Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blue and White Glasses

Let me start this post with a declaration. I am a Leafs fan. Always have been, always will be.

I watched my dad cry when Gretzky’s lazy high stick on Gilmour went unnoticed in '93. I still get goose bumps watching Potvin feed Hextall with so many left hands he started begging for the right. I refused to go to school the day after Roenick bounced us from the playoffs in OT of game 7 against the Flyers.

Yes – I bleed blue and white.

I have spent my entire life looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs through those metaphorical “Blue and White Glasses.” And for the first time ever I am going to take them off – look at my team through the eyes of pure hockey fan. I’m scared of what I’m going to see.

Here (with glasses off) are 10 things I couldn’t see about our beloved leafs – until now.

10. Giguere has not been a top 10 tender since 2003-2004. He is big, but lacks the lateral movement to keep up with broken plays. His much vaunted “positioning” stems from his sheer size – not his agility. At his age, and at that money – he hurts us more than helps. Marty Turco is a better goalie at 1/5 the cost.

9. Tomas Kaberle is overrated. Yep, heard me right. Yes he makes pretty passes and looks all fancy when he skates. He also refuses to shoot the puck and is questionable in his own end.

8. Tyler Bozak is the 3rd line center on any top 15 team – he is MAYBE the 2nd line center on the bottom 15 teams. He is currently penciled in as the 1st line center for the Leafs.

7. Phil Kessel is Thomas Vanek - seriously, he is.

6. Look at their stats. We don’t have an elite scorer in the NHL – we have a good player. Kessel is a nice player to watch, and certainly will score a few goals. But I project his maximum output to be that of Mr. Vanek. 35-40 goals and 70 points. That will be a down year for Tyler Seguin by the way.

5. Dion Phaneuf is overpaid. He makes elite money and provides us with slightly above average production. There is a reason we got him for spare parts from Calgary. Do you really think Sutter only spoke to the Leafs about Dion? Do you think he didn’t call at least 10 other GMs to get their best offers? What does it say about a once “franchise” D-man when the best you can get in return is Matt Stajan and Nicklas Hagman.

4. Burke does not understand the new NHL.

3. We can talk about pugnacity, tenacity, and truculence and whatever other little used descriptive words you can think of. Fact is the new NHL is not just about toughness. It’s about speed, skill and cap management.

2. Phil Kessel (our go to “elite” scorer) would be the 4th or 5th best player on any of the cup contenting teams – what does that say about us and the state of the Franchise?

1. No one cares anymore. Where are Gilmour, Sundin, Clark, Keon, Sitler, Roberts? Why don’t we have guys that care? That jersey should be one of the most hallowed in all of sports. I want guys that understand the privilege of wearing the Maple Leaf and the history that goes with it. I want us to matter again to the hockey world.

(Puts glasses back on)

Ah that’s better. Nazem Kadri is 100 point man waiting to happen and Gustavsson is the franchise goalie we have been clamouring for since Cujo left for Hockey town.

It will be ok Leaf Fans. As per every offseason, we should be focusing on more important things – things that really matter – like planning the parade route for next July.

Go Leafs Go!

7 comments:

Curt S said...

Alright Darren... I predict hate-mail.

Ramzi said...

10. In the limited time Giguere played for the Leafs, he definitely did put up some pretty decent numbers. He is getting older, and I agree that he is slow (he looks so robotic) but his 6 million will come off at the end of next season so that's not too bad. And who knows, he could put up some good numbers next season.

9. I agree that Kaberle is overrated. But he is still worth a top 6 forward (just not a Bobby Ryan or James Neal).

8. If Tyler Bozak played a full 82 game season with that point-production he would have been the leading rookie-scorer with 67 points. While he did play on the first line, I think that ice-time is great for his development. We need too see how he plays out next season before we say he's a third-liner on a top 15 team.

7. To tell you the truth Phil Kessel never impressed me. I can never look up to Kessel as a franchise player ever since Sundin left. He's just not a top-20 player. But he is young, so he has lots of time to improve.

6. I don't think a 70 point season would be a down season for Tyler Seguin. That would probably be his point production in his third season in the NHL. Versteeg could be a 30 goal scorer, as he put up 2 20 goal seasons on the second line and third line which is pretty good. He's also only 24, so he has not peaked yet. Kulemin and Bozak also have potential to become Elite scorers. But nobody is proven yet. Seguin isn't either. Kadri had a lower point-production than Seguin during the OHL season, but Kadri had a much higher point production in the play-offs.

Ramzi again said...

5. I agree with Dion Phaneuf. The only reason Burke picked him up because he is a big, young defenseman who uses his body and can put up points. Maybe he will put up lots of points next season. But this team is playing on too many maybes. And personally I thought Ian White was the biggest asset we gave away in that trade. I loved his mustache and he played much bigger than his body. He could also put up points, was the only Leaf plus player for awhile, was very consistent, makes very smart plays and is also young. Calgary signed him for a little less than 3 million. His mustache is worth 3 million.

4. Agree and disagree. He did win a cup in the new-NHL. But he did make some bone-head moves. And he also puts too high of a price on toughness. The Leafs do have speedy forwards (Kessel, Grabovski, Versteeg, Bozak), and a couple of speedy defensemen (Kaberle, Lebda, Gunnerson) but most of the high-paid players are hulking brutes like Phaneuf, Komisarek. We also have giant goaltenders. Sure they cover a lot of the net, but lot's of soft pucks go through big goalies.

3. I completely agree with you. In this new NHL, big, violent players get penalized very often. Toronto will be one of the most penalized teams next season which will cost them points. However, Tampa Bay has plenty of skill, speed and decent cap management but they still blow. A little pugnacity, truculence, and tenacity is still necessary for a chance for the cup. (example Dustin Byufligien and Canucks). However those should never be the main traits to go for in the new NHL.

2. I'm sure Kessel would put up more points if he was playing for a cup-contending team. But the Leafs need another Kessel-like point producer if they want to go anywhere.

1. I completely agree. But then again, when the Leafs had these players, we were a winning team. Watching your team lose and only begin to win when they've already been eliminated from the playoffs is never exciting. I'm sure if the Leafs did make the playoffs these players would be more popular with the fans. Also, Nazem Kadri has got me excited. Simply because I share the same background as him. But Toronto also has a substantial Muslim population who watches hockey. They are probably very excited too. And the non-Muslims can also be very excited because he is the Leafs #1 prospect and his playoff total in the OHL was double that of Seguins. (During the Season Seguin did have 13 more points in 8 less games).
I apologize for the comment being so long (might as well have made a blog).

Ramzi said...

5. I agree with Dion Phaneuf. The only reason Burke picked him up because he is a big, young defenseman who uses his body and can put up points. Maybe he will put up lots of points next season. But this team is playing on too many maybes. And personally I thought Ian White was the biggest asset we gave away in that trade. I loved his mustache and he played much bigger than his body. He could also put up points, was the only Leaf plus player for awhile, was very consistent, makes very smart plays and is also young. Calgary signed him for a little less than 3 million. His mustache is worth 3 million.

4. Agree and disagree. He did win a cup in the new-NHL. But he did make some bone-head moves. And he also puts too high of a price on toughness. The Leafs do have speedy forwards (Kessel, Grabovski, Versteeg, Bozak), and a couple of speedy defensemen (Kaberle, Lebda, Gunnerson) but most of the high-paid players are hulking brutes like Phaneuf, Komisarek. We also have giant goaltenders. Sure they cover a lot of the net, but lot's of soft pucks go through big goalies.

3. I completely agree with you. In this new NHL, big, violent players get penalized very often. Toronto will be one of the most penalized teams next season which will cost them points. However, Tampa Bay has plenty of skill, speed and decent cap management but they still blow. A little pugnacity, truculence, and tenacity is still necessary for a chance for the cup. (example Dustin Byufuglien and Canucks). However those should never be the main traits to go for in the new NHL.

2. I'm sure Kessel would put up more points if he was playing for a cup-contending team. But the Leafs need another Kessel-like point producer if they want to go anywhere.

1. I completely agree. But then again, when the Leafs had these players, we were a winning team. Watching your team lose and only begin to win when they've already been eliminated from the playoffs is never exciting. I'm sure if the Leafs did make the playoffs these players would be more popular. Also, Nazem Kadri has got me excited. Simply because I share the same background as him. But Toronto also has a substantial Muslim population who watches hockey. They are probably very excited too. And the non-Muslims can also be very excited because he the Leafs #1 prospect and his playoff total in the OHL was double that of Seguins. (During the Season Seguin did have 13 more points in 8 less games).

Ramzi said...

5. I agree with Dion Phaneuf. The only reason Burke picked him up because he is a big, young defenseman who uses his body and can put up points. Maybe he will put up lots of points next season. But this team is playing on too many maybes. And personally I thought Ian White was the biggest asset we gave away in that trade. I loved his mustache and he played much bigger than his body. He could also put up points, was the only Leaf plus player for awhile, was very consistent, makes very smart plays and is also young. Calgary signed him for a little less than 3 million. His mustache is worth 3 million.

4. Agree and disagree. He did win a cup in the new-NHL. But he did make some bone-head moves. And he also puts too high of a price on toughness. The Leafs do have speedy forwards (Kessel, Grabovski, Versteeg, Bozak), and a couple of speedy defensemen (Kaberle, Lebda, Gunnerson) but too much is expected from the hulking brutes like Phaneuf, Schenn and Komisarek.

3. I completely agree with you. In this new NHL, big, violent players get penalized very often. Toronto will be one of the most penalized teams next season which will cost them points. However, Tampa Bay has plenty of skill, speed and decent cap management but they still blow. A little pugnacity, truculence, and tenacity is still necessary for a chance for the cup. (example Dustin Byufligien and Canucks). Those should never be the main traits to go for in the new NHL.

2. I'm sure Kessel would put up more points if he was playing for a cup-contending team. But the Leafs need another Kessel-like point producer if they want to go anywhere.

1. I completely agree. But then again, when the Leafs had these players, we were a winning team. Watching your team lose and only begin to win when they've already been eliminated from the playoffs is never exciting. I'm sure if the Leafs did make the playoffs these players would be more popular. Also, Nazem Kadri has got me excited. His playoff total in the OHL was double that of Seguins. (During the Season Seguin did have 13 more points in 8 less games).

Ramzi said...

Sorry for the triple-post. I kept getting Google URL errors and they comments didn't show up. :(

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comment

10 - It's a good point you make with the cap hit coming off the books after this year - I just get frustrated that the leafs are spending to the cap, and still not winning.

6 - I can project Seguin at this point, having not spent enough time watching him. But if you look at the top 2 or 3 picks from every NHL draft since 2000 they almost always end up as elite NHLers

1. I know that winning cures everything. I just want the players to care even half as much as us fans do. We live and die with every game, is it to much to ask the players to do the same?