Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.


Pain reliever

Buddies are great. They'll knock you down off your high horse, or pick you up by your boot straps, or whatever pedal apparati you might be wearing at the time. This past week was a case of the latter, after seeing the Leafs' lackluster performances and JFJ's trade for Yanic which left a bland taste in my mouth. A buddy wrote the following, and it made me feel quite a bit better. Hopefully it will have a similar affect on you, dear reader.

Hey dude,

Got your email yesterday lamenting mediocrity and praising the "true
rebuild". Well, I caution you that success via re-build is no sure
thing. Ask Chicago. Or Boston. Or Florida. Or LA. And yes, for each
failure there is a Carolina or a Nashville, but that only underscores
the point that the trash-and-start-again approach is iffy.

Rather than trash-and-burn versus slow-and-steady, success is
dependent on having people with bright minds in place with a cohesive
vision and commitment to a determined path. And in my mind the
slow-and-steady approach is evidence of such a successful system.

Think about Jersey, where the GM and the coach (whoever it is) agree
on a style and a type of player they want. They pick those players
(ever notice that every Devil is the same player?) and they work
within the system. Toss in a Marty and you have a winner for decades.

Or Detroit. Same thing. Or Buffalo lately. Or Colordao. Sure, the Avs
are in a lull this year, but is there any reason to believe this team
won't make the playoffs in 08? And that's what it's all about... Getting to the point where your lulls put you on a point per game pace.

The trash-and-burn rebuild is a myth. You're better with a soft
re-build followed by a slow-and-steady approach. Draft the right
players. Select and sign people because they fit your style, not
because they might (!) have the talent to be a super-star. Take sure
and steady... Minimize misses, be it in the draft or free agency.

Zach Parisie was good at all levels. People liked him and his skill.
Hugh Jessimen was good at a B-level American college, but he was huge
and people liked the possibility. If you're drafting to minimize
misses, the choice is simple. And when you select Jessimen instead of
making the right choice it can set you back a full year in overall
team development. Think about that and know that the trash-and-burn
method results in far more Jessimens than Parisies.

It's the nature of that approach. It's inherent within trash-and-burn
that you'll reach for the possibility. A GM will do this because you
need to have that kind of overwhelming success from a player. Or you
have more picks so you can take a chance on this one guy. And before
you know it you're dumping never-will-bes and career ECHLers for 5th
round picks and laundry detergent.

You follow up that with desperation and soon you're signing the hot
goalie of the year to a six-year deal to appease the press and your
fans. Before you know it you end up in Chicago banking on Marty Havlat
and trying to figure out if Lapointes 17 points offset his -15
plus/minus (it doesn't).

Now go back and look at the trade-deadline with a new eye. Hell, go
look at the entire year for the Leafs so far. Sure they didn't trade
Sundin, Kaberle, Antropov, McCabe and Tucker for draft picks, but they
didn't pick up Bertuzzi either. And that, coupled with the moves they
did make, are evidence that the tide has turned in Leaf-land and
turned for the better. Slow and steady. Prudence is the virtue.

Success is dependent on having people with bright minds in place with a cohesive vision and commitment to a determined path.

If you think Junior and Paulie are bright and if they are working
together... Be happy.

Paulie I'm pretty sure about. Junior is ok.

Thanks bud.


  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger PPP said…

    That made me feel much better. At the very least we know that Junior and Paulie are working together. They might not be the right pairing but they aren't pulling in opposite directions.

  • At 4:36 PM, Blogger MF37 said…

    I'd feel a lot better if the slow and steady approach described in that very well written letter was what the Leafs were actually doing.

    I look at the moves this club has made and I just don't see it. Overcommitted on the back-end, nothing but 3rd and 4th line players up front. An erratic goalie who crumbles under pressure, a back-up goalie the coach won't play, maxed out at the cap, on the verge of missing the playoffs again. For me, either JFJ isn't following the plan as described in the letter or he's just doing a really lousy job of executing that strategy.

  • At 6:11 PM, Blogger Erik said…

    Mmm, yes. Sundin, terrible player. Tucker, just awful. O'Neill, why are they even paying him? Steen, Stajan, Wellwood, urgh. I mean, who honestly lets their younger players play with the veterans to get experience? What kind of plan is that? You force your young players to play on the fourth line for years then push them into a new situation completely unready, that's where success lies. A goalie who crumbles under pressure and an unreliable backup, we should really have given up some of our trash for someone like Martin Biron, Patrick Lalime, hell, maybe even Ty Conklin. God knows they'll all be improvements to a Calder-trophy winner and his more-than-adequate partner. Biron couldn't break past Miller, but that's no problem; Conklin was a third-string goalie at Columbus, so what? You're a true fountain of hockey knowledge, you know that?

  • At 9:48 PM, Blogger MF37 said…

    Erik - The Leafs have one legitimate first line player. One. That's it.

    I'm quite happy with the kids we have, my point is we should be loading up on more of them. I want more players like Steen, Wellwood, Stajan, Cola, and Poni. They're cheap and years away from being UFAs. That's the key under the new CBA and it's likely the only way the Leafs can make up for the funds that have been overspent on McCabe and Kubina.

    O'Neil is a UFA who's finally putting up solid numbers - with the market this hot (Nagy and his 8 goals worth a first rounder?!?) he should have been sent packing at the deadline for more prospects or picks.

    I'd love to see as many of the Leafs prospects getting a taste of the NHL as possible. I'd rather have a kid learn from his mistakes than give the same ice time to Green or Perrault.

    And keep in mind, those 20 games of Perrault cost a 2nd round pick in 2008, a deep draft. Kumelin and Stajan are two of the Leafs' three most recent second round picks. Would you trade either of those kids for 20 games of Perrault? I sure as hell wouldn't, but that's the chance JFJ just took.

    That's why I can't pretend that there's a plan. For all of the build from within rhetoric there's a prospect blown on an inconsistent goalie, a second round pick for a 20 game rental.

    So much for slow and steady.

    Oh and that Calder winner you refer to in nets has been pulled in three of his last five games, can't keep his save percentage over .900, which is the minimum that's expected of a starting goalie in the NHL. He's 35th in save percentage, 31st in goals against and has let in 11 of the last 27 shots sent his way...sure he's a Calder winning goalie, maybe we can sign Vezina winner Jim Carey as his back-up.

    I think we both want the same thing: the Leafs to succeed and drive towards winning the Cup. After four years of one-step forward, two-steps back, it's rather apparent to me that JFJ is the not guy that's going to get the team there.

  • At 7:20 AM, Blogger Erik said…

    Urgh, Kubina. McCabe I don't agree was overspent on, but five million for a so-called offensive defenseman is half-retarded.

    You mention Kulemin and Stajan as being our more recent second-rounders, and I agree, I'd rather have one of them than Perrault for 20 games. But I'd rather have Perrault for 20 games than a prospect who busts like Bell, and that's the risk you take with draft picks. San Jose, for instance, could possibly have traded away a ridiculously good player in the form of their first-round pick this year for Bill Guerin, but they did it because they thought he'd help their bid for the playoffs. He's going to leave to return to St. Louis at the end of the season, everyone knows this, but if he helps them go deep in the postseason, the cost will be worth it. If 20 games of Perrault is enough to get us into that eighth playoff berth, I will consider it a pick well spent.

    You and I share a characteristic in that neithr of us believe JFJ is the man who's going to bring us back success, but for different reasons. You say it because of these deals; I say it because of his handling of the Quinn situation, and I believe this move is a good one, ditto not moving O'Neill. You might not have noticed, but Phoenix is in the midst of a firesale where they're accepting their near future is a bust and are going for further than that. We are not at that stage, we have a good chance of making the playoffs and to trade away O'Neill would be a sign that the management has given up on this season and actively wants to start riots in the GTA. Nagy's worth a first-rounder because he is a very talented player being hamstrung by the lack of quality surrounding him in Dallas, and I think he's going to flourish in Dallas (much like Eric Lindros has, quietly)

  • At 9:23 PM, Blogger PPP said…

    Ninja, do you know where Cam Janssen lives? I want to burn his house down and need directions. Thanks.

    p.s. How much do you want to be that Colin Campbell hands down a 0 game suspension for that hit?


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