Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is There A "Todd Gill" That Isn't Todd Gill?

(This post dedicated to CoxBloc for opening the "doors of perception")

I'd like to see a campaign that would bring Todd Gill in as head coach of the Toronto MapleLeafs. I'm not sure what he's doing now, maybe sun-tanning by the pool with "Crazy Legs" Jamie Macoun, or maybe he's studying cultural anthropology and he's writing his thesis. Or maybe he's sportsblogging. I don't know. Whatever he is doing, he should stop failing at it and come to Toronto, be the new Leaf coach, and start failing at that instead.

Todd Gill was one of the guys I was happiest for in'93, 'cause he stuck to it and survived through some very tough times as a MapleLeaf. I remember a TV interview with him before Pat Burns was coach and he wasn't getting much playing time. He said, "I just want to play. I just want to compete and do what it takes to win. I just want to play hockey." I'm paraphrasing only slightly, but that's basically what he said, and it... well, got to me. Todd Gill knows hard work. He knows defeat. He knows about getting up and trying again. He knows there's always a ray of hope. There's always "The Dream". These are the qualities the next head coach of the MapleLeafs is going to need to possess.

We need a "Todd Gill" (and as far as I know there's only the Todd Gill). Not a powerplay specialist. Not a crafty, off-the-cuff, wiley, coy, cagey, smug, sarcastic, intellectual, ex-cop. Not a proven success. We need the opposite. We need stubborn stick-to-it've-ness. Yes, fans used to go to Leaf games with pylons on their heads and point at number 23 and shout, "I'm Todd Gill!", but he had a stick-to-ti've-ness that led the league, and he was as stubborn as they come.

The words "individual effort" and "Todd Gill" don't come together naturally. Todd Gill was a team player. When he scored a goal it was because everyone contributed. That's the kind of player Todd Gill was. That's the kind of coach the Leafs need.

Miracles do happen. Maybe Todd Gill can coach at the NHL level, and maybe, wow, maybe the Leafs will be in the hunt with 5 other teams for the last playoff spot, and then, who knows? (Todd Gill knows, that's who) Anything is possible!

Seriously, is there really a downside to this? If the Leafs went 4-70-8 would that be a bad thing? No, it'd be hysterical and wildly entertaining and we'd at least get one good draft pick. How much damage could Todd Gill do? Would he attempt to rescue a 4-0 blowout by putting in the goalie with the injured groin, whose first game back was 24 hours ago? Would Tucker, Stajan, and Blake defend one goal leads in the final minute? Would the last 2 games of the year be an utter disgrace? Would he have endless conversations with upper management, the media, the walls of his office, his reflection, but never face to face, eye-to-eye with one of his players? I'm not saying anyone else did that, I'm just saying that Todd Gill couldn't possibly do more harm as coach then has already been done.

I'm also totally in favor of bringing back Pat Burns, though not as head coach, but instead in a management-type role, like Executive Administrative Coordinator in charge of Cheeseburgers.

(Todd Gill was named CJHL Coach of the Year for the 2006-7 season, leading the Brockville Braves to a 28-20-6-1 record)

13 comments:

Down Goes Brown said...

I've always been a huge Todd Gill fan... easily one of my top ten all-time favorite Leafs.

He got a bad rap from some less perceptive fans thanks to the Blackhawks giveaway, which wasn't even his fault. But he really did develop into a heart-and-soul type. Trading him for Jamie Freaking Baker was one of the early signs that Fletch had lost the magic.

general borschevsky said...

thanks for the comment DownGoesBrown!

Todd Gill is like the antithesis of what the Leafs have now. He tried, and he cared.

eyebleaf said...

i still want Burns as the head man behind the bench, but perhaps Todd Gill should start his apprenticeship with the Marlies?

i have some fond memories of Gill. he was good people. i remember going to a game at the gardens and sitting next to someone who loathed, absolutely loathed, todd gill. he was on him the entire night. i was but a young boy at the time and remember asking my father what todd gill ever did to this man sitting next to me...

general borschevsky said...

cheers, eyebleaf!

It's just a feeling I have, but the Leafs are missing something (heart?). Whatever it is, I think Todd Gill has it. I've always cheered for the underdog who won't quit, and Gill is the prime example of that. Also, the fact that he actually IS a coach and has had some success... the more I think about it, the more I love the idea.
As for Pat Burns, the good thing about having him around is that everyone behaves themselves. No drugs, no excessive drinking, no prostitutes, no "attractive female masseuse" tearing apart the team. Serious hockey for serious minds only. Pat Burns might be the guy who could save Kyle Wellwood's career.

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