Leaf fans need to Chill

Every year we hear Leaf fans making the argument that they are a patient bunch and are willing to wait out a lengthy 5 year rebuilding plan and yet a mere 15 or so games into the season (and barely 40 games into the overhaul of the group of forwards) I am reading stories about Leaf fans wanting to fire Ron Wilson, some are jumping all over GM Brian Burke calling him a failure and some are even pointing out that this is just more of the same old thing that has been happening in Toronto the past 40 seasons.  I have even witnessed people who bemoaned the demotion of Nazem Kadri after last seasons training camp claiming Kadri was ready based on a good pre-season and now bemoaning his promotion 15 or so games into this season as Kadri isn’t ready for the NHL yet.

With this post I am calling on Leaf fans to just chill and give the process a chance.  I understand your dismay at how the Leafs have played the past 10 or so games, but show a little patience that you always claimed you had and if you are honest with yourselves you will realize that there is real progress here regardless of record.  This is not the same team as last year and in fact it is vastly different, and for the better.  Here are some things we need to remember.

  1. This is a very young team, especially at forward.  Kessel, Bozak, Kulemin, Caputi, Kadri, and Versteeg are all age 24 and younger and with youth you will experience ups and downs as they develop.  They need time to develop and we need to be patient with them.  Players don’t become reliable veterans overnight.
  2. The goaltending, while still not great, is improved and as a result the Leafs have been in almost every game they have played this season and few losses can be directly blamed on the goaltending.  That’s a far cry from the past couple seasons when you can pretty much turn the game off after one period for a significant portion of the games largely due to horrific goaltending.  Plus their prospect goalies look promising as well.
  3. The defense has actually been pretty good.  They are among the league leaders in fewest shots against and combined with their decent goaltending they are middle of the pact in goals against average.  That is a huge improvement from one year ago.
  4. Most importantly we need to remember that this is still not the team Burke wants.  He isn’t finished the rebuild yet, especially the forwards. Specifically, he is looking for at least one, maybe two, offensive forwards, preferably with size, for the top 2 lines.  There may be other changes he needs to make as well as even the best laid plans need to be tweaked from time to time.  We need to give him some more time to finish the job.

I understand the concern about the team and its fortunes.  I share that concern.  I don’t like watching the team lost and I certainly don’t know how Burke’s plan will continue to unfold.  Truth is, Brian Burke feels the same and doesn’t know either.  Maybe Bozak and Kadri never develop into useful NHLers.  Maybe Burke can never find another dominant offensive forward to go with Kessel.  Maybe Gustavsson, Rynnas, etc. never develop into reliable NHL goalies and the Leafs continue to flounder with sub-par goaltending.  I don’t know how it will all unfold, but we need to at least give Burke some time to finish his rebuild and then we can evaluate him fairly.

This article has 7 Comments

  1. I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here, except the part about Leafs fans needing to chill out. I don’t know where you’ve run into self-professed “patient” Leafs fans, but most of the Leafs fans I know are desperate for some good news and a few wins. Last season was one of the worst we’ve seen, and we were promised better things. To witness an 8 game losing streak where the Leafs either went down by 2 goals in the first or blew a lead with less than 1 minute left in the game reminded us way too much of what we thought we’d put behind us. Toskala wasn’t in net, and Blake wasn’t doing his Dr. Spirograph thing, but it felt very similar. For the most part, Leafs fans I know are realistic about the kids on the team, but given that, I think we’re allowed to get a bit upset with an 8 game skid that more than erases some good work done at the start of the season. Reasonable or not, that winning streak was how a lot of us understood this season to be different. I don’t think anyone was jumping into the Don River, but the frustration expressed was, to my mind, only fair.

  2. I can say I was chill after the first 4 losses, but the last four hurt. After dropping three straight they played the might Capitals and gave Ovy and his crew a real fight. They managed to get a point out of it, so while it was a 4th straight loss there was a silver lining. I was optimistic that the skid is coming t an end. Then they blew the Buffalo game, that hurt. And then in the next three games they let in 4 goals each and mustered 1 combined, these were embarrassing losses at a time where they should be making up ground. That was extremely frustrating. The loss to Vancouver wasn’t embarrassing but we are desperately looking for a ‘W’

    Good to see them win yesterday though.

  3. One of my main concerns with the Leafs is that they don’t deliver when it counts most. Last week they won against New Jersey and Nashville. I am glad they got two wins, but those were some of the worst teams in the league. Then we faced a strong team in Montreal. A win over Montreal would put the leafs at .500 and would be a great boost in confidence and would see us string 3 wins in a row, something we need to do more often. To me the Montreal game was a litmus test and we failed. Gustavsson was very good but the team couldn’t score.

    This weekend we face Ottawa and Buffalo. Two divisional rivals. If we win both we will be 1 above .500 and could pass both of them and be top 8. If we win 1 and lose 1 then we will be in the same shape we are in now, not great. If we lose both then we will be buried.

    Last weekend was an important litmus test and we failed.
    This weekend if we fail then we are done.

  4. And sure enough, they lost the second one. In two very critical divisional games they lost both and got out scored 6-1. They looked really bad too. Those teams are not superior teams by any means, but we made them look good.

    We have to win 60% of the remaining games to hope for a playoff spot. Kiss the playoffs good bye leaf fans. Golfing season started this weekend.

  5. The mighty?? Oilers beat the lowly leafs 5-0. After 24 games the leafs are 1 point ahead of the miserable leafs from last season. With this loss I can’t imagine anyone would think any better of this team than they did of last year’s. I can’t understand why the team is so bad, we have some good players and I do believe we’ve had better goal tending than last year, but this team is terrible.

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