James Reimer finds the puck in the back of the net.
The supporters of Toronto Maple Leafs are quite sensitive in some hockey topics.
For example, Leafs fans wouldn't want to talk about the Leafs goaltending issue. Also, when the word "playoffs" is brought up, it serves as a a silencer in a casual chat about hockey.
In order to open up the black box, here are the Top 10 List of Hidden Fears inside the Leafs Nation. Caution: the content may contain emotional substance. Viewer's discretion is advised.
February 2008 was one of the darkest times in Toronto. Captain Mats Sundin was offered by the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade with playoff contending teams—one of which was the Pittsburgh Penguins. That was the deal that was never meant to be.
In several reports, the Penguins offered the Maple Leafs C Jordan Staal, Angelo Esposito, and draft picks for Mats Sundin as a rental player. However, Mats Sundin felt so strongly about Toronto that he refused to waive his no-trade clause. As a result, he remained a Leaf till the very end of the season and the Leafs organization lost Sundin's unrestricted free agency for nothing.
Sundin pondered and waited to see if he had the desire to play hockey for yet another season at age 37. By December, Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis has convinced him to officially sign Sundin to a pro-rated 1-year contract worth over $8 million.
Who knows where the Leafs would be today if Sundin was traded for major assets in 2008.
Luke Schenn may not have been the 5th best player at the 2008 NHL Draft after all.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, led by interim GM Cliff Fletcher, decided to trade up with their 7th overall, a second round pick, and a third round pick for the 5th overall pick of the Islanders.
It turns out that Luke Schenn was rumoured in many trade talks in Toronto because he struggled to keep up to the competition at the NHL level. Once thought as the all-round defenseman for the Leafs, he turned into a marginal top-six defenseman on the Leafs averaging 16:02 a game, which makes him average less minutes than Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Jake Gardiner, John-Michael Liles, Mike Komisarek and Cody Franson. That leaves Schenn with the least ice-time per game on the Leafs blue line.
As it turns out, Komisarek now struggles to stay in the lineup as a Toronto Maple Leaf, and Milan Lucic isn't the only person taking liberties at treating him rough.
Signed in July 2009 to a five-year deal worth $4.5 million per season, Komisarek is a frequent target for criticism and blame for the Leafs' regular season woes.
Despite of what the Leafs coaches and management staff is trying to sell to the Toronto hockey fans, Colby Armstrong is not a 20-goal scorer, and he is not worth the $3.0 million salary he was getting from the Leafs each year.
The Leafs have paid him $230,000 per point ($6.0 million for 26 points in 79 games played) in the two past seasons on the team. Although hockey players are not played by a game-to-game basis, and rather by the days in the regular season, the Leafs are getting the short end of the stick.
Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel were able to share a laugh together in the All-Star Game, yet the Leafs nation may not be so pleased with the way Brian Burke grossly overpaid to acquire smallish winger Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins.
A season after Phil Kessel left Boston, Tyler Seguin joined the Bruins with the 2nd overall pick in 2010-11 season, playing as an 18-year-old rookie. He surprised many people with outstanding playoff performances against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and eventually winning his first Stanley Cup ring.
In 2011, Dougie Hamilton went 9th overall to the Bruins, and he is projected to be a very strong defenseman for Boston for many years to come. In the second round, the Bruins used the 2nd round pick from the Leafs to select quality two-way forward, Jared Knight.
In the 2011-12 season, the Leafs goaltending was supposed to be a bright spot on the team.
Having seen James Reimer up close and personal for a better part of the regular season a year ago, the Leafs pegged Reimer as the starting goalie this season. However, Reimer did not perform well, posting a save percentage of .900, and he did not catch any breaks with injuries either. The Montreal Canadiens were able to bump into Reimer in his crease, and caused him to miss considerable amount of time due to a neck/concussion injury. Jonas Gustavsson came in to relieve Reimer, and played well for a few games.
After January and February hit, suddenly neither goalie was able to stop a beach ball. Ben Scrivens came in from the Marlies and couldn't do any better.
Goals were going into the Leafs net fast and furious. Maybe it is time for a veteran goaltender to step in and take the reigns of starter next season.
Ron Wilson appears to be confused and in disagreement.
The Toronto Maple Leafs 36th head coach in franchise history was fired by the team on March 2, 2012.
Ron Wilson established his best years in coaching with the San Jose Sharks. When the Sharks switched to Todd McLellan as their new bench boss, Cliff Fletcher went out and hired Ron Wilson to become the Leafs new coach.
Very recently in December, GM Brian Burke liked Wilson enough to extend him to a 1-year contract extension with the team. That usually solidifies the coach's future with a team for at least until the very end of the season.
You all know that Randy Carlyle finished the season as the head coach. This is another move that Brian Burke was forced to pull due to performance failure.
There were very good reasons why Darcy Regier, with all the money in his pocket, allowed center Tim Connolly to go as a free agent to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The biggest reason is that Connolly is one of the most injury prone players in the NHL and that the team had to find a replacement within the roster anyway, so they wanted to find a full-time replacement instead of a part-time, or most-of-the-time replacement.
As a Toronto player, Connolly hasn't done much better than teammate Colby Armstrong. In 70 games last season, Connolly only scored 36 points. That is one point above 0.5 point per game. Simply not good enough for a player paid $4.75 million to be a No.1 or No.2 C.
Fans in Toronto have been so graceful and patient on the most profitable franchise in the NHL, according to Forbes magazine.
Yet the wealthiest hockey club has given nothing back after the 2004-05 collective bargaining dispute. In Genesis, Egypt suffered a seven-year drought where no crops would grow, and they had to save up their food supplies seven years beforehand.
How much longer does Leafs Nation need to wait?
Perhaps a better question to ask is whether or not the Leafs fans have lowered the expectations, and think that making the playoffs is not the primary goal to any start of the season. This isn't hockey, folks.
The truth is that the Leafs owe the fans a ton, and they must pay them back with a playoff berth in 2013, 2014, and so on. The fans should not be asked to wait any longer, and to be honest, even a rebuilding process does not need to last seven seasons.
Are you happy with the Leafs management staff with the job they have accomplished in these seven years of drought?
The story with the Leafs really wasn't about being able to make it to the playoffs in the first place. However, the team has also struggled for 45 years to win their first Stanley Cup since the year 1967.
It is impossible to tell how many missed opportunities were within those 45 years, but an entire generation of hockey players were born in 1967 and now retired from playing in the NHL. That is the amount of time that has been wasted between the two trophies.
Many believe the Stanley Cup is the toughest professional championship trophy to win, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have a ton of hard work to do to get back in the hunt for the shiny silver mug.