So I first discussed this with my brother on the phone the other night. Our talks mainly concern the Maple Leafs and over the course of the season, have changed from an excited "look-how-well-they're-doing" to a "oh-my-god-what-happened" and now to more or less a suicide hotline.
When discussing the problems with the team, which admittedly are huge, we focussed on the two that everyone has droned on and on about for the entire season. Goaltending and the centre position. While everyone has been busy positing changes and improvements to those positions through trades, free agency, etc. no one has come up with a generally agreed upon solution.
The options are limited, our trade-ables have low stock value now, we are near the cap for next year, which is unlikely to change, and not many top-tier free agents (limited in number btw) want to come to a team that will most likely once again finish in the bottom 5 for another year.
While I applaud the efforts of those looking for a solution, I think they have been going about it entirely the wrong way. The solution lies right in front of our faces and all it will take is a gigantic set of rule changes across the NHL and basically change the sport of hockey.
Step 1 – Eliminate the centre position.
Can’t have a problem if the position doesn’t exist, right? Right? Like the “rover” of the early NHL, the centre position on the Leafs is superfluous. It slows down the game with silly things like taking faceoffs and playing defense. Everyone loves the excitement of four-on-four in overtime, why not bring it to regulation? There aren’t many duos scarier than Kessel-Lupul, which means that Toronto would have one of the most formidable top lines in the NHL today. Grabo can surely play winger, and him and macarthur would make a very good second tandem. What’s that? Toronto with two top scoring lines?
Yeah, that would do it. But wait a minute, you can’t just ELIMINATE a position... it would put literally dozens of millionaires out of work and that would create a huge hole in the NHLPA pensions, which are going to have to pay out more and more for all these concussions. Soo if you take away the centre but still want 5 guys on the ice then....
Step 2 – Two Goalies
BOOM. Mind. Blown. Imagine what kind of goal coverage you’d get with two guys standing between the pipes, or one behind the other, or...one on top of the other, haven’t quite figured that out yet. Details, shmetails.
I don’t have the keen mind or basic work ethic for advanced statistics so I thought I’d use the one that really applies in this case. Save Percentage.
Gustavsson as of today has a pedestrian .906 and Reimer is sitting at an .898. So Gustavsson lets 94 shots out of every 1000 directed at him into the net. If Reimer is behind him he’s gonna stop 84 of those, no problem. That gives us a new statistic, which is Tandem Save Percentage (TSP, not to be confused with teaspoon). That means the Leafs save percentage rockets up to a STELLAR .990. Take THAT Brian Elliott.
No centres, two goalies, and a league the Leafs could dominate. The perfect world.