A ''Quinn''essential Mistake
The biggest problem in Leaf land is not an lack of talent (it is argueable that the Leafs have as many prospects in their system as any other team), it is Quinn’s “loyalty to a fault” to certain players on the Leaf roster, and his refusal to make the tough decisions on behalf of the players.
If you consider the beginning of the Leafs recent tailspin as beginning with the rib injury to Tucker, Quinn refused to bench Tucker for a few games and instead, allowed Tucker to play in Edmonton which resulted in his loss over the next 8 games. It would have been a better decision to sit Tucker for a week, than to lose him for three.
Also, Quinn has got this love affair with Antropov and Ponikarovsky that defies any sense or logic. When Quinn puts these two forth liners to begin an overtime period, you may as well prepare yourself for another Leaf loss, because their poor goalscoring ability is only made worse by Antropov’s molasses like speed. It seems to me, 4 on 4, in a new league, guys like steen/stajan/wellwood should be your go-to guys. But time and time again, Quinn chooses size over skill, and its been to the Leafs detriment.
Take a look at the talent Quinn has let go and you shake your head wondering what he was thinking. Guys like Steve Sullivan, Jason Smith, Mike Johnson… really talented guys that Quinn rolled over on in favour of the Reichels/Renbergs/Korolevs of the world, and i just shake my head. Quinn must think the best players in the world are European, because he’s done everything he can to screw his North Americans.
This team, as it now stands, is not a team that JFJ has had any room to change and make his own. He was hamstrung by the salary cap, and unsure about where he stood with his goaltender situation. I think the best he was able to do (and if you look back at the free agents available) was to go out and take low dollar contracts with guys like Lindros/Allison/Cercawski.
As an aside, the Lindros deal is probably his best signing, Lindros carried the Leafs when Sundin went down, and who would have thought that a flukey injury to his wrist would have taken the big guy down… that has more to do with a bad break than Lindros’s ability.
JFJ’s actual GM run won’t begin until he dumps Quinn in the off season and promotes Maurice from the Marlies. As well, he has to wait for a number of contracts to run out to free up cap money to entice some of the higher skilled players to Toronto. Where the Leafs are today, is a result of the actions of Quinn as GM for the past decade.
No one should delude themselves into thinking that the Leafs will trade their way out of this mess. Not a single team in the League would take on a Belfour like contract. And there’s no way that the Leafs would get back sufficient value to make up for Sundin. If you think that Sundin and Belfour are tradeable commodities, go through the NHL’s salary caps and see how many teams can afford a 7.0/5.5 million dollar contract without make serious adjustments for next season… not a one.
Sundin and Belfour should take less for extension contracts and the Leafs should commit those savings towards higher skilled, faster players.