You know, sometimes fans have a hard time finding sympathy for professional athletes because weâ€™re so used to the mindset that they have everything most of us want to have or that they enjoy a far better lifestyle than any of us dare to dream about. Itâ€™s mostly because of said fact that them delivering/not delivering on the ice becomes the only important measuring stick when it comes to determining oneâ€™s glory or failure in the eyes of fans and team critics.
I would argue that since sports are about winning and winning is done by winners – players, coaches, trainers and GMs who help a team win and who, by default, win themselves – itâ€™s the right measuring stick. My question is – is it the only measuring stick?
Brian Burke doesnâ€™t think so, as he thanked the Monster for his services here, stating how he â€œsaved our baconâ€ when our bacon needed saving. Iâ€™m not going to write this and demand you like Gustavsson, or pretend he was a good NHL goaltender while wearing a Leafs jersey, but I would like Leaf fans to treat him with a bigger degree of respect. During his time here, he most certainly endured.
Three heart ablation surgeries, personal tragedy â€“ Jonas overcame all of that and played some good hockey for the Leafs. So he wasnâ€™t Cujo, heck, he wasn’t even the Monster. Yet, despite all this, you can’t argue he didn’t have one hell of a heart. Be it losing his mind when scored upon, or fighting back right after those surgeries, you can’t argue he didn’t try. I’d like to think we as Leaf fans can at least reward that, we of all people know what it’s like to try and try again, and what it’s like to have Vesa Toskala stink up your crease and act like it’s no big deal (his on ice performance COUPLED by his off ice demeanor probably earned him a different set of standards to be judged by).
Modern day reporting often loses its touch with kindness, dignity and etiquette, so this writer took his chance to use this space to go a step beyond the result and focus on the person behind No.50. This is why obligated to saying something that many, not including our GM, forgot to do, and that was to thank Jonas for his time here… if for no other reason than because he deserved it, maybe not exclusively based on his on ice performance, but certainly based on the strength of his character and perseverance.
Good luck Gus, hope you make a bigger name for yourself in Winnipeg.
JvR and Yankees
Upon hearing that he was traded to Toronto, JvR said that the Leafs are basically the NY Yankees of the NHL. Cue the “not winning” jokes. However, since everyone knows he was talking about tradition and making a market/team interest comparison, I didn’t really understand what the fuss was about. More importantly, it’s great to see a young player appreciating/paying tribute to the organization and relishing the prospect of playing in a high-expectation market.
Better yet, you’ll be happy to hear his Yankees comparison doesn’t mean JVR is a Yankees fan. He was apparently wearing a Blue Jays hat when he found out the news on Saturday, and wore it on Off The Record and Sportsnet Connected yesterday.
Aaron Portzline and Roberto Luongo
Yesterday, the Columbus Dispatch reporter Aaron Portzline tweeted:
“Told by very good sourceÂ Canucks G Roberto Luongo has – to this point — declined to waive no-trade clause to go to Blackhawks or Leafs. Luongo using the power of his no-trade to “steer” a trade to Panthers as much as possible at this point in off-season.”
Source or no source, this makes little sense to me. There is only a limited number of teams that are in need of a No.1 goaltender/could take on his contract in terms of cap hit and real money. Three of those teams are supposedly on Luongo’s go to list. One of them is the Panthers. Actually, you’d think the Panthers are one such team, but they aren’t an upper echelon spending team in terms of salary (just $40,644,500 at this point according to capgeek.com).
Also, the Panthers are expected to give playing time to their future No.1 goaltender Jacob Markstrom. In my mind, coming back to Vancouver’s crease would be a really awkward situation for Luongo and the team. The organization hadn’t shown faith in him before, he reportedly asked for a trade, and he has a mammoth deal which makes Cory Schneider look even better to Mike Gills.Â If it’s all but certain he won’t return to that environment, why would Luongo limit himself to just one destination, which, besides his family and him being familiar with it, has just one thing to offer – less spotlight, less pressure? Ok, you got me – sunshine.
When it comes down to it, Mike Gillis can tell the media keeping Luongo is a possibility all he wants, his leverage is limited and his hands are tied. I think I can objectively say the Leafs remain one of very few viable suitors at this time. I’m not going to pretend I know for sure he’s coming to the Leafs or not coming to the Leafs, but I will say this: If the Luongo “sweepstakes” are going to drag out for some time while Gillis accepts the implications of handing Luongo a 12-year contract, you’ve got to be weary of what you read. Mind games have been played and will continue to play out.
Today at 3 p.m. we find out if Mats Sundin goes to the Hall in his first year up. I wouldn’t normally link to this site but the quotes from Fletcher trump any site rivalry. Interesting stuff here:
â€œTo this day, thereâ€™s erroneous information that he provided me a list of possible teams or that I flat-out asked him to waive his contract privilege. I donâ€™t operate that way; I have too much respect for the game and for the provisions of a contract. And, I hadÂ waytoo much respect for Mats to make such a bold request. It never got to the point of other teams. I simply went up to Mats and said, â€˜If you want a crack at winning the Stanley Cup this season, I think I can trade you to a club in that position.â€™ He thanked me and said he would mull it over for a few days.
â€œEventually, he came back and said he felt uncomfortable bailing out on his teammates at the end of a difficult season â€“ that he should stay with the group, as captain, until the end. And, that was it. There was no further prodding on my part whatsoever. He chose to exercise a contract privilege negotiated in good faith and I completely respected his decision.â€