There are many among the Leaf faithful that seemingly want to see their beloved Leafs fail miserably in pursuit of one of those top two coveted picks in next year's draft.
Some of the fans are seemingly expecting this year's group to perhaps take on a mentality of defeat, even before the season has begun. "Don't worry boys no harm in sucking and hey it's okay we're rebuilding and look at the potential payoff (Tavares/Hedman)."
Look, I am not enraptured with how our Leafs have not won a cup since '67, and yes, I get laughed at for being a fan of this once glorious franchise. However, this notion of expecting a half-hearted effort from the players so they can do poorly in the standings is ridiculous.
The young men who now seem to be the bulk of the team did not make it all the way to the NHL by having defeatist attitudes, exactly the opposite, I would think. I am pretty sure they have all played on some form of Championship team at one point of their careers, and that taste of success is probably a major motivating factor to compete and has helped propel them this far.
Granted, the Leafs are not the most talented ensemble in the league, I would find it hard to believe that Ron Wilson would come in to develop a cult of failure. This is a young team; it's one of the youngest we have had for some time, and what these youngsters need is to continue to develop and be encouraged—better yet—demanded that they compete hard, night in and night out.
Wilson may actually be the ideal man for this team. He has helped other teams (Anaheim, Washington, even San Jose) turn their fortunes around. He has had experience with teams that had a great deal of youth and not a great deal of proven offensive firepower.
He has demonstrated a way with the youngsters, getting them to buy in to the commitment of team defense and responsibility.
As a fan, I don't expect this team to crush many opponents with their blazing firepower. (We don't really know if this even exists yet. Kulemin?) But, I do expect to see honest, 110 percent effort each and every night.
Will it be flashy? Probably not. Chances are we will see a system that looks to limit the opponents chances and good opportunities, while pouncing on the other teams' mistakes and looking to capitalize on those chances.
Breaking down the team into this system is very plausible, as a number of players have played these roles well in the past. And, this team is quicker than last year's.
After game 82 of this upcoming season, if the Leafs wind up in last place, but gave it a go each and every night, they will be able to respect themselves. They will have my respect as well. What the fans and this city definitely don't need this season is another group of guys who take losing in stride and without much bother.
That attitude is disgusting and any athlete, professional or not, should, as the Charlestown Chiefs goaltending legend Denis Lemieux once said, "Go to the box for two minutes and feel shame."
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