The blog is back. For now, anyway. The Leafs, not so sure about them.
Damien Cox is asking the question this morning, what's it take to fire a Leaf?
|Ed Belfour: Gets the hook, 83 minutes late.|
The hockey team, with 24 victories against 25 defeats (three by shootout) this season, is awash in excuses and clichés and a near-total absence of player accountability, not surprising since even multiple errors or giveaways rarely result in a benching.
Eighty-three minutes late, Ed Belfour got the bench last night after giving up four goals in 23 minutes. Belfour's overwrought reaction after the Sabres' first goal, a flukey one in off the skate of Allison, was the first clue that Eddy might be feeling a tad tired and emotional. The needless penalty he took right after was the next -- Glenn Healy noted all this on the broadcast quite nicely, and it became a theme of the night. From that penalty on, the remainder of the game, with the Leafs' normal AHL-level defence sinking even lower, had the feel of watching the same horror films we've grown used to these past three weeks. Whenever the Leafs got back to within spitting distance of Buffalo, their defence broke down completely.
You have to go a long way back for the most miserable January in MLSE annals -- all the way to last year, in fact. Instead of a lockout, there's this seven-game losing streak and the usual media firestorm. Instead of trading away their cornerstone malcontent and $10 million for a bag of beads, the Raptors have dropped five of their last six and yesterday fired basketball GM Rob Babcock. Neither of their teams play anything resembling defence and there are systemic problems in the overall organization -- I'd say the two are related, defence being predicated on effort and tenacity, and this MLSE defined by complacency and insulated by the lack of a serious alternative. MLSE is the sporting equivalent of the federal Liberals -- tired, out of ideas, riven by infighting, dedicated mostly to the preservation of its power and in dire need of a kick in the ass -- but alas, there are no elections in pro sports.
But there I go, piling on when times are bad. The Leafs are right where most of us thought they'd be. It's a pretty ugly sight, but it's also no surprise. As for Damien's central argument of firing Pat Quinn? It's not the right time. The only case in which I'd see that working is if it was accompanied by a trade(s) of Belfour, or Sundin, or Allison, or one of the Leafs' supposed veteran mainstays at the trade deadline, in exchange for player(s) that will help them in the future -- in other words, if they give up on this season, a decision that they will have to make pretty soon if they keep at this level, just below the playoff grid. Then you give the team to Maurice -- heck, he's going to get the call this summer anyway.
All of that is contingent on MLSE actually giving a damn.
Some other links:
Up in Muskoka, it's a pond hockey tournament. (Far as I know, no one's been fired yet.)
Eric Lindros and the Rangers are haggling over $1 million.
Darcy Tucker will try contact drills today, and may return tomorrow against Montreal.