It's Back To The Drawing Board For Maple Leafs on The Way To The Cup

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2009

TORONTO - SEPTEMBER 22:  Francois Beauchemin #22 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during a pre-season  NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on September 22, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada .  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Back in the day, Leafs fans could not lament the choices made by the vaunted (venerable) GMs.  The team laced up the skates and fought the battles on the ice they needed to, in the corners, along the boards and in front of the net.  In the wake of winning the Cup, and expansion, fans have waited patiently for the alchemists at the top to bring together the necessary ingredients and for the formula to do its magic.

Let's take a look not at the examples set by Wendel or Doug, or those before or after who have earnestly tried, but let's for a moment take a look at Dan Daoust.  A player Toronto snagged from Montreal.  The pundits said he was too small to play in the NHL.  Keep in mind this was an era of clutching and grabbing.  Today, the rules have been changed to make room for small (and big) and gifted players.

Daoust, managed to survive 8 seasons with the Leafs, and to say he was a fan favourite would be an understatement.  He was "small" but played with heart, with grit and with a determination that only Brian Burke can wish for right now from his new acquisitions.  It's cliche to note that when the Leafs played the Caps the team left their truculence on the bus or they checked it at customs and left it behind.

There was no ferocity last night displayed from the boys in blue, and certainly not to be found on the blue line.  Aggressive play was to be a hallmark of the Leafs team this season.  Burke said so.  Fans have been led to believe the Leafs would be filled with a tenacity, bordering on cruelty, never before witnessed in Toronto.  Dan Daoust on his worst night showed more truculence than Francois Beauchemin has.

Beacuchemin was and is supposed to be a leader.  He is supposed to lead by example, and set the tone, and behind closed doors he was assigned an "A" for his efforts and expertise, and experience.  The Leafs and Beauchemin fell short in their effort against the Caps, and lost an incredibly disappointing game.

There were bright spots against the Caps, however.  So, here's the good, the bad and the ugly.  The good is obvious: if Vesa Toskala had not let in three goals the Leafs would have won the game.  The bad?  Coach Wilson's decision to start Toskala.  But the ugly is reserved for Beauchemin.  Garnet Exelby is somewhat excused from his wanderings, his hit hunts, but Beauchemin cannot be excused.

The changes simply required are (and were made) to provide fans a team that plays with heart night after night, which in hockey means shift after shift, to show some emotion, some desire to score and win, to win shifts, periods, games and The Cup. 

Okay, perhaps Wilson still hasn't had enough time to evaluate all the new players on the bench, while adequately balancing the desire of the eager youngsters, so admittedly the towel won't be thrown in any time soon to save Toskala from his ultimate demotion and eventual trade.

It's been a slow start but Toronto won the third period... by scoring three goals and not letting any in.  Up front, Rickard Wallin is looking good early, as is John Mitchell, and Mikhail Grabovski is showing some flash.  Jamal Mayers is not, frankly, and neither is the defense core, with the exception of hardened vets Luke Schenn and Ian White. 

Colton Orr had better step up to the plate soon.  After all, if the Team is admittedly expected to lose, as Dan Daoust's teams were too, then at least make it an entertaining loss for the fans during this rebuilding phase and, for those players who expect to sit on the bench for most of the game, like Orr, then at least get the adrenals pumping and show the fans (who fill MLSE coffers and actually pay the players for the privilege of wearing the Leafs jersey) what the word truculence means.

Know thyself.  Lead by example.  Show some excitement, some passion.  Please.  Get the job done: in the corners, along the boards and in front of the net... just like Dan Daoust did, shift after shift and night after night.