By Shi Davidi
Ahhhh…another autumn, another collection of bums on Church and Carlton streets.
Yes, the fabled Maple Leafs are set to return to the ice for another uninspiring season of nearly NHL calibre hockey.
Of course, that’s not what we’ve been hearing from the posse of Maple Leafs general managers. They point to all the wonderful young talent that’s developing this season.
We’ve heard this one before.
Maple Leaf General Managers from Gerry McNamara to Cliff Fletcher(90 points? Sure Cliff) have told us about all the great kids in the farm system, just waiting in the wings.
Defencemen from Gary Nylund to Jim Korn were heralded as can’t miss mainstays. Guy Larose and Greg Terrion were supposed to be the snipers for a lethal Leaf offence. Goalies from Rick St. Croix to Peter Ing were going to stop the flood of pucks pouring into their nets. None of them had any impact.
The truth of that matter is the wings were empty then and no great kids are waiting now.
Toronto has squandered draft pick on players who are now pumping gas at your local Esso.
The Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders are examples of what happens when you draft well. They all have a wealth of young, talented players at both the NHL and developmental levels and are at or on their way to the top after bottom feeding for a few seasons.
But the Leafs, who have been at the bottom since the early ‘80s, remain trapped in a downward spiral.
The Leafs have no 50-goal scorers learning the professional game in St. John’s. They have no hulking behemoth defencemen exacting fear in their opposition in the junior ranks.
Some of their kids may develop into valuable role players, but only Alyn McCauley and Mike Johnson, and perhaps Steve Sullivan have the potential to become stars.
Instead of implementing a solid long term-plan over the summer, Leaf management again continued its foolish ways. They let an interim GM spend lots of money on third line players who can’t bury a corpse, giving the team at best a mediocre chance at the eighth and final playoff spot.
When spring arrives, Leafs will still be falling.