If you don't like lengthy posts, stop reading now. Unless of course, you believed the Leafs would be outstanding this year. In that case, I humbly dedicate the following to you:
The putrid and hate that gets splashed across the hockey forums makes one believe that the Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off of years of cup contention, and have a divine right to be amongst the NHL's best.
News flash - not the case.
When Brian Burke came into the job over a year ago, nobody in their right mind should have expected him to come here and build this team into a contender within a single calendar year, or season. The fact of the matter is that the previous management regimes, and in particular his predecessor, did such a poor job at the helm that there was no way for Burke, an obvious winner and clearly a sensible intelligent guy, was going to twist this thing around in such a short time span.
From a fan's perspective, the common sense approach should have been mediocrity; some good moments from this team, and some equally horrible moments from this team. In that regard, this team is delivering right on cue. They can beat the cup champions, and beat Washington and Ovechkin twice in a row, but then in the same breath lose to the last placed team in the league, and to a team that hadn't won a game in 3 weeks.
Optimism and hope often get clouded and confused with each other in this town. Was there hope for the playoffs this year? Absolutely there was; on paper, this is a better team than last year. With that being said there is still a chance for this team, albeit a VERY UNLIKELY one, that the playoffs may yet be attainable.
This team isn't as horrible as the 0-7-1 start indicated. Nor was the standard or bench mark established when they had their hot run in October/November, where they won 7 of 10.
If indeed however, you were sucked into believing that this team had every chance of competing this season, then I bring you to one simple viewing point: the roster:
All one needs to do is have one quick glance at the roster, and then ask "who will be on this roster in 3, 4, 5 years down the road?".
The almost certainly category contains just two players: Phil Kessel and Nazim Kadri. Underneath those two, there are A LOT of players that have "maybe" next to their name: Luke Schenn, Matt Stajan, Jonas Gustavsson, Nikolai Kulemin, Grabovski, Kaberle, etc., you get the idea.
The mere realization that this team is not the team that will resemble anything like the team next season, or in seasons further down the future, should make one realize that this season indeed, is more about transition rather than making that knee jerk reaction and having lofty beliefs.
This team will get better; there's no doubt in my mind about that. However, those of you expecting for it to happen at the snap of your fingers, are far off the mark. We've waited since 67 for any success of note, so what's a few more years of patience?
Sorry for the length - cheers for reading.