The Leafs played the flat-out worst hockey game I have ever seen on Tuesday when they lost to the Predators, at home, 9-2.
The fans of the team collectively called for the GM and Coach to be fired.
The lame duck GM offered up a lame duck press conference and then the team demoted Matt Frattin and asked fans to not throw their clothes on the ice.
Brendan Shanahan was mysteriously quiet.
And most of the media cautioned us about not reading to much into one game. Or reminding us that just last week the Leafs were on a 6-1 run. As if we all aren’t keenly aware that the Leafs have lost 22 of their last 33 games and that that 6-1 run was a little better result-wise than it was process-wise.
I’m not sure how one game against the Bruins disguises the garbage level of play this team has displayed since last February.
I am not sure how being patient will make up for the obviously poor coaching or the despicable lack of effort shown on most nights.
How much longer should I be patient for, exactly, before I make the assessment that you can’t compete in this league without two top pairing defensemen (the Leafs are in their fourth or fifth year trying to get by on one, and it’s completely and unfairly ruined Phaneuf’s rep.) or an elite centre?
The team clearly needs to fire it’s coach who has demonstrably been awful at icing teams that possess the puck (which correlates to winning) as far back as his last two seasons in Anaheim.
But, they can’t really fire their coach when they obviously will be hiring a new GM soon anyways. So they’re in some kind of weird management limbo, which wouldn’t be so bad if they looked like they could finish low and get a top pick.
But, the team made a bunch of moves in the summer to shore up the bottom of their lineup – moves normally reserved for the kind of teams who think they are close to competing. And they have Kessel, JVR and Bernier, which combined means they will finish in the dreaded 12-18 range and either just miss the playoffs or just make them and get throttled in the first round.
And the team is right up against the salary cap.
And they utilize players like Kadri, Percy, Gardiner and Reilly in ways that are bad for their development – sitting them at the first sign of a mistake, or playing worse/older players in front of them.
All of this adds up to the most frustrated I have ever been in my years watching the Leafs.
So don’t tell me to have patience. I don’t want to see someone fired because they lost one game. I want to see a team who’s core has been part of several horrible collapses, has had zero success, and which seems directionless and poorly run do something to show me they are on the right track.
Or failing that, just do something to make me feel better.
I don’t know. I could go on, but whatever. I hope the team wins tonight, but then again, I also kind of hope they lose 9-2 again. Just so that something will change…..So the team won. 5-2, on an empty netter. They almost blew it at the end, got lucky with some goalposts, a bad game by Bishop, a horrible giveaway by a lightning defensemen and just generally were extremely lucky to escape with a win.
Predictably, the post-game media involved ex-players saying like “They were on a 6-1 run, lost 2 bad games and won tonight. It’s a rollercoaster and now all those jersey throwers and fire-the-coachers- are eating their words.” Um, no we are not. While I do think jersey tossing is for losers, I will say that it’s pathetic how the results of a game overshadow the process. The Leafs were bad last night. They were out-shot, out-played and the only reason they won was because they were lucky.
Everyone should be just as pissed today as they were Wednesday. This team needs the exact same changes they needed yesterday.
People say to have this:
We need more of this. Figuratively, of course, not calling for an actual riot.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.