With the Flames being my "backup team" for several seasons, I have seen quite a few games in the last 10 years. Phaneuf has been waylaid by being essentially replaced by Jay Bowmeister. Not to mention the Avery "drama". The flames were roasted in the playoffs last year and not by lack of defense or goaltending.
Speaking of goaltending, I have spent the better part of the last few months hoping against all hope that J.S. Giguere was not coming to Toronto. Well, he is. And he brings with him his 4-8-5 record, 3.12 GAA and .900 SP. Not astounding numbers. They are better than Toskala's, but at double the price. Back to how I feel about the trade? I will never be as happy to see a goaltender leave Toronto. Yes, even happier than when Raycroft left. I've never witnessed a longer leash on a more terrible goalie.
The biggest heartbreak for me will be Niklas Hagman leaving. Hagman gave it 100% every night and was one of the only players to show any emotion from playing on such a terrible team. Hagman was easily the worst healthy scratch decision on this team all season.
What we were looking for back from the trade never materialized; a draft pick....ANY draft pick. If you asked me what the players were worth in "pick value", i would say the following:
Hagman and White - First rounder
Mayers and Stajan - Second rounder
Did we get the equivalent back? Time will tell with Aulie. He is a big kid and primarily a shut-down defenseman. Sjostrom is fast as hell and looks like a Draper-esque defensive specialist. He had an offensive flair in his history, which Wilson may choose to draw on.
Overall, the Leafs will be a fundamentally different team on Tuesday. Especially since they will need to call up at least one forward. A biting disappointment to me is the added responsibility to the least deserving players on the roster; Mitchell and Wallin. I have a feeling that Mitchell's name was proffered a few times and the response was a resounding "We have enough pucks, thank you."
The Toronto Maple Leafs have finally become what all of the Leaf-haters have been calling them all these years......irrelevant. As far as I can see it, the one thing I better start seeing fast, before I completely lose interest out of contempt, is some kind of effort to entertain. I find myself missing Colton Orr picking a fight for no good reason, like the beginning of the season. Maybe seeing SOMEBODY score a bloody goal here and there. Thomas Vokoun is not an elite goaltender anymore. Nor does he have a shut down defense. Let's see some action Leafs. Give me something to keep my passion. I've watched some lousy Leafs teams in the last 20+ years, but at least I had some icons to cling to or ten point games to reminisce about. It's time my beloved Maple Leafs......it's time to give back. (oh, and you owe me $2.38 for the game I missed on Saturday).
With the Maple Leafs only winning once in their 6last games, I am sure that Ron Wilson will eventually run out of witticisms. Toronto lost 6 -5 in a shootout against Carolina in November for their last meeting with the 'Canes. Having a friend that is a 'Canes fan is a mixed blessing. On one hand he can more than feel my pain regarding the suckitude of his team (especially because he watches them in person) and on the other if the 'Canes beat the Leafs it is more than humiliating. I can always say "At least I'm not a 'Canes fan", except when we lose to them. All he has to do is rub in the fact that the 'Canes lottery pick will look great in red next year. Then I weep, like a small child.
I'm getting to the point where I have to stop looking for the small moral victories, too. I can't even celebrate a PK because the Leafs let 4 of 5 in over 2 games. Honestly I can't see how anyone can still think that the Leafs have a chance to get back into the playoff picture. When they were 3 points out, they may have had a chance if they had gone on a 5 game win streak. Alas, this did not happen. This leaves us as Leafs fans to watch a team that may or may not be getting better in the next two years. This leads me to........Please Let Me See The Kids If They Are Going To Lose Anyways! And WHY NOT NOW!?
Yes, my stress level has risen and my patience has worn. Also the "FF" is wearing off on my PVR remote. All I'm really asking for is a little hope. That is a hard thing to grab onto with the PK the way it is. I turn my head and wait for the goal horn to let me know it's over. Moving forward I will be watching for the scoring droughts to end. Once that fails, what's next?
The injuries to be felt the most over the next while are the Primeau and Mitchell injuries. Primeau's because the third line has been stopping the bleeding somewhat defensively and the Mitchell one because he will be coming back Tuesday. I can't wait to watch John Mitchell circle the offensive zone twice before turning the puck over. It's like it was just yesterday that Mitchell was being overhyped by Don Cherry(he will again, too, probably saying that Mitchell has been sorely missed). Grabovski will definitely learn from the press box while he is off. His 1 shift on the 4th line probably didn't teach him anything on Saturday night. Grabbo has been probably leaned on a little hard with our lack of depth at center, the break will do him wonders.
I have been watching the WJC these last few days and watching our prospects on the big stage. I have to tell you that I am happy Kadri has been kept in Junior for this year( I vote for next year, too). A bit surprise for me(because I had never heard of him) is Jerry D'Amigo. He is dangerous in the slot, but looks as though he has tho have a setup man to succeed. I know that Burke likes him from all the reaction shots TSN had of him. I also noticed that all the Brayden Schenn love from this past draft may have been a little displaced. He shows flashes of competency, followed by atrocious turn-overs and blatant give-aways. He's at least 2 years from the NHL with L.A. Especially with all the young guns ahead of him on the depth chart. I'm not upset the Leafs "missed out" on him in the draft for sure. I have a feeling that won't be a popular opinion amongst Leaf fans, but my cup is definitely half empty this season.
I think we still have a few more seasons of sub-mediocre play. I say this as the relief from the bottom doesn't seem to be there. Management is holding off on kids coming up from the minors. Stalberg is on the 4th line for "energy". They must not feel that Bozak is ready, even with the season going as badly as it is. Beyond that, are there any young hopefuls that I should add to my please-someone-help-this-franchise list? I need someone to fill my cup......please make it runneth over!