I don't know if I just relish the role of playing the devil's advocate or if I could be on to something here but I don't feel that the Leafs made the right move in firing JFJ and hiring Cliff Fletcher. I know I might be drawing the ire of all the regular readers and contributors of this site but I'm going to throw my two cents into the ring and let you guys tear it apart. In the very least, it will likely help me sleep better at night. Let's get it going then.
I know it is a big market and demands extra attention but I felt that the amount of media coverage over this whole debacle was a bit sensational and ridiculous. The media really pulled out all the stops on this one. I felt that parading guys like Bill Watters around and having them say the same things over and over was foolish. Why should I have to listen to what he thinks, to my recollection, didn't he get fired by the Leafs for poor performance. How is he allowed to critique anyone else? Does his getting fired make him an authority on losing your job at MLSE. Didn't the Leafs fire Cliff Fletcher once upon a time as well?
I found it interesting to hear the reaction of the players this morning. Most of all I enjoyed Wade Belak's comments the most. He is probably one of my favourite Leafs despite his lack of talent and contribution. He stated that he felt there were not many moves that Fletcher could make and that most of the team was under contract for the next few years. I know that there is more to be done than he would surmise but it does get one thinking about what moves can be made and can Cliff Fletcher really make that big of a splash in the next 35 days that he will be shaping the course of the team for the coming years. When I thought about it more I realized that Belak was probably right. Aside from trading all the assets for draft picks and prospects there is probably very little that can be done.
I can foresee the team trading Mats for a load of picks and prospects, maybe even a Darcy Tucker if all parties can be satisfied, or even the move we've all hoped for, dealing Raycroft (Don't get me wrong, I'm a big supporter but it's time). Outside of that is there really any moves that can or should be made. I hope they don't trade away the young assets. All this thought leads me to wonder if hiring Cliff Fletcher, a man who has been out of the game since the new CBA, was the right move. JFJ was around for the transition and although he didn't make the right moves and still operated with the throw money at the players mentality of the pre-lockout, he did still know the new system better and had operated in it for two years. I'm not saying that he was the best choice but I would still say that he's better than Cliff Fletcher. Personally, I think that I would have ridden out the year with JFJ, all the while searching for a replacement. I think that Cliff Fletcher while not necessarily the wrong choice is not the best choice and because of interim basis with no long lasting tenure, I feel that he is not going to be fully accountable for his decisions. If things start to go awry he can simply step back and leave the mess for the next guy to clean up. All in all, I'm worried about the team's future and would have stayed with the devil I know rather than one that I don't.
A final note goes out to Bobby Mac at TSN. He called this one right from the start and even narrowed down the window of the firing to 48 hours. He was very accurate for this whole affair and has moved up a notch in my book.