Leaf Nation is nothing short of a roller coaster. Every season starts out with such great hope. This year was no different. It was going to be the year of Optimus Reim and a return to the postseason. All of the pieces were finally coming together for Burke and Wilson in the centre of the universe.
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. After hanging out in playoff position for most of the season, a terrible month of February sealed the team’s, and Wilson’s, fate. But just like a lover, it is never easy to turn your back. So Leaf Nation has been dealing with the stages of grief in various different ways.
As soon as the most recent losing streak got rolling right along, some hoped for endless losing and a high draft pick, while others continued to convince themselves that there was in fact hope.
The Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs are the only teams that have not made the playoffs since the lockout. The Panthers signed everything that walked in the offseason and despite the media’s best efforts to lambast them for doing so, they have actually had a solid season.
This leaves just the Leafs - the lone victim of the lockout that has yet to adapt to the new NHL. Under the structure of the salary cap the Leafs have not been able to put a team on the ice that is able to win games consistently.
Many blame the pressure of playing in the city as the main catalyst for the failure, but the reality of the situation is that the team’s management is apparently incapable of putting a competitive team on the ice. It was supposed to be all about truculence and pugnacity. The solution? Burke goes out and trades for one of the softest, one-dimensional players in the league.
The stages of grief continue. The Leafs are getting frighteningly close to the basement in the Eastern Conference, but going into last night’s game against the Bruins, some fans were still holding out hope that they could win out the rest of the season and magically qualify for the playoffs.
It seems like many people can’t make up their mind when it comes to an abusive relationship with their favorite team. Do they run away? Is it really that bad? Will it get better?
It is conflicting trying to support a team that is dealing with a run of ineptitude. Some think that even if they do bottom out, the front office will manage to mess up the pick and draft someone who ends up being a straight up failure or get pushed into the lineup too quickly.
What to do? What should the team do? Is there even anything that the Leafs can do at this point? Their players are either locked up to grossly overvalued contracts or simply have no value. Burke will probably be in charge for the foreseeable future due to the fact that he doesn’t really have a boss at this point.
After BCE and Rogers bought MLSE this year, the ownership agreed to have the transfer over this summer. So in the mean time, Burke is able to act with without consequence or fear of getting canned.
What to do?
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