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31 May 2007

Leafs Make a Bad Call in Signing Sundin

TSN is reporting that the Leafs are close to signing Mats Sundin to a two-year, $11 million US contract. All I can say as a Buffalo fan is hallelujah! This really isn't about Mats Sundin, he is a heck of a player. This is more about the continuing penchant for the Maple Leafs, as an organization, to bury its head in the sand and pretend that they are close to being a championship team and that Lord Stanley will come knocking with his cup anytime soon.

Sure, you need top flight players like Sundin to get a cup, but you have to surround those players with workable high quality pieces in order to make your cup dream a reality. The Leafs have it somewhat right. They have started a form of a youth movement and have some great young pieces. Guys like Kyle Wellwood, Carlo Colaiacovo, Mats Stajan and Alexander Steen. They have a horse in Thomas Kaberle. Unfortunately they also have a slew of overpriced and injured or under-performing players like Nik Antropov, Hal Gill, Bryan McCabe and Jeff O'Neill, just to name a few. Reality wise, they are like most teams in the league; they don't want to commit to a youth movement because the want to WIN IT NOW. They don't want to commit to a veteran squad because it has failed so many times before. In the meantime they sputter along with mediocre goaltending, a faltering defense and mediocre offense and seemingly are content to eke into 8th place with 41 sellouts under their belts.

The Leafs management needs to be better than this. Like them or not Leafs fans are passionate, knowledgable and ultimately, loyal. Sometimes it takes hitting bottom to rise out of the ashes. As frustrating as it may be, I have to believe the Leafs fans know that and would accept it. In my most humble opinion the Leafs should have sent Mats packing and sent the majority of the veteran underachievers out the door afterward. While the outlook on this coming season and maybe the next would have been ugly the consolation prize could very well have been named John Tavares. Tavares is the type of player that could lead a young, up-and-coming team like Toronto would be out of the wilderness. The fan base might have been unhappy for two years, but the pot at the end of the rainbow would have made it worth it.

But... the Leafs took the road they have almost always chosen. Bringing Mats back guaranteed they are in the mix for a playoff spot, but not a championship. Until this mentality changes the Leafs are doomed to continue their Lord Stanley drought.

4 fanatics have replied:

Sherry said...

I agree with you completely in that I don't think the Leafs ever conceded to being a rebuilding team, and resigning an aging vet like Sundin just further proves that. Sundin either values his loyalty to the organization more than his drive to win a championship, or his idea of the progress of the team is way-off from reality.

The thing with the Leafs organization, and probably all of Leafs Nation, as you mentioned, is pride. Teams going through the rebuilding phase, as witnessed by teams such as St. Louis, Chicago...they all have to suck...ALOT and for how long, who knows. However, as Pittsburgh had demonstrated, it could be well worth the wait. Sadly, these teams actually need to win for people to come to the stadium and make a decent revenue. The Leafs are the one team that doesn't have to worry about that.

I think most Leafs fans might cling to the hope that they were one point removed from a playoff spot and see that as some sort of indication as forward progress. The thing is, they haven't had a top 10 draft pick since they drafted Antropov, and they're not going to get one this year either. While Wellwood, Ponikarovsky, Steen and Stajan are good guys to have on your team, they're not top line guys, at least not yet, but Maurice had no choice but to use them in that capacity which just exploits the lack of depth in the organization.

Bethany said...

I agree with everything you are saying. The Leafs organization is becoming a bit of a joke. It's time to break down and start rebuilding and quit signing these players...I do agree that Sundin is a great player but signing Tucker is probably a bad move you don't want these guys having a negative influence on your young players. Anyway, that's all for me.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge said...

The Leafs organisation was always a joke...

:D, I find that funny. Haha

CuJo said...

Like posted above me, I also agree with you. I don’t want to sound to cocky, but Leafs management should ask Detroit management if they can get an internship, this way they can see it with there own eyes how to run a franchise. Look, before the lockout Detroit had a payroll of $80 million and yes it is easy to sign “big name” players. Now we life with a salary cap and Detroit is still one of the most dominant teams in the NHL. Detroit drafted Zetterberg 210 overall and Datsyuk 171 overall, franchise players now. We have great prospect coming up in: Filppula (don’t forget his name), Hulder, Kopecky, Howard, Kindl, Grigorenko, Quincey, Ericsson and we have a few more (but those guys are still 2 years away). What I don’t get is why other teams, like Toronto didn’t drafted this kids. It’s not like Detroit has had first choice in the drafts! Wellwood, Ponikarovsky, Steen and Stajan are nice players, I wouldn’t trade any of them for our prospects.

I don’t “get” Toronto anyway, signing McCabe, Kubina and Gill to ridicules contracts. That is just borderline dumb! You don’t deserve to win the cup if you sign those kind of players to those kind of huge contracts!

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