induced pressure to make the playoffs this season, at all costs, by trading away one or more of their core players.
In stark contrast to what is currently being promoted in the heart of Leafs Nation …
The issue with Jake Gardiner, as it was 12 months ago, is trying to accurately evaluate his upside.
As in how good this kid may be.
The Leafs had to do that last year when they were browsing through the prospect chart of the Anaheim Ducks and ultimately landed Gardiner along with Joffrey Lupul in exchange for Francois Beauchemin.
Now, as they eye the possibility of a deal with Columbus to try and acquire Rick Nash, again the issue of the 21-year-old blueliner’s ultimate potential is under scrutiny.
And the reality is the Leafs don’t really have an answer.
They’re not exactly sure what they have.
“He’s one of those guys who you watch and you think he’s not trying that hard,” said Leaf head coach Ron Wilson. “Then you get down to ice level and you see how fast he’s going. Then you know you have a special player with special abilities.”
Gardiner hit a rough spot partway through the season, perhaps when he was feeling for the first time the burden of the NHL season, but has taken off again, including a stellar performance Wednesday in Edmonton as the Leafs snapped a four-game losing streak.
It now appears Columbus is likely to be more interested in Gardiner as the centrepiece of a Nash deal than Luke Schenn. The problem for the Leafs, however, is that while they know what Schenn is — No. 4 or 5 on a good team’s depth chart, a physical presence but unlikely to contribute much on the attack — it’s not clear quite yet just where Gardiner is headed.
“He might be Duncan Keith,” said one insider.
If Gardiner, a brilliant skater like the outstanding Chicago blueliner, is of that calibre, is it worth sacrificing him to land the 27-year-old Nash and his massive contract?
What the team’s GM, Brian Burke, actually needs to do, prior to the upcoming NHL trade deadline, is refrain from making any trade which involves a core player on Toronto’s present roster – i.e. James Reimer [No. 1 Goalie], Jonas Gustovson [No. 2 Goalie], Phil Kessel [No. 1 Scorer], Jake Gardiner [No. 1 Young Defenseman], Luke Schenn [No. 2 Young Defenseman] or Dion Phaneuf [Team Captain] – in hopes of ensuring that his squad qualifies for the playoffs this season.
Last year the Maple Leafs finished in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and failed to reach the post-season for the 6th consecutive year.
This year the Maple Leafs are currently in 8th place in the Eastern Conference and solidly in the hunt for a berth in the post-season tournament.
In an effort to build an elite-level franchise which is actually able to compete for the Stanley Cup each and every season, over an extended period of time – e.g. the next decade plus – it makes absolutely no difference, whatsoever, if the Maple Leafs qualify for the playoffs this year, or not … if, in the process, it also happens to cost them, one or more of the tangible assets from the above list of 6 names, especially a highly mobile, once-in-a-generation rushing defenseman with the play-making moxy of 21-year old Jake Gardiner who, this corner believes, has the ability to become a multiple-time league all-star in the not-too-distant future.
In fact … it says here:
Anyone who advocates that the Maple Leafs should be willing to pull the trigger on a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets that involves trading Jake Gardiner [i.e. a blossoming rear-guard who can easily generate offense for his line-mates] in return for Rick Nash [i.e. an aging forward who is fairly proficient at scoring goals] simply has ZERO FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE when it comes to the building of a championship-winning sports team.
Instead of trying to acquire Rick Nash in a short-term focused trade deadline deal, what Brian Burke needs to do is continue adding good, young, long term pieces to his team, via [i] the NHL Draft and [ii] Unrestricted Free Agency, in the off-season.
In sharp contrast to what you hear from the home town announcers in this video clip …
… nothing Jordin Tootoo does here warrants any type of supplementary discipline from the NHL’s Head Office.
A first time for the National Hockey League …
The chief reason an article like this:
exists in the first place is because an operation like Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment [MLSE] is still being run by a man who says stuff like this:
“We’re a $1.8-billion business and we haven’t made the playoffs.”
- Richard Peddie [CEO, MLSE]
on a regular basis.
Until there is a fundamental change at the very top of this corporation there is just no way MLSE is ever going to be able to field a team that is good enough to win a League Championship.
Championship success in the world of pro sports starts at the top and then filters down through each and every level of the organization.
If the top position is held by a person with the WRONG motivation to succeed … then, unfortunately, it is doomed to be a “title-less” failure.
When the Toronto Raptors announced that Bryan Colangelo [President/GM] has agreed to a 2-year contract extension, the CEO of MLSE [Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment] provided the following explanation to the media:
“Bryan and the board worked closely to help create a “winning plan” for the Raptors and today the board gave Bryan their 100% support to continue the rebuilding job he started this year“. – Richard Peddie
Although the development of something called a “winning plan” might sound impressive to the “average” Raptors fan … in reality … it epitomizes the “corporate mendacity” put forth by MLSE since 2003.
Read this specific quote again. Then, ask yourself the following 3 questions:
1. What precisely does the CEO of MLSE see the Raptors “winning”?
2. By when does the CEO of MLSE see the Raptors accomplishing this precise feat?
3. How does the CEO of MLSE see the Raptors accomplishing this precise feat?
The fact is …
Any plan without tangible, achievable, measurable objectives is devoid of meaning … regardless of how good it might seem, as a media sound-bite.
Since 2003, when Steve Stavro [i.e. majority owner] sold his stake in MLSE, the Toronto Raptors franchise has been one of the worst performing on-court teams in the NBA:
2003-2004, 33-49/.402, Missed Playoffs [#10]
2004-2005, 33-49/.402, Missed Playoffs [#11]
2005-2006, 27-55/.329, Missed Playoffs [#12], No. 1 Selection, NBA Draft Lottery
2006-2007, 47-35/.573 Made Playoffs [#3 seed], Lost 1st Round
2007-2008, 41-41/.500, Made Playoffs [#6 seed], Lost 1st Round
2008-2009, 33-49/.402, Missed Playoffs [#13]
2009-2010, 40-42/.488, Missed Playoffs [#9]
2010-2011, 22-60/.268, Missed Playoffs [#14]
while, simultaneously, being one of its most profitable.
As long as the Executive Leadership of this organization remains the same, it is complete folly to expect the Raptors, or the Maple Leafs, to be able to build a championship-winning team, since there is simply no will – and, consequently, no plan in place – to make this happen.
Kudos to Steve Simmons …
[whose specific opines are not always shared by this corner]
It isn’t just time for Richard Peddie to leave. It’s overtime.
He used to sell packaged goods and if anyone understands best before dates, it is him.
Peddie likes to point to all his successes — four professional sporting franchises under his watch, three television networks, the condos, office towers and sports bar that is Maple Leafs Square — and it has been a massive undertaking for the king of bafflegab.
As a businessman, he has been an immense success.
As a sportsperson, he has been a dismal failure.
In this instance, however, he has knocked a Deep Shot, clear over the stands in Right Field.
The highlight of a very busy weekend in the world of professional sports?
… which included:
What this fine young player from Northern Ireland accomplished Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon, on the PGA Tour:
Best get accustomed to seeing his face.
To see Irishman Padraig Harrington, grinning wider than an Augusta fairway, in his civilian clothes, waiting for McIlroy after the round, throwing a paternal arm around the lad, telling him he’d just crafted “a good bit of stuff”; to see stoic Jim Furyk give him an earnest soul shake by the scorer’s table; to see Phil Mickelson’s caddie, Jim (Bones) Mackay, interrupt a McIlroy press session outside to congratulate the winner; to see Rory himself give the Euro-styled “hands over head” appreciation clap to the crowd … to see all that was to see a golf world embrace the new kid in town, and to read into that the existence of a little Tiger Fatigue would not be the wrong call at all.
Throw in a springtime rebirth for Mickelson – he followed his win at Augusta by beating everyone at Quail Hollow not named “Rory McIlroy,” then gushed about McIlroy to CBS afterward, trumping Tiger’s post-Masters pout – and you have Tiger wondering where he fits in at this party.