The leafs looked bad last night, this is a recording.
In recent weeks the negative buzz around this team has grown to a fervor, the rehashing of 1967, Kessel trade criticism and playoff laments is at an all-time high. It's easy to get swept up in all of the negativity being bandied about by media outlets and fellow fans. I would, however, remind you that we knew this was coming.
Despite the four game winning streak and "hot start" the Leafs experienced this season, the Maple Leafs were never going to be contenders this year. In fact, nobody expected them to be anything more than marginal. This was going to be a rebuilding year.
Calling for the head of Ron Wilson on a pike and claiming the Burke rebuilding method as failure are knee-jerk, short sited, reactionary responses to the situation we find ourselves in. The team is admittedly incompetent, and it has been a long time since there has been success in our neck of the woods, maybe you've heard. Again though, we knew that.
Let me remind you where Brian Burke started from. Last year our best players consisted of Matt Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovski and Niklas Hagman. Our goaltender was Vesa Toskala. Burke has massively overhauled his team, but expecting his new group to be a winner on the first shot is an unrealistic pipe dream. The progress he has made is tangible, the team is now a few identifiable pieces away from competition. That being opposed to needing, I don't know, everything.
People are quick to crucify Brian for the Kessel deal pointing out how successful teams build their foundations at the draft. While this is generally held to be true, the Maple Leafs would be a much worse team right now without that trade. Not only that, it could be argued that it is still a strong possibility that the Leafs would be worse in the future without that trade. Even if Tyler Seguin ends up being a star player, he cancels out our return in Phil Kessel. There are no guarantee's of success in Knight (2nd rounder last summer) or the potential lottery pick this coming summer. Burke secured a comparable asset for uncertain future assets. The business sense of the deal is sound. As for losing right now this argument has zero weight, the team is better now than it would have been. Period.
As frustrating as losing is, it is not evidence of a failed rebuild or even mistakes made on the part of Brian Burke. He has brought in the best available talent over a relatively short period of time. There has been futility in this city for longer than I've been alive and the current management group has been in power for roughly 2 years, they are not the source. So I say this once and for all, give it a rest. It'll change, eventually. We knew this was coming.