Maple Leafs: Recap At the All-Star Break

January 26, 2009

by Bench Brawl

Well, it has been an entertaining and eventful first half for the “Boys in Blue.”

Going into the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs organization made it known that this was to be the beginning of a complete rebuild of the franchise from the ground up.

Ron Wilson was named the 27th head coach of the Toronto Maple leafs on June 10, brining a 206-134-45 record to the franchise.

Cliff Fletcher had already made a few of moves in the offseason, beginning with the signings and acquisitions of Jamal Mayers, Curtis Joseph, Niklas Hagman , Jeff Finger and Mikhail Grabovski. This occurred in a span of about two weeks, from June 20 to July 3.

“Trader Cliff” didn’t stop there. Within two weeks of acquiring Grabovski from the Canadiens, Fletcher also acquired Ryan Hollweg in a trade with the Rangers for a fifth round draft pick for this year.

The biggest trade by far was probably the dealing of Bryan McCabe to the Panthers in exchange for Mike Van Ryn. It was widely thought that this trade was meant to do nothing but get a struggling McCabe out of town. So far, with Van Ryn playing a total of 17 games with nine points and a plus-2. McCabe has played 36 games, has 20 points and is a plus-6. It looks like the Panthers have gotten the better of this deal so far.There were several contract extensions and minor movement within the organization before the worst secret in the history of the NHL became a reality. Brian Burke became the 13th general manager in Toronto Maple Leaf history on Nov. 29.

Since then, Burke has made a couple of deals including acquiring Brad May from Anaheim and Ryan Hamilton from the Wild. Now, the Leafs at the All-Star break, sit at 11th in the Eastern Conference, 11 points out of a playoff spot. With a record of 17-22-8, the team is realistically where they should be.

The next couple of years are going to be tough to watch but all I have to say is be patient. We have waited a long time for something to look forward to and it would seem a shame to miss it.

The last game before the break was a 4-3 shootout loss to one of the best teams in the NHL—the Boston Bruins. Whether you could argue the Bruins were having an off night or not, it gives us all a little hope when our boys can hang with the best, even if it is only once in a while.

In my previous submission entitled “Toronto Fans need a reality check,” I wrote my opinion about Burke that wasn’t received very well. Thank you to Jeff who pointed out some glaring omissions on my part and to the rest of you who are trying to help me become a little better at doing this.

Oh, and Jeff, I think he just needs a haircut.