Toronto Maple Leafs: The League Joke?

Sean PaddisonCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2008

I was watching a late night west coast game the other day. During the game one of the announcers called the atmosphere in Toronto a nuthouse. The two announcers seemed to have a good laugh about it.

Not that laughing at the Leafs is anything new, but open mockery on other networks covering other teams, well that is something even worse than before.

I have to say in the Leafs' defense, they ARE in the first year of what has been forecast as a three-year rebuilding cycle.

I guess the other teams like to pick on the Leafs because they are a very easy target.

But let us look if there is any underlying merit in them making fun of the Leafs right now.

First, I'll outline the fact that the Leafs are currently still suffering the fiscal impact of buying out Brian McDuh, Raycrap, and Mother-Tucker (I do like Darcy's style though).

Second, I'd like to highlight Sundin's late season self-serving drive for the playoffs with his Muskoka residing supporting cast (Another reason Ka-BORE-Le might be gone this year).

That clique apparently forgot that there are other players on the team not to mention fans, who would have liked to see a bit brighter future born as a result of forward moving trade deadline deals.

Third, to be fair, one needs to consider the fact that the Leafs brass may have indeed caused their own misery by not only giving these players crazy no-trade clauses, but also then trying to make them look like bad guys for not waiving their protective clauses.

In the end, I think the Leafs may have looked very different this year had Kubina, Tucker, McCabe, and Sundin agreed to trades (forget Raycrap, nobody was interested).

Fourth, even though the Leafs aren't mega winning, they are managing to stay close on most nights with what one might call an "eBay" lineup.

Truth be told, it will take a miracle to get the Leafs even close to .500 this year.

As easy as it may seem to blame the players, one has to be fair and look at what the players have to work within.

Many of the Leafs' top line players would be hard pressed to crack even the second line of many of the NHL's powerhouse clubs. Stajan vs Ovechkin is just laughable!

Toskala might be the only player on the Leafs roster that would be viewed as a high-end player.

So, if the other teams and broadcasters are laughing at these Leafs, it really seems like a pointless act. The Leafs really aren't underachieving enough to warrant mockery, however...OTTAWA IS!.

What the Leafs could use is some sort of hockey scandal that takes critical eyes off the ice while the Leafs work at rebuilding a good team. Perhaps some story about Kaberle having an affair with a Serbian Soccer star? Who knows? But something other than hockey itself would be preferable.

Hey, distraction has worked for years in American politics, why can't it work for the Leafs?

As far as games go, the Leafs still seriously lack a leader. Until that happens, I'm afraid it's going to be crickets and yawning for a while down at the ACC.