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Not Scott

June 26, 2007 @ 09:13

According to Steve Simmons in this morning's Toronto Sun, Scotty Bowman has turned down a three year, six million dollar offer to basically run the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The position would have been called "senior hockey advisor" but as it turns out, according to Simmons, Scotty turned it down because he didn't think he could work with MLSE President Richard Peddie.

From what we can gather, MLSE had no problem giving full reign of their basketball team to Bryan Colangelo, but when it comes to hockey, Peddie still thinks he has something to offer and that was too scary a prospect for Bowman - why finish your career in frustration and failure?

I find the whole situation rather sad. First of all, because Bowman found the situation so bizarre he turned down two million a year, and secondly because the Leafs feel they have to turn to a man in his 70's to run their hockey organization.

There is no arguing that Scotty Bowman is a great hockey man, and may even go down as the greatest in NHL history, but come on, he's in his 75th year for cryin' out loud.

If the Leafs need anything, they need the hockey version of Colangelo. A bright young executive who's totally in tune with today's game.

I pains me to insult Scotty Bowman this way but I honestly don't think he's the answer at this point - the Leafs need a Brian Burke or a David Poile or a Bob Gainey running the show.

But expecting the Leafs to do the right thing is a little too much to ask I guess. To me it's odd they would ask Bowman and then frightening that he would turn it down.

Of course this will open the door for the next mistake and they're staring right at it in John Muckler. Apparently he's next on the list and being unemployed probably makes him willing to do anything.

But again, he's 73 and his time has passed. He's not what the Leafs need at this point.

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Don't Be Forlorn

June 25, 2007 @ 07:58

I wouldn't be too discouraged by this weekend's news about Jim Balsillie and the Nashville Predators.

It's not dead yet. As a matter of fact I think this latest move may have been orchestrated by Balsillie.

Jim Balsillie has been criticized for being too pushy and rubbing the NHL the wrong way by going public about Hamilton and even selling season tickets before he even owned the bloody hockey team. But to my mind, that's smart.

Balsillie is testing the waters. Before he cuts a check for close to a quarter billion dollars he wants a read on the NHL. He wants to see how they react before he hands over the dough, and right now he's getting a pretty good idea.

Why on earth would he pay the money only to find out afterwards that he couldn't move the franchise?

And that's why I think the move over the weekend was rather shrewd.

Predators owner Craig Leipold issued a statement saying the NHL should not do any further due diligence on the sale to Balsillie until there's a binding agreement.

I wouldn't be surprised if it was Balsillie's idea. It probably sent a shock wave through the NHL with the vast majority of owners terrified the deal could fall through.

Most of them want the sale to happen. Ballsillie has offered roughly 40 million dollars more than the Preds are worth and they can only help but boost the average price of all franchises.

I really think it's just another calculated move along the way. A way of pushing Gary Bettman further into a corner, making him look even more foolish for rejecting a fabulous deal that will only serve to strengthen the league.

Don't give up on Hamilton yet.

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Bungling Bastards

June 23, 2007 @ 08:31

Yesterday's trade for Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell may turn out to be the best transaction in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs (not really) but it sure didn't make a life long Leaf fan feel any better while watching the 2007 Entry Draft last night.

TSN did a fine job of the production and it was fun to watch the strategy of it all, and especially interesting to watch the faces of the young men whose lives instantly changed when their names were called out.

What was tough to take was another year without involvement by the Maple Leafs, and it became especially uncomfortable when the likes of Alexei Chereponov and Angelo Esposito were still available long after the Leafs original pick which they traded, number 13 over-all, came and went.

As a Leaf fan I'd feel much better this morning if one of these two kids was in the fold rather than a goalie that still hasn't proved he can be number one, and a five year veteran who's never developed into the player people thought he'd be.

But that's the way of the world for a Maple Leaf fan.

All the good teams in the NHL keep their draft picks and build their teams with a constant eye towards the future. Not the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Everything is done with eye towards ticket sales. To justify their horrendous ticket prices the Leafs feel they have to ice a team that "at least" makes the playoffs. There's no patience for long term plans. Just finish in the middle of the pack and then trade your middle of the pack draft picks for players who've proved nothing with other teams.

Edmonton had three picks in the first round last night. Montreal two. Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa also made picks. But not the Leafs and they won't make a pick in today's second round either.

Over the next few days we're going to hear a lot of propaganda from the Leafs about a strong goaltending tandem and the untapped potential of Mark Bell, but it doesn't mean anything because we've seen and heard it all before.

The writing was on the wall when the Leafs re-signed Mats Sundin. It was a great opportunity to say thank you and goodbye, clear some cap space, tear down the mess and start all over again.

But nope. The Leafs are shooting for eighth place next season. That's all. Eighth place and piss on the fans.

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The Draft

June 22, 2007 @ 09:32

As for the draft, which begins tonight, the Leafs have the 13th pick over-all in a draft year that's considered pretty slim.

It's so weak, that many believe there could be some wild wheeling and dealing at the draft tables tonight.

There's no clear cut number one, and the there's little to choose between the top ten or so. It all depends on what's there at the time you pick and how it fits into your plans.

If it doesn't fit, then you might trade down for something in a better draft year.

As for the Leafs in particular? Who knows? Their drafting history over the past 40 years isn't something to be proud of, and given some of the questionable moves by John Ferguson Jr. over the past couple of years, how can you be optimistic?

Several players will be considered when number 13 comes up, the key will be to pick the right guy.

Over-all, I can't get excited about anything to do with the Leafs right now. Their signings of been predictable, and nothing in this draft will make a dent in their for future unless they get extremely lucky.

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Tiger's A Daddy

June 20, 2007 @ 09:05

It happened again yesterday. As soon as I heard that Tiger Woods had become a father I tried to picture him screwin' - but I couldn't.

I've tried to do this many times since Tiger first hooked up with the luscious Elin Nordegren but it's impossible.

There's something about Tigers teenage looks and his boyish connection to his dad and mentor Earl Woods that won't allow me to picture him doin' the dirty with anyone.

Tiger's like the kid next door, and even though he's been on the PGA tour for over ten years, I still look upon the guy as a kid - a kid who hasn't slid the slider yet.

I can picture other young athletes pumpin' away like maniacs - Lebron James, Chris Bosh, even Sydney Crosby and every one of the Stall boys - but for some crazy reason, not Tiger.

I can't picture Tiger Woods layin' the lumber.

Why is that?

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Solid Strategy

June 20, 2007 @ 09:01

I totally agree with Jim Balsillie"s strategy.

Many believe he's pushing too hard and pissing too many people off on his way to bringing the Nashville Predators to the GTA. But I think he has to.

Right out of the gate he's got to put the spotlight on the Toronto Maple Leafs and make them them wriggle.

If Balsillie goes about his business quietly it will allow the Maple Leafs to squash this thing before it gets off the ground.

But if he sells tickets, and approaches the Leafs about deals up front, MLSE has to respond and it will let all hockey fans in the GTA who can't get Leafs tickets, know precisely where they stand.

This is all about embarrassment.

Forget money and forget territorial rights. Whether the Preds come to Hamilton or not, the Leafs will still make all the money they possibly can.

It comes down to this. MLSE doesn't want the Predators in their backyard because they don't want to suffer the embarrassment of having the Preds instantly better than they are.

They don't want their management ineptness to be highlighted by a team playing out of Hamilton. They don't want to miss the playoffs and have Hamilton make the playoffs.

Apparently Balsillie has told the Leafs if he moves the Predators to Hamilton, he'll allow MLSE to run Copps Coliseum and that means a lot of dough, and given MLSE's thirst for money how could they possibly say no to that.

Well they can't say no and that's why Balsillie's strategy is the right one.

Put the pressure on early and apply it hard and back the Leafs into a corner.

Put the Leafs in the position of having to say yes, or pissing off the thousands of hockey fans in the GTA who've had enough of their lucrative incompetence.

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Oh Yes Tell Us Another One

June 13, 2007 @ 09:12

I've heard of wild excuses before, but this one takes the cake.

Fellow Bramptonian Jeff Adams who is a world class Paralympic athlete has been suspended for two years and stripped of his government funding in a decision released yesterday by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.

He tested positive for cocaine almost two years ago, but plans to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - and here's his defense.

Adams testified at a hearing before an independent arbitrator that an unknown woman forced cocaine into his mouth with her fingers as he sat beside her on a sofa in the Toronto goth bar Vatikan in May of 2006. He said he washed it out immediately.

Adams said the catheter he used after that incident to extract urine was the same one he used to give a urine sample a week later after a race at the Canadian wheelchair marathon championships in Ottawa. He said that contaminated catheter caused his positive test for a cocaine metabolite.

Needless to say arbitrator Richard McLaren had trouble with the story and lowered the boom so Adams career has pretty well been destroyed. He can't compete and he's lost all government funding.

When I first heard this story on the radio yesterday, I actually laughed when I heard the details. Whenever an athlete tests positive there's always an excuse, always a reason why they're innocent and they're usually pretty lame.

This one is so wild, so out there you'd have to be on drugs to think it up. Or it's true.

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Same Old Same Old

June 13, 2007 @ 09:10

The Maple Leafs signed Mats Sundin to a one year contract yesterday and the deal is being applauded as good for both sides.

The Leafs aren't on the hook beyond next season so that helps with the salary cap, and Sundin gets to take things one year at a time, something he wanted to do as he approaches his 37th birthday.

To me it's nothing but a big waste of time and another wasted year.

This was a great opportunity to move on from the Sundin era and do what the team has to do. Start all over again.

Mats said some nice things yesterday about the Leafs being very close to the caliber of the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks, but what else is the guy going to say.

He wants to play another year and he loves Toronto. But that doesn't help Leaf fans.

Having Sundin back for another year with virtually the same team puts the Leafs firmly in neutral and that means firmly in the middle of the pack and probably firmly out of the playoffs.

This team needs to be rammed into reverse before it goes forward.

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Don't Do It

June 12, 2007 @ 09:36

The main topic on Leafs Lunch yesterday was the impending Mats Sundin signing.

I still maintain it's the wrong thing to do. I think this is the perfect time to end the Sundin era and move on. Let's face it the Sundin era has been mostly unsuccessful with the only bright spots during playoff years being supplied by Gary Roberts.

Jeff Marek and several callers argued yesterday that the Leafs have to sign Sundin because they've got nobody else to take his place and the list of unrestricted free agents doesn't provide an answer either.

To my mind, that doesn't matter. I say tear it down now and start over - and redirecting the eleven million dollars that's about to be spent on Sundin is a good way to start.

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What A Goof

June 11, 2007 @ 08:22

There was a story out of Los Angeles this weekend about a 29 year old Canadian who went to see the Blue Jays play at Dodger Stadium.

In the sixth inning he decided to wave a Canadian flag and he was told to stop by stadium security.

Dodger Stadium has a policy that says people can't display signs or banners during the game because if everybody did it, it could lead to other people having a problem seeing the field of play.

However, because this was a Canadian guy and he was waving a Canadian flag this story has taken on a life of its own and frankly, I find it embarrassing.

Number one, the guy was breaking the rules so the story should end right there.

But what really irks me is that somebody would take a Canadian flag into the game to begin with. It makes no sense, and it bugs me whenever I see a Canadian take a flag into regular sporting events in the States.

It wasn't Canada against the USA on Saturday night. It was the Toronto Blue Jays against the Los Angeles Dodgers. And at last count, the Jays had exactly one Canadian on their team.

Waving a Canadian flag under such circumstances says only one thing.

"Hey look at me. I'm a Canadian guy on vacation and I'm all excited about being here so I'm gonna wave this flag to make some kind of a patriotic statement that I really can't pinpoint."

It's stupid. And hypocritical because it's this type of bullshit that we often criticize Americans for.

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