Mis-diagnosing the Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs’ history shows that this NHL franchise has now hit ‘rock bottom‘ (8 pts from the final Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference).

However, in sharp contrast to the current chatter in ‘Leafs’ Nation’ …

January 22, 2008 Leafs call back Cliff Fletcher
February 15, 2008 Leafs future hinges on Sundin deal

… ‘The Remedy’ for their present plight does NOT revolve around:

a) Their search for a competent, full-time GM
b) Their lack of high-ranking draft picks (in the next few seasons)
c) The ‘no trade’ clauses in the contracts of their most highly payed (and, in some cases, least productive) players
d) The overall lack of ‘skilled hockey talent’ on their roster
e) The overall ‘lack of Grit’ on their roster
f) The ‘price of (hockey) tape in Orilla (ON)’, or
g) Whatever else you might care to mention …

but the disappointing work of Paul Maurice (Head Coach), game-to-game.

When a team performs in this manner …

DATE

VISITOR HOME RESULT REC’D v 1-10 v 11-20 v 21-30
Jan 1 Tampa Bay (28) Toronto W 1-0   1-0  
Jan 3 Toronto Pittsburgh (7) L 1-1 0-1    
Jan 5 Philadelphia (T-12) Toronto L 1-2   1-1  
Jan 9 Toronto Anaheim (5) L 1-3 0-2    
Jan 10 Toronto Los Angeles (30) L 1-4     0-1
Jan 12 Toronto San Jose (6) L 1-5 0-3    
Jan 15 Carolina (T-18) Toronto W 2-5   2-1  
Jan 17 Toronto Boston (T-16) W 3-5   3-1  
Jan 19 Buffalo (T-14) Toronto W 4-5   4-1  
Jan 20 Toronto New Jersey (9) L 4-6 0-4    
Jan 23 Washington (T-21) Toronto W 5-6   5-1  
Jan 24 Toronto Washington (T-21) L 5-7   5-2  
Jan 29 St. Louis (T-21) Toronto L 5-8   5-3  
Jan 31 Toronto Carolina (T-18) OT-L 5-9   5-4  
Feb 2 Ottawa (3) Toronto W 6-9 1-4    
Feb 5 Florida (T-26) Toronto L 6-10     0-2
Feb 7 Toronto Montreal (8) W 7-10 2-4    
Feb 9 Detroit (1) Toronto W 8-10 3-4    
Feb 13 Toronto Buffalo (T-14) L 8-11   5-5  
Feb 14 NY Islanders (24) Toronto L 8-12     0-3

(over the course of its last 20 games, since Jan 1/08, while striving to make the Playoffs for the first time in 3 seasons)

– Winning games vs top teams in the league (v 1-10)
– Losing games vs middle (v 11-20) and low-end teams (v 21-30)

… it’s the responsibility of the coaching staff.

In the NHL, when a team’s Specialty Units perform at the bottom of the league … 

Power Play – 14.4%/28th
Penalty Kill – 78.4%/29th

while their

“Shots” Per Game/30.6/5th
“Shots Against” Per Game/29.2/18th 
” Goals For” Per Game/2.7/17th

are solidly in the middle-of-the-pack …

and, their

“Goals Against” Per Game/3.17/28th

is 3rd from the worst …

it speaks directly to the type of ‘strategic/technical defensive coaching’ their players are getting, consistently (or not), in practice and games.

What the Leafs should NOT do, right now, to right their sunken ship, is trade Mats Sundin (their best player & Captain), for a combination of future draft picks & burgeoning younger players, yet to hit their stride in the NHL.

This would be another backwards step for this franchise … without a Stanley Cup, since 1967.

What the Leafs NEED to do, in this specific situation, is …

(in order)

1) Replace Paul Maurice with a (better?) Defensive-minded head coach, who has been involved with a Stanley Cup winning team before, in some capacity;
2) Trade away/Give Away/Buy Out non-achieving veteran players with ‘No Trade’ clauses in their contracts, i.e. Darcy TuckerBryan McCabe;
3) Re-sign Mats Sundin, to a ‘short-term’ contract extension;
4) Hire a different & improved Scouting Staff, to better utilize their existing (up-coming) draft picks; and,
5) Hire a competent full-time GM/President, in-charge of their complete hockey operations.

A 5-Step Process … without any short-cuts.

Yes, ‘blowing it up’ in Toronto … and, starting again from scratch … would be the ‘right thing’ to do … but, to do so, right now, involving Mats Sundin … without a full-time GM/President in place, for the long term … is (almost) unbelievably (incomprehensibly) STUPID

9 days left … until the NHL’s trading deadline … tic, toc, tic, toc … and, KABOOM!

Note: To Cliff Fletcher … With the ‘puck on your stick, in the high slot’ … sometimes, the ‘best move’ (available) … is to pass. – Khandor’s Hockey Handbook ($19.95, Cdn)

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4 Responses to “Mis-diagnosing the Maple Leafs”

  1. Sports Blogging » Blog Archive » Mis-diagnosing the Toronto Maple Leafs Says:

    […] post by khandor Bookmark and Share:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  2. Steve Says:

    Meh, making a coaching change is far from the most pressing need right now for the Leafs. Getting that competent, experienced GM should had been the priority last summer, but because of Richard Peddy’s insistence that JFJ was the right guy for the job that didn’t happen.

  3. khandor Says:

    Hi, Steve.

    Thanks for your comment.

    I agree … getting their competent GM should’ve been a priority this past summer when MLSE first entertained the thought and made preliminary inquiries re: an “advisor” for JFJ.

    Alas, they chose not to go in this direction.

    But, with Fletcher in place now … and before they trade away their best player & Captain … what they need to do next is replace Paul Maurice, who has been directly responsible for this team’s:

    1) lack of motivation
    2) weak defensive play (5-on-5), and
    3) terrible Specialty Teams

    from game-to-game.

    Top priorities for the Leafs should have been:

    A) A new GM (done, with Fletcher)
    B) A new head coach … ?
    C) Removing the dead-weight from their roster (Raycroft, McCabe & Tucker) … ?
    D) A new Scouting Staff to rebuild from the ground up with Draft Picks …?

    Acquiring draft picks & young players is a waste of time w/o a top notch head coach & a superior scouting staff.

  4. Step one in the re-building of the Maple Leafs « Khandor’s Sports Blog Says:

    […] Mis-diagnosing the Maple Leafs […]

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