Toronto Maple Leafs Fans Can Sympathize with Oilers Fans

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14: William Nylander
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14: William Nylander /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are doing pretty good, all things considered.

Sure, it’d be nice if Auston Matthews and William Nylander returned to the lineup, but after years of incompetence in the form of Dave Nonis, Brian Burke and Dave Poulin (it’s unbearable to see any of them on TV also) the Toronto Maple Leafs are doing alright, thank you very much.

But watching the Oilers flounder, it’s easy to see the similarities.  The Oilers had four first overall picks and they somehow managed to blow it.  An idiot could see that a Taylor Hall/Connor McDavid combo would guarantee success for years to come, but they gave up on it after one season in which they didn’t ice their optimal lineup a single time.

It was and will go down as probably the worst trade in the history of the NHL.  Hart Trophy winner in exchange for a defenseman aquired specifically because they thought they needed a right-hand defenseman.

Sound familiar?  The Leafs and their fans are no stranger to terribly run teams. In fact, other than a couple of years in the ninties, and another couple in the first pre-lockout years of the 00s, the Toronto Maple Leafs were the poster child for poorly run sports teams with inept management.

That mantle now belongs to the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers and the Leafs part one

When the Leafs fired Brian Burke, they brought in Dave Nonis.  If Nonis was still employed in the NHL he’d be the only GM close to as bad as Peter Chiarelli is.  But he isn’t employed because the Leafs are smarter than the Oilers.

The Oilers fired their Brian Burke and brought in Peter Chiarelli as their Dave Nonis.  But unlike the Leafs, they’ve stuck with Chiarelli long after it’s been clear that he is terrible.  The fact the Oilers let Chiarelli fire a coach yesterday instead of replacing him completely is the biggest slap in the face imaginable to the League’s most abused fan base.

But Peter Chiarelli isn’t the problem.  The problem is Bob Nicholson. Nicholson is Chiarelli’s boss, and he is the one who made Chiarelli both President and GM.  It’s been an absolute failure and they couldn’t have done worse with a  random stranger off the street.

Bob Nicholson is the Oilers very own Richard Peddie.  Peddie was the guy behind firing Pat Quinn and hiring John Ferguson and then (unbelievably) Cliff Fletcher and then Brian Burke.  It wasn’t until the Leafs got rid of Peddie and his garbage abilities that they were able to hire Brendan Shanahan and become a good team.

Watching the Oilers ridiculously hire Ken Hitchcock while allowing Chiarelli to continue in his role of GM is like watching the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2004 until they hired Brendan Shanahan.

From the former joke of the NHL to the current one, we feel your pain.

The Oilers and Leafs part two

Seeing the similarities is one thing, but watching how they play out in real life is another.  Take the Taylor Hall and William Nylander situations.  While not exact parallels, both teams felt they could use a right handed defenseman, and many people in both fan bases advocating the trading of what they considered ‘excess scoring’ to get it.

That Taylor Hall and William Nylander have very similar numbers over their entry-level deals should not be lost on anyone.  Nylander is being underrated to a degree even Jake Gardiner can’t comprehend by a fanbase that is angry at him for holding out.  (People get mad at anyone who goes on strike, as anyone who has family in the bus driving or teaching or postal industries, even when those people are 100% in the right.  People don’t care about right or wrong, they care about their own personal inconvenience).

But the Leafs won’t make the same mistake.  The fans might not recognize Nylander as the equal to Mitch Marner, but Leafs management is fully aware of how good he is – they are just forced into a situation where it’s necessary to fight for every last dollar.

The difference between the Leafs and Oilers is that the Leafs have competent people in charge. Kyle Dubas won’t be trading Nylander for pennies on the dollar, and eventually they will either come to a longterm deal, or a short one.  But the Leafs have their best chance to win now, and they won’t blow it.  Therefore I can almost guarantee that Nylander will be back in the Leafs lineup within the next two weeks.

List of Possible Nylander Trades. dark. Next

The difference between the Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs is that the Oilers are still living their nightmare.  The Leafs had the good sense to burn everything down and start over.  The Oilers won’t need to do that with their team, at least not all of it, but they definitely need to clearcut their management from the very top.