He’s back. Andrew files on his Leafs, and it isn’t pretty. In fact, it seems like Andrew is spending more time on the train to Ottawa to take in Sens games, that he is watching his hometown squad. Meet the new (bench) boss, same as the old boss?
Listening to the terrestrial radio the other day (because my iPod died, I couldn’t find the damn cord, I’m out of burnable CDs and the kind I like aren’t made anymore and apparently electronics are out to get me), I heard a song that I think truly encapsulates the Toronto Maple Leafs right now.
You can sing it along in your head, or cue it up on YouTube, but I was struck enough by one of my favourite Fleetwood Mac songs to put it up here:
“I took my love and I took it down. I climbed a mountain and I turned around. And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills, ‘til the landslide brought me down. Oh mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life? Mmm mmm I don’t know.
Well I’ve been afraid of changing, cause I’ve built my life around you. But times makes you bolder, children get older, and I’m getting older, too…”
Landslide is quite appropriate, no? Sitting pretty above the league, then a complete free-falling descent into damn near last place in the conference. Or as Brian Burke put it, “like an 18-wheeler heading off a cliff.” Such a fiery disaster of a mess these last few months have been. Last week, Toronto fans had their fill of losing and excuses and audibly chanted “FIRE WILSON” during the embarrassing outing against the Florida Panthers.
Amazingly, it worked. After doing nothing at trade deadline and not firing him months ago, Ron Wilson was “relieved of coaching duties” last Friday. His replacement is former Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle.
Apparently the 2011-2012 Leafs are trying to be the mid-00s Ducks. In multiple ways. Hopefully without trading Lupul 60 times.
Now look, success is a slow process. But sweet fancy Moses, everything seems to be a day late and a dollar short. Let’s not fire the inept coach before the trade deadline so the new coach can help make personnel decisions. No, let’s not do that. Let’s not try to improve the team when there was a reasonable chance of making the playoffs. Why the dickens would that happen? Ugh, but I’m not bitter. I swear.
That being said, however, the first outing against the Canadiens last Saturday was a shocking one. Why? No, not just because we won (even though it was). It was because of the playmaking. Yes, we’re capable of that. Every single goal (Frattin, Grabo and Grabo) were set up with a corner centering pass. Games ago, that would have slid out of the zone and caused a chorus of groans and generally bitch/whining from us.
However, using some sort of gypsy magic, there were players open in front of the goal. To receive a pass. And actually shoot. Fancy that logic: get pass, shoot on net, score goal! But it really seemed that basic rule of hockey was missing from the Leafs of late. It almost seemed that they got overwhelmingly surprised that there was a black disc of rubber on their sticks. I don’t know what kind of magic spells Carlyle brought from SoCal, but my god did they work on Saturday.
It almost made the copious amount of beer I drank while watching the game unnecessary. Almost. Because beer is never unnecessary. Shock Top is very, very nom. And free beers from the lovely bartender lady because of misspours? Love love love. Helped with the SUPER SUICIDE BLAZIN’ wings I consumed. Because I hate myself, apparently. But I managed, because I can take it. Thus began the few days of not sadness………………
Then Boston and Pittsburgh happened. Why win when reverting to your old ways is ever so much more fun, eh? No one open, no coverage, flukey goaltending. Thankfully, while in attendance for the Bruins @ Leafs game, several GOOD things (yes, good!) did happen:
1. Game with a friend is always more fun (especially a friend whose dinner suggestion is street meat. Brilliant, Eddie).
2. Jim Cuddy sang the national anthems (lead singer for Blue Rodeo. Canadian thing.)
3. I met Walter Gretzky and had him sign my shirt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4. Cute boy on bus on way home.
But the best of all that happened on Tuesday happened during the middle of the third. The Leafs were down and you knew (and could sense everyone else did, too) that the game was lost. So I made some flip remark about how Amish Paradise will always be better than Gangsta’s Paradise. Little did I know that this would prompt a rather long and entertaining discussion amongst the seats around, about merits of Weird Al and other glorious things, providing a much-needed bit of levity to a terrible turn of events in the game.
Still good to get out and see hockey though, in any form. Which leads me to a small aside, however: If you have tickets to a hockey game, do not first show up five minutes into the second period. Then, after doing that, do not spend the rest of the period on your phone or OUT OF YOUR SEAT IN THE CONCESSION AREA. And after THAT, do not think we’re not going to snipe about you, you bastards. It’s just proper etiquette.
Barely removed from the shyte play of Tuesday, Wednesday’s Pens game saw another early lead evaporate and the same lapses and generally crap play happen all over. Chances of making the playoffs, 85% not a few weeks ago, are now in the single digits of percentages. I have a better shot of being Queen of England than the Leafs of making the playoffs at this point, and that’s incredibly upsetting.
Yes, that sentence was intentionally horrible. The musings of the forever frustrated Leafs fan can get a tad incoherent at times. At least I don’t smell burnt toast….yet.
Yes, there are still weeks to go. But no, if we keep playing the way we’ve been playing, we will not and deserve not to make the playoffs. Just a few things to help understand the minds of Leafs Nation:
1. If Florida makes the playoffs this year, there will be only ONE team that has not made it to the post-season since the Lockout. Guess who?
2. There are only SIX active players who have played in a Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game.
If we keep on the slide we’re on, some crazy s**t needs to go down in the offseason. Blow up the entire freaking team (save for a handful of key pieces) and fix the goaltending and defence situations foremost. I like Reimer, but he’s not a starter yet. He needs time to adjust. Hopefully he follows a Price-esque trajectory and suddenly kills it next season. But who knows?
And if Gus is re-signed? Oh by god, get me my rage hat.
There are just so many things that need fixing. Yet, I fear, this will be another off-season of excuses and little change. Because, hey, why not go back to what we’re used to?
Follow Andrew on twitter and console him in his time of need: @manbearpiglpu