Damien Cox answers your Maple Leafs questions in his mail bag. Click here to submit a question.
It’s time to officially close the book on the 2006-07 NHL season, take a few weeks breather (it used to be called the OFF-season) and then get ready for what already looks to be an intriguing 2007-08 campaign.
Accordingly, next week will be the last mail bag until September, unless, of course, circumstances dictate otherwise.
So if you’ve got a beef, a query, a complaint or just something to get off your chest, this is your last chance for a bit. We’ll do our very best to answer ’em all, even if the final mail bag next week gets a bit longer than usual.
So let ’em rip!
Here’s this week’s mail bag:
Q: Can you please clarify for me why would Mr. Leopold take $50 million less for his franchise?
Why in heaven’s name would Bettman rather see a team in Kansas (City) over Hamilton? None of this makes sense. What are the real reasons that no one wants to write about?
Should Bettman be fired if (Jim) Balsillie dosen't get the team? Everyone knows Balsillie's deal would be the best move for the other owners and the league?
Peter B., Toronto
A: Well, the NHL’s actual strategy when it comes to the future of the Nashville franchise is, to be sure, a little cloudy. It wouldn’t be a bad strategy for the NHL to want to go somewhere else than Hamilton if they actually had a reasonably promising alternative, which they don’t.
But Bettman won’t be fired, regardless of what happens. This isn’t a democracy or an election, and the commish just spent considerable effort making sure his No. 1 supporter, Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs, was installed in as the league’s new chairman of the board. Politically, Bettman is more secure than ever.
Q: I had heard during the draft coverage on TV that Tampa was shopping around Brad Richards. Would it not make sense for the Leafs to see what it would take to get him here? I would let them name their price (players on the current roster, draft picks). After 2 years of missing the playoffs I would think no one other than Kaberle is untouchable, and as for the picks, since we're giving those away anyway for backup goalies 2 years in a row, at least we are getting a Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
Hans Kung, Toronto
A: Big contract, though, huh? A rousing $7.8 million next season, with a few more years to run. I actually agree with you, but clearly, the Leafs have gone in another direction. Moreover, at this point, GM Jay Feaster apparently has no plans of deviating from his concept of keeping his Big Three together.
Do the Leafs have a capologist that you know of? I am reading more and more teams who have one,would it even be helpful like it is in football and basketball.
Andrew Stevens, Toronto
A: They don’t have a capologist, per se, but ex-player Jeff Jackson was brought in last season and does a lot of that CBA, salary cap-related work.
Q: Heart and soul combined with grit and determination used to characterize some relatively "great" Leafs teams (think early 1990's on this one). However, since Gary Roberts' departure, this team has really showed its lack in tangible leadership as well as heart and soul. I love Mats Sundin, but he'll never make the team a winning one, just like Andrew Raycroft; in their interviews they seem to be so non-chalant about winning. So on to my question.
Considering Michael Peca's season was drastically cut short in Chicago and the lack of high calibre leadership on the team (let’s be honest Stajan and Steen don't look like Gilmour and Gartner to me), will the Leafs re-sign him? And how come we haven't heard anything about him since the end of the regular season?
Norm Maschke, Toronto
A: I really believe the Leafs need to bring Peca back, and I think it’s a mistake to put him on the back burner the way they’ve apparently done. He made an enormous difference in the dressing room last season, bringing a real professionalism, and those types of players are truly valuable to have around. Moreover, while his offensive numbers are down, he’s still an excellent faceoff man and strong penalty killer, two areas in which the Leafs need to be stronger.
Q: Hi Damien, love the blog and hope you're enjoying Wimbledon.
I'm not sure that even signing one or two major players will be enough for the Leafs. Maybe it's because I see them more often than other teams, but the Leafs seem to take an alarming number of stupid, lazy penalties. Five or six a night doesn't seem unusual, while teams like the Devils look like they get away with only one or two most nights.
Aside from getting scored on, being short-handed affects any team's ability to get a consistent flow to their game. Why can't the Leaf players focus on discipline? Am I exaggerating this aspect of their game?
Francesco Paonessa, Richmond Hill
A: Interesting point. I think the Leafs upgraded this part of their game last year. Still, only 10 clubs were shorthanded more, so there’s room for improvement. A few less penalties and some better goaltending (your goalie is always your most important penalty killer) could go a long way next season.
Q: Every year someone says the Leafs should blow it all up and start over, and every year the experts say "The Leafs make too much dough to risk blowing it all up" and in general I agree its unlikely. However, my theory is that if the Leafs really stink it up like the 06-07 Flyers or quit in February like the 06-07 Oilers, that there would be overwhelming support/demand in Hogtown for a massive dump of salaries and inept management. If its all about the money for MLSE, then there's gotta be a point where, financially speaking, a grenade will do more good than harm. Come on Damien, give me a number ... 60-point season? 50 points?
Mark Coates, Calgary
A: There is no number. It’s just not going to happen, at least not by design. That said, if the bottom totally fell out in November and December next season, say, well, there would be firings, of course, and by March the names of Sundin, McCabe and others would be very much in the mix for possible trades.
But blowing it all up intentionally? Won’t happen.