Tonight ended the excruciating fall in the standings which resulted in the Toronto Maple Leafs missing the playoffs for a franchise record seventh season. The game was virtually over before it started, Jonas Gustavsson allowing 2 awful first period goals and finally a horrendous shot in the second period that will likely be his last game as a Maple Leaf. The 3-0 score was hardly indicative of the lack of effort put forward by the home team, losing their 10’th straight at the Air Canada Centre. It’s hardly a surprise that many seats in the ACC were left unoccupied, and even less so that the team was given the business from the paying customers for large portions of the third period. It was one of the most boring, uninspired. and flat hockey games that they have played this season.
It is only curious to wonder what comes next after a season like this. I can’t help but wonder if this is it for Brian Burke and his army of executives. It really is beyond words what has gone on the last two months. I apologize that I don’t have more to offer tonight, but I can’t even analyze this fairly. They played awful, got closer to a lottery pick, did nothing to support their goaltender, did little to defend their coach or general manager. This is a bad hockey team, and if not for the fact that James Wisniewski was suspended and Jeff Carter has maturity issues, Toronto would be rival to Columbus for the top pick. This after the “I don’t believe in five year rebuilds” proclamation only four years ago. This team was not good under John Ferguson Jr. But for the pitchforks and torches that chased him out of town only to have THIS four years later is sickening.
Tomorrow I will do a blow by blow of what the Leafs need to do over the summer now that the elimination is official. An eighth grader could probably piece it together, but I think it needs to be looked at. This team has deficiencies in all areas, and without intervention the result will only get worse. Quite frankly, the end of the Ferguson era had so many things go wrong because nobody intervened when the noose was tightening around Fergies neck. Trades like Rask for Raycroft, Toskala and Bell for a First, Jason Allison, Eric Lindros, Michael Peca, and the list goes on and on for what can happen when an under performing executive can do when pressure gets high.
Highlights From The Game:
– I’m sure the national anthem was great.
– Alan Frew again. does nobody in the Air Canada Centre understand the philosophy behind a trend?
– The first shift off the opening face off was actually good. The Crabb, Steckel, Frattin line actually had a couple more that were noteworthy, but the scoreboard speaks louder.
– The Leafs were finally eliminated officially from the playoffs. No more reference to a non existent playoff race
– Jonas Gustavsson will play in the NHL next season, just not in Toronto. Another goalie coach will likely succeed in deprogramming the Francois Allaire system of playing net, and getting the most out of the large athletic swede.
– Speaking of Allaire, I wonder why the question never gets asked if his system is overvalued because of the two most successful goaltenders to play in it. Patrick Roy was a legendary talent and chances are would have succeeded regardless of who mentored him. The same argument could be made for J.S. Giguere, who is not exactly showing the signs of missing his former coach this year.