Leafs on the Edge – Blow it Up or Shake It Up – Or Wait for Babcock by Jamie Gilcig – NOV 20, 2014

jg2CFN –  Is there really such a thing as a great hockey coach in the NHL?   Is winning the sole factor?  We know Scotty Bowman is the prototypical great coach, but was he really  the best?   Is it the X’s and O’S or handling the Prima Donna nature of many hockey players as you have to juggle a team, and their agents, and hanger ons?

I really feel for Leaf fans this season.  They’re the most loyal in hockey; more loyal than Hab fans even.   They spend the bucks and big time.

The team is near the cap as it was last year and yet….they’re doomed.

They have talented players.   Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere.  I would fathom it has to do with Dave Nonis more than anything else, but in today’s hockey not even some GM’s get to be their own people anymore with feedback from ownership and the growing use of more active team presidents like Brian Burke in Calgary and now Brendan Shanahan in Toronto.

If as is the buzz, coach Randy Carlyle wasn’t fired this off season because the team is hoping that somehow Mike Babcock has a burning desire to grab a huge paycheque and pop over to Toronto next season that seems like a terrible waste of a season.   Will Toronto be bad enough to be in the Connor McDavid sweeps?   I would think not.

Brian Burke failed in Toronto.   There seems to be a dark curse over the city’s hockey team.

For all the grief giving to Dion Phaneuf he was resigned long term.   The team would have no trouble trading him.   And frankly he’s not the worst #1 in the NHL by far.   Is he the problem?  Nope.

Phil Kessel is scoring over a point per game with this team.  He’s not physical, but neither are some other point getters in the HOF.   Is he the problem?  Not really.

Looking at the numbers I don’t really see the Leafs as a team having a true identity or frankly a second line.   Fans complain about Nazim Kadri not being big enough so the team drafts William Nylander who may be smaller….

I’m not quite sure what Nonis really did in the off season or what he was allowed to do; but clearly the team didn’t address its main issues.

The team didn’t even address the Jake Gardiner issue or resolve their goal tending.  Some consider Cody Franson the Leafs best defenseman and he’s UFA.

Can this season be saved?  Mathematically yes.  Do the Leafs have the desire and will to take those steps?  Probably not.  They are in a pretty weak Division.   If the season ended today they’d be out of the play offs, but not getting a great draft pick, a bubble team.  That’s not good.

That would be an epic fail.

The problem that Toronto has is that there is no real trade bait on the team.  Yes, you can package Gardiner and Kadri, or Reimer and hope to upgrade, but if that hasn’t happened yet what would change to make it happen now?  More willing partners like the even more inept Edmontono Oilers?

Toronto is contractually committed to most of its forward corps, many of whom have NT clauses of one sort or another.   Of course some of them might want a change of scenery, but the axiom of buy low sell high is not in play for Toronto right now.

Which means finding a way to make this squad more productive, and that means a coaching change, which brings us back to the Babcock question.  If the Leafs blow up this season and gamble on getting Babcock does that make sense?  And if they do gamble and don’t get him….ugh.

Brendan Shanahan is getting a very early challenge with this team.

What do you think Leaf Nation?  Fire the GM?  The Coach?  Trade Phaneuf?  You can post your comment below.


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1 Comment

  1. Mike Babcock in Toronto? I think even Mike Babcock has standards. I don’t see him wanting to coach that train wreck.

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