Monday, February 25, 2008

Sundin Smokescreen

The air is abuzz with Mats Sundin's decision to stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs. I'm not sure why he would want to stay with a losing organization, but I don't think he's selfish or greedy or not being noble as some have grumbled. The kind of traits he evinces by staying with the Leafs are the kind we should see more of in our leaders: loyalty, persistence, keeps his word, committed. The thing that puzzles me the most is why so many believe that by trading Sundin away, that that will make a difference in the team's losing fortunes?

I haven't watched the Leafs in a long time, but I doubt much has changed since the last time I paid attention to the same old, same old about that club. The Leafs lose because of management. Period. Full stop. Good players come and go; "rebuilding, rebuilding, rebuilding" is a regular refrain; yet the team goes up and down in its Playoffs fortune, sometimes just squeaking in, sometimes actually getting somewhere, sometimes not getting in at all, but always management having ensured an outright win of the Cup is beyond its grasp (whether wittingly or unwittingly). In the days of Harold Ballard, the curmudgeon would at least let us feed on salacious gossip about his comings and goings, as a diversion to his team's losing ways. At first I thought the staid, monolithic management that took over after Ballard's demise would reverse the team's losing fortunes, would go after the key players that get Stanley Cups, players like Wayne Gretzky. But these nameless, no-face-ums were just the same, ignoring the brilliant for the good, making decisions that would guarantee no Cup, and, even worse, couldn't even entertain us off-ice with gossip about their own comings and goings to distract us while the team loses and loses.

The best thing that can happen to the Leafs today is to be dead last; then they can get first draft pick (assuming they don't do what's happened in the past, stupidly give that opportunity away) and hope that pick is a hockey genius in the making who fits in well with the team and that the resulting team that begins next season plays like a team unaffected by the owners.

1 comment:

Martin said...

The Leafs are still a bad team and unfortunately the organization is bad. Until the organization changes its outlook it will continue to be a bad team.

As far as the Sundin situation goes, he has earned the right to refuse to be traded. He loves the Leafs (why I will never understand) and has decided that he wants to stay and help the team improve.

The Leafs are currently in the running for the first pick overall and should pick up a good draft pick however I don't think it will be anyone who can step in and produce Sundin numbers right away. It will take time and the organization needs to be smart (something that has been lacking since 1967).