Raking Leafs

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


"Did I forget to mention...

I have leukemia."

I want to know the date of this diagnosis (initial detection during 09/25/07 screening). I want to know if Blake knew of his condition before signing his five year contract (nope). I want to know if JFJ knew of the condition (negatory).

Treatable or not, Maurice bumped Blake off the first line on Saturday night because he, or the entire line, looked tired. Sure, it might just be the start of the season and the speedster isn't in midseason form, but this does not bode well.

And while I understand the need to manage expectations heading into the season, keeping this information from fans is not going to win JFJ any fans, regardless of how well Toskala plays.

UPDATE - If the early reports prove accurate, the disease was discovered at the training camp physical. What an unfortunate turn of events for a newly signed unrestricted free-agent. And this has to be considered a vote of competence for the Leafs' medical staff.

I feel embarassed by my initial reaction. I'm accustomed to assuming JFJ has been bamboozled yet again after the Bell miscalculation.

Hearts and thoughts

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  • At 3:05 PM, Blogger JP McGovern said…

    Jebus, that sucks. Best wishes to Blake and his family.

    Having my favorite team face his 8 times each of the last few years, I can tell you I still think he was a great signing for the Leafs. I hated when the Rangers were playing against that guy.

  • At 4:48 PM, Anonymous PPP said…

    The good news is that it is a very treatable and manageable form of leukemia which means that Blake won't have any major changes to his lifestyle including not missing a beat for the Leafs.

    It also crossed my mind that maybe JFJ knew and tried to keep it hushed up.

    The complications of the disease look scary but the treatment seems to be improving all the time so that has to be encouraging for him and his family.

  • At 5:28 PM, Blogger ninja said…


    I'm going to reserve judgement on how this effects his play. He definitely didn't have the same spark he had against the Sens' on Saturday night.

  • At 9:50 AM, Blogger Chemmy said…

    Blake seemed pretty zippy in preseason. I doubt that the leukemia would slow him down considerably in the week and a half since then.

    I'll assume he's just having a little drought, there's no reason to be worried because he hasn't scored in three games.

  • At 11:35 AM, Blogger ninja said…

    Chemmy, I hope you are right. I just consider any form of chemo therapy as detriment to an athlete's performance. Of course, I'm not Gregory House, so I maybe way off base. And it could be just not being in mid-season form, which is most likely.

  • At 12:13 PM, Blogger Chemmy said…

    I agree ninja, and for the Leafs' sake I hope I'm right too. Go Leafs go!

  • At 1:02 PM, Blogger Pseudonym said…

    I'm shocked by the tone and language in your post. You seem to suggest that Jason Blake was trying to pull a fast one over on the Leafs or that Ferguson was out to bamboozle the fans. First, the fans do not have a right to know about personal issues even if it affects their play. But give Jason credit for making it public.

    I doubt very much anyone would look to keep something like this quiet for monetary gain during a crisis like this. Certainly Jason is not that kind of person.

    You should know that it is standard procedure that teams require free agents to undergo medical exams before commiting to big dollars. The Leafs have always made such requests. On occassion, teams back out of deals based on the medical.

    It's terrible when fans think about the impact of the team rather than on the person. Some things are more important than how well the Toronto Maple Leafs do.

  • At 2:28 PM, Blogger ninja said…


    The initial reports hinted at prior knowledge of the situation, thus my tone and my questions. In the following hours, those questions and doubts were answered. And to be perfectly honest, JFJ did withhold this information, for good cause mind you, but it has been weeks since the original diagnosis.

    And your point about privacy for celebrities falls on deaf ears. Professional athletes are public figures, no matter how tragic the circumstance. That's just reality.

    And though I you may feel righteous in your unfounded certainty, when millions of dollars are on the line for an athlete with a limited window of lucrative employment I do not share your rosy opinion of human nature. By the way, how are you so certain of Blake's character? Honestly, I'm curious. Enlighten me.

    If Blake had pulled a fast one, I could even sympathize with his actions, as doing so would probably be the best thing for his family.

    And don't tell me about standard procedure and medical screenings. The list is too long of missed ailments to have 100% faith in the Leafs' medical staff.

    Also, Blake has been a Maple Leaf for three games. I don't have an emotional tie to him yet like I do for players I have watched religiously over the years.

    Of course I'm concerned for his well-being. But I'm also concerned about a five year contract. Sorry, that's reality, again, and I gave up temporarily shouting from moral high ground a long time ago.

  • At 5:13 PM, Blogger Pseudonym said…

    Well you should know that provincial law prevent the disclosure of personal health information. Ferguson was in no position to disclose Blake's health condition to fans. Only Blake can do that. The law applies to celebrities and joe blows equally. So you have no right to know.

    And I wouldn't worry too much about the 5 year contract the Leafs signed with Blake. The CBA covers these situations. In fact, its Blake who is at risk - this is not a hockey injury.

    Look I'm as big of a fan as you. Its frustrating to watch this team experience anther setback. And I have no emotional tie with Blake either. But he is a human being and the impact of his illness on the team is secondary to the impact it will have on his family. That was my only point.

    Let's be real, the Leafs are not going to win a Cup with their management team. A healthly Blake will make no difference. Either will a healthy Colaiacovo or a health Wellwood.

    And if you must know, a family member involved in hockey does know Jason Blake.

    Anyway Go Leafs Go!

  • At 10:29 AM, Blogger ninja said…

    Ferguson may not have been a position to disclose, but Blake wasn't in a position to keep the information private either. It was going to come out, the only question was when.

    NHL contracts are guaranteed money. Blake is not at financial risk. Neither is the team, as I'm sure the contract was insured, having no pre-existing health issues, which would mean an insurance policy would pay his salary if he couldn't play. There is a good article in the Star this morning about this sort of thing. But money is irrelevant, especially to this team.

    Of course I empathsize with Blake, though that might be a stretch given I've never had to deal with any health issues of this magnitude. I wouldn't want to pretend to know what he is going through. And I hope for the best for him.

    But, on the bright side Blake seemed to be leading by example last night, and Ian White was one of the few who seemed to follow.

  • At 10:41 AM, Blogger Laura said…

    ok - so now that we are all friends again - how about the mess that was the Leafs last night? Hope they got it out of their system.


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