VIEW FROM THE TOP: Toronto Maple Leafs
As the self-appointed spokesmen/woman of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, we are using the idea of "To the victors go the spoils" quite seriously. What we will do between now and the night the Stanley Cup banner is raised in the United Center is point out the shortcomings of all the teams that won't have four crisp new banners in their rafters. We continue this series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I feel bad for Leafs fans. It's hard to believe it's come to this. I used to LOATHE the Toronto Maple Leafs. Doug Gilmour? Hated him. Wendel Clark? Seemed like he was only healthy and available to play against the Blackhawks. Todd Gill? Fuck Todd Gill. Foist Mike Smith upon our franchise? YOU BASTARDS
Granted, those bad old days are gone now. Toronto now molders in the Eastern Conference, and through our Puckcasts with various Leafs bloggers, Hockeenight.com seems to have developed somewhat of a cult following there. The Leafs fans I know are fun, knowledgeable and extremely frustrated with their team's management.
Why the frustration? Well, think of the biggest Meatball Hawks fans you know (or have heard on the Score). They hate skilled players who are "soft" want to fill the lineup with fighters and throw hissy-fits any time their team is "out-hit". Now, imagine those meatballs were the Hawks front office. Frightened? Good. Because that's pretty much the situation in Toronto.
Phil Kessel is really good. Tyler Bozak isn't that good but the Leafs front office thinks he is so he's got a big contract, Nazem Kadri is better but Dave Nonis played hardball and signed him to a bridge deal. David Clarkson was a free agent who is 29, once scored 30 goals and punches people in the face so naturally the Leafs signed him to a contract with a $5.2 million cap hit through 2020. Remember that when Bryan Bickell outscores him this year.
Joffrey Lupul is useful when he can be kept on the ice, and if you're looking for familiar faces, it's Dave Bolland! Bolly will continue his career arc of being a good 3rd line center whose team wants to try and squeeze him into the 2nd line center spot and then (hopefully) gives up and puts him back where he does his best work.
Oh, and James van Riemsdyk is on the team so let's all reminisce about the time that Fork thought the Hawks should have taken him instead of Patrick Kane. Good times.
Looking at the rest of the roster, there's guys like Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren so maybe I'm looking at a roster from 1990?
Donald Phaneuf is the Leafs number one defenseman. Why do teams insist on acquiring "key" defensemen from Calgary? This flies in the face of logic. I honestly don't know a goddamned thing about the rest of Toronto's defensemen. And I don't care. I'm not even going to learn their names. As far as you people know, they all suck.
PROVE ME WRONG TORONTO
James Reimer nearly beat the Boston Bruins in the playoffs last season. Naturally, Toronto traded for Jonathan Bernier because he's a completely proven goaltender who's started 62 games over the course of 5 NHL seasons playing behind Jonathan Quick. Wait, that can't be right, can it?
Brian Burke did such a good job as President and General Manager of the Leafs that Calgary hired him to be President of Hockey Operations. I can't decide if this is a promotion, a demotion or just some sort of insane Canadian joke I don't understand.
ARE THEY BETTER THAN THE BLACKHAWKS: