Maple Leaf Myths
There have been plenty of myths pointed out by fans who do not approve of the 2005-06 version of the Maple Leafs. Here I am going to try to clear some of these up.
1. The Leafs are too old and past their prime.
On the contrary. The Leafs have only 6 players over age 30. Sundin, Belfour, Lindros, Khavanov, Klee, Domi. out of the whole team, only Belfour and Domi are past their primes. But both can still contribute at a high level. Many of their players are in the prime of their careers.
2. The Leafs have no prospects.
Though there are no Crosby’s or Ovechkins among the group, that is the price paid for winning. They have some solid young blueliners who have a chance to make it. Coliacovo is the only blueliner with top 4 potential but Pilar, Bell, White, VOrobiev, Kronvall, Harrison all have a chance to be solid depth guys with the potential to surprise. who would have thought 9th round picks Tomas Kaberle and Danny Markov would turn into top 4 blueliners?
Like I mentioned, no star forwards coming but Stajan, Steen, Wellwood are not bad prospects at all, and Ponikarovsky and Antropov are ok NHLers. they are still young enough to be better players. and with Tukka Rask now the goalie of the future, the Leafs have some good potential at all positions.
3. THe Leafs will miss the playoffs
The only way they miss it is if the band aid brigade of Oneill, Allison and Lindros all miss significant time on IR. the potential exists but the same potential of them surviving and thriving also exists. if those players play anywhere close to the form they showed in the past, they will be a huge boost for the Leafs. it’s a two way street. they could get hurt leaving the Leafs super thin and missing the playoffs, or become stars again and maybe leading the team to a cup win. all 30 teams have a shot at it at this point (cept maybe the Caps).
4. The Leafs are an injury waiting to happen.
This is true, but in hockey, you can say that about many if not all teams. It’s a contact sport, people are going to get hurt. It’s not just the Leafs and Leafs alone who are going to get hurt. The Leafs have been able to live with injuries and still be competitive. Joseph got hurt, but Schwab stepped up. Sundin went down but MacCauley filled in, Mogilny, Nieuwendyk, Belfour and Nolan all missed significant time, but the Leafs still put in a 100 point season the last time they played. Nobody wants injuries. Fans want to see the stars. We’ve had to endure Forsberg missing time, Yzerman, Lemieux, it happens.
5. Leafs overpay their players
Not this summer. Maybe Belfour is overpaid but once we see him stealing games and hearing the fans chant Eddie! Eddie! then we’ll find him to be underpaid, especially compared to a guy like Khabibulin. But i have mentioned this before. the total contracts of Mccabe, Kaberle and Klee are equal to the total contracts the Devils dished out to Rafalski and Malakhov. I think i rather have the Leaf trio. The market this summer was good to blueliners. For example, the Jackets spent big to get Foote, but their next best guy was one whom the Rangers, Bruins and Hawks disgarded in Bryan Berard is their next best guy. And then things fall off drastically in terms of talent on defence. What Toronto is paying is really a bargain. And look at their forwards. Outside of Sundin, there is not a 2 million dollar forward around. And they have managed to get plenty of decent talent on the cheap. Lindros, Oneill, Allison, Tucker are all at the 1.5 million range. That is a bargain considering 40 year old vets like Roberts and Nieuwendyk are making over 2, one dimensional players like Satan are making over 4, and often injured players like Straka are hitting the 3 mil mark. For this year anyway, this is a myth.
6. The Leaf D is the worst there is.
The Leafs dont have the best blueline going. Some teams like the Sens have significantly better talent on defence than Toronto. But Toronto has 4 fairly solid guys. none of them are top end true number 1 defencemen but the two teams in the finals did not have a blueliner like that in their lineup. guys like Regher or Kubina are very solid players but are they like a Pronger, Blake or Niedermayer? The Leafs dont have one either but they have some decent guys. Look at Carolina, their blueline is led by a guy who couldnt find a team the last couple of seasons in the NHL. Look at Washington, Biron and Majesky are the 2nd and 3rd guys on their defence after Brendan Witt. And those two couldnt keep jobs on non-playoff teams. Look at the Pens. Gonchar is good but who is their next best guy? a journeyman in Tarnstrom who was waived by the Isles and Jackman who couldnt make the supposed terrible leafs D. There are plenty of teams in far worse shape on D than Toronto.
To be clear, the Leafs have work to do. Plenty of new faces means they will have to come together as a team and start to build chemistry. Players will find themselves adjusting to new rules and in some cases new positions. The hope is that the comeback players will come back and regain some of their old form. there is plenty of upside if that happens. but things could also take a turn for the worse. What I was trying to accomplish here was to let it be known that the Leafs, while maybe far from the top of the Standings, are far from the bottom as well. they have talent, they have youth and they have a chance to accomplish something. They just have to be allowed to play the games before judgement gets passed.