Having literally begged and pleaded since before the pre-season for the Maple Leafs to run with theirÂ youth and play any semblance of NHL ready prospects and players available to them, is this horrific start actually bad enough and embarassing enough to force Mr Burke to finally and mercifully bring on the youth movement this team has so desparately required for the last decade?
I still say its doubtful to happen before the passing of the trade deadline.Â When the evidence is so damning, that even the most faithful Leaf believer understands the team has zero chance of competing for a playoff spot, and its still only November, somehow Mr Burke continues to parade out the same product.Â
Leaf fans, at best,Â can expect a little “tweak” to the roster, a symbolic gesture they will parade out in an attempt to convince us they are trying to do something.Â Likely to be a sacrifice of a young player “promoted” with no real opportunity, forced to play 3rd line minutes with 4th line players who will stifle the poor kids skill and talent and set his development and confidence back another quarter season.
When “alarmists” like myself pointed out (as early as before the pre-season) that the moves the Leafs were making looked A LOT like MLSE of old where the youth movement was being abandoned in favour of veterans and a chance at the 8th seed in the playoff race, somehow hope of a brighter future prevailed.Â When the obviousness of the mistakes became apparent and the on ice product had nowhere near the required elements of speed, skill and creativity to compete in the NHL, again, the faith continued to stay strong and anyone who dared to speak honestly about the situation was ridiculed and mocked by the Leaf faithful.
I believe that when I had the odacity to blog about such things earlier in the season, there were pages ofÂ comments outlining how absolutely wrong I was, how foolish I was, etc..Â Though, I must admit, from all of the colorful verbal assaults I absorbed, my favourite was being told that my own life was obviously miserable and therefore I lacked the ability to be positive and it is of no surprise, that with people like myself running around, that prozakÂ stock is such a strong investment.Â
Having now dispensed with the inevitable “I told you so’s”..Â and having officially and gracefully accepted all of your heart felt apologies, lets once again, move on to the solution to this problem.
It is NOT TOO LATE for this Leafs team.Â Even still, this season can be turned around.Â We still can be reading about the “shocking” turn around in the Leafs fortunes and “do they actually have a shot at the playoffs” stories can still surface later on this season.Â Even with all of the mistakes that have been made, this season can still be salvaged.Â
As much as Mr Burke completely mishandled the situation, wasted and disgarded inherented talent for zero return, failed to move veterans with value and insisted on maintaining valueless veterans with expectations of garnering deadline day returns – he also, and simultaneously demonstrated his hockey executive pedigree in accummulating some legitimate top shelf, young talent, that without exception, is close to or already is, NHL ready.Â Inheriting and suprisingly deciding to not discardÂ Stalberg and Gunnarrson (2 more late round Gems unearthed by JFJ), as well as Tlusty, signing Hanson and Bozak, pursuing and landing Gustavsson, acquiring Kessel (trade not beÂ be debated here as whats done is done), drafting Kadri,Â and having the where with all to maintain players like Kulemin, SchennÂ and Grabovski – the required elements for a fast, dynamic, competitive team are all in place..Â
For the Love of everything Holy, and for the 1000th time, I publicly and shamelessly Mr Burke, am BEGGING you.Â Please play the youth – your loyal customers deserve it.
I will beÂ taking in theÂ game on Monday along with some fellow MLHS bloggers to watch Mr Tavares live alongÂ with a young up and coming Isles team play.Â It is somewhat sad to know that even the lowly Isles figured out how to rebuild their franchise before the leafs did.Â
For what its worth, my Leafs lineup would look like this:
- Mitchell-Hanson-Hagman or Hamilton
Will it actually happen?Â probably not..Â I assure you though, when the Leafs lineup looks “something” similar to that above, they will start winning.Â Of course, it will probably be after the trade deadline, Burke will have a handful of 2nd-5th round picks to show for it, the season will be clearly lost and the only thing the team will be playing for is to keep Taylor Hall from wearing Bruins gold…