Monday, February 1, 2010

An Un Bee Lee Ba Ba Turn Of Events

Colossal is the only way to describe it.

Let's begin with Saturday night's epic disaster in this tragedy-filled season. This has to be the worst loss ever. I thought losing to Paul Maurice and the Carolina Hurricanes in a game where Ian White had given the Leafs the lead with 30 seconds to go was the most humiliating that it could get. I certainly never imagined - honestly, no one imagined - the Leafs building a 3-0 lead against Vancouver and chasing Luongo from the net, only to blow that lead and give up the game-winning goal with 2:04 to play, followed by an empty-netter, and then have that bastard Raycrap doing victory laps and waving to the fans at the ACC. A new low. Absolute rock-bottom. The only thing worse would be to have John Ferguson Jr. score a goal against the Leafs himself.

Warning: the video below contains graphic scenes of outright horror that are highly disturbing and may not be suitable for some audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

Unforgivable. And so, we don't forgive. We blow the whole thing up and forget instead. The guys that lost to Raycoft and Vancouver are not our guys anymore - those are their guys, Calgary and Anahiem - we got new guys now. Not really, but y'know...

The Shake-Up

Forget that awful game on Saturday, let's get to the reaction of the trades. This is a major shock to the culture of the Maple Leafs dressing room. Six fairly prominent personalities - Stajan, White, Hagman, Mayers, Blake, and Toskala - have been moved out. With the prolonged injury to Komisarek, leadership will weigh even heavier on the shoulders of Kaberle and Beauchemin, and yes, even Luke Schenn. Phaneuf will slide nicely into the top-4 rotation and has a cannon for a shot so he might pair up with Kaberle very well. Hopefully Phaneuf can find chemistry quickly on a blueline that remains surprisingly deep yet was curiously dysfunctional. In Giguere, the Leafs add a Conn Smythe trophy winner to the dressing room and an intelligent mentor for Jonas Gustavsson. Finally, it appears that Bozak is here to stay and that Exelby will likely get his wish for more playing time, though Finger may end up being the next defenceman that gets moved.

Words For The Not-So Dearly Departed

Matt Stajan

I'm gonna miss Matt Stajan. A lot. I know not everybody's gonna agree with this, but I thought he gave a real honest effort most nights and exceeded expectations for a season and a half. At the time of the trade, he was leading all Leaf forwards in points and was actually chasing down Kaberle (just 2 points behind) for the team lead.

Ian White

It hurts to lose Ian White, it really does. Since the beginning of last season, when he sat out the first 11 games and then debuted as a forward, White has been earning admiration and respect. One of the very rare pleasures of this dreadful Maple Leafs season was witnessing the continuous ascension of Ian White's stardom. He was the heart and soul of this mostly passionless team, which isn't saying much I guess, but his contributions and efforts were appreciated and will be remembered. His mustache is immediately an honoured inductee in the Maple Leafs Mustache Hall of Fame.

Niklas Hagman

For the first quarter of the season, Hagman was the Leafs most consistent and complete player. He began to fade after that though and never really got it back. It also seemed that Hagman was reluctant to play a physical game and was in the bottom half of the roster for hits and blocked shots. Already a 20-goal scorer this season, Hagman does have fantastic skills, but wasn't a difference-maker often enough.

Jamal Mayers

How ironic is it that Mayers scores a goal and two assists in his final two games as a Leaf? Was his performance the tipping point for Calgary on this trade? Were they not sure until Mayers ripped one by Loungo with 5 seconds left in the first? Hilarious. If so, thank you Jamal, for finally doing SOMETHING. It's too bad things didn't work out 'cause your eyebrows are astounding, but 5 years from now the only thing I'm going to remember about you is that you were a part of this trade. Congratulations, you're Craig Berube now.

Vesa Toskala

AhhHahahahahahahaha!!! What were they thinking? I can't believe somebody actually took Vesa Toskala off our hands. And I can't believe they actually shut down his season last year for surgery that would make him feel great about being terrible! What kind of groin surgery did they do that fucked up his head like that? The VESA2010 was a total disaster and a disgrace. Stupid bio-engineered piece of junk. On the other hand, I now fully expect Toskala to return one day and shut-out the Leafs with a ridiculous 50-save performance, but this time there won't be any mini-lap celebrations, 'cause I'll be there, and I'll be waiting...

Jason Blake


For years from now, fans of hockey teams anchored under the weight of outrageous contracts and cap-hits will look to this day and say, "If Jason Blake can be traded, anyone can get traded." I do want to recognize Jason Blake for having a terrific bounce-back season last year, and for keeping his chin up during some very difficult times in Toronto. However, I was worried at the beginning of the season that Blake might have little left in the tank, and even less to prove, and eventually that became apparent and it was time for him to move on. Good luck in California, I wish him well, but every time I see Blake in another team's uniform I'll bow my head and give a quiet thanks to Wendel.

So, it's like a whole new season from here on out, hopefully with new results. The past is the past. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Broken sticks and shin-guard tape goes in the basket. We're past the darkest hour now, and heading for the dawn.


kidkawartha said...

"Stupid bio-engineered piece of junk" is one of the best lines you've ever penned, general. Still laughing.
Great work as always.

general borschevsky said...

Cheers kidk! Much appreciated.

WillNeuman said...

For the record, I actually DID predict the Leafs would squander that 3-0 lead on Saturday, which is almost more depressing than the loss itself in that I knew it was going to happen but had to sit in a bar with a bunch of Vancouver fans (and a disinterested girl who tried to sympathize with my/our plight as Leaf fans) as it happened.
Hagman and Mayers you could take or leave for me during their time in Toronto, Toskala's been an embarrassment for far too long (even more so than Raycroft was; there, I said it), and Blake's biggest downfall came from signing too big a contract for the player he was.
White is truely unfortunate to lose, but I'm personally more put out by losing Stajan. After years burried in the shadow of Sundin and whichever random free agent was always brought in to play second line centre Stajan was finally seeming to come into his own on the team and, it seemed, was fitting well with Kessel for the most part. He's been my favourite Leaf for the past few years so I'm likely biased, but even without that, losing both White and Stajan in one trade is a bit much.
At the same time, here's hoping Calgary (my 2nd favourite team from back when Dougie was out there) turns things around and wins the Cup this year since for us it's "a rebuilding year, goddammit!" (only without the draft picks to back it up)

general borschevsky said...

Hey WN! Thanks for droppin' by. I had the same feeling on Saturday night, especially after the second Vancouver goal it was apparent that the Leafs were in big trouble.

I also felt the same way about White and Stajan, that losing them both in one shot was a heavy blow, but after last night's game and watching the Calgary game Monday, I'm realizing that Pheneuf is an "impact-player" while White and Stajan simply were not. I really wish Stajan and White the best and will be following Calgary closely for the rest of the season.

looshV said...

Yep, gonna miss Stajan and Whitey that's for sure. Don't get me wrong, I love this trade but Stajan was unfairly criticized in this town and it's always bothered me. No one ever penned Matt Stajan as a first line center, ever, and he needs to be given the Kudos he deserves for doing his best with his skill set. He will always have a place in this Leafs fans heart that's for sure.

Ian White, please; what even needs to be said? What a beast, I'll miss him too.

VT and JB shipped out in one package together is the equivalent to finding a cure for AIDS. Incredible.

PS: you gotta watch this Dion interview...hilarious!

general borschevsky said...

Cheers looshV! I really like Stajan (scored the GW goal last night in his 2nd game for Calgary)and White individually, but along with the four other guys shipped out, there already seems to be a big culture shift inside the Leafs dressing room. Still got a lot of holes to fill, but the picture is coming together.

the equivalent to finding a cure for AIDS

Just about.