After last night's unexuberant performance against the Rangers, there's certainly no time like the present to pull the white rabbit from the hat. No looking back now, what has been done is done and now we must look forward, on the way to The Cup. The players must dig deep each shift and focus on what matters most: my sanity.
Looking into his crystal ball today surely GM Brian Burke is seeing big and nasty defensemen lovingly splay opposing forwards against the boards, a truly amazing goalie that is flipping and flopping, basically standing on his head, making saves look easy, and of course snipers picking off upper corners and sending pucks through the back of nets.
While he dreams, as we do, for that fateful day in history, let's just hope he's still seeing our Maple Leafs players holding The Cup up high. If so, it'll be led by Viktor Stahlberg. I'm sold.
In the meantime, I'd really like to see some appearance of war-like anger among the players and a genuine fervour that is palpable, of an intensity that permeates not only the bench but throughout the arena, and yet given an inability to find and provide that secret elixir, then I'll settle (once again) for a few strategically placed pyramids to deliver the chemistry required.
While we patiently wait for the illustrious Phil Kessel, I've seen blips of hope against these past few teams recently from forwards John Mitchell, Niklas Hagman and Alexei Ponikarovsky. Likewise, however, Colton Orr and Rickard Wallin have failed to impress me up front, though I admit they're not making mistakes.
In terms of vertical movement, I'd swap struggling youngsters like Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin for some emerging talent on the farm, whether Joel Champagne, Robert Slaney or Jamie Devane, in addition to Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson. I'm certain there are administrative headaches to consider, from waiver restrictions to the cap Burke faces, though I assume that's why he gets paid the big bucks.
I'm waiting for a blockbuster trade from Burke. He obviously believes Coach Wilson walks iron, and blame and responsibility for this incredible start to the season rests squarely on the players' shoulders.
This week, yes an entire week, the team, coaches, staff and management, in addition to us fans who pay the bills, will contemplate the Canucks, the next opponent. Presumably Burke will be personally ramping up his sermons on a daily basis, just so each player is completely sure the sacrifices Burke & Co have made to build the Leafs into such a powerhouse these days.
At the outset, I thought if the team lost, at least those games would be entertaining, you know as promised, like Maple Leafs Sports And Entertainment.
Even the Canucks are without Mats Sundin, so neither team really has an excuse. The Canucks field as well a slate of youngsters: the Sedins and Ryan Kessler, for example, and clobbered the Minnesota Wild last night, who were capable of scoring solely off Kyle Wellwood's skate. But the Leafs are bigger and tougher this year, and more belligerent and truculent too. It's hard to imagine what can possibly go wrong.
Well I suppose, with our luck, Canucks management, in a move to inspire fear, will start Andrew Raycroft.
It'd be interesting to be a fly on the wall, and see who among the Leafs players has what it takes during this slump to grab the team by the short and curlies and offer the motivation needed, as opposed to those who will be demanding a trade. As we in business know and appreciate, it's always darkest before the sun rises.
The team has hit rock bottom, and the fall from the top is the hardest. As the Maple Leafs rise from the basement and pass by teams and their fans laughing right now, we fans will remember the age-old adage: he who laughs first, never laughs last, or something like that. We all have a week to think about it.