DG's Quick Hits- July 22, 2002

The Stanley Cup: Makebe-Leaf-ing in Toronto

Can Krupp rescue his career in Atlanta?

On the radar screen
THE STANLEY CUP: MAKEBE-LEAF-ING IN TORONTO

Over this past off-season, the Toronto Maple Leafs raised ticket prices in a promise to fans that they’ll land a high-profile free agent. Then the Leafs fail miserably and General Manager Pat Quinn calls it a measure of fiscal restraint. Then Toronto basically replaces three players- Eddie Belfour (for Curtis Joseph), Tom Fitzgerald (for Garry Valk) and Robert Svehla (for Dimitry Yushkevich)- without raising a penny to their payroll. Through it all, fans and media alike are ripping the Leaf media for being liars, saying the only thing that mattered was the bottom line and not whether or not the Leafs actually won the Stanley Cup.

“The most honest person in the organization is (team mascot) Carlton the Bear”, ripped Yushkevich to the Toronto Star after being dealt to the Florida Panthers for Svehla. Yushkevich went on to say he couldn’t believe the Leafs treated him badly after all his dedicated years as a Leaf, disgusted with management for refusing to let him play in the play-offs even after he agreed to sign a waiver voiding the Leafs any responsibility in case of injury. His feelings emulate mine, as I can’t believe what the Leafs are doing this off-season, which is basically replace functioning parts with other parts, none of which are an actual improvement. Leaf fans have been clamouring for a Cup for the past 35 years and, for 34 of them, actually believed their management felt the same way. Instead, there is only disbelief and disgust, and it’s anybody’s guess if there is a reason for optimism entering 2002-03. The only Cup the Leafs will ever get next year will be a make-believe one, since the team doesn’t want to get any better- on the ice, that is.

CAN KRUPP RESCUE HIS CAREER IN ATLANTA?

On July 19, defenceman Uwe Krupp signed on with the Atlanta Thrashers after spending the past three years as a Detroit Red Wing. Despite the fact Krupp, 37, won the Cup in Detroit, he only was able to play in 32 National Hockey League games during his time there because of injuries. He missed two whole seasons- 1999-2000 and 2000-01- due to a back injury, an injury that was thought to have ended his career until the blueliner made it back into the lineup for ten games in 2001-02.

Personally, I hope Krupp can rescue his career as a Thrasher. Sure, it’s not exactly a favourable environment- going from champions to basement dwellers requires a lot of transition- but, in the reserved environment of Atlanta, Krupp can focus on returning from injury and resume his career the right way, and that is being the reliable defenceman he once was. For a player that, despite never being a star, has always been an integral part to his team’s success, it would almost be vindication for him to complete a full year, a vindication he fully deserves.

ON THE RADAR SCREEN
Another team whose management has some explaining to do: the Chicago Blackhawks…Available: Andrew Cassels, a gifted first-line centre. The only reason why he’s available is because his team, the Vancouver Canucks either don’t realize his contract ran out or don’t really care that it does. I think the Canucks need a bigger alarm…A message for new Florida Panther Dimitry Yushkevich: probably the only thing sunny about your new home is the weather, because the team’s still awful…Am I alone in thinking Thereon Fleury cried himself out of a contract?…You can tell it’s the dog days of summer when there’s no hockey stories to talk about…Here’s a question to ponder: will Dave Lewis be able to keep in check all those big egos that Scotty Bowman was able to handle? I like Lewis’ chances considering he assisted Bowman for so long, but he’s got to do it all by himself now, so the situation becomes a little more interesting…Let’s recap: free agent signings: Atlanta: Uwe Krupp. Columbus Blue Jackets: Scott Lachance. Anaheim Mighty Ducks: Adam Oates. Florida and Tampa Bay Lightning: none. What was that about the minnows diving into the free agent market?…That should probably come as no surprise, considering the man who said that the minnows would dive in was none other than the Toronto Sun’s Al Strachan. Still, though, Strachan may be horrible at predictions (almost like yours truly, eh? Though I did get the Darius Kasparitus trade bang on…) but he can still hit the nail on the head whenever he wants to…Jaromir Jagr was playing in a charity soccer game over in the Czech Republic yesterday. I hope he put in more effort there than he did as a Washington Capital…Finally: from July 23-28 I’ll be in Toronto participating in World Youth Day, so I’ll have to be away from HTR (*sigh*). Anyway, I’ll have a report on my feelings of the event and how it went on my World Issues Page within a week after it is done.

-DG