The very sad truth is it has been a very long time since a responsible, smart, cohesive group of hockey people have been running the Maple Leafs.
It has less to do with who owns the team than as it has to do with the owners not caring enough to put a good management team in place.
This is perhaps the ultimate insult to an unfaltering, loyal-to-a-fault group of fans—not the corporate suits who take their clients to the big show to impress and close deals. It is clear that fielding a team that continuously does not have a legitimate chance at the Cup does not have an adverse affect on ticket sales, be it the average fan or season-ticket holder.
MLSE and the Leafs also sell loads of merchandise. Heck, they grab an MLS franchise and in their second year you can barely find a ticket available! I have even heard that BMO field will get additional seating in the near future. Clearly, as corporate business people, they can do no wrong.
In the pre-cap days with their financial surpluses and resources, the Leafs should have been able to buy a winner—but alas, inept hockey management was a big factor then as it has been until (perhaps?) very recently.
The cap has changed the mentality of the way teams do business. Despite the ridiculous amounts still being spent on free agency, a team like the Leafs now has to shift gears. Even with all their profits, they can only spend as much as is allowed by the cap.
As a fan born the Year after the last time the Leafs hoisted the Cup, I see hope in this league-imposed new thought process here in Leafland. Other than the Finger giving—oops, I mean signing—I personally like what Fletcher has done.
Yes this should be a strange an interesting year for the Leafs and their fans—but I am betting it won't be boring.
Here's to new beginnings.