Blog Entry

Morning Skate: Leafs' skid officially extended

Posted on: April 6, 2011 2:13 am
Edited on: April 6, 2011 2:14 am

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff drought officially reached six seasons on Tuesday, although most of Ontario saw that coming with club’s horrific start. 

The skid, the longest in franchise history, predates the NHL lockout. Two teams (Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks) have seized Stanley Cup titles for the first time and two other Original Six franchises (Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks) earned championships as the club at the center of the hockey universe has called it a season at 82 games.

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  • So, where was the outrage Tuesday night? Imagine if baseball’s equivalent, the New York Yankees, or the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakes, went that long without a playoff berth. Heck, the fanbases for those franchises would be in an uproar if their teams didn’t secure a title or two. 

    The dependable Damien Cox of the Toronto Star for one wasn’t about to let the Leafs off the hook, understandably setting a good heap of the Leafs' lack of success on GM Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson: 

    They’ve had their honeymoon period, and now this hockey town needs to demand answers and achievement.

    “I’m not going to conduct an autopsy here,” said Wilson after Tuesday night’s loss to the Caps.
    No problem. We’ll do it for you, coach.

    There were clearly factors that injured the Leaf season, including the failure to identify the organization’s best goaltender earlier, a serious injury to captain Dion Phaneuf, a good but not great season from (Phil) Kessel, the struggles of Mike Komisarek and, of course, that nightmarish power play.

    But the overriding issue that made the first half of the season a disaster and the second half not good enough is that this hockey club still lacks a defining personality, an identity that explains what it wants to be night after night.

    Burke built a solid nucleus in Vacouver, which included drafting the Sedin twins. After his contract was not renewed and a little bit of TV work, Burke needed only two seasons to turn the Ducks into Stanley Cup champs.

    He’s now about to complete his second full season in Toronto without nearly the success despite more resources at his disposal. Burke recently reaffirmed his backing to Wilson, who will return for his fourth season behind Toronto’s bench. 

    Nobody can question the credentials of either Burke or Wilson, but time could be running out for each -- and it doesn’t help that the team has hung out the “for sale” sign and could soon have new ownership that might not be as patient. 

    There are some positives, but who knows if they carry into next season. The Leafs are tied with the Los Angeles Kings with the fifth-most points (41) since the All-Star break. Rookie James Reimer (pictured above) was solid in net down the stretch, oftentimes keeping the Leafs in games to make their late-season run possible. Even in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals, Reimer made 39 saves in regulation and overtime. 

    "We can hold our heads high," said Reimer told the CBC Sports. "We’ve gained a lot of confidence."

    This is the latest, as CBC points out, the Leafs have gone (third-to-last game of the season) before getting eliminated since 2006. I guess that is what is considered progress these days in Toronto. The Leafs were actually eliminated a few minutes before their game ended via Buffalo’s victory over Tampa Bay. 

    "Everybody’s going to be really excited to get back here," Leafs forward Joffery Lupul told the network.

    Maybe it’s odd that the Leafs have lapsed into the “wait ‘til next season” mentality, but it has been 44 years since their last championship. It's quite understandable. 

    Buffalo 4, Tampa Bay 2
    Washington 3 , Toronto 2 (SO)
    Ottawa 5, Philadelphia 2
    Pittsburgh 4, New Jersey 2
    Montreal 2, Chicago 1 (OT)
    St. Louis 3, Colorado 1
    Nashville 6, Atlanta 3
    Dallas 3, Columbus 0
    Edmonton 2, Vancouver 0
    -- A.J. Perez

    Photo: Getty Images 

    Since: Dec 2, 2011
    Posted on: December 16, 2011 7:30 pm
    This comment has been removed.

    Post Deleted by Administrator

    Since: Feb 15, 2008
    Posted on: April 7, 2011 7:27 am

    Morning Skate: Leafs' skid officially extended

    Sox, if you watched the Leafs-Devils game last night (I could stomach only a small part of it, can someone be paid to bump off McGuire?), this is what separates the Leafs from contenders: Both teams are out of the playoffs, nothing on the line now -- except PRIDE. Do you think Jacques Lemaire is going to allow his team to phone in an effort just because they didn't make the playoffs? No, he'll leave that kind of thing to Ron Wilson's Leafs. Lemaire would be telling his guys: "This is for -next- year, show me what you got!". Playing on a few Cup winners will produce that kind of coach.

    Since: Feb 10, 2007
    Posted on: April 6, 2011 3:38 pm

    Morning Skate: Leafs' skid officially extended

    Horrid start?  Who is this MORON of a writer?   The Leafs started a house on fire with 4 straight opening victories and losing the 5th 2-1 in OT.   So if ya gonna rip on the lowly Leafs ... at least get it right  ... typical garbage writer.   And the Leafs ARE NOT the Yankees equivalent .. that honor would have to go to Montreal ... biased much?  Wilson's excuses are lame .. every team has injuries, guys that struggle .. yadda yadda ... the good ones still win.  That said, the Loafs did end up in the tank for most of the season, but did seem to turn it around some coming down the stretch.   The Bruins once again thank them for a lottery pick in the 1st round ... which is all I really cared about with them.  This is Boston's division at least for the next couple of years, so if the Leafs wanna break outta this quagmire, they will have to make some sort of improvement over the summer so they can maybe pass the Habs.   Good times .. enjoy watching the playoffs!   

    Since: Dec 16, 2009
    Posted on: April 6, 2011 12:38 pm

    Morning Skate: Leafs' skid officially extended

    Well, maybe the Yankees of now would be very vocal about a postseason drought. I don't seem to recall a lot of public outcry during that stretch from the 80's to early 90's when the Yankees didn't win crap. Anyway, a lot of heat should fall on Wilson this season, and some should fall on Burke. Burke did a good job in bringing in free agents, from the beginning, straight through to the trade deadline. But, after a very fast start, they fizzled even faster, and put themselves wayyyy behind the 8 ball. Despite injuries to players like Phaneuf, the Leafs played very uninspired hockey for a large chunk of the season. Wilson and Burke can share the blame for Reimer not being up sooner. There should be no excuses for the Leafs to miss the postseason next year. They have some dynamite players, and a goaltender who separated himself from the pack as the clear cut #1. Let's see what Burke does in the offseason. But, the pieces will be there. It's just getting them to fit, and that's the coach's job.

    Since: Jan 15, 2008
    Posted on: April 6, 2011 12:12 pm

    Morning Skate: Leafs' skid officially extended

    Actually, they won their first 4, not 5.  And there's no point in commenting on the author.  Anyone who references Damien Cox in any context other than "This is what bad journalism looks like" is grasping at straws trying to find something to write.

    Since: Feb 15, 2008
    Posted on: April 6, 2011 8:41 am

    Morning Skate: Leafs' skid officially extended

    The Toronto ’ playoff drought officially reached six seasons on Tuesday, although most of Ontario saw that coming with club’s horrific start.
    Really? The author has a short memory. The Leafs won their first five games, and there was already talk of a Stanley Cup way back in October in Toronto. Oh well, all their fans will be back next season, paying a higher ticket price for the same inferior product, which is all management really cares about. It must really suck to lose the revenue from all those missed playoff games though, eh Peddie?

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