The Leafs almost blew it Saturday night. They played two solid periods of defensive hockey, capitalized on the Sharks' mistakes and took a two goal lead into the third period. Then the familiar bugaboos struck and too many penalties led to two powerplay goals and another that came just as a penalty was expiring. Toskala looked great which is a comfort for next year I guess but in the end Leaf fans got the result that we wanted. One more loss, one step further from the playoffs, and a team inching its way towards true change.
What was more fun yesterday was reading the latest entries from Damien 'I am smart because I gave up before the season started' Cox and Rosie 'I smell a way to become relevant!' DiManno. Cox famously gave up "for reals" two weeks ago when the Leafs were just two points out of 5th place and 6 out of 6th place. Today he reminds us that:
The silly chatter about the Leafs still being in the fight for a playoff berth has finally been exploded, although smart hockey people understood that reality two weeks to a month ago.
'Smart hockey people'? I find it hilarious that Cox would deign to include himself in any group titled smart hockey people AND that he thinks it was actually smart to discount a team that was 2 points out of 8th. Not to mention that he quits on every season before it starts so odds are that he'll be right. Anyway, let's look at one of those uncatchable teams: The Buffalo Sabres. Just before the New Year the Sabres were sitting in fifth place with a record of 19-15-2 for 40 points. A scant two weeks later and they find themselves in 11th with a record of 19-18-6 for 44 points. But wait Damien, that team was in fifth and uncatchable! They all are right?
Rosie DiManno strikes me as a writer that would slam blogs for spreading rumour and innuendo. I have no idea what her column with The Star is meant to cover but she isn't good at sports. In her latest Rosie takes shots at the Leafs and Paul Maurice without bothering to provide a single quotation or even the old 'anonymous sources' that covers all of the lies that traditional media pass off as truth. Does she even know where the Leafs' dressing room is in the ACC?
It is not in his nature to abandon this imploding club, even as some teammates privately tell friends they have no intention of signing with the Leafs again, can't wait to get the hell out of Dodge. Even as – and this began in November – a rump of players was already snarling about coach Paul Maurice over mildly critical remarks he made in media scrums and what they perceived as hostile, condescending oratory in the dressing room.
Jeff O'Neill tried to pass off the same idiotic complaint on the radio yesterday (not sure of the show but I saw it on TSN) that Maurice is too tough on the players. He said that they didn't like hearing about the last period collapses and terrible defensive coverage. He whined that it was the coach's fault. He also simultaneously made it not only clear why he was not re-signed but that he is a massive baby. Guess what Jeff? The team does suffer routine collapses and couldn't cover a player to save their lives. Yes, some of that is coaching but when the players don't communicate on the ice and are too dumb to stick to their man well there is only so much a coach can do. If Jeff O'Neill's thinking is indicative of the players then no wonder they can't turn this sinking ship around - they don't think that it's their fault!
Then Rosie tosses something in for Oilers fans everywhere:
It is unusual to witness such values in the self-absorbed world of sports. Alberta native son Ryan Smyth delivered boo-hoo theatre when he was expatriated in the same way by Edmonton to New York Islanders a year ago, but there was no sentimental fealty in evidence when he later chose as free agent to sign with Colorado as the highest bidder.
I am sure Andy could have a field day with just that quotation but here she ignores that not only did the Oilers trade Smyth after being just 100K apart but they then used that money to sign the Habs' one-trick pony (weird how after he left Habs fans suddenly realized that he sucked) who isn't a tenth of the player that Smyth is and they followed that up by throwing stupid money at Dustin Penner. Oh, and while she advocates that Mats should worry about himself she castigates Smyth for doing the same.