Mats Sundin’s season with the Vancouver Canucks, his chase for the 2009 Stanley Cup that brought him out of pseudo-retirement, and possibly his NHL career, ended tonight with the Canucks’ elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the young Chicago Blackhawks.
And now the “future of Sundin” questions, and subsequent “will-he-or-won’t-he” Favrian (or is it Favresque?) soap opera will surely begin anew.
Excitement abounds these days in the streets of Toronto, as a long-overdue rebuilding effort for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the prospect of a revitalized franchise, moves into high gear.
Arguably the last successful revitalization of the Maple Leafs franchise occurred in the early 1990s, when in the span of three seasons the Leafs went from basement-dwellers to Stanley Cup contenders.Â Although many are quick to credit then-GM Cliff Fletcher’s 1992 mega-deal with the Calgary Flames as the key turning point for the franchise, the groundwork for the franchise’s rapid acceleration from pretender to contender actually began much earlier … in the 1989-90 season, to be exact.
Part 3: 20 Years of Maple Misery
From Gord Stellick to Cliff Fletcher Version 2.0
Itâ€™s been over 40 years since the Leafs won the cup and while others make fun of the fans for continuing to cheer, here is an overview of why you shouldnâ€™t make fun, but feel bad for themâ€¦
It is a number that all Leafs fans hold in such high regard. Â It means so much to so many.
Dale Mitchell (#71) – RW
Birthdate: April 9, 1989
Hometown: Mississauga, ON
I feel that the NHL has paradoxically lost a lot of it’s appeal to the casual hockey observer by ushering in a salary cap and establishing the presence of relative parity. The prospect of competitive balance within the sport of hockey was long viewed as the ideal scenario, assuring the opportunity to succeed in any given season for even the least moneyed franchises and as a direct result providing these franchises with the means to draw new fans out of their tepid markets. It all sounded good on paper. But the league has lost a valuable dynamic that in my estimation plays a large part in the success of other major sports leagues and associations within North America.
Delving deeper into the hockey world, interacting with players, coaches and organizational personnel, Iâ€™ve learned a big lesson.
Weâ€™re dealing with people.
Guess what; fans are people, too.
Hey folks, Alec’s traditionally done this in the past, but I’ll be taking over for this one as he’s been bogged down with work lately. With the way the Leafs have played over the past few years, we find ourselves looking forward to the future, hoping that there’s help on the horizon. Well let’s take a gander at what the Toronto Maple Leafs are cultivating down on the farm:
Someone recently asked me a trivia question that got me thinking. The question was, â€œHow many major individual awards have been won by Maple Leaf players since the last Stanley Cup win in 1967?â€
(Insert He-Man theme here)
Discuss it Here>>>
After dealing away high picks for so many years, it finally looks like one of the NHL’s worst farm systems is beginning to turn the corner these last couple of years.
For the most part, the Leafs’ prospect talent level is very top heavy with a few bluechippers heading this list, followed by an intriguing combination of high potential boom or bust prospects in the lower ranks. The orgainzation’s biggest strengths are its depth at the centre position and generally high skill level among its forwards. The farm system’s weakness occurs on the blueline where there is little to look forward to beyond Schenn and Stralman, particularly if Vorobiev decides not to come over. The general lack of speed in the organization is also a cause a for concern.
>>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS
With Cliff Fletcher sticking around for the upcoming season, the Maple Leafs have gone forward in hiring new staff since the start of the off-season. It seems the philosophy among many franchises around the league is to create positions to fill with excellent hockey minds in order to improve their own hockey growth and knowledge above the ice surface. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has finally joined in on that idea by adding Al Coates as the Director of Player Personnel, Jeff Jackson as the assistant GM and Director of Hockey Operations in 2006 who focuses primarily on collective bargaining duties and contract negotiations, and an overhaul of the coaching staff other than Keith Acton, who has found a way to stay within the organization after stints under head coaches Paul Maurice and Pat Quinn.