Toronto Maple Leafs: Has the Magic Run Out?

Dave McCarthyCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2009

Heard On Episode 4.17 of A Foot in the Crease

Well well well. Perhaps the clock, as the Maple Leafs approach the midway point of their schedule, has indeed struck midnight.

All of a sudden, the magic that appeared to resonate through the first half of the schedule seems to be wearing a little thin, with more and more efforts that resemble the kind we became accustomed to last season starting to show up.

Case in point: In the much-anticipated return of Bryan McCabe to Toronto last Tuesday night, it was McCabe who was left with the last laugh, as the Maple Leafs sleepwalked through the game.

Yes there were 20 men on the ice wearing Maple Leaf jerseys, I just don’t think they were the same men that we’ve seen play with such passion, energy, and grit through the first half of the season.

Bottom line, the game was an embarrassment, as was the Sabres game on New Year’s Day, the Capitals game on December 28th, the Islanders game on December 26th, and the Stars game on December 23rd. All these were games where it looked like there was very little concern from those on the bench regarding the outcome of the game.

If Brian Burke had any doubts as to whether this Maple Leaf team was a playoff contender, he did not need to be a rocket scientist to decode the message his team left for him with their effort against the Panthers.

Trade possibilities should now be explored for any Maple Leaf or Marlie, save for Luke Schenn, that another general manager shows interest in. That includes players like Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Nik Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Vesa Toskala.

Hard work and determination can only last so long before the crust of the matter is revealed, and that is that the Maple Leafs just are not a good enough team. The more young players, prospects, and draft picks that Brian Burke can stockpile from here on in will only help to improve the team quicker. But hey, all that is just rigmarole.