Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Implosion Watch Placed on Leafs

1967 - I started kindergarten, a stamp cost 5 Cents, the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl I, and the Leafs won their last Stanley Cup

photo: radio.weblogs
It's about that time of year when Leaf Nation starts chanting for somebody's head. The mobs started forming and the torches were lit soon after last night's "must-win" loss to the cross-province rival Senators. The signs are truly ominous. GM John Ferguson JR, offered a less than stirring endorsement of Pat Quinn the other day, Jason Allison has been on the trading block for weeks, Eric Lindros is perpetually on the IR, Jeff O'Neill is still affixed to the high slot like a bubble hockey figure, and now Captain Mats Sundin apparently wants out (HT to Spector and Bruce Garrioch).

I wonder if missing the playoffs might accelerate the renaissance this club needs. Relieving themselves of the high-mileage guys and bringing in, or up some prospects more suited to the new NHL might be the investment in the future so overdue. Watching the Kings/Ducks game last night, and I think I saw the future of the NHL in the play of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. These two swooped around the ice like locomotives on afterburner. I think I saw the future of the Leafs in Carlo Colaiacovo's cartwheeling head-first smash into the boards after bouncing off Vaclav Vrada.

Toronto's six top salaries push the club past the halfway point to the league max. The 'Canes spread the same total salary dollars over their top 12. The Leafs are also saddled with one of the league's least promising talent pipelines (28th out of 30 according to Hockeysfuture.com). Front-running Ottawa can't get ice time for right-now NHL ready prospects like Patrick Eaves and Brandon Bochenski. In their analysis of the Leafs prospect base, Hockeysfuture states:

"Weaknesses: Overall depth remains a notable weakness for the
organization, especially on the wings. The club has far too often sacrificed
prospects and draft picks in trades for veteran talent, although this may have
to change in the new economic world."

Like most who have never drunk the Leaf Nation Kool Aid, I don't mind seeing the arrogant strumble and fall. I just think this looming fratricide is fixin' to get real ugly.

Just a thought. The 'Canes ought to bring in more celebs and other athletes (not just Alex Trebek) to emulate the Rick Flair holler. I'd love to see folks like Mike Krzyzewski, Chuck Amato, Julius Peppers, Steve Smith, and maybe even The Acid Queen to do the holler. They'd have to leave out Clay Aiken and Herb Sendek. I don't think Aiken could muster enough testosterone to do it justice, and Herb would probably end up sounding like Droopy Dog.

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