Changes To Come In LEAFland!

Are there changes to come in Maple Leaf country?

Their very well could be in the wake of the Olympic debacle. Everyone knows that the Toronto Maple Leafs are in trouble. What else is new? But what we don’t know is what is going to happen for the future. All we can guess is that changes are looming for the LEAFS organization, maybe moreso than just the players.The Leafs who have been lukewarm this year at best are on the playoff bubble for the first time since the arrival of Pat Quinn. Only this time their pocketbooks will not help them, and the problems that face the Leafs are not unlike those that faced team Canada at the Olympics.

Like team Canada Toronto has repeatedly over the years maintained an aging squad, consisting of supposed goal scorers, players who never seem fast enough, and a uderachieving defense core, not to mention taking stupid penalties at critical moments. No where else but in Toronto do we celebrate a loss, making excuse after excuse as to why we didn’t win despite the claim that they played some of their best hockey. Sounds familiar.

The leafs have on paper a reletively good team. As always their is mixed reactions as to who is staying, who is going, and who is coming in. Leafs fans are notorious for stary-eyed dreams of blockbuster trades and finger-pointing, however one fact remains, Toronto has not had the returns in the playoffs that we boast about.

The bottom line is this, Toronto does not have a squad that could even make a Cinderella story run to the cup finals, and it lacks the core guys to do it. Overall, there is a general system failure, and it starts with Pat Quinn.

Pat Quinn, the other unpopular PQ in Canada, is a loyal guy. Thats admirable. But Toronto’s cup dream are being dashed because of this. Like Team Canada, the Leafs core squad has remained similar over the years. Even the one chance at the begining of the season to do a “tax-free” overhaul on our club turned into a joke as the leafs did little but resign the same players for higher price tags than they are worth. Refusing again to give young guys a chance until the old guys go down or sadly underproduce.

The looming danger in the leafs making the playoffs is that things will most likely remain status-quo. If they don’t make the playoffs then big changes may come. Early specualtion is that Pat Quinn will be let go as he has seemingly lost the dressing room in Toronto and may never have had it at the Olympics. He doesn’t like dealing with developing players and in the new era NHL he will have no choice. His time has come in Toronto and as most people believe on the international stage too. the question is who goes with him?

The owners took a shot with JFJ. He has not been so bad, but his days are numbered leading up to the playoffs and that will likely mark his remaining time with the club. Who knows, with Quinn gone he may not run in to as much trouble acquiring some younger fresher legs for the team which is still in need of speed and mobility. The other hopeful is that he does not resign players over the off season to salaries that will strangle the club under the cap. McCabe as phenomanal as he has been offensively for us this year is a prime example. He has been hot and cold over the years but a high price tag could hurt us more than a trade or not re-signing him, just ask Pittsburgh about Sergei Gonchar.

Now is the time for the usual suspects to come up in trade talk. First and foremost for me would be Jason Allison. While Toronto has immense depth up the middle I feel that Allison has performed well as he always has on a points-per-game basis and should be retained with a similar contract to what he has now, unless he is dealt for good young prospects or 1st or 2nd round draft picks. If you look his numbers really aren’t that bad.

Which brings me to Sundin. We will never trade Mats so please people just stop. However his sun is setting and he needs to prepare to move aside for a younger leading man. thats not to say Sundin will not produce, just that age is beginning to ware on him.

Lindros is too good a natural talent to let go, and is still able to single-handedly change the course of a game, however he needs people to work with. I like many Leafers believe that he would be good with Sundin but that will not happen as long as Quinn is around. These two could be dynamite together if they were aloud to stay together under a coach who doesn’t switch lines every other game, even when they work.

Tucker, I am sorry must go. He still has flashes of brilliance but will not become the player leafs fans want him to be. He is no longer being an instigator as it is too costly in the new NHL era, and despite his new “scoring” role like he had in the minors he is jsut not producing. Trade him while he is worth something, he is still young enough to gain interest.

Kaberle is resigned and is performing well, and actually shooting in the new NHL, so he is a moot point.

McCabe would be great if he doesn’t come with such a high price tag.

Domi. I love him. Good leader. Nice guy, Great teammate. But he has to go, there is no room for him in the new NHL. Under a CAP can you really afford to maintain a fighter that doesn’t produce. BTW how many fights have you seen this year anyway? Nuff said.

Belfour. It has been sweet but it is time to say goodnight. Trade him to another team as a playoff rental. He is washed out in Toronto and may revive his career in another city as he has done before. Get what we can for him, Telqvist isn’t doing any worse. Although he will not cut it long term either, so a new #1 goalie needs to be found or sit around till next summer when the Luongo lottery happens, if he lasts that long.

Antropov is a bust, I had high hopes but let him be someone elses problem.

Czerkawski, O’neil, Berg, Belak all can be replaced with younger players at very little risk. Toronto has HAD the prospects but let them go in trades, its time to get some back. If you don’t know what I mean than see McCauley, or better yet Brad Boyes for examples.

My last quirk on players is Coliacovo. He has been stale for us, trade him so that we can get someone proven to live upto potential or at least a draft pick for him.

I may catch some flack as my opinions may be different than others, but they are judged fairly. The rest of the League has moved on, its time for Toronto to do the same, otherwise we might as well wait another 40 yrs.