There is nothing wrong with being hopeful.
There is no shame in being an optimist or leaving oneself open to the possibility of miracles.
Hope is why sports fans return season after season.
Hope is why we watch the games, even when we know the coach should be fired and the team has a three percent chance of making the postseason.
Hope is what fans do.
Hope is pretty much all Leaf fans have.
Over 2500 years ago (when the Leafs cup drought was but a few days old) the Stoic philosopher Epictetus summarized it best: When Thales was asked what is most universal, he answered, hope—for hope stays with those who have nothing else.
Hope may indeed be universal. It is altogether another thing for the men who run our favorite teams to predicate their plans or strategies on little more than hope or the remote likelihood of something positive happening.
And for far too long down at MLSE, it has seemed that hope was the cornerstone of this franchise: sign the high-risk UFA and hope for the best; trade for the goalie in decline and hope for a return to form.
Trade away draft pick after draft pick and hope to spackle over the lack of homegrown talent in the pipeline and ultimately, hope to make the post-season where anything can happen but seldom does...
With JFJ and Paul Maurice running the show, there didn't seem to be any discussion, consideration, or event recognition of the underlying principles that are required to transform a team from also-ran to elite status.
At MLSE, there didn't seem to be much transparency, understanding, or commitment to the cultural and institutional requirements of building a team that could eventually challenge for the Cup.
I'd like to think that changed this week with the ongoing house cleaning be carried out down at the ACC. Consider:
- John Ferguson Junior - arguably one of the worst GMs in Leafs history: Fired
- Paul Maurice - qualified for the post-season three years out of 11: Fired
- Randy Ladoceur - assistant coach and special teams failure: Fired
- Steve McKichan - Raycroft's goalie coach: Fired
- Dallas Eakins - assistant coach: Demoted
- Demoted Steve Penny - assistant GM: Demoted
And the reaction from the media to the return of accountability?
Given that no coverage of the Leafs can be filed without mentioning 1967, MLSE's greed and the need for qualified hockey men to run the team, one would think the media would react positively to the arrival of decisive leadership.
And you'd be wrong.
Of course, the media's reaction has nothing to do with currying favor and maintaining access.
It has nothing to do with trying to secure future book deals and inside sources.
It has nothing to do with the fact that for the first time in a long time the Leafs are controlling the message and limiting leaks.
Apparently, the media's current round of disdain for all things Leaf has everything to do with the quality of the men who were fired.
You know, the same fine men that have managed to make the Leafs one of just seven teams that hasn't qualified for the post-season since the lockout.
The same fine men that traded away the majority of their first round picks and coached the Leafs into 24th spot in the NHL with a 29th ranked penalty kill.
It is the same fine men that have steered the ship during the last four or five years of foundering.
The same fine men that have ensured that I will not be able to open a sports page nor turn on any TV sports coverage without being reminded of 1967, and my favorite team's failings for years and years to come.
I for one am happy that these allegedly fine men are no longer around to make a mess of my favorite team.
I am filled with hope that this marks the return of executive accountability and a turning point for the franchise.
But my real take-away is this: for every silver lining with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the media will find the black cloud.
All that's left to figure out is how Leaf fans are to blame for this one too.