|How Do You Spell Shut Out?|
This message is from me to Brendan Shanahan, President of Hockey Operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The rest of you can check out if you wish. First of all, you owe Wiz close to a million dollars in lost salary in your gambit to obtain your current position. Pay up dude.
Second, as a long term Blue Jackets fan, I know how effective it is for the General Manager/President of Hockey Operations to have a significant presence in the locker room, and by that I mean showing up once. It will only take 2 or 3 coaches and a complete changeover in front office personnel to move past that gambit, if the Blue Jackets experience is any measure. You gained exactly one win, against the Columbus Blue Jackets, by showing up to tell everyone they were optional. You got nada out of the same team a few weeks later. Way to think long term dude.
I have taken a certain amount of well deserved flack for flip flopping on the whole tanking issue. In a moment of clarity, Dave Lozo's article on the issue of a winning culture struck home with me. You could not have had a more succinct example of a winning culture playing against a 'culture of rebuilding' than the game tonight. Talent wise, there is no way Toronto is a 'lose 5-0' team. In terms of team structure, where one team has been told losing is acceptable, and another team where losing is unacceptable, a 5-0 score in the favor of the losing unacceptable folks makes complete sense.
If losing is acceptable today, how then do you propose to inform your players that losing is unacceptable tomorrow Mr. Shanahan? Do you think that pronouncements from on high will be sufficient? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Seriously. Snicker, snort. Really?
I will give JD and Jarmo and HCTR props for consistency of message. Losing is not acceptable. Our team has been making a statement down the stretch that they believe is a clear message to management that it is desirable to maintain the existing team structure. As a fan, I think this message is compelling. As a fan, I expect a playoff run next year. I don't see it happening without players like Letestu and Calvert on the roster. Jarmo, as a fan, I don't see a competition for the fourth line as a path to the playoffs, I see that competition as defining our chances, and I expect proven NHL players on that line, not tweeners. If the young folk can displace the vets by Christmas, so be it. And frankly I expect the fourth line to be Matt Calvert, Mark Letestu, and Morin/Borque or a demonstrably superior alignment. We need to be 'in the playoffs' by Christmas (see Penguins, Pittsburgh for the fraughtness fraught of being ahead early). Screw it. I'll take my chances of kicking a** early and riding it out. But that's another post for the off season.
Nice tank job Toronto. An A** Beating of Biblical Proportions is always a good thing for your opposition. But you get a draft pick. Sort of. Good luck with that.