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!