Monday, June 2, 2008
Where Do We Go From Here?
So, obviously letting Sundin and Fletcher run the show is not such a hot idea. In fact, it's absurd. But the Leafs are in an absurd situation. No coach, no GM, and a captain that doesn't know if he's coming back or not. The coaching situation may change very soon, with TSN, Down Goes Brown, and Wikipedia all reporting that Ron Wilson is about to be named the new Leaf head coach. But who's the general manager? "Is Cliff going to be in charge or is there a new guy coming in?" Sundin wants to know. Will he be back? We don't know. So we wait, while Sundin waits for answers, for his answer. Confused? Tired? You won't be if you just stop paying attention for a moment and put your head down.
In the meantime, let me try to straighten out spaghetti. By the end of this week, possibly tomorrow, the Leafs will announce Wilson as their new head coach. Presumably, reporters will ask questions like, "how do you feel about the GM position... y'know, how it's like... whatever... can you say something about that... it... whatever?" Wilson will prepare his answers with 1 of 2 situations in mind: A) "I don't care who the new GM is going to be, I'm just happy to be here, and I'll work with anybody". Or, B) "Cliff's the GM. I'm happy to work with Cliff. I'm gonna whip this team into shape while Cliff builds for the future".
I guess I like option B. It's less murky, more aggressive, where option A looks like Wilson is setting himself up to be a patsy. The coach being hired by the interim general manager before the replacement general manager could be found diminishes the strength of both roles. The GM is stuck with a coach who may not share his attitude or vision, and the coach goes to work without the formal endorsement of his boss. It's nice to hear "you're the right man for the job" at least once from the man you have to work for. That's usually what they say when they hire you.
For this reason, I'm guessing Cliff Fletcher is here to stay, at least for this year, and that Wilson will have his endorsement. Wilson will keep the job on merit and no expectations for one year, and then he'll have one more year to prove himself to the new GM.
So where does that leave Sundin? With the door to the bus wide open, his favorite bead-cushion waiting for him in the driver's seat. It's his team to captain if he wants. There'll be no expectations. No heartbreak, either. This is just stage one of a long term building process. He'll get market value. He'll be very comfortable. Leafs will miss the playoffs for 2 years in a row, stockpiling draft picks and prospects. Wilson will be replaced by an impatient, glory-hungry GM (using Burke as a random example), and Sundin can retire as a MapleLeaf, never having won a Stanley Cup. Stage One Complete.
Or maybe Sundin will bolt to a team that has a good chance and really go for it! I wonder...