The Danger of Snapshots
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.--More and more, the Maple Leaf season is turning into a clinic on why drawing snapshot conclusions with a young hockey club is a dangerous business.
Last week, fans were calling for Ron Wilson's head on a platter. Columns were written demanding a change behind the Leaf bench, various TV, radio and blogosphere analysts were saying that Wilson had to go.
Today? After two shootout wins over favoured opponents, Boston and Washington, the Leafs certainly aren't looking like a team that has quit on its coach, but rather a team with a new never-say-die resolve.
Nobody saw that coming. But with young teams, the valleys tend to be rather deep and the hills surprisingly high. Consistency is the first casualty of youth.
Just look at Mikhail Grabovski, a 26-year-old who can look like a star one night - say, last night against Washington - and a player who really needs to find another league to play in another night. He started the season goal-less in 12, although both Wilson and GM Brian Burke said they liked his game.
Then he started producing some points, including a goal and an assist Nov. 16 against Nashille. Problem was, in that game he was also a minus-4. Prior to Monday's game against the Caps, he had no points in his previous five games, and was a minus-4 in the previous two games.
Then came his tour de force against Washington, including a spectacular spinarama goal. This is one difficult hockey player to figure out, a microcosm of the Leafs in general.
Some said he was a bum at the beginning of the season. Right now, he might be the team's most talented offensive player.
Best to hold off on all judgements until season's end. That goes for individual Leafs, and the team, quite probably.