A Complete Nightmare
Two things seem abundantly clear this morning.
One, this notion that sending big-money Leafs to the minors — Jason Blake is the most obvious target — will somehow fix what ails the club is just wrong. Blake may not be much use this season, but unless he is clearly a detrimental figure in the dressing room, just getting rid of him is essentially pointless and probably just symbolic.
Unless you have a replacement, dumping a player isn't much of an answer.
Two, whatever is wrong with this team, Ron Wilson seems powerless to fix it.
The Leafs were the worst defensive team in the NHL last season and the worst penalty killing team. Today, they are the NHL's worst defensive team and worst penalty killing team.
Faces have changed. Bodies have left town, others have been brought in. The blueline was rebuilt.
But still the basic fundamentals of team defence completely escape this team. Some of that is about dumb hockey players, and some of it is about a coaching staff that isn't having a positive impact.
People are upset today in Leaf-dom, and with good reason. Nobody thought the club would be a strong team this season — maybe a playoff team — but nobody forecast it would be this bad, this awful after 20 games.
Believe me, there are other cities in the NHL where there is great unhappiness today. Calgary. Anaheim. Montreal. People in Boston are disappointed. Detroit fans are wondering what happened to their great team.
None of those teams have an easy fix in front of them, and neither do the Leafs. When the majority of hockey fans applauded the concept of a salary cap five years ago, what they didn't appreciate was that this was the world that would be created, a world in which the team that starts the season is basically the team you're stuck with, at least until the trade deadline.
The off-season is when important change is made. Not November.
So Leaf fans can scream all they want, and they have good reason to scream.
But that won't change much. In terms of the playing roster, the options are almost non-existent.