Why the Maple Leafs had no chance this year…

During the off season, the Leafs made a few, what were then called, “high profile” free agent signings. Guys like Jason Allison (who hadn’t played in years due to injuries), Jeff O’Neil (who Carolina couldn’t wait to dump), and Eric Lindros (who was and still is damaged goods). The Toronto-centric media was all over these signings. But the worst spate of journalistic bias came with the signing of Mariusz Czerkawski. In September 2005, Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun wrote:

Reputedly, Mariusz Czerkawski can do back flips after he scores.

If the new Maple Leafs right winger can hit in the 30 to 40-goal range this season, perhaps as Mats Sundin’s linemate, it will be Toronto’s hockey office doing the cartwheels. Czerkawski officially came aboard yesterday, signing a one-year deal believed to be worth around $500,000 US.

Um. Okay. Based on what was this guy going to score 30-40 goals? Here are his career stats:

Year Team GP G A Pts +/-
2005-06 BOS 8 1 1 2 -4
2005-06 TOR 19 4 1 5 -2
2003-04 NYI 81 25 24 49 +8
2002-03 MTL 43 5 9 14 -7
2001-02 NYI 82 22 29 51 -8
2000-01 NYI 82 30 32 62 -25
1999-00 NYI 79 35 35 70 -16
1998-99 NYI 78 21 17 38 -10
1997-98 NYI 68 12 13 25 +11
1996-97 EDM 76 26 21 47 0
1995-96 EDM 37 12 17 29 +7
1995-96 BOS 33 5 6 11 -11
1994-95 BOS 47 12 14 26 +4

His best year was 2000-01 in which he scored 35 goals! Where does Hornby think this guy was going to get 30-40? As a side note, if you look at the stats, he only had 5 pts and only played in 19 games this year. Good acquisition.

The worst part of all of this are the idiot fans of the Leafs. You can be a fan, like my sister-in-law, and still be realistic. She cheers for them, but has absolutely no hope. She KNOWS this team is filled with talentless stiffs.

Did Leaf fans actually think this team had the ability to make it to the playoffs, let alone challenge for the Cup? Really?

Check out guys like this, who commented on a recent Toronto Star forum:

…Also why didn’t the leafs try to pull off a trade for a goalie before the deadline. Considering the number of games remaining I can’t fathom why these moves were not made and the blame has to be put squarely on the shoulders of Ferguson Jr. and Quinn. I can’t understand how they play so well against Carolina and stink the joint out at the Bell Centre.
Milt Kenigsberg, North York

Poor Milt. He totally has no clue. They didn’t pull off a trade for a goalie because they COULDN’T. What could they have given up for a goalie? What team would want ANY of the stiffs they had to offer? Also, they had NO ROOM under the salary cap to make such a deal if it didn’t involve at least one of their overpaid players.

What is it about the Leaf jersey that have otherwise sensible people thinking that a player can turn around his dwindling career once they don the hallowed Leaf emblem? Every major signing they have done over the past few years have been players at the end of their abilities and careers. THAT’s why the Leafs had no chance this year. No chance at all.