Words to Live By
It is amazing what can get people all hot and bothered over hockey in this town.
Example: Paul Maurice says his team will "make the playoffs and compete for the Cup," and it's treated as though by an unintended slip of the tongue he revealed the cure for cancer.
Let's break this down.
Maurice has promised his team will be among the 16 clubs in a 30 team league that qualify for post-season play.
Hardly a promise to immediately begin stacking bricks with a plan to reach higher than the Burj Dubai.
And if you make the playoffs, then you are by definition "competing" for the Cup, because it's a tournament. Atlanta competed for the Cup last spring, its just that they ceased competition after four quick losses.
Good for Maurice, one supposes, by sounding like a coach with confidence in his men, although what his alternative statement would have been escapes me.
Of far more interest, it seems to me, was the latest gobbledy-gook to come out of the mouth of the one, the only, Richard Peddie.
Yesterday, the prez announced the the "search had stopped" for somebody to either come and work with GM John Ferguson or oversee Ferguson.
Fabulous. Stopped just before O.J. stopped his search for the real killers.
But let's make sure everybody understands what actually happened over the past three months.
Peddie and his bosses promised Ferguson a contract extention, and JFJ hired a high-profile sports agent, Gil Scott, to negotiate a deal. The promise came sometime after an end-of-year meeting with the MLSE board in which JFJ was told he was doing a fine job.
And then the Leafs never bothered to call about the extension. Moreover, a weird search began for a greying executive to somehow stabilize or improve the Leaf front office.
For weeks, it went on and on, with the Leafs going so far as to actually interview John Muckler while flirting endlessly with Scotty Bowman. The classy Ferguson, who had to deal with the death of his famous father at the same time, never uttered a negative, complaining word.
Now, if anyone would be so silly to take Peddie at his word, the search is over.
Until the Leafs lose two or three, of course, at which point it will begin again, and if Maurice is completely wrong, MLSE sounds like it want to hand over all powers and a gigantic contract to Bowman. This silliness is right up there with the days when George Armstrong didn't want to coach the Leafs, but was afraid to tell owner Harold Ballard, and then announced all the Leaf picks at the entry draft.
So these brilliant thinkers have managed to turn this season already into a season all about Ferguson's future. Every win will be a check mark in his favour, every loss an "X" against his name.
As camp starts, Ferguson and Maurice have every right to like their team - just not the part of the organization that inhabits the fancy board of directors lounge and will decide their future.