Over the course of any project, a point of finality inevitably will get reached. At this point it becomes time to step back, view all aspects of the project and determine which were successful and those that were not. Brian Burke and Leafs management this week will be enduring this process and the unenviable task of building a road map from the wreckage of this season into the summer when it can be corrected.
To say the entire season was a complete failure would be unfair to the players and coaches. Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul each enjoyed career seasons in scoring while Dion Phaneuf improved his offensive output from the past 3 seasons. Jake Gardiner revealed himself to be a possible cornerstone defense man for many years and up until his concussion John Michael Liles was also solid contributor. When the goal tending was in it’s least stable state, Ben Scrivens played well at times giving fans a hopeful glimpse of what’s to come.
The failures are much easier to account for as they have been plenty. Starting with leadership and moving down to penalty killing, the team simply could not overcome the massive burden they placed on themselves. Phaneuf had his shortcomings as a captain, but he certainly wasn’t aided by the coaching staff rotating his 2 alternates in the press box. This criticism should go for both coaches as Carlyle did not alter this plan of action with Colby Armstrong and Mike Komisarek. Ultimately a team will always be judged by how they respond when things do not go well, and the results speak volumes. The group had 8 wins over the past 2 months of the season.
The post-mortums will be coming fast and furious all week long and most will echo the same sentiment. Who failed who or what decisions should have been different in Monday morning quarterback fashion serve to benefit nobody, the team was simply not good enough to win the requisite games to be competitive. Brian Burke may not have seen the crash coming in the fashion that it did, but he was wise enough not to mortgage futures for a band aid solution to get into the playoffs. For that he should be lauded, but he likely won’t be. Past administrations set the club back by close to a decade by trading draft picks and prospects to attempt to get better quick, and it is a breath of fresh air to not see that happen.
All in all, today was another day of the week. The Leafs played a game that will be their last until September, and when the time comes we will all come back. All of the sins of seasons past will be erased for the quest for what most would consider lowering the bar, to be in the top 58% of the league. Maybe next season will be the season that the draft picks of years past begin to produce, or the elusive free agent that is holding this team from being competitive will emerge. For Brian Burke’s sake, lets hope so.
Highlights from the game;
– The players of the Montreal Canadiens should be complimented for showing up to play a game. The game had as little meaning to them as it did for the Leafs, but the habs were ready from the opening face off. For all the talk of tanking for draft position, the people occupying the seats in the building payed good money to see a game, not a sham to move up or down by one position. This is not a suggestion that Toronto did this, they simply were uninterested in playing. Understandable given the circumstances, unprofessional none the less.
-How do you give up a shorthanded goal with a 2 man advantage. Lack of focus and attention to detail are 2 of many things that need correcting this summer.
– If I was Brian Burke, which I am not, but if I were I would not necessarily advise my players to go into the world championship. This team has been fragile for months, and maybe the best thing for most of them would be to take a month or so off. This probably sounds crazy, but it seems like they don’t enjoy playing right now.
– The second thing I would do is look for an outside training group to work with the players on improving physical fitness. The first guy that comes to mind is Gary Roberts, but Matt Nichol with BioSteel is also a great personal trainer. Some may remember him as the former strength and conditioning coach.
– Stay tuned for the Burke news conference tomorrow or monday, it will be interesting to hear his take on what took place this season as he has been in radio silence for some time now. I like the guy, but he can do better than that. If he can speak when times are good for his team, he should be able to do so when times are tough.
On a personal note, I would like to thank everybody that has followed Myles, Bradshaw, and myself all season long. We each have worked hard to bring the most accurate up to date news regarding the team as well as opinion. If this is you’re jump off point for the year, we look forward to serving you again next season. If not, we will be working very hard to continue to bring stories regarding the playoffs, the draft, and free agency all leading into the preseason and ultimately the 2012-2013 regular season. Thanks again for letting us bring some Leafs news to you.