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. B9G9hrkCUAAU-WoRather 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. B2yA4mcIEAANrAz.jpg-largeThese 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. imageSolution: 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. 12822218153230Dion 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. 940-ballard-8colThis 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.

My New Year’s Wish for the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most talented teams in hockey, and yet, as CBS Sports wrote,”They are extremely streaky and volatile. You never know which team is going to show up and what exactly is going to happen.”leafsThese players know how to play. They know how to pass. They know how to score. They know how to defend. They just need a coach to move them in the same direction.kesselCurrent head coach, Randy Carlyle, is the one to blame for this inconsistency. As he admitted himself after the team lost recently to Carolina, the team with the worst record in the league: ”I don’t think we were mentally ready to go out and play the type of game that was required. Simple as that.” randy randy(Whose job is that? Oh, right, the coach.)

And so as simple as that, Carlyle has to go. Sign Dallas Eakins for the rest of the year and see how that goes.eakins If it doesn’t work out, get Babcock. Now is the time to win.

Looks like 2015 might be a good year after all: Leafs Fire Carlyle.

24/7 of Cliche and Profanity

The idea of HBO’s sports documentary 24/7 is enticing to hockey fans – especially those of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. images (1)Advertised as an inside look at each team’s personnel as they prepare for the Winter Classic, the show promises to offer insights into the people who will play in the big game.vlcsnap-2013-12-15-20h31m41s190The payoff is disappointing, offering little more than vacuous reflections on what it is to play for “a storied franchise” and boys pretending to be grownups, driving fancy cars and wearing fine clothes. And there’s a whole fucking bunch of swearing. 620-lupul-main-3-thumb-620xauto-287249They have that vocabulary in common with the coaches. Instead of details on strategy, style or even on their personalities, it’s a lot of “Let’s (fucking) go, boys!” 1297360798727_ORIGINALIt’s not that much should be expected of these characters in this format – they are hockey player after all – but HBO could certainly do less of the epic music and close-ups of skates and actually make an effort to tell a (fucking) story.