It’s an annual rite of passage. The Toronto Maple Leafs have a middling start to the season and panic ensues.
Players should be benched, demoted, or traded. The Toronto Maple Leafs coach or GM needs to be fired. The team lacks passion.
Sure, much of the angst around the team is concerning, but impulsive reactions are not the solution. Change for the sake of change does not work. It leads to bigger problems.
All the naysayers should heed the advice of Frankie and R-E-L-A-X. Relax.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Deserve Patience
The Leafs right now are the definition of mediocre. They are mid-pack in many advanced and traditional stats.
There is no arguing about some of the issues surrounding the team. The new additions are not producing. The fourth line is an anchor. The defense is losing bodies every week.
Perhaps, most infuriating, was their lack of physical response to public enemy number one, Brad Marchand, of the divisional rival Boston Bruins, and his questionable hit on Timothy Liljegren.
Aside from Ryan Reaves’ words from the players’ bench, not a single action to stick up for a fallen teammate. Not a push, not a bear hug. Nothing. So, the word “soft” and the Leafs are connected once more.
All of the above criticisms are justified, and worse, easily predictable. Still, making rash decisions as if it is some sort of magic elixir is not the answer.
Many have failed to remember that much of the roster is new. Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, John Klingberg, and even Matthew Knies, need time to find their place among the core.
They are trying to get acclimated to a new city, new teammates, and new roles within the team. Add to it the hockey market that is Toronto. Time is required.
To expect all of them to be seamlessly dropped into the lineup with immediate results is unrealistic. Sheldon Keefe and his staff are responsible for eventually putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
Yes, meeting expectations and pressure are part of professional sports. So is human nature. Plus, there are ebbs and flows to every season, no matter how good or bad a team is.
Ten games, roughly an eighth of the season, is not nearly enough time for judgment.
There is no doubt that the Toronto Maple Leafs need to work through some issues. Doing so, while staying in the playoff picture is fine.
The Bruins are off to a hot start and some urgency exists if a division title is the goal. For the moment, and looking at the bigger picture, patience is required.
The Leafs deserve time to gel and sort through their problems, at least until the midway point of the season. Then, should the concerns remain, let the alarm bells ring.