Cliff Fletcher Lives Up to His Promise to Change Maple Leafs

Steve TerryAnalyst IJuly 10, 2008

Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, and possibly Bryan McCabe gone?

Yes! We thought we would never see the day when our beloved boys in blue would actually leave the Toronto Maple Leafs. Those boys we could always count on...they are gone!

Yet, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The Leafs have always gone the route of signing free agent players nearing the end of their career. This has not been successful for the club in the last five years.

The days when you could find a few good players and sign them all in one season are gone. The Maple Leafs finally figured it out with Cliff Fletcher at the helm of it all. Fletcher has actually changed the team!

Instead of keeping the same players and just missing the playoffs, he cut off the dead limbs and is trying to rebuild a new team to flourish with new Leafs. It's amazing that he figured out that if he signed the same players back for next season, he probably would have the same results as last year. Smart guy!

He traded up in the draft to get a quality defenseman that the Leafs desperately need at their core. Luke Schenn may not turn the team around in one year, but in the long run he may just do it.

Look at Chris Pronger and how he turned the Ducks around. It looks as though Cliff Fletcher is starting to build the same team as the Ducks in their winning year. Does this mean a possible signing of Brian Burke next year? Looks that way.

If you think about it, you have a stay at home defenseman in Luke Schenn (like Chris Pronger), a puck moving defenseman in Anton Stralman (like Scott Niedermayer), and a goalie that can hold a lead in the clutch in Vesa Toskala (well, kinda like Jean-Sébastien Giguère). This team is being made for Brian Burke.

There is hope for the Leafs in the long term. There just might be a three or four year wait.