Raking Leafs

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


NHL Pacing 1.29.08

Click image to enlarge.

Here is the latest. The very top and the very bottom are about the same as last time, but the middle 27 teams are all mixed up.

Toronto makes an appearance in the bottom three. As disappointing as this might be for fans of the club, I still reckon it's a good thing in the long run.

Out West, last time it was the Northwest that had four teams in playoff position, this time it's the Pacific. Earlier this year, that honor belonged to the Central. All I know is that beyond Detroit and San Jose the battles in the Western Conference are going to be intense.

Only a month ago the Capitals occupied the #28 spot and showed up in the "Bottom Three" grouping. This time, they're seeded 3rd in the East. It just goes to show you that in the Southeast Division you always have hope.



Based on the brilliance that is NHL Operations these days, I was not able to watch the Rangers retire #2 last night. Brian Leetch is my favorite player of all time. He's the reason I like the Rangers. Heck, he's the reason I like hockey. And when it came time to honor him at MSG, I was not able to see it broadcast. This is true despite the fact that I pay the NHL for every possible offering they provide. Sad. Just sad.

Fortunately, what the NHL deemed me unworthy of watching live, I was able to see this morning. I watched the speeches, the fan reactions, the presentations of the gifts and the banner raising. Oddly enough, my favorite moment was when Leetch got to announce that Adam Graves and his #9 are next.

Even if you don't like the Rangers, it's worth seeing. Adam Graves was an awesome player with Rangers. He was all heart. A grinder and a worker, he scored 52 goals in 1994, something most people forget. And despite an impressive resume on the ice, Graves is a better man off it. He's unmatched as an ambassador for the game and tireless in his efforts to help others.

Still, it wasn't because of who they will honor that made the moment so special, as much as how it unfolded. That moment is not typically a public one, but last night we got to see someone's reaction as it happened. And it was great. The look on his face is perfect. I can't do it justice. Just go watch.

In the end though, that ceremony will wait until next year. Last night belonged to Brian Leetch and his family. And what a night it was (even if I had to wait until morning to see it).


Throw out the little black book

You know that movie, with that dude, from a few years ago, who has to come to terms with getting rid of his little back book before he takes the plunge? You know the one. I think some folks in the Big Smoke need to netflix that right quick.

The Bowman plan I like. Who wouldn't. The guy knows hockey. Period. He may need a few good soldiers to handle the details, but no one can question his hockey acumen.

But this rolodex run down of ex Leafs execs is plain farce. Fletcher? Please. That many consecutive top picks is tough to screw up. I don't want someone like him to come and possibly screw up the cap situation any more. This morning it is Quinn. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy. At the same time I don't think he's the right man for the job.

And what exactly is that job? A cap saavy talent evalutor. At least, that is who should handle the tasks immediately in the future. Of course, any one with that skill set wouldn't take a high profile position on an interim basis.

Which brings us full circle to the real problem. Ownership. Never let MLSE forget that until quarterly reports are no longer a primary concern the team will not be able to build up the culture of what a classy and winning franchise should be.



I'll Wager On Futility

Ninja, I propose a bet.

I'll wager one cheap domestic beer on the first of our teams to put together back-to-back wins in 2008. You have a head start.




Eric Duhatschek writes a stellar piece about trade deadline deals, GMs, and Sundin and what the Leafs should do. Claiming Dominic Moore isn't the answer, btw.

JFJ has been quoted as ruling out a re-build, though the justification was never made clear. Of course, the fans not standing for it is hogwash, so I'm left to assume MLSE dismisses that option.

I hope Sundin will appreciate this opportunity to win a Cup somewhere else, and return the Leafs to mentor a rebuilding squad. Any team that trades for Sundin would have a legitimate shot at the Cup. A full supporting cast with stars already in place would receive the best cameo ever. Imagine Sundin on the second line, or first line wing. Or even third line. I guarantee he'd outscore the other team's third line, which can be the difference in a seven game series.

Mats, you should take this chance. You deserve it. I hope you come back, but I understand if you don't.



Pens Pummel Leafs

Since no one seems to have the guts to say it today, I will. Darcy Tucker had his ass handed to him on a silver platter by a player with a reputation for not being able to fight. Jarkko Ruutu landed at least 10 high impact punches to the side of Tucker's face. The Pittsburgh area broadcast put up boxing-style punches thrown and landed stats, forgivingly omitting the percentages for each combatant as Tucker wouldn't have recieved a passing grade.

Good thing he's signed until April 2011.

If you aren't disgusted with this team, then I'll give you a few more weeks because I've already reached the point of needing change. Deep, meaningful, course-correcting, fundamental organizational change.

If they can't win, and they can't even fight, what's the point of watching?