The Leafs are not competitive. We all know that or are coming to grips with it. There will be no playoffs again this year despite any rhetoric to the contrary from Brian Burke.
We of Leafs nation have been led to believe that the team is in a rebuilding phase. That may be the true or that may just be a bunch of phooey. In either case, I have thrown together a list of 10 desperate measures for desperate times. These are things that I think may help the leafs turn things around.
They are not all together serious, so take them with a grain of salt in the manner they are intended - Which is light hearted.
Stop trading away first and second round draft picks. Just don’t do it. Imagine that trading them away as being the same as smoking a whole lot of crack. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. You know you shouldn't do it. You know its wrong. And if you keep it up, it’s going to kill you.
Just say no.
Get rid of excess dead weight. If that means trading certain players for a bag of pucks or some hockey tape, so be it.
If you can’t trade them, put them on waivers. If they find they way back to the team, just out right release them.
Skip the notion that you need to get something in kind for these plugs. Some players are like multiple cases of VD, you want to get rid of them all ASAP no matter the cost.
Note to Brian Burke: When drafting, only draft big players for a change of pace. I'm talking guys over 6’ 2” and 200 lbs. Forget the speedy little runts for a while and instead go for some lumbering behemoths with nasty dispositions.
If you feel like you might draft a little fellow, we'll get Don Cherry to flick your ear lobe like a junior high school bully until you come to your senses. Once you draft a couple of big players, you’ll get used to it. I promise. You know, you can’t teach size, right?
When it comes to picking centremen, when all else fails, choose the one who can win a few face-offs over the one who is weak defensively. There is a lot required of centre-men in the NHL, but winning a face-off more often than not is probably going to be important for your team.
Without the puck, your team can’t do a whole lot offensively.
You can’t showcase your speedy runts or your shooting-over-the-net ability.
Nor can you display the now infamous tape-to-tape-pass-to-the-other-team play when you are always on the defensive right from the get-go.
Only hire Canadians as coaches and as players. Forget the Americans and Europeans (no offense) for a few years. Focus on homegrown Canadian talent whether by trade, free agent signing or by the draft.
You do realize that lots of talented kids grow up just outside of the ACC who dream about one day playing for the Leafs, right? Well, they used to dream about it anyway, before this 43-year Stanley Cup drought. Nowadays they probably dream about playing for the Marlies as they are the only winning hockey team in Toronto.
So, Brian, pick Canadian or go home. Oh wait. I guess that means you have to go as well. Sorry dude. But you understand, its just business.
Instead of spending wads of dough on a high priced free agent or otherwise acquiring a fat contract, try spreading a little cash around the officials box. These guys get paid a whole lot less and would probably jump at the chance to earn a million bucks a year. Who knows, the results could turn out to be phenomenal.
Hire a witchdoctor, a shaman or paranormal psychologist and try and remove the curse that apparently shrouds Leaf players. For those of you who are unaware of this curse, it manifests when skilled players come to Toronto from other teams and turn into plugs.
Fortunately, the curse is curable as any worthless player leaving Toronto is bound to have a career year with another team. Perhaps it isn't really a curse after all, but more of a contagious affliction as it doesn't seem to affect everyone, just most.
Let the fans get a rally going to boycott a game or two. If it is even remotely successful, plan another one a month later. If that one is even more successful than the first, plan one once a month until such time as the Leafs put a winning team together.
The fans have all the power. More than the players, more than the owners, even more than the league. But they can only wield this power if they can be organized. That power is money.
All of the money that goes to the owners, the management, the player and the league and everywhere else comes from the fans. If the fans could be organized enough to boycott games and not purchase Leaf merchandise and so forth, they could hit ownership right where it counts – in the pocketbook. If that isn't incentive enough to put something competitive on the ice, then nothing ever will be.
That’s right, bench the lot of them. Sit them all down in the press box as healthy scratches. They might hoot and holler, but don’t worry. You can then call the entire Marlies team and let them play a home game or two in the ACC instead.
Really, the final scores of those games probably won’t be much worse than what we have been subject to recently. The down side of this, of course, is that the players may get upset. I wouldn't dwell on this too much. The guys on the Marlies are goods sports and will surely get over it soon enough.
Forfeit some games. That’s right, I said it, forfeit. According to rule 66, when a game is forfeit, the official score is 1-0. That is a whole lot better that some of the scores in recent games. The fans could look at it as an improvement. If the Leafs forfeit enough games, they will move up in the goals against category and eventually they can have a stat to be proud of for once.
Incidentally, there have been officially two forfeits in NHL history. The first came in 1933 in a game between Chicago and Boston. Chicago coach, Tommy Gorman was ejected for hollering at the referee and the Chicago players left the ice as a result. The referee placed the puck at center ice with the score tied 2-2. Cooney Weiland then took the puck and fired it into the empty Chicago goal and the game was forfeited to Boston.
The second forfeit came on St. Patrick's Day (March 17), 1955 in a game between Montreal and Boston. It occurred during an event known as the Richard Riot. The game was awarded to Boston when the Montreal fans rioted after Maurice Richards was suspended for the remainder of the season after an earlier attack on a linesman.
Oddly enough the Maple Leafs are continuing this trend that Boston should be awarded any and all forfeitures by forfeiting their 1st round draft picks to them on a yearly basis.