"Leaf Nation, Hockey Mecca of the World, Center of the Hockey Universe." Whatever the case may be, the villagers are getting restless. Who could blame them? One day after the trade deadline, the Toronto Maple Leafs threw up a stinker at home to the visiting Florida Panthers losing 5-3. The Leafs didn't play with any type of urgency, they didn't play like a team looking to make the playoffs. The Leaf faithful showed their disdain towards the Leafs and the organization at the ACC by booing them off the ice, and later with chants of "Fire Wilson, Fire Wilson." The Leafs have found themselves in, oh, so familiar territory, on the outside of the playoffs looking in. What has happened to the Maple Leafs? The first half of the season they looked like a Cup contender, they don't look like the same team in the second half. Have they ran out of gas? Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul after their torrid pace to start the season, and with flashes of brilliance once in a while the dynamic duo have really cooled off. Secondary scoring is a non-factor at times. The goal-tending has taken a dramatic turn for the worst, James Reimer was the go to goalie, but after his concussion he hasn't been the same. Jonas Gustavsson hasn't turned into the goalie the Leafs were hoping for, and that Burke vehemently needed to sign. Somewhere along the line this team has lost all confidence in themselves. Has Ron Wilson lost the room? There is really only so many times you can throw your players under the bus before they respond, but not in this way. Maybe their hockey system has run it's coarse and it's time for a new one. But that change needs to come from the coaching staff, and i don't see that change coming any time soon. Unless ownership decides to blow it up from the GM down to the training staff, Brian Burke will not be firing his buddy Ron Wilson.
This hockey club seems to be in disarray, but lets make one thing clear, Toronto is the biggest hockey market in the world. To don the storied jersey with the Toronto Maple Leaf emblazoned on the front is a dream come true for some. But with wearing such jersey comes immense pressure and scrutiny. Players can be on the top of the mountain one shift and be jeered the next. If your scared to make a mistake, guess what? your gonna make a mistake. You have to give credit to these players, when every shift, save or goal, good shift or bad shift, is put under a microscope, dissected by replay. stop! Rewind! pause! Some players make mistakes night after night, some make one and their in the press-box. There doesn't seem to be any conformity through the team, from upper management to the players.
GM Brian Burke said "I think it's remarkable that the players have kept their focus throughout this time."
What I find remarkable is how the media gets blamed, for any player(s) that might be mentioned in a move. Prior to draft deadline day, it was mentioned that the Leafs would be looking to go after a goalie and a top 6 forward. Well there was a very good top 6 forward out there to pick up and a few goalies. Hockey analysts begin the process of thinking like a GM and start putting packages together on what players would it take to get certain other players. That's the nature of the beast in Toronto. After the deadline the Leafs are going with what they have, not because certain players didn't fit the Leafs plans, but because the selling prices were to high. That makes the players feel better. (sarcasm)
Ron Wilson and Brian Burke are quick to point a finger. Well here's a bit of advise: When you point your finger at someone, three are pointing back at you.
Pat Quinn took the Leafs to 6 playoff appearances the next year they missed the playoffs, he was shown the door. Paul Maurice had 2 years to figure it out, he didn't, he was shown the door. This is Ron Wilson's 4th year as coach, Brian Burke's too as GM, if they don't make the playoffs, they should be shown the door.
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