Now that we - as in players, coaches, executives, owners and fans - have all turned this season's corner and are heading down the final stretch toward the playoffs, mere months away, I have to wonder how long Coach Wilson will remain with the team. He's made some mistakes and, frankly, I haven't seen any flashes of brilliance. And if I haven't seen any, I have to wonder whether the players and the executives feel the same way.
On a larger level, surely Burke is tapdancing in the board room, explaining how his wondrous pre-season moves will pay off for the franchise. Typically, in business, if you reach specific milestones you are then granted additional funds to stay the course and maintain the objectives of the defined strategy. I, for one, would love to hear that strategy. We now know the team is not being built by the draft.
I suppose the team's confident owners will allow the GM to use the upcoming Olympics as an excuse to not make any moves in the short-term, even though the event will resemble baseball's vaunted annual mid-winter meetings in Florida. Had our Leafs clobbered the Oilers, I'm certain change for change sake would have made sense for both teams.
In addition to Lacavalier, one of the other players I thought might have looked good in the Blue & White was Edmonton's Penner, when he was struggling. You will all recall how I lamented Burke's rather quick and feisty comments in the wake of Heatley's public demand for a trade, as opposed to simply trading for the rather prolific scoring machine.
Instead, we have Kessel - a work in progress. At least players back in the day, regardless of their prowess around the net, had some personality on which we fans could hang our hats, whether in anticipation of a big hit from a wee man, or simply some flambouyancy... Tiger riding his stick after a stunning goal. The team today lacks a leader. It's obvious this is a huge problem on and off the ice.
It seems to me the individual players are playing like individuals. Have you noticed Kessel won't pass to Blake and vice versa? I thought Stalberg had some really decent potential - until his peculiar pass to Komiserek the other night - but with Grabbo and Primeau going down, he will continue to have an opportunity to prove his value, as opposed to sitting in the press box.
To shake things up a little, maybe White should be again moved up to the forward line, seeing as both Bozak and Hanson have been out lately, and Frogren brought back on the blue line. My other suggestions to Leafs management would include sending down Orr and bringing up Rosehill - sorry to sound like a broken record, but moves have to be made.
On the trade side of things, there's really not much left on the table of value, except Kaberle - though this is very much in doubt these days, in the wake of d-men left off Canada's Olympic roster. However, Kulemin has really improved his overall defensively (at the expense of his goal scoring prowess) and actually I like the recent play of Exelby, despite other writers' exhortations, so I think those two, as well as Hagman and Stempniak can be deposed in a bundle.
In the wake of the first half of the season, I also have to wonder whether Wilson was given the go-ahead to simply throw in the towel and make the remaining stakeholders not care at all who leaves, young or old, good or bad, to make room for Kadri and D'Amigo next year. This season has been frustrating - and it has not all been the fault of poor goaltending.
At this point my two index fingers are pointing toward Burke and Wilson. I really don't know if they care. I don't see any emotion, just the same typical excuses, and I not hearing any plans, not to mention that aforementioned decisive strategy. You know, the old "we're building for the future" talk that we are so accustomed to.
At least Harold Ballard wouldn't be afraid to simply pull the trigger. Like my mum used to say: Do right, do wrong; just do something. It's time for Burke to make me proud, and not use the US Olympic pressure as some kind of excuse. Well, he can't because even he admits no one will be betting a red cent on his team in Vancouver next month.
In my opinion, and I'll say it again, it's time for a blockbuster trade. It's time to shake things up. It's certainly time too for Wilson to stand up and accept some of the responsibility, and start to motivate the players, seeing as they can't motivate themselves, both on and off the ice.
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