Good morning loyal readers! A few nights ago I did what I seem to be doing a lot of lately. I turned the Leafs game off and then proceeded to cry about them on facebook. My good friends Adam and Carter joined in on the conversation. Now that a few days have passed (and I have sobered up) let’s take a look at what was said.
Scott Kirkness (Status update) Oh those ******* leafs.... Two comebacks and they decide "***it, we don’t need to play the first and second. We will just go to Pitt and Philly and be all like, yo, see you in the third" Great ******* game plan. Anyone else think Wilson has had long enough to turn this ship around?
Adam Throw his *** overboard...
Scott I know, all I ever hear lately is that he has "more wins than any other active coach" So I’m left to think, riiiight. How many were pre lockout. Doesn’t he have the most losses too? Plus the knock on him was he could turn a team around, but just couldn’t get them over the hump. We can’t even see the ******* hump
Carter Wilson, how about Burke as well!
Scott - I'm not 100% good with Burke today lol, but he got Wilson better players, and there is still ZERO improvement. Plus, the best way to measure a coach is PK and PP, where the leafs are awful
Carter - He got him better players? All he did he get better back end the forwards are terrible they have 1 top 6 forward mixed in with 3 and 4 th liners
Scott Lol I'm not here to defend the Kessel trade right now, I'm just raggin on Wilson
Carter The Kessel trade in my mind was terrible
Scott Here’s how I feel about the Kessel Trade.
1) Kessel is a young player who is a 40 goal scorer, and they don’t grow on trees. I don’t remember the last time a Leaf scored 40, so we needed him
2) Burke over bought because of his principles. Edmonton took Penner as an RFA, and Burke lost his $#!*, now he can’t sign RFA’s. As an RFA the price for Kessel would have been a 1<sup>st</sup>, 2<sup>nd</sup>, and 3<sup>rd</sup> rounder. Instead, he trades two firsts and a second, all because of his stupid principles
3) Not only did he buy big, he was bidding against himself... Kessel went public with trade demands, not other team showed major interestEdmontoEdmonton took Penner as an RFA, and Burke lost his shit, now he cant sign RFAs. As an RFA the price for Kessel would have been a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounder. Instead he trades two firsts and a second... All cuz of his principals
3) Not only did he buy big, he was bidding against himself... Kessel went public with trade demands, no other team showed major intrestEdmonton took Penner as an RFA, and Burke lost his shit, now he cant sign RFAs. As an RFA the price for Kessel would have been a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounder. Instead he trades two firsts and a second... All cuz of his principals
3) Not only did he buy big, he was bidding against himself... Kessel went public with trade demands, no other team showed major intrest
Carter look at all the successful rebuilding done since the lockout it is very simple you rebuild through the Draft, not trade away what 2 1st rounder’s and was it 1 or 2 second rounder’s...It is important to build through the draft when you have top 5 picks because most of the time it is a talented player that you have 3 years of salary at roughly 900k. Instead of draft picks you give a package of players around Kaberle because he won’t be there when the rebuild is complete. Burke has invested too much money into the back end that it really hinders the Leafs chances of turning the corner soon... Brian Burke gets a lot of credit for the Anaheim Cup when in reality the foundation was already there... He is a terrible GM
Scott Terrible GM? No. He laid the foundation in Vancouver, and brought Nidemyer and Pronger to Anihiem, Thus pushing them over the top.
The draft I’m still torn over. Yes it worked for Pittsburgh, Washington, and Chicago. They found Franchise players in the top three. Contrary to popular belief, there is not ALWAYS a franchise player in the top three.
And it doesn’t work for Everyone. Look at NYI, or even LA. LA doesn’t have the top 6 to put them over the top, and they never will.
Look, I’ not bashing the draft, you need it to win. But people who think you can JUST rebuild through the draft are wrong, IMO.
Scott For the record, I agree that they should trade Kabs, and so does Burke. He tried all summer, but nobody trades picks for expiring contracts, except Burke
Carter If you have a good scouting staff rebuilding through the draft will work
Scott lol often, but you have to admit you are rebuilding. I hate this "building on the fly" crap
Carter What foundation did he lay in Vancouver the your not good enough to make it beyond the 2nd round foundation?
Scott As for foundation, I just meant He took a team that consistently missed the playoffs and built them into a team that consistently wins division titles
Carter Well ya he had to really scratch his brain when he had the 1st and 2nd pick.... Hmmm do I take the twins? Lol really tough
Scott Nope lol, they were 2nd and 3rd, and he had to trade for those picks, had to trade for the pick to get Pronger too
Carter Lol ok whatever either way a ******** couldn't screw that up
Okay, well I actually stand by a lot of what I said. There were three main things that I feel I should explain a little more
1) The Draft
Okay, I think I was a little bitter, but I wasn’t completely wrong. There is a myth in the NHL that a top five pick in the draft will get you a franchise player. Not a good player, but a guy who will carry your team for the next 15-20 years. Everyone is trying to follow the Steve Yzerman “Captain for 20 years” blue print. I have to admit, since the Lock out let’s look at some of the players that came out of the top 5. You have Crosby, Ovie, JT, Doughty, and a couple of other real franchise foundations. But come on, there have been plenty of drafts with more busts than Stars, especially in the first round, but including in the top 5. Just ask the Oilers and Islanders. How many times have they rebuilt through the draft in the past 15 years? Okay, so let’s not even count the pre lockout years. Let us look closer at the existing Islander rebuild. Last year everyone said they looked like the “next” team to prove that the draft is the way to rebuild. Washington and Pittsburgh did it at the same time. Then Chicago did it, the LA, then it looked like the Islanders were right on pace. Well, the blue print has been watered down. Chicago is elite, but sorry, I don’t think they are as good as the Pens. LA is good, but I don’ think they will ever be as good as Chicago. The Islanders? The only thing they are on pace for is yet another number 1 pick. I know I know, the LA and Islander rebuilds aren’t finished, and the players need to grow, but this isn’t growth, they are both regressing. LA is scoring less goals that they did a year ago and the Isle’s are doing pretty much anything they can to lose games.
Another team people like to talk about when they talk about rebuilds through the draft is Colorado. Not buying that argument. One top five pick doesn’t make you a draft monkey. Colorado turned their ship around because they found a goalie on the curb. Ditto for Phoenix.
2) Ron Wilson should be fired.
Yea, I’m pretty much going to stick to this one. Even if Burke HAD built slow and through the draft and actually found franchise players in the top 5, I’m still not sure Wilson is the guy for the draft. Think about it. What has this guy done is his career? Sure, he is the active leader in win. Big deal, without checking I am pretty sure he is also near the top in loses. So his record is more a product of longevity than of quality. Yes, he brought a lousy team from Washington to the cup finals (and let the record show that this was over ten years ago, yet is still his biggest claim to fame) where they were beaten by a better team, and yes he was there for the Sharks turn around (where despite Presidents Trophies he was unable to get his team to the big dance), and yes he is a respected coach in many NHL circles; but that doesn’t mean he is the right guy for the job. Besides building through the draft, what is one OTHER thing that Washington, Pittsburgh, and Chicago have in common? They fired their coaches and brought in new guys once the rebuild was “over”.
Wilson came to Toronto and took over a team in bad need of a rebuild. The team limped into the lockout, and then loaded up on veteran players. He decided he couldn’t win with Raycroft (don’t really blame him there) and hitched his wagon to Toskala (a trade I actually liked at the time *shudders*). It’s not really his fault that Toskala suffered was seems to be career ending hip and groin injuries, so I don’t blame him for that either.
What I DO blame Wilson for is the lack of ANY measureable progress with this team. PK and PP are still AWFUL. Say what you will about the leafs depth, but a PP unit of Kaberle, Phaneuf, Kessel, and name any two other players shouldn’t ever hover near bottom half of the NHL let alone permanently take up residence in the bottom quarter.
This Leafs team is built from the net out. It has a reliable 1-2 punch in net, and (on paper) a top five blue line. This team should at the very least be a good defensive team. Burke has talk a lot about being, if nothing else, a tough team to play against. Wilson said numerous times last year that he could have this team playing winning hockey if he implemented a tough defensive system or boring hockey, but he didn’t want to do that. I don’t actually believe him. I think that the pressure is on this year to win, and he has no answers. Send him packing
3) Brian Burke is a good GM
He really is. He has turned teams around, and pushed one over the top. He is a well educated guy who has been on almost every side of the hockey coin. He was a fan, a player, an agent, an NHL executive, a GM, and a President. The man knows what he is talking about. I don’t want to hear any garbage about him not knowing how to win in the “new NHL”. The man brought defense back to the league after two years of Wild west meets European style hogwash. The Ducks won the old way; by playing good defense and getting production from the top two lines. He brought the defense to the Ducks, and defense won that Stanly Cup.
He also did the impossible and dumped Sergi Federov’s elephant contract. That is something else Burke has been good at, managing the cap. Everyone thought Anaheim was headed to salary cap hell, but it never arrived. His contracts expire, and he refused to sign those god awful Kovolchuck-type contracts. He managed to dump one of the worst contracts of the cap era for a Con Smythe winning goalie. Yea, you all remember the Jason Blake contract. He also turned spare parts into Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, and Fredrik Sjöström.
Okay, I’ll give you the Kessel deal as evidence of a bad trade, but let’s look at it one more time. Why is it good? The Leafs got Phil Kessel. Why is it bad? The Leafs lost two first round picks. Toronto Star hockey columnist Damien Cox wrote a pretty terrific article refuting parts of that arguments recently. (http://www.thestar.com/sports/hocke
The long and the short of it is that that the Leafs are actually loaded with first round picks. Phaneuf, Kessel, Schenn, Nazem Kadri, Mike Komisarek, Colby Armstrong, J.S. Giguere, Freddie Sjostrom to be specific. SO why do we REALLY need two more? Of these players, only Schenn was were when Burke arrived, yet he is continually harassed by fans and media because he let two first round picks go.
So there you have it. I guess I agree with most of that discussion, even after several days. To sum it up, keep Burke, fire Wilson, and give Burke a break about the picks, he basically go them back.