Righting the Good Ship Maple Leaf

JFJ has not been shy about making moves as the Leafs GM. Pre Lockout, he and Pat Quinn stated they would go for a serious Cup run and trade away some of their future for a chance to win the Cup. After losing out on the Sergie Gonchar sweepstakes, the rookie GM made traded for Brian Leetch to solidify his blue line. The trade still resonates more in New York then Toronto.The Leetch trade costs the Leafs a first and second round draft choice, and two young prospects Maxim Kondratiev who I found this quote about on hockey prospects “The young defenseman has constantly been touted as a talented prospect with a lot of potential, but has not played with any inspiration while with Portland” and Jarkko Immonen who hasn’t played a game in the NHL. His other acquisition – Ron Francis – was supposed to provide veteran leadership, a little playoff magic and a face-off presence in the mold of a Rod BrindAmour. It didn’t work out like the organization planned it, but you can’t blame a guy for trying. If he had won as a rookie GM, he would have had a nation of slobbering men at his feet.

Fast forward to post lock-out, and JFJ kept with the Veteran presence, signing Lindros, Allison, the great Marius Czercawski, and trading for O’Neill. That was last year and the Leafs didn’t make the playoffs. What can you say about those signings, they almost all were bad short term and long term, and give JFJ credit, he hasn’t given any of those players a sniff.

Much to the delight of many JFJ has dropped all his dud signings from last year, and at 1.5 million, O’Neill’s contract isn’t a burden to the team. He has given a chance to young players to make the team, gone are Berg and Klee on D, and in are his best signing to date – Kubina who will be worth every penny come the late season playoff hunt, Hal Gill to help on the PK and Peca to help improve the PK and give the Leafs an advantage in the face-off challenged North-East division. But his defining move will be his trade for Raycroft. He has 3 years to get the Leafs into the playoffs, if Raycroft gets into the playoffs 3 times it will be a great trade, 2 times will be a good-solid trade, 1 time will be disappointed and no playoff appearances will be a disaster. The last Calder winning goalie in the NHL doesn’t have a starting job in Nabakov, the one before him is pretty good in Marty Brodeur – but I think we all doubt the Bruins traded away a Brodeur type goalie. JFJ’s reputation will ride solely on this signing; JFJ’s future and with the Leafs and his reputation is in Andrew Raycroft hands.

The reality is the expectations on the Leafs have severely dropped since the beginning of last season when they were expected by many to make the playoffs. If they don’t make the playoffs this year, it will be disappointing but not a surprise – so JFJ has bought himself time. But he has done something that is very huge, he has bought himself time, and turned around the fans that were skeptical of him with his plan for the hockey team. His signings this season has showed that he has his ear to the ground and has a blueprint for the Leafs going forward. Whether it works won’t be known until the end of this season, or sooner. But JFJ has definitely silenced his critics, and the Leafs have gone from a team in disarray, to one that could make the playoffs in only 4 weeks

34 Responses to Righting the Good Ship Maple Leaf

  1. The-President says:

    good article for a sens fan.

  2. leafhater says:


  3. Scottman75 says:

    Good Article.

    JFJ still can and could still pull the trigger on a trade or two (maybe even a big one).

    That will add some debate as to his future in Toronto as well.

  4. Scottman75 says:

    A Single voice amongst a Nation of Fans!

    Your Anguish sustains me.

  5. JJ-Dynomite says:

    Awsome Article, its really nice too see a Sens fan who can put the rivalry aside and make an article like that!

  6. Farva says:

    Good article dude. I just gained a little respect for you. It will be remembered

  7. Aetherial says:

    Decent article, but JFJ has not turned around the fans opinion of him. It could get MUCH worse a year or two down the road when those D contracts are keeping them from signing any decent forwards.

  8. the_word says:

    thanks for updating us on what we already know.

  9. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    the only thing i liked that JFJ always did was filled the Marlies with lots of up and coming talent, and thats what he’s doing againg. JFJ’s fate is in Murice’s hands, he needs to turn the team into a winning team, and I have no doubt that the Leafs will make the playoffs, and have the potential to be cup condenders this season.

  10. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    It WLL be a surprise if theLeafs don’t make the Playoffs, with the core they’ve got, I wouldn’t be surprized if they finished 5th in the conference.

  11. leafsrule1967 says:

    Your an iddiot

  12. 92-93 says:

    good article – much more needs to be said about Immonen though.

    the signings JFJ made last offseason – re: Allison/Lindros/O’Neill were understandable considering the context of the signings.

    the expectations for the leafs have stayed the same – at least they have for me.

    i know there were a lot of leaf fans at this time last year who were predicting them to finish .500 and anywhere from 6th to 10th and thats about what happened. the same can be said for this year. the team is SLIGHTLY better, slightly more expensive, but the subtractions made were necessary and, most importantly, done. hopefully that process continues as the season reveals who should stay and who should go.

    and i wouldnt say that JFJ’s ear is anywhere near the ground … he is still a very out-of-touch GM and his UFA signings/trades since June 26th have reflected that.

    in other words, the critics have not gone silent and you overestimate how messed up the team was before this period and underestimated how messed up they are now.

  13. 92-93 says:

    arent you just a nasty, nasty person?

    please tell us. what IS your problem?

  14. 92-93 says:

    geesh, well i dunno about that. but i hope your right!

  15. proudcanadian says:

    are u kidding me buddy just wait u’ll see they have young guns at fowrard and solid veterans and as for the defenceman *****mon man thats the best linup of 6 D in the nhl buddy k they might hve taken a risk on raycroft but its 50/50 he might still not get in his groove but if he does wow remember when he got rookie of the year soo yeah leafs dont suck buddy!!!

  16. 92-93 says:

    some of the transactions i can see happening (or i hope happens) as this season progresses (most of these are trades but many of them could be combined):

    1) trading Telly or Aubin so that Pogge and Racine get the AHL starts.

    2) trading Antropov

    3) trading Tucker who will be a UFA at the end of the year.

    4) maybe trading O’Neill but I think he’s going to retire or take a break from hockey at season’s end anyways.

    5) Wade Belak is let go at the end of the season or is waived at some point during the season

    6) likely a trade invovling one or two of the Leafs’ younger defensive prospects

    7) the acquisition of a skilled, fast, young winger

    8) I don’t see the leafs trading Kubina and even if they did I don’t see anyone willing to take on his 5 million dollar contract. As for Gill, he could be traded by the deadline depending on his performance.

    9) Peca will play pretty decent in toronto but will he be worth 2.5 million or worth a raise and a longer term in the offseason?

    10) Resigning of Steen and Poni

    so, if you look at the leafs line-up, there are quite a few changes that could be made – and about 20 million dollars of cap space that could be freed up through trades, subtractions, etc.:












  17. Farva says:

    Leafs dont suck. YOU suck

  18. PaulK123 says:

    I have two words for you, SUCK IT!

  19. WeedIan says:

    If they don’t make the playoffs JFJ is fired, or if the leafs tank early liek go 5-15 he’ll be fired.

    Hopefully they tank early and he gets fire then right the ship

  20. TML51 says:

    Yes, JFJ has been busy. He has, in all fairness, filled some gaping holes, which were gaping holes during last season (!). Lindros was a bust (gambled and lost), Allison was a bit of a dissapointment, and Domi was already past his usefullness as an NHL player. Czerkawski…well..lesson learned.

    Lindros was a key factor when Mats was injured…sadly upon his return, Lindros seemed to fade into the background…almost unsure of what his role had become.

    Allison never really seemed to find his stride here…which is a pity, because he obviously wanted to play here.

    Domi is a player I have respected for many years. He is a stand up guy and a real charachter player. The new NHL is not made for him, and his effectiveness as an enforcer has faded considerably. Buying him out was the4 only choice the Leafs really had. He, like so many other Leaf alumni, will most certainly hold a position within the franchise, as he has been an adored Leaf for many years.

    Eddie was a no brainer. As many good years as he gave us, it’s no wonder why he’s having a bit of a problem finding a job now…his best years are behind him.

    Now…did JFJ pay too much for McCabe, Kaberle, Kubina and Gill…maybe…but let’s look at it this way…JFJ is the only GM in the last 15 years who truly made an effort to shore up the blue line. It’s the best it’s been for as long as I can remember. If Raycroft rebounds this year, (which a change of venue may just do), the Leafs for the first time in a long time will actually have a pretty solid defensive team capeable of winning games.

    And as for Mike Peca…great signing. He will bring an element to the team that Leafs fans of old will appriciate.

    Now…with their current line up, I have no problem seeing the Leafs make the playoffs. If this happens, JFJ will be the new hero of the Leaf nation.

    If this fails…he will be hanging from those rediculous rusted art sculptures infront of the ACC with thousands of Leaf fans building a speical bonfire in his honour…probably to be replaced by Paul Maurice as GM.

  21. Minky says:


    oh snap

  22. Farva says:

    This clown is a one trick pony. Go ahead and read all of his posts. They are all Leaf bashing. You must be some kind of serious retard. For a guy who hates the Leafs so much, you sure spend alot of time thinking about them.

    Save everyone some time and stop posting on here….*****.

  23. Alozo07 says:

    He definetley should have pursued Neidermayer and carter and possibly kariya(would have signed 4 cheap) if we sign these players last year his job most likely would not be in jeoparady

  24. leaf_20 says:

    you kno i could’nt have said it better. with the leafs suped up D and there alrady not to bad offence and a goalie looking to rebound the leafs look to be one of the better teams in the nhl. that said they probably play in the toughest division in the east right now with montreal ottawa(even tho there dropping like a brick), boston( with there newly aquired superstars) and the suprising buffalo sabers. i wouldnt be suprise if this whole division made the play offs. witch would be exciting because add atleast 4 more games of intense playoff hockey to the 8 games of regular season play. cant wait….

  25. 92-93 says:

    Just some thoughts on how some here have wondered if the Leafs have lost too much offense in order to solidfy their defence.

    now i can respond like i always have and say that their D is not much better – however, Peca’s presence will help along with Gill’s on the PK. but lets just focus on offense – an area that the Leafs have never struggled in since the Quinn era began (and yes that includes last year too).

    the players the leafs cut this year is a (thankfully) long list:








    Toronto scored a total of 257 goals and these 7 players (3 defencemen and 4 forwards) combined for a grand total of 41 goals and 95 assists and 136 points in 440 total games for the leafs last year (an average of 0.31 points per game). however, note that after Matt Stajan, who finished 12th in leaf scoring last year with 27 pts, the list above represents the 13th-18th spots in the leafs scoring. Only Lindros – who only played 33 games – and Allison (60 points in 66 games) represent a significant loss for the leafs in terms of offensive production (and allison mostly on the PP).

    now the guys that the leafs acquired are coming off of seasons in which their offensive production lacked a little and could be reasonably expected to see their production to go up – although, not by much. this is not to address the fact that by giving young players like Wellwood and Stajan a guarantee of being down the middle, this might improve their offensive production as well (along with giving regular ice time to two of Pohl, Williams, Suglobov, Ondrus). the players the leaf acquired were:




    These 3 players (2 defencemen and 1 forward) combined for a total of 15 goals, 56 assists, 71 points in 227 total games (an average of 0.31 points per game). so there seems to be a significant loss in offensive production but keep in mind what i said above about the 13th-18th spots in scoring. but the average for points-per-game for the combined players lost and the combined players brought in (not to including younger guys who get more ice time to prove themselves) is exactly the same.

    and this is precisely one of the most positive aspects to adding through subtracting. even if the team is about the same offensively (and it will be – i can see the leafs end up with anywhere from 240 to 280 goals while their goals against should go down from the 270 they gave up last season), it is slightly better defensively and there is a new enviornment in toronto with Maurice (the MOST IMPORTANT acquisition in the offseason by the way).

  26. 92-93 says:

    if you look at the top 12 in leafs scoring last year, the leafs still have that strong core:

    Sundin – 31 goals, 78 points in 69 games

    McCabe – 19 goals, 68 points

    Kaberle – 58 assists and 67 points

    Tucker – 28 goals and 61 points

    Steen – 45 points (18 goals)

    Wellwood – 45 points

    Ponikorovsky – 21 goals, 38 points

    O’Neill – 19 goals, 38 points (another player who should increase their production after a bad year)

    Antropov – 31 points in 57 games

    Kubina – approximately 10 goals and 40 points

    Kilger – 28 points (17 goals)

    Stajan – 27 points

    (Allison subtracted, Kubina inserted. Peca could get anywhere from 20-40 points).

    If you factor in that even one of these younger guys should improve on their production from last year – Steen, Wellwood, Poni, Stajan, and Antropov (and yes, he is still young), then the offense doesn’t look too bad.

  27. 92-93 says:

    so yeah, that’s 13 players with a potential to hit 30-40 points and about 8 players with the potential to hit 50-60 points.

    of course the 3 big names for the leafs offense this year should be Sundin, Kaberle, and McCabe. but they DO have a very good and promising supporting cast.

  28. leafhater says:

    You are the retarted leaf fan

  29. leafhater says:

    Yes she does

  30. leafhater says:

    My prediction leafs will be in 9th or 10th after all said and done IM NOT KIDDING BUDDY.

  31. 92-93 says:

    oh, and if you want to know why i dislike Steve Simmons and his criticize-the-leafs-for-the-sake-of-criticizing-them articles… read my points on the leafs offence and then read this passage:

    “As its currently assembled, the Maple Leaf roster scored just 222 goals last season. Only one team made the playoffs with as little as 242 goals. The average playoff team in the Eastern Conference scored 269 goals and the top contending teams, Carolina, Buffalo and Ottawa, scored 291, 281 and 314 … “

    once again, there is no PERSPECTIVE in his articles and there are numerous reporters out there who do a better, smarter job at crticizing the leafs than he does.

  32. leafhater says:


  33. richardtoronto says:

    I would doubt that Maurice will allow the veteran forwards to take nights and at times, weeks off as what occurred last year.

    Let’s keep in mind that there was a fairly dramatic reshuffling of all teams in the east as far as talent (ottawa, buffalo, carolina, etc) – so it’s more difficult to predict what the net affect of goals last year would have on this team as far as putting points on the board.

    Will the leafs be more competitive playing inside their division where they had the most problems? yes, they should be. If so, then more of a parity in points could be accomplished in the divisonal play where the leafs were rather – pathetic.

    The adage is .. you only have to score one more goal than the other team does – still remains in affect in the new NHL – and a more tighter defense should make that somewhat easier for the leafs to handle. Let’s hope the leafs also spend one heck of alot more time practicing shootouts as well. But, it’s always easier to score goals when your forwards are not having a coffee and a donut in your own end like I’d swear I saw in some games last year. Less time in your own zone, more chances to score.

  34. 92-93 says:

    youre obviously right about the reshuffling in the East.

    i was just addressing the comments (and articles like Simmons) who supposedly ‘did the math’ and came to the conclusion that the leafs had less offense. and – as your point suggests – less offense … coupled with better defense … is not necessarily a bad thing.,

    i hope Maurcie catches Tucker taking his time getting to the bench on a line change like he has always done and i hope he sends a message to everyone by sitting one of the better players for a bit.

    as for the shootout, this team isnt much better than last year’s team. maybe they’ll use Steen or Wellwood more often?

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