You are reading it here first, but I have determined the cure for the illness that is Toronto Maple Leafs hockey, and I might even apply for the General Managers job as soon as the Leafs fired JFJ when he is jettisoned to the unemployment line after butchering this team.
How JFJ, or anyone else in Leaf management could possibly think that last year’s team – which missed the playoffs – was good enough to bring back this year almost intact, save for the additions of Jason Blake, Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell.
I want to know who approved this?
They need to go too.
So let’s dive right in to The Urban Daddy’s plan for turning around the sad-sack Leafs and turning them into a winning team in my lifetime.
First, the CBC gets it all started as they yank the Leafs from the Saturday night slot and replace them with the Ottawa Senators or Montreal Canadiens. I’m a huge hockey fan first and foremost and would enjoy watching the Sens or the Habs just as much. They both have good, young teams, they know how to win and they won’t break my heart because I’ll be rooting against them but okay if they prevail.
The fallout of not having the Leafs there, the slap in the face heard across the country would prompt the egos at MLSE to take action. Bye bye Peddie, Tenanbaum, JFJ and sadly the coach, Paul Maurice. Temporarily in comes a management team of former GM Cliff Fletcher and if the price is right, the Leafs need to buy the most respected coach / GM available (or not available) to change the mentality of the players, which right now would be Scotty Bowman. Include Glenn Healy, Doug Gilmour and this group will take the roster of the Leafs and the Marlies and head into a board room only to come out with the following to do list:
- Ship out the best players for picks! First out the door, Mats Sundin – great Leaf. Gone. To a contender as the playoffs come to other teams (not the Leafs). For at least, a good young player already on a roster, a young prospect from a farm team and a 1st round pick or 2. He’s playing his best to get the most back to the team in his trade.
Next out is popular Darcy Tucker – for a young player and a pick
- Then, Bryan McCabe – back to the Islanders for a young player and a pick
- Jason Blake – for a pick or bag of pucks – but with his salary its going to take creativity on behalf of a management team which in its current incarnation is not capable of.
- Andrew Raycroft – the player that the Leafs traded Tuukka Rask for (and this move is going to haunt them because I think Rask is a WAY better goalie than Justin Pogge) for a pick or a bag of pucks.
- Matt Stajan – for another young player – he’s young but not a scorer. The Leafs need to remove any potentially skilled player from the team so they can bottom out… fast!
- Mark Bell – for anything – but I doubt he makes the season. His head is not in the game.
- Alexei Ponikerovsky – player and a pick (he’s big and has shown signs of being able to find the net, although penalty prone).
- Nik Antropov – he’s finally exceeding expectations, so it’s a fluke (see Jason Blake) and time to go! Player from roster, young player and pick… Fast, before he gets hurt.
- John Pohl – anything – he was JFJ’s big steal from St. Louis… Oh, how the Blues must still be reeling. LOL.
- Wellwood, Wozniewski and Kubina we’ll take a pick for all three. The 2 defenseman must go and if Wellwood committed to getting in shape, then he can stay, but he won’t and will likely be out of the league within 3 years.
- Vesa Toskala only if there is a fabulous offer like a young player or solid veteran, or play him and let him lose every game.
Hal Gill – very slow and Bates Battaglia (on the farm) can go if anyone has interest in them. They shouldn’t be good enough for this team, yet they are. Sad.
The Leafs need to make a huge change in direction and by shipping out the old blood and bringing in youth – not the prime prospects (are there any?) the Buds can start drafting better (new scouting staff is a must as well – but with 60 picks instead of 15 they stand 4-times the chance of getting a player with talent, skill or drive to play on this team.
The Leafs need to start playing guys like Domenic Moore, Ian White, Anton Strahlman, Tomas Kabarle (the new Captain) Alex Steen, Boyd Deveraux, even Wade Belak (every team needs an enforcer) and Jiri Tlusty. How else can the management team assess if they are keepers or if they need to go.
As for the farm… I’ll never forget the comment that superstar goalie Ed Belfour made about Leafs defenseman Jay Harrison, when he said that Harrison was a true NHL defenseman. So what does MLSE do with Harrison?? Send him to the farm. Well, they need to bring him up!
They also need to finally give a shot to Carlo Colaiacovo (get him healthy and a personal trainer), Simon Gamache (1st line), David Ling (the leading point getter and set-up man) and Kris Newbury – Marlies leading goal scorer (last years tough guy – why?), bring up Jeremy Williams, Robbie Earl, Darryl Boyce (a plus 18) and on defense, Bryan Muir (if he can play on the NJ Devils, he can make the Leafs). Bring up Pogge to play net, and a lot of net and this is the 2008/2009 team. They may make a ton is mistakes but they might also shine enough to themselves be traded for prospects and picks and one day the Leafs might have a team!
Right now my fear is that the bright names mentioned above are going to be stars in the NHL but not with the Leafs and the players picked up in return will not play for the Buds either… That’s what they do.
In the off season sign a few free agent veterans to teach the kids never to give up, maybe one or two with Stanley Cup rings, and only young free agents if they are young! Bring back Mats if he wants either this year or next year to end his career here, but at a lower salary and with the understanding that if these vets play well, they’ll be traded to a Stanley Cup contender and have a chance at a cup. That is a win-win proposition.
This youthful team will compete for either last or a playoff spot, so they’ll be not better or no worse than the current bunch. Only difference is that in 2-3 years my team will be better and the current Leafs won’t!
The Urban Daddy for GM!
(Can’t wait to see this post in 10-years to see how the Leafs have faired!)