Most players don’t want to play in Toronto because of how brutal the Toronto media can be. That’s at least the company line at MLSE, and the journalists work real hard to keep that reputation. Just ask them, they will tell you how intimidating that they are. During the Leafs season you might even be roped into believing that four major newspapers (Star, Sun, Globe, National Post) printing 1 to 2 articles a day constitutes a barrage of attention. The trouble is what happens in between, which tells more of the complete story.
The Toronto Marlies for the second time since arriving in Toronto from St. Johns, Newfoundland have advanced all the way to the conference final, with little if any fanfare from the Toronto media. Damien Cox of the Toronto Star did several articles over the course of two days highlighting members of the team and their journey, but otherwise, nary a whisper regarding the best professional hockey club in the city of Toronto at the current time.
Could it be that the lack of fanfare at the games dictates less media presence, because if that is the case it is patently incorrect. The baby leafs are currently drawing more people on this current playoff run than on a previous occasion back in 2007. Could it be that the names on the jerseys do not dictate the kind of attention that players like Lupul, Kessel, and Phaneuf deserve. If so, why not at least pay some attention to the declared draft “bust” Nazem Kadri who has established himself with more of a Darcy Tucker like persona, be it Kadri appears to be gifted with more natural talent than Tucker.
Or could the real reason this is going on be the underlying theme that most columns in the city have taken on, which is that it is open season on Brian Burke and company. If the media was to pay any attention to this, it would certainly dispel many notions in the ex-general manager now in the media circle that has lamented Burkes unwillingness to apologize for trading a couple of high draft picks three years ago. It would also add fuel to the fire in the mainstream hockey media such as the hockey news which has been on their high horse lately about the state of the prospect system Toronto owns.
Burke deserves criticism, that is without question. But isn’t it fair if you’re going to hang a man for his faults, to crown him for his achievements. The Marlies have not looked so legitimately good in some time, and the players that have led the way are part of a young nucleus that Burke worked hard to piece together. His record since arriving in Toronto at the NHL level has been no better than the man he replace, John Ferguson Jr. But his current run of drafting and developing seems to be bearing some fruit. Perhaps if allowed to develop long enough, as often happens in the NHL, the next general manager will be the crowned prince for inheriting such a collection of prospects in the CHL, Europe, University, and the AHL.
More important, this should hopefully signify that the long awaited rebuild is actually still moving forward full steam ahead, and rather than decimate that collection of talent for the snake oil that could accelerate the team out of the basement, the team should stay the course. Every general manager in the NHL knows just how desperate Burke’s alleged situation with the Leafs is, and like vultures over a fresh corpse all are ready to sweep in at this opportune time. Why help their situation. Let Scott Howson twist in the wind if Jake Gardiner is part of what he wants for Rick Nash, a guy that has played four more playoff games in the NHL than this current Leafs squad. If he couldn’t save Columbus, he probably won’t save Toronto.
This is not to villify or defend the guy, he doesn’t need anybody else to do that. He is loyal to a fault, he stands up for what he believes in, he will not bend to satisfy anybody that questions him. His efforts in the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender community are to be quite frank, like nothing ever before seen in the world of pro sports. He is equally passionate about his work with the sick kids in the Toronto area, as well as other groups. This article is to paint a picture that has gained much clarity with the Marlies recent success. It is a whole lot more worthwhile for most of the Toronto media to jump all over the guy when the team is in disarray than to acknowledge any success that may occur under him, and that is just sad.
To even observe what John Tortorella is doing to the local and national media over the course of the playoffs is more attention than it really deserves. He is a jerk, always has been, always will be. Broadway will love this little song and dance as long as the team wins. As was found out in Toronto, if the team is not winning, and the jackass coach is condescending to all of the media around him, he will be run out of town. It sounds funny making those kind of statements, but there is some truth to the fact that any member of the NHL is an ambassador to the sport so to speak. A coach that is friendly and cooperative will often stay beyond his expiration date if for no other reason than that he can represents his team before himself. The jerks lose games shortly before losing jobs, just ask Mike Keenan, Mike Milbury, and Pat Quinn.