November 22, 2007

What Are They Waiting For?

Now that the Leafs have officially succumbed to possibly the greatest prospect they had and gave away, exactly what is keeping the inevitable pink slip from reaching JFJ's office door?

I suppose the camouflaging of 5 overtime losses has helped somewhat, but let's not be fooled here. The Leafs aren't 1 game under .500 (which is already unacceptable in his 4th season), but they happen to be 6 games below .500.

In a perfect world, the Teachers either through Peddie or Tanenbaum, should have given the Leafs an ultimatum on Tuesday night. Beat the rookie Rask and allow the franchise to save face, or else clean out your lockers. And two days later, not a sound other than the wringing of Sundin's voice questioning the identity of this club.

When JFJ took over for Pat Quinn, his apparent goal was to restore the farm team and stockpile the youth system by not giving up on his prospects and picks. Which is why facing and losing to Rask should have been the catalyst to Ferguson's tenure as Leaf boss.

Having given up the most goals against in the entire league after spending so much on defensemen and making two separate panic moves to acquire their two supposed best goaltenders, only the Marlies seem to be going according to plan this season. In short, every move Ferguson has made thus far has ended up with egg on his face.

Perhaps the failed attempt to acquire a senior executive, or a co-general manager to JFJ this past offseason is keeping the brass from making the one move every radio analyst and every phone-in caller in the southern Ontario region has been asking for in agreement 2 years straight. If a senior consultant is that hard to find, how hard would it be to successfully land a successor? And when you consider that in all the entire Leaf media structure, the only name to be mentioned lately is Glen Healy, there is a serious problem here. But what of Neil Smith?

What the Leafs can ill afford to do, is hire a second straight rookie GM. Especially in the wake of the MLSE's decision to put in veteran GM Colangelo to front it's basketball team. And there is no telling how well the former goaltender can perform under these dire circumstances. All you have to do is listen for a few minutes on TSN or CBC to hear him glow in admiration of Captain Mats Sundin. And although I do not disagree with his sentiments in this specific player, I cannot fathom him being able to trade Sundin away to regain some futures. Even despite his no trade clause.

Beyond having traded for two enigmatic goaltenders and locking up a team of underachievers for far too much money, the Leafs biggest problem is not having the ability to maximize theis assets while they still have them. When the team chose to give up on players such as Roberts, Niewendyk, Belfour, and even Allison and O'Neill, they did not give them up at the deadline to teams wishing to make a post season push. They were merely given away for nothing with nothing to show for them other than some cap space that was later filled with someone elses cast offs.

What MLSE must do, is give up on their few bright lights. Trade away the Kaberles, Antropovs and Sundins while they can get a return for them. And it doesn't really take 10 years to successfully rebuild a team as the Flyers demonstrated last season. Perhaps all it would take is the rest of this season.

Right now, only Smith seems capable of pushing this reality pill down the throats of our owners.

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