Based on the title of the post you're probably thinking that there was some subtle play Saturday night that signals a return to the good times. Sadly, there was no such play. Everything that the Leafs did points to a long season.
They failed to play physically except when Bell and Tucker were scrapping. They still have Herpes in the lineup. They struggled to clear the zone which inevitably led to a loss of concentration and a goal. They still get inconsistent goaltending. The coach still sticks lines in the blender and expects chemistry. The GM is still employed.
JFJ has said that he won't panic and why should he? Talks about an extension are non-existent, his team has the fewest wins in the NHL (tied with Washington), the list of flaws in the team that he has assembled is as long as it is varied, and currently sits 27th in the NHL. And there lies the silver lining.
The Leafs are headed towards a lottery pick if they continue this terrible pace. If the skid towards providing me with horrible flashbacks to my childhood (seriously, the Leafs haven't been this bad - on pace for 71 points - in a decade) continues unabated then Doug Wilson's decision to take the Leafs 2007 first round draft pick instead of this years could be looked upon as the day that fortune finally smiled on the Leafs. After years of hearing about Niedermayer and Luongo the Leafs might have a name to counter those arguments. Sure, that's all in the distant future but if Tuukka Rask can be a Hall of Famer after one NHL game then the Leafs' # 1 pick this summer can be the man to lead the team to the Cup.
Of course, the Leafs are also only three points out of sixth so we can expect that pick to be moved at the Trade Deadline. Pack your bags Yanic! Oh and Steve Simmons says that JFJ tried to fire Maurice but that hockey wunderkind Richard Peddie stopped him and will soon get his own pink slip which means that the former didn't happen and JFJ will be getting an extension any day now.
The wonderful side-effect of the Leafs' futility has been the brilliant writing at The Cox Bloc. Turns out something good can come out of something bad. Actually, horrific is a better label for professional sportswriting in Toronto. I'll leave the latest Damien Cox Jackson Pollock-like article (throw shit at a canvas, hope it sticks, and somebody thinks it makes sense) to Godd Till and Kim Jorn but Mark Zwolinski does his level best to outdo the master:
The MLSE board has yet to weigh in, at least publicly, on the current situation, but it could hire a temporary, senior adviser to take over from Ferguson, make necessary trades, and then have a say in the hiring of a new GM in the off-season.
I know that there has been a lot going on but maybe Mark hasn't noticed that the kind of trade that the Leafs need to make is not happening during the season unless you are dealing with Mike O'Connell. That's not even beginning to mention the logic of hiring someone to essentially hire someone to hire their own replacement since in theory the new GM will be experienced and not need his hand held.
Follow the successful plan seen in Dallas and make the GM role a dual portfolio, with assistant GM Jeff Jackson and player development advisor Doug Gilmour, taking over management of the team.
Wow. Fans of other teams sometimes wonder why a portion of Leaf fans can be so out of their mind insane. That above sentence is exhibit C (Cox and Simmons are A and B) for the prosecution in the case of Sensible Fans v. Batshit Crazy Sportswriters. To label what's happened in Dallas over the past, oh let's say, less than a dozen hockey games a success is so ridiculous that even Damien Cox is laughing at him. Although by the end of the week he'll be lauding Zwolonski as a visionary. Consistency is for chumps!
Summon veteran goalie Scott Clemmensen from the Marlies to inject some life into the stale goaltending situation.
Wow. Now, Clemmensen signing with the Leafs is as big a puzzle to me as anyone else. My best guess is that JFJ thought that he'd be able to move Raycroft and then would have Clemmensen as the backup to Toskala while Pogge starts 82 games for the Marlies. Or at least that's what Clemmensen's agent better have been told or he's the worst agent on the planet. Ah but the best laid plans of mice and men. Raycroft was unmoveable and neither # 1 is providing steady goaltending so let's give a career backup a chance?
Why not start with logical changes. Send Wozniewski to the Marlies, call up Stralman or Harrison, reunite The Soviet Bloc with Mats, find Blake some linemates, fire the medical staff, hire a medical staff that can fix Colaiacovo, fire Maurice's useless assistants, and prepare for the draft lottery. But call up the starter on the Marlies and destroy BOTH goalies and any confidence that they have any hope of maintaining and devaluing them and their contracts even further? Yeah, do that ASAP.
Oh and look. Here come the Habs. Yippee! Oh yeah, no Player of the Game (obviously) and the SPG results were: Shot - Ponikarovsky, Penalty - Tucker, Goal - Wellwood.