Unlike the Leafs, Fletcher Can't Lose

Mark MakuchCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2008

It's time to buy the flowers. Don't forget the R.I.P. banner. Soon they will disconnect the life support systems, and the Leafs as we know them will be no more.

The team, as it stands, is so bad, or so slow, or so unlucky, depending on how you look at it, that Fletcher can have the words "Fire Sale Manager" stenciled on his door.

Either that, or Funeral Home Director. Both suit the situation just fine.

The good news here is that Fletcher really can do no wrong over the next 10 days. Having indicated that his activity at the trade deadline would not be geared toward making the playoffs, we can be sure that he is going to move whomever he can.

Loaded with expensive, slow veterans, the worst he can do is transform the team from and old, slow and bad with no cap space, to younger, faster, and still bad with much more cap space. That would be mission accomplished.

Really.  It simply doesn't matter if the youngsters he gets in return don't pan out. The Toronto media usually notches up the pressure so much on these guys that the majority won't make it anyway.

The real job for Fletcher is simply to clear out dead weight. The slow of foot. The uninspired. The vets that have lost that step that kills you in today's NHL. 

He's got to make room, create a canvas that will enable the real GM to make a plan and execute. The pieces that that next GM inherits don't have to be anything stupendous. If anything, they just need to be movable and expendable in their own right.

The only wrinkle for Fletcher are the silly no-trade clauses given to some undeserving folk. But even then, buyouts will help get rid of the bodies with a manageable burden on the books for a few years to come. 

There will be nothing like the Jalen Rose contract Wayne Embry was brought in to exterminate for the NBA Raptors.

All the Leafs seem capable of doing this year is losing. For Fletcher, getting nothing for something in the next 10 days would be just fine. As a GM, that's pretty much a 'can't lose' proposition.