The Toronto Maple Leafs' front office built a time machine, and took the whole league back eight years. Burke, from June 12 2012:
"There's 12 forwards that dress most nights. The old model was "Top Six-Bottom Six". The Top Six is where all your skill is, your powerplay units are there, that's where your salary is concentrated in your salary cap, so that is the Phil Kessels, the Joffrey Lupuls, that group. High skill. First powerplay unit, second powerplay unit.
Your Bottom Six is more blue collar guys. They do the grunt jobs. They take face-offs. They fight. They kill penalties. They're the guys on the ice in the last minute of the game when you have a lead. Same with the 'D'. Four skill 'D', two blue collar 'D'. I think the model has shifted even in the five years since that Cup—to more of a "Top Eight-Bottom Four" "Top Nine-Bottom Three". More skill in that bottom group, more speed in that bottom group.
If you're going to be a Bottom Six guy now or a Bottom Four, you gotta skate.
Loiselle from this morning:
Loiselle "Holland is a skilled player and is a top 6 player. It's so difficult to play him in bottom 6 role that he isn't comfortable with"— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) December 5, 2013
I'm inclined to agree with Burke's Summer of 2012 statement (which coincided with Orr getting sent down). The Leafs' decision to abandon the ridiculous restriction of "defense first" (which so often is just another way of saying "offense last"), was a step forwards in icing a more competitive roster.
But now? Under Carlyle? The Leafs can't get a skilled forward in the lineup because he's a "skill player," rather than the plugger they want. We need the defensive prowess of McClement, Orr, McLaren, and until recently, Smithson. Never mind that those "bottom six players" (at least two of which fail the "you gotta skate" requirement) are part of a team that allows a league-worst 34.6 SA/60 - at least they're all so bad offensively (and so bad at possession) that they carry around a label of "defensively responsible." It's as if the Leafs' front office would be shaken by the idea that playing 9-12 forwards with enough skill to get and retain the puck would soften the need for one-dimensional defensive players.
Oh, and speaking of that league worst defensive performance?
Loiselle "Liles is the best defenseman outside of the NHL right now. At this point there is no way to fit him into our roster"— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) December 5, 2013
You see, it's really hard to ice a competitive NHL lineup when you're busy trying to figure out who will play the much needed role of the NHL94 fat player. Mark Fraser just lumbers around, giving up 2-on-1s like he's getting paychecks from the opposition, but because Liles is in Carlyle's "bad books," the Leafs don't get to ice their best roster. Carlyle is a dinosaur, responsible for moving the Leafs away from where the front office thought was NHL-cutitng edge, and it's a shame that the Leafs front office isn't forcing his hand to fall in line with a philosophy they espoused just 18 months ago.
Here are some links.
Vintage Leaf Memories - Michael Langlois: Where do the Leafs turn now?
VLM asks how the Leafs can deal with their injuries.
Sergei Bobrovsky out 4-5 weeks with groin injury; who takes Blue Jackets’ crease?
Blue Jackets lose their number one goaltender, who joins Gaborik and Horton on IR. But the Leafs are missing their third line center!
Here’s what happens when you take a puck to the mouth (Photo)
Ben Lovejoy's was worse.
@s: Is Positive Corsi = more wins 100% accurate? | mc79hockey.com
Another look at the relationship between corsi% and goalsFor%
Henrik Lundqvist signs 7-year deal with NY Rangers; was the price right?
Lundqvist extension is 8.5 for 7. Player with leverage uses said leverage.
Windsor Spitfires’ GM Trades His Son For Eight Draft Picks And A Player
Going to make for an awkward Christmas dinner.