Toronto Maple Leafs’ interim GM Cliff Fletcher chose to handle the Mats Sundin issue passively.
The JFJ era came to an end on January 22 and since then Cliff Fletcher has been responsible for getting this team back on track, in other words, getting something in return for Toronto’s biggest asset, Mats Sundin. Interview after interview the GM held firm in waiting for Mats to waive his no-trade clause, and interview after interview the captain illustrated his intent on remaining a Leaf.
As a GM with an obvious agenda leaving a critical decision such as a trade (even a rental) lacks logic. Sundin’s stance has remained consistent for a number of years. Thus, waiting until two days before the trade deadline; asking Mats (along with the 4 other Leaf players with no-trade clauses) to waive them; and expecting their positions to change was foolish.
It was essentially Fletcher’s job to persuade Mats and company to waive their no-trade clauses, he in turn left it up to his players.
This method is just so opposite of how organizations in all sports operate. At a very young age star athletes are recruited by schools - the decision is the athlete’s, but it’s really up to the school to make their decision easy. They get drafted - a decision made by the organization and not the athlete.
My point is Cliff Fletcher failed to persuade Mats Sundin to allow a trade, and therefore let Mats do what his heart wanted, not what was best for the organization.
And leaving it until the last minute?
What happens if on the Sunday before the trade deadline Mats says ok?
Fletcher, leaving the ball in Mats’ court, hasn’t bothered with scouting to a high degree because he‘s being waiting for a yes from Mats. What if Vancouver offered something like Ryan Kessler, Cory Schneider, and Luc Bourdon on deadline day… has scouting been done on Schneider, or Bourdon?
Cliff Fletcher did not bring a team of scouts with him, and if he’s busy scouting his own team, it’s probable he’s neglecting to scout out of the conference.
I’ve stated before adamantly that the Leafs lack team chemistry, and scouting has a huge part in that.
If teams like Montreal, Boston, and Minnesota can manage to have respectable records why can’t Toronto?
The answer is derived when you look at the countless terrible decisions: trading draft picks and prospects for Wendel Clark, Owen Nolan, Andrew Raycroft, Yanic Perreault… the list goes on. The result is a ‘fix the leak approach’. In the offseason the Leafs bid on free agents which leads to over-paying, and a line-up which lacks chemistry. Take the Jason Blake signing for example, or Mark Bell, or Pavel Kubina… this list, you guessed it, also goes on.
Antropov, Bell, Blake, Kubina, Ponikarovsky, Stajan, Steen, Tucker, and Wellwood are all underperforming because of who they play with - and oh, none would classify as a legitimate top 6 winger to play with Sundin.
If you want something done, you have to be prepared, and as we all learn at a young age, you often have to go and get it yourself. The Cliff Fletcher experiment has been a failure so far. Let’s hope he picks a replacement who has better foresight.
Thanks for reading. TL.