How to Solve The Five Big Problems for the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have sunk into a terrible morass from which there seems to be little escape. The players are adrift, the coach at a loss, while the media metes out blame and the fans cry in dismay. How to Solve The Five Big Problems for the Toronto Maple LeafsRather than plunge into some sort of Robespierre frenzy, I suggest the following:

Problem #5: Vitriolic Toronto Sports Media. The Toronto sports media, as eager to deify as they are to condemn, is comprised of knee-jerk simpletons who make as many bad judgements as they do unintelligible puns. How to Solve The Five Big Problems for the Toronto Maple LeafsThese clown are stupid enough to seriously suggest that Kessel be traded – Are they nuts?!? Solution: Change the channel and watch highlights of the 1993 Playoffs instead.

4. Ineffective Coaching. Ron Wilson (2008-12) and Randy Carlyle (2012-15) provided no direction for the players, beyond yelling and making snide remarks. wilson-preachWhile Horachek struggles to implement a system, it appears that his time will also be limited behind the bench. Solution: Mike Babcock needs to be hired, and Brendan Shanahan is the man to do that.

3. Infantile Fan Base. Sports fans are not known for a generosity of spirit nor intelligent analysis. For a market like the Leafs, where hockey is religion, it is all the worse. The symbolic throwing of team jerseys is emblematic of these childish reactions. How to Solve The Five Big Problems for the Toronto Maple LeafsSolution: Encourage your neighbor to give his jersey to a kid and maybe yell at the Flyers/Canadiens/Bruins/Rangers instead.

2. Lack of Team Leadership. Being captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs is a heavy burden to bear. It is not as much a matter of talent as it is of a confident, under-stated personality such as Dave Keon, Wendel Clark and Mats Sundin all had. How to Solve The Five Big Problems for the Toronto Maple LeafsDion Phaneuf is not like these men. As skilled as he might be, he talks too much, often out of turn. Solution: Trade Dion Phaneuf and appoint a new captain in the off-season. James Van Reimsdyk is a good option to consider.

1. Team Management in Disarray. The ownership is weighed down by a bureaucratic board of governors, focused on making too much money, burdened by a history of poor management practice. How to Solve The Five Big Problems for the Toronto Maple LeafsThis problem is the trickiest of the lot. Hopefully these suits can be swayed by Brian Burke’s wisdom: “They’ll name a street after whoever brings the Stanley Cup to Toronto.” Solution: Remind the board that they hired Brendan Shanahan to be president, and to let him do just that.

Obsession VI: The Toronto Maple Leafs

My obsession with the Toronto Maple Leafs started late, when I was maybe eight, a few years after they had won the Stanley Cup in 1967. I don’t know how it started. I don’t remember a specific moment. I just remember watching the games on Saturday night and listening to them on my pocket radio in bed; the games in California were like magic, crackling from a distant and late-night land. I clipped a lot of newspapers pictures and stories…Ullman, Esposito, Ellis, Pelyk & PlanteIMAG2650 collected memorabilia…IMAG2647IMAG2655 and met half the team when I was in the hospital before one Christmas. IMAG2658I even sent a set of suggested uniform re-designs to the organization in 1978 to help get the team out of a slump. IMAG2659Leafs owner Harold Ballard replied with the most thoughtful rejection letter I have ever received. IMAG2660I have been to many games in many cities – Boston, Miami, Minneapolis, Montreal, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Uniondale, Vancouver and Toronto.Leaf ticketsThe best might have been this past Saturday in Boston where I was privileged to be above the net and witness Phil Kessel score on a breakaway to open the third. kessel Break 2A friend of my brother’s, not a sports fan, quipped that he didn’t know why anyone intelligent watched sports. “It’s just divisive, like nationalism or religion.” And while I understand his point, I think he’s missing something elemental. Prudential There might be no logic in obsessing over a collection of skaters wearing blue and white uniforms, but it isn’t just that. It’s the faith that they will win, enduring the wait and anticipating when the cup comes back….this year and the next. roster615jan18 It’s a simple thing really, just three words: Go Leafs Go. Said a few times and again.