Fine, okay, I get it… Being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs has never been easy. No Stanley Cups in my life-time, and very few players to get excited about. Save for Rick Vaive, Wendel Clark, Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour, Jiri Crha, and likely the best goaltender they have had in a very long time, Ed Belfour.
There are teams retiring the numbers of legends that people actually knew about. Among the Leafs retired numbers is Ace Bailey, who was almost killed on the ice, and the NHL held an all-star game to raise funds to benefit his medical bills – and we’ve suffered through all-star games ever since. Then there is Bill Barilko, who I know about from a Tragically Hip song, 50 Mission Cap. There is also the number up in the rafters which my middle child pointed at during a Toronto Rock Lacrosse game and said; “Dad, that’s my favourite former Leaf.” After going through pretty much the entire list, he blurted out, “it’s Tim Horton… I love his coffee.” So I had to explain the who Tim Horton’s situation to him (Leaf, traded, Buffalo, Coffee Shop, Died, Wife sold the 2 shops for like $36,000)…
But this current crop of Leafs is the absolute best I have ever seen. They are very talented, and very skilled and very young, and even though the Marleau contract is not paying dividends, having his leadership is hopefully helpful. If it is not, they can always ship him to Robidas Island where Jeoffrey Lupel lives.
But when I look at this team I cannot help but see the elephant in the room that people are not talking about. The elephant is what caused the Leafs season to turn from being one of the best to being eliminated in game 7, yet again at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
He held out much like his old man did when he played in the NHL, and he was rewarded by the Leafs rookie GM Kyle Dubas for doing so.
The day they brought Willy back was the day the team was destined for failure.
I have some.
The team was 20-8 with out Willy (.714 win percentage), and they ended 46-28 which means with Willy (I am a superstar so pay me like a superstar), they were 26-20 (.565 winning percentage).
Willie Nylander scored 7 goals and 20 assists for his $12,000,000 salary this year. 12-million. The percentage of points per dollars is so small, I’m not even going to put it here… It’s embarrassing. The player who was filling his role at a $832,000 salary was Kaspari Kapanen and he managed a mere 20 goals, and 22 assists for 44 points. It’s fair to say that if Nylander had stayed home, Kapanen would have had upwards of 60 points and he wouldn’t demand $12,000,000 in salary.
For all of the players who say its a business, there are some players on the team who really love to play the game and seeing Nylander take care of himself and not help the team, it had to have a negative impact on the team morale.
Watching Nylander on the ice and you could see clearly that he was disinterested, disengaged and not giving it his all. Could it be from missing training camp and getting up to the same pace as the rest of the players? I don’t buy that. If he’s a true superstar, then he should have had no issues getting back into the swing of things within a few games. Instead, he had brain cramps on the ice, didn’t hustle where they needed him to, and scored a couple of garbage goals – either empty nets, or when the score didn’t matter.
And how did the “superstar” do in the playoffs? 1 goal, 2 assists (all points were even strength) and a whopping 14 shots on goal. WOW.
I think the fact that the team performed as they did, Matthews, Marner, Kadri (when he was suspended), Marleau, and to a much lesser extent Tavares, Brown, Hyman and Kapanen, the Leafs didn’t play like a team. It’s Nylander that I blame for that.
The Buds would be best to move off from Willie in the off-season. Unfortunately, before his selfishness and lack of interest in playing like a $12,000,000 player I felt they could have gotten a really good player in exchange, however, now that his true self has shown through, I don’t feel the team can get back anything of value if they can trade that salary at all.
I think the Nylander money can be used to keep Gardiner, and the team will be better without him.
Thanks Willy! Enjoy counting your money.