I did the first of these for Andrew Raycroft two years ago and wondered whether I might do it again if only because if I started doing a couple of players it might take forever to sort through all of the dross in this city. I can't believe I haven't done one for Vesa Toskala but you cna bet that I will soon enough. Turns out it took until a couple of bums spoke out of turn for me to write another. Without further ado...
Leaf fans were rocked by the revelation that Jamal Mayers' agent had been authorised by Brian Burke to find a way out of town for his client. Sound sarcastic? Yeah, well, Ron Wilson was equally understanding. It's not like this is how things had to go for Mayers in Toronto. He was a local boy having gone to high school in Mississauga, coming off of a strong performance for Canada's silver medal winning team at the Worlds after having been on the team that won gold the year before, and he was going to bring some much needed veteran leadership to a team that was in the process of shedding vets as quickly as humanly possible.
I'm not actually surprised that Mayers has asked to be traded. The rumours were there at the last deadline and Greg Brady has mentioned before that Mayers' has repeatedly asked to be moved. The fact that he's gone public is a bit of a shock to me and certainly to Brian Burke:
His request was made professionally and quietly some time ago. I have no idea why or how it leaked.
More about how his trade was received at PPP Amalgamated Heavy Industries and Kitty Sitting HQ and just how bad Jamal Mayers has been this year after the jump.
Yes, the trade for a draft pick was a curious move by Cliff Fletcher since the Leafs were ostensibly trying to get as many lottery tickets as possible. The pick came via the Chad Kilger trade with Florida so maybe the Silver Fox felt some guilt and decided that the Leafs' penance was to pick up Chad Kilger: the ineffective version. That pick, for future cutting purposes, turned into James Livingston, a player that projects to be similar to Mayers. Obviously, like so much on this site, the reactions that Chemmy and I had were split when the trade was made:
Back to seriousness, Jamal Mayers played the third most penalty killing minutes for the Blues' 7th ranked PK last year. His +/- for 60 minutes of PK time was -5.69. To put the into perspective, for the Leafs he would have played the most penalty killing minutes by over half a minute a game and been the fourth best penalty killer by a small fraction. While age is a factor, his skill on the PK not only addresses one of the team's biggest needs but it also brings in a veteran presence that can help mould an effective PK unit as he did in St. Louis.
I think it's a disease to try to look on the bright side of moves that the Leafs make.
*sounds of airplanes crashing*
Turns out that the great Jamal Mayers experiment was a failure. Not only has he been terrible on the penalty kill but he also takes a tonne of undisciplined penalties. How many?
There is one interesting coincidence to the fact that both Mayers and Exelby are likely on their way out of town. Leaving aside whatever other flaws they have in their games, both are physical players – one might even say truculent players – but more than that, both are undisciplined players. Among Leafs forwards, no player takes as many penalties (relative to ice-time) as Mayers – who astoundingly takes nearly five times as many penalties as he draws.
That works out to 18 power plays that Jamal Mayers has gifted to the opposition. Based on the Leafs' spectacular penalty killing rate of 69.4% (giggle) that means that his inability to move his feet has cost the Leafs 6 goals. That doesn't even take into account the fact that he is the team's worst penalty killing forward or that he gets overrun at even strength. In fact, his -7 would be significantly worse if he didn't benefit from the best EV save percentage (.927) on the team. Don't forget that veteran leadership was supposed to be a last-ditch contribution of his to the team's development. Well, not only has this team been woefully short of leadership but, rather than working on improving his game, now he is looking for a way out.
Despite all of that, his agent Pat Brisson - God bless his lying soul - still believes that Jamal is a worthwhile asset:
"The teams we’re talking to are teams that have a chance to compete in the playoffs. Jamal’s a character player who brings speed, because he can definitely skate, and who can follow a system and bring some grit. He’s got character. Teams are curious to know where they’re going to be [in the standings] here in the next few weeks, but there’s some interest for Jammer at that level."
I'll have to respectfully disagree but the story of professional sports is that once you are in the club you will be given every opportunity to succeed. So, despite the fact that Jamal Mayers has been nothing but terrible for the Toronto Maple Leafs I'll wish him luck in his next endeavour. Just kidding. I hope he, like every player that shames the crest on the front of their jersey with lacksadaisical work, a lack of effort to improve their play, and attempts to play the victim, falls flat on his face. As Leaf fans we don't have much left but dammit we have hate.