We’re about to find out just how much guts Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs have.
The NHL trade deadline is March 3 and there not much doubt that the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff chances will be down to none by them. With 30 games left in the regular season those post-season chances are currently at slim and none, with “slim” all ready to leave town on the next available Greyhound bus.
So easy call then right? If you’re the Toronto Maple Leafs and committed to a long-term rebuilding program with younger players, and you have no chance at a playoff spot this season, you unload and help yourself for the future, right?
Of course you do. The Leafs have to be a seller, not a buyer, and given how far removed they are from a playoff spot, they can’t even really afford to just sit there and do nothing (something Leaf teams do on the ice from time to time, but that’s another story).
They should unload veteran players and contracts wherever possible and stockpile more younger players and draft picks, even if it means finishing last. And anyway, when you finish last, you get to draft…
Ah, there’s the rub. They don’t have a first round draft pick this year or next, part of the Phil Kessel deal. So if they do unload and finish 28th or worse (and they may very well finish that low even if they don’t unload), they may have to watch the Boston Bruins draft Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin or another budding superstar with their draft pick.
That would be embarrassing, but that’s too bad. There is no question that Brian Burke and company thought the Leafs were going to be a lot higher in the standings than they are – and they’re not. Bad call – you just don’t trade your No. 1 pick in a year when you finish last for anybody!!!
But it is what it is – and what it is for the Leafs is the fact that they have to carry on and do what’s best for the future. Making another mistake here isn’t going to help them, and it would be a mistake not to offer up veteran players for draft picks or younger talent, presuming anybody wants them.
Look, Kessel is a very good player, but the deal will look even worse if Boston gets the No. 1, 2 or 3 pick for him. But the Leafs can’t be concerned with how things look, they have to do the right thing for the future.
And the right thing right now is to take a chance at finishing last in a year where finishing last won’t help them in the least. Do they have the guts to do that, or do they make short term moves to boost them up to avoid that embarrassment?
Better that they be a little embarrassed than they make another mistake that will hurt the long term. Leaf Nation should hope they have the guts to do what’s right.
Patrice Cormier is lucky his suspension wasn’t any longer.
The rest of the regular season and the entire playoffs is a long time, but he could have got more in my mind. He’s eligible to apply to play in the Memorial Cup if his team makes it there, but with Dave Branch the President of the Canadian Hockey League (the operators of the Memorial Cup), I really doubt he’ll be in Brandon, Manitoba in May.
Good. I wouldn’t have minded an even longer suspension, although Cormier would be playing pro hockey next year somewhere if the suspension had been longer. Vicious, dirty head hunting shot that has no place in the game and is in no way a hockey play…he got what he deserved.
He also showed no remorse after. Think he, or anyone else who does this in the future, will be deterred? I doubt it – those kind of players and people just get more angry when they get nailed like that.
And what’s in all this for Mikael Tam, the poor guy that got clocked? Nothing. Makes no difference to him how long Cormier’s out, he’s going to suffer in silence and try to get back into the game when he can.
The victims of these kind of hits need to be compensated somehow. The teams and coaches of players like this need to face some punishment when these things happen. And all hockey leagues have to honour all suspensions dished out for them to have any real meaning.
Until all three of those things happen, we’ll be talking about this again in maybe another few months. You want to get rid of this garbage in hockey? Then make the player compensate the guy he hits, make the teams also pay a penalty and get together with all leagues and honour all suspensions fully.
Just giving out suspensions isn’t enough. We’ve been through all of this before, the punishment has to fit the crime – and you can do that better by hitting people in the pocketbook – and hard.