Doubters Beware: Toronto Maple Leafs on the Rise

The Toronto Maple Leafs do not have a stellar record over the last number of years. They qualified for the playoffs for only the first time in eight years this past season and have not been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1967. leafs1967(Yes, the picture is in black and white.) That said, they are a young and intense team on the rise. They have a proven offensive leader in Phil Kessel – just signed to an eight-year contract – and a solid supporting group of forwards, including Lupul, van Riemsdyk and Kadri, as well as surprising – and youthful – depth at defense and goal. james_reimer.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoThey should be a playoff team for some years to come. The funny thing is that few, if any, of the pundits see any of this. NBC declared that GM Dave Nonis (has) likely weakened the franchise that was on the cusp of a deep playoff run last year. CBS stated that the only way the Leafs are back in the postseason is if Reimer and Bernier can provide better than average play. And TSN offered this lukewarm analysis: They’re not a lock for the playoffs. They’re still a bubble team. roster615jan18My prediction is quite different. They will go to the playoffs. They will win in the playoffs. They just might get into the finals and win. We’ll see who’s right.

Words V: Compromise

Compromise (verb): Settle a dispute by mutual concession.

Compromise can be a noble action. It is something that leads one from an extremist position and actively helps in avoiding acts of conflict and war. It’s an action to which we should aspire, and yet an action that evokes terror to those in power. When asked to compromise to avoid the upcoming fiscal crisis, House Speaker John Boehner, balks, insisting that Obama intention to raise taxes on the wealthy “will destroy jobs in America.”Boehner, like many other in the Republican Party, are wedded to a pledge of not raising taxes and believe that to compromise is to sully this position, or, as the dictionary says: to weaken a reputation or principle by accepting standards that are lower than is desirable. A good example of this is what happened to New York when it was compromised by the tidal surge of Hurricane Sandy or what has happened to the public reputation of David Petraeus in admitting to his extra-marital affair.

Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell

But this not the understanding of the word when opposing groups are asked to seek compromise. As absurd as it is to think, even those negotiating the current dispute for the National Hockey League believe this as well. Players’ representative Donald Fehr and League Commissioner Gary Bettman remain entrenched in their positions, 56 days into the lockout and only a short time from potentially cancelling yet another season. They don’t seem to understand that if there is no hockey, there is no revenue…and leads us to another interesting word: extinction. 

I own hockey

This National Hockey League lockout/strike/work stoppage thing is pathetic; the owners and players can make as many serious faces and proclamations as they like, but the farce has to end. If these gravel-heads can’t figure this out – how much money do they want now?!? – they need to hire an arbitrator to do it for them. It’s that simple. They can hire me, and I’ll do it gratis, out of the goodness of my ice-cold heart. I’ll solve it in one hour. One hour, that’s a promise. Done. (And if they don’t like my final solution, I’ll send in the fourth line to straighten the matter out.)Let’s be clear about this. Both groups – the  players and the owners – are to blame. None of those involved in this brain -damaged dispute can hope for understanding for the simple reason that they both decided to have beer-drunk summers, doing absolutely nothing. I’m sorry, did I say nothing? No, I’m wrong; they actually did engage in a spree of free agent signings, including Parise and Suter for $98 million apiece…uh, what?!? Make no mistake, these ne’er-do-wells are greedy, stupid and expendable. Indeed, as much as today’s players might impress – Stamkos, Karlsson, Quick – they can all be switched out – every last one of them – if they don’t want to play. They can go to Europe, go to Russia, or go home. Or if they want to stand firm in their cute little collective, they can all get jobs in a hockey school together. But if they want to play hockey, if they want to play the game, they need to do that now. No excuses. No press conferences. Nothing but ice. Nothing but hockey. They need to just shut up and play. Bettman, Fehr, Leipold, Crosby can pretend all they want. They can pretend that they’re something in their owner’s boxes, in their jerseys, in their locker rooms, on their benches, microphones in their sad little faces, drafts of contracts on their table, their ridiculous numbers – 57%, 46%, 50% – in hand, but it’s nothing, worse, just a percentage of nothing. Hockey is a game, not a business.I own hockey. That’s me. The game, the cup, the dream, they are all mine. These others, these pseudo-players and pseudo-owners, these halfwits and buffoons will be gone soon enough, all of them; and the game will remain as it was, mine, truly. Somebody should tell them soon. Or did I just do that? Goal.