The diagnosis is in for the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is a problem. And it is terminal. However the cure is something of a surprise. It is not trading Tyson Barrie. (Brandon Maron at Sportsnet). It is not restructuring the team (Jonas Siegel, The Athletic). And it sure as hell is not firing Mike Babcock. (James Mirtle, The Athletic, et al.)
Indeed it has nothing to do with Babcock’s handling of Matthews’ playing time nor his not playing Spezza in the season opener, nor even his comments on Marleau aiming to play the most games in history. It is instead the reports of these things. The reporters.
When reflecting on the media hysteria related to the Leafs’ current woes, there is no need to look any further than the reporters themselves. That’s right. It’s time to shoot the messengers.
I was a reporter for a neighborhood weekly in Toronto some years back, and while my insights into the sports world were well short of revelatory, my awareness of the reporters pool was acute. These guys are lazy and angry. They are wanna-be’s with over-inflated egos, sad little fellows who sit at the back of the bus, furious that their yearly salary barely matches an athlete’s per diem. That is why they foam at the mouth at every opportunity they get. It seems to help them sleep at night or something.
And so the cure is simple really. Re-assign these little boys to do something productive with their lives – ushers maybe? Let’s just stop all of this chatter for a while. What about that? Maybe just let the players play and Babcock coach. Let’s do that first. And then who knows what will happen? A few wins possibly? And the silence. Yes, that too.