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.

Fandom: Not the Right to Be a Jerk

As is readily apparent to anyone reading this blog, I am an avid fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Screenshot (406)As a kid, I kept a scrapbook of every Leaf game. I remember exactly where I was when Wendel Clark was traded for Mats Sundin – looking down at a sad-looking plant on a small wooden table in a tiny Roman hotel. My mood shifts from win to loss and win. 20140505_205011I look forward to absolutely every game and get anxious for the season to start over the summer months. However one thing I never miss in July – in fact abhor – is the way so many of the Leaf followers use the Leafs to vent and criticize. Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 8.28.36 AMIt’s one thing to have to listen to moronic sports reporters dribble and spew – after all they get paid to write stupid things – but entirely another to hear supposed supporters spout their vitriol.

As much as these people claim to be fans of their teams, the truth is they’re not. Their anger has nothing to do with support, but instead reflects their pathetic isolation and bitter self-reflection on lives ill-led. Nothing more.imagesAs frustrated as I might get with the Toronto Maple Leafs, I always support them, yes, through the six-game losing streaks, the disappointing seasons and the 47-year Stanley Cup drought. While I can be critical, the Leafs are my team. It’s not a complicated thing. leafsGo Leafs Go. (And to you fickle fans, I say “Go away.”)

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.