JFJ Has a 'Plan'

JFJ Has a Plan

Mar 9, 2006.

Beating the Habs Wednesday night must have inflated JFJ’s renewed optimism leading him to believe that his struggling Leafs can make the playoffs. A noble attempt. Here we see the organization behind the decisions at Deadline 2006. Restructure – as opposed to rebuild – or make a bid for the playoffs. Fans cried for the former. MLSE called for profits … oops, I meant, playoffs.

Enter Luke Richardson. Bye Ken Klee.

This must have been part of the ‘plan’ JFJ spoke about prior to the season’s onset. This was where the Leafs were to have a plan in place to be competitive. Not only this year, oh no, but into the future as well. He expressed, said sentiment, of long term moves in recent interviews at Deadline 2006. Then, turned around and picked up a veteran.

Huh?When was it prudent to acquire a veteran as part of a ‘plan’ for the future? Or was the help for the long term supposed to come in the form of Alexander Suglobov, acquired from NJ for Ken Klee? The Richardson deal has more repercussions than first meets the eye.

JFJ had two choices going into Deadline 2006. He could have plotted out the course of the Leafs future, perhaps according to a plan. He had to have made inquiries into moving some bodies, even just to gauge market value. One can’t think that he was just sitting back doing nothing. Instead of finding fair value, he found – to his own doing, mind you – teams weren’t offering fair value for Leaf assets. This made selling a less likely possibility. The Leafs found, there was not a market for the assets, not sellers.

McCabe, Sundin, Belfour, perhaps a Tucker, all could have been moved for a youth movement, complimented by off-season moves, starting the process.

Fine, it is prudent not to make a deal, for the sake of making a change, if you cant get something in return of value. But it was the Leafs that put themselves in this position in the first place, signing Belfour to a crazy deal, making him untradeable at Deadline 2006. A 2 yr offer to Tie Domi? (Decent marketing move to have him celebrate the 1000th game of his career as a Leaf.) A highlight of this lowly season. Sundin, albeit a decent player, is not worth 6 or 7 mill to a team. Tucker is too cheap to trade at $1.6 mil and another year to go. Other GM’s knowing that there is desperation in Leafland, probably tried to milk it for all its worth. So for JFJ to just make the deals he did for Richardson and Klee, with his hands as tied as possible, he didn’t do, that bad. There will not be any more significant deals made by the Leafs, this season.

Enter ‘The Plan.’

The hockey man would have began the restructuring. Take the loss for the season, and get better, with the team in mind. But then, this is the Leafs, more succinct, MLSE. Business said, ‘playoffs.’ Lockout losses had to be made up. Was the team prior to the lockout only destined to go as deep in the playoffs as they could, to recoup – in advance – lost revenue from a looming locked out season, and not a Stanley Cup.

They beat the Habs, Tuesday night. Next option, a run to make the playoffs. It’s difficult to win the amount of games to stay afloat, let alone move ahead in the standings. They also have a dependency on other teams, like the Habs and Thrashers (who won last night), losing in order to gain in the standings. If they make the playoffs, it shows the commitment to making the post season, and with the run up of a glut of teams in the bottom of the conference, it will be an accomplishment, lauded by MLSE and die hard fans. If they miss the playoffs, the excuse becomes, well, we made a valiant effort, and have learned a lot. Either way, the fan hears one side from the organization, while doing something contradictory to what they say.

Are the Leafs a better team with Richardson? Maybe. For MLSE, it’s make the budget of a season and one playoff round. Profits. Get as much as they can, and stay as close to budget as possible. This puts JFJ in a terrible position. Appease the fans, the HOCKEY fans, not business fans, and possibly be fired, (remember Fletcher?) or appease the board, perhaps save his job in the process.

He chose the latter, adding a spin of making the playoffs, and anything happening. Even if it was out of necessity, it was his own doing, with this mysterious plan. It makes one come to the conclusion that the only plan in place is the same one going on since the Ballard days. Fleece the fan, make the money, with a shoddy product.

For Leafs fans everywhere hope this plan improves quickly.