Jason Blake: A Leaf for Life

Daniel SewellContributor IDecember 1, 2008

It is no surprise that with the arrival of Brian Burke as the Toronto Maple Leafs' new General Manager there have been many cries from the fans for the departure of Jason Blake, the Leafs' new "scapegoat." Blake replaces the oft-befouled Bryan McCabe in this role.

It is, of course, a reasonable desire for the fans to want to see one of the less "team-oriented" players, and a two-year underachiever, gone from the team. Jason Blake, although seemingly competitive, lacks the heart and veracity to continue on the Maple Leafs as we had hoped.

Another 40-goal campaign is incredibly unlikely as Jason Blake enters his 10th NHL season with a dismal three goals and 10 points in 19 games.

But it is, however, idiotic to assume that another team would take on the baggage of Jason Blake, who is slated to make $4.5 million this season with an annual cap hit of $4 million until the end the 2011/'12 season. 

Blake is lacking not only a "team-first" attitude, but he also struggles offensively and defensively. Despite an exuberance of speed and a tenacious style of play that has become apparent since it was coerced out by Coach Ron Wilson, Blake does not have the on-ice vision that will make him a gifted scorer in this league.

In fact, Blake is a solid forward, but his mindset—thinking himself a goalscorer—is what will lead, inevitably, to him not positively impacting this team.

Yes, it is true that, for the past five games, Jason Blake has been relatively solid, putting up one goal and four points in five games. There remains a doubt his attitude will remain the same.

Blake believes he can score, although there has been plenty of proof showing otherwise. Of course, if every goalie had a hole in their chest, Blake surely would lead the league in goals. If Blake wants to remain as a second or even first-line player, he has to start playing completely selflessly.

He needs to continue to pass before shooting, while using his excellent speed to forecheck. Not only that, the pesky and aggressive Blake we used to see in New York needs to emerge once more.

Even if Blake changes his attitude, it remains nearly impossible for Blake to leave Toronto. His contract is a long burden, and as he ages, he will undoubtedly begin to regress, as he has already. At the age of 35, expecting 40 or even 30 goals from a player who has only managed the feat once is far too optimistic.

So, Leafs fans, Blake won't be traded. He would be a valuable asset to others, but considering his hefty salary, he is more of a burden than anything else.

Unless we committed to exchange for two equally underachieving players—and no, Afinogenov does not count, since he has a younger and far more skilled player—with two equally poor contracts, which would hardly benefit us in the slightest, we will be stuck with Jason Blake until 2012, when the aging winger turns a worrying 39.