“Inches Make a Champion”: The Leafs Against the Champions of Old

Ben DoverContributor IJanuary 24, 2009

"He who is small in faith, will never be great at anything but failure." - proverb

Funny how contradictory this quote applies to Toronto Maple Leaf fans. I would think only Boston Red Sox fans would be the only club that would come close to such zealousness for a championship. Both teams have an interminable hope for success. Fortunately for Boston, this came in 2004 and again in 2007. Toronto is still dreaming.

Toronto is currently "rebuilding" itself for greatness. Jesus Christ in the mould of Brian Burke, has been given the reins to shape Toronto into a Stanley Cup contender, but how far does Burke need to go to get Toronto to the Stanley Cup finals?

A review of NHL.com for past statistics you can objectively point out the distance Toronto needs to come. How this is achieved is for Brian Burke to discover, however, you can contrast the numbers of previous champions against the Maple Leafs or years gone by.

The three previous Stanley Cup champions have been Detroit, Anaheim, and Carolina. During the regular season, these three teams have averaged the following:

Goals: 264 - Assists: 459 - Team Points: 723 - Power Play Goals: 88 - Game Winning Goals: 45 - Shots on Goal: 2651 - Shots on Goal Percentage: 0.099

Goaltending: Wins 59 - EGA: 4 - Goals Against: 207 - GA Average: 2.5 - Save Percentage: 0.906 - Shut Outs: 5

Toronto has tabled the following average after three seasons.

Goals: 245 - Assists: 430 - Points: 675 - Power Play Goals: 79 - Game Winning Goals: 35 - Shots on Goal:2515 - Shots on Goal Percentage: 0.098

Goaltending: Wins: 39 - EGA:7 - Goals Against: 252 - GA Average: 3.05 - Save Percentage: 0.89 - Shut Outs: 3

So, how much does Toronto need to improve to be Stanley Cup material? You will find, not an impossible task

Goals: 7.07 percent - Assists: 6.3 percent - Team Points: 6.5 percent - Power Play Goals: 9.8 percent - Game Winning Goals: 21 percent - Shots on Goal: 5.14 percent - Shots on Goal Percentage: 1.67 percent

Goal Tending: Wins: 24 percent - EGA: 42 percent - Goals Against: 21 percent - GA Averages: 21 percent - Save Percentage: 1.3 percent

Who Brian Burke plans on acquiring to get improvements is only known to him. The great debate in Toronto Hockey is what one or two great players could potentially get these numbers to rise and more importantly, what players can be released to combat them.

What player/s can get those extra 19 goals per season, save those 45 realised goals against, gather those extra eight power play goals, raise the shot percentage up just 0.001 percent.

These numbers are so small, yet are the difference between first and tenth place.

Until Mr. Burke makes his first plays, Toronto keeps walking the base of the mountain, waiting for the signal to start climbing.