I think most Leaf fans are now at the point where they can let go of this season, if they hadn’t already done so that is. We knew at the beginning of the year the Leafs were not going to be cup contenders, but as fans we held on to any hope and cheered for the team as we still, moronically, wanted wins.
Well here we are now! It's the middle of February and the Leafs sit with 52 points (11th in the East) which is one point less than the 14th and 15thplaced St.Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference.
If the season ended today, the Leafs would be sitting with the fifth overall pick (for the sake of simplifying this article let us pretend the Draft Lottery doesn’t exist, which it shouldn’t. I know a certain team, Pittsburgh, ended up with two first overall and two second overall picks in four years, but if a team is so bad that after that many bad years with such good picks they still suck, maybe they need more picks...but that’s just me).
Fitfh overall pick isn’t that bad of a place, however the season doesn’t end today and knowing the Leafs, it’s right about time for them to start playing well and winning games, which will give them a nice 11th overall, or so.
So as you can see the Leafs can very easily move up a few places, if they were to lose their next game and if Ottawa and Tampa were to win their next two. The Leafs would then move up two slots in the draft and would be trailing only the Thrashers and Islanders. However, I’m not good with math or stats so i won’t go into the numbers too much here.
Any fan that starts a season, in October or even September, with the idea that his team needs to lose, is not a true fan, nor is he/she any kind of fan for that matter. I have held on to hope for awhile now, but I recognize when it’s time to throw in the towel and call it quits.
Before we get too far ahead of the few teams behind us and have not enough time to give up and have it actually make a difference, the Leafs have to do something now.
If things in the west keep panning out the way they have been so far we won’t have to worry about them interfering with the Leafs' plan of action in the late stages of the season. Although, it is sad that you can be 11th in the east and still be behind all the teams in the west.
Brian Burke and Ron Wilson will hopefully go into the Leafs' locker room and say, “Hey! You know, I think we are all aware of where we stand this season; we should all be able to realize that we don’t have to go out and give it 100 percent every night anymore. Let’s just try and lay low for the rest of the season”. Play well, but not well enough to win, the Leafs need a good draft pick to help them in the long run, not solid play right now for a short term high.
Go for someone that will make a difference two or three years down the road. They have Luke Schenn now, but add some offense to the team and pick up John Tavares or Luke Schenn’s brother Braydon. Or build up the blue-line even more and add Victor Hedman to the line-up. These moves will bring strength and stability to the Leafs future.
So, to close, the Leafs need to realize where they are and what their situation is. They need to do what almost all fans have realized the Leafs needs to be done. They need to do the best thing for the team in the long run and give up the fact that this year is not going to happen. I hope all fans and the Leafs' management know and accept that.