While watching the Penguins v. Flyers game last night, I became increasingly bitter about the Leafs' situation. I couldn’t see any scenario in which the Leafs would be able to compete with Pittsburgh or Philadelphia over the next few years. I don’t like their chances against Montreal or the Rangers either. The Capitals figure to be much improved next season and a healthy Patrice Bergeron will give the Bruins more punch as well. Jersey is on the decline but they play a sufficiently effective system that they should be playoff regulars for the next couple of seasons.
So where does that leave us in a best case scenario situation?
Fighting for the MLSE Holy Grail, the 8th and final playoff spot.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) CEO Richard Peddie has announced that a new GM will be in place by September. The new GM will hire the new coach. Last year the Leafs’ training camp started on September 13th and their first regular season game was October 3rd. It is expected that the 2008-09 season will start with similar start dates.
Before getting to training camp here’s what I see happening in Leafland this summer: The next "logical" step is for acting GM Cliff Fletcher to hire a coach since he’s acting in "full GM capacity" with the blessing of the Board, Mr. Peddie, Carlton the Bear, Wendel Clark and the ghost of Conn Smythe.
I see this happening in late June once Joel Quenneville, Ron Wilson, Craig Hartsburg and the other top names already have jobs elsewhere. At this point, with the Leafs being the Leafs, they will undoubtedly turn to Pat Burns, if he is still available, because they know him and he had success in with the team in the early ‘90s.
Later in the summer, probably in August, Mr. Peddie will announce that he’s hired a new GM and that Fletcher is moving upstairs to be Director of Hockey Operations and/or Special Consultant to the President (i.e. Mr. Peddie). The new GM will fire the recently hired coach (Burns) who will subsequently get a lucrative payout because he will have negotiated excellent severance terms when he was hired because of the uncertainty within the organization. The Leafs will then announce that they are raising ticket prices.
Sorry Leafs Nation.
The saddest part about this tale is that it isn’t that far fetched and we haven’t even begun to touch on unnamed Board members (cough, Larry Tanenbaum, cough) pushing for Tie Domi to be part of the new management team. Maybe they could get Tie to be the GM, Don Cherry could coach, Walter Gretzky could be consigliere and Doug Gilmour could continue to be groomed for whatever it is that he is being groomed for?
Scary thought of the day: Who is actually grooming Killer? (shudder)
Now, to be fair, the news from ACC towers isn’t all bad. On the good news front, the Marlies came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Syracuse Crunch. This is great news for the Leafs as Justin Pogge will really be benefiting from this playoff experience. Perhaps next year he can replicate Carey Price’s meteoric rise in Montreal.
What do you mean he’s not playing? Forgive me as I beat my head on the desk for a moment.