January 12, 2008

The Lunacy Continues

Thursday night's embarresment in Los Angeles made for one helluva interesting Friday in Leafs Nation. Roster moves and rampant speculation were the order of the day. I have to admit that it sure is entertaining following the train wreck known as the Toronto Maple Leafs. Good times, indeed.

Friday began with The Toronto Star's Damien Cox reporting that John Ferguson was frantically pressing the Staples Easy Button. In a move that only signals sheer panic and desperation, blue-chip goaltending prospect Justin Pogge has been recalled by the parent club and will be in the lineup Saturday night. The future, it seems, is now.

At around 1:00 pm yesterday afternoon I learned that the Leafs dipped into the waiver pool and acquired Dominic Moore from the Minnesota Wild. Moore has one goal and two assists in 30 games with Minnesota this year.

Well, whoop. Dee. Doo. Problems solved! Throwing a rookie goalie, who is to be the future of the franchise, into the fire, and picking up a discarded forward famous for attending Harvard and being the brother of the guy who got his ass kicked by Todd Bertuzzi.

Pardon me while I uncork the freakin' bottle of Bambino champagne (only $12.15 a bottle at your local LCBO).

At 3:00 pm news hit the wire that the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves had been announced. Tomas Kaberle was going to Atlanta for his third all-star go-round but, astonishingly, Mats Sundin wasn't.

The rest of the day was all about coach Paul Maurice and general manager John Ferguson. My man David Shoalts at The Globe wrote a beauty of a piece saying that it's all but over for Ferguson. He's not going to finish the season as the GM of the Leafs, and could be out of a job by Monday. While Ferguson has not asked management's permission to fire Maurice, Shoalts says it ain't going to happen anyway, even if Ferguson did ask, because Ferguson's tenure in Toronto is down to its last few days. Maurice's fate looks like it will be decided by the next general manager of this pathetic team, but with a couple more efforts like the ones in Orange Country and Los Angeles, I wouldn't be surprised if the Leafs don't have a coach or general manager come next week. They can't play much worse without 'em.

I've got to give Ferguson some props though (maybe his last props?). While he's watched the team he built get flushed down the toilet, he's stayed 100% loyal to his coach. Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?

I can't remember the days when the Leafs took so much flack in the papers, on the internet and on the radio. I'm even hearing parallels to the Harold Ballard era, when the Leafs were one of the league's perennial doormats.

I've got a feeling that Damien Cox has got an extra spring in his step these days, and a perma-grin to boot. He must be enjoying the Leafs' free-fall thoroughly. Like Godd Till at CoxBloc pointed out, this is a man who actually titled a column he wrote: "Not So Cocky Now, Eh Boys?" Cox gets a stiffy when the Leafs suck this good.

I can't blame the media for most of the negative coverage, though. The Leafs are a sad state of affairs. Dominic Moore? Give me a break. Give me a Kit Kat. The Leafs are a team full of guys like Dominic Moore. He's nothing more than a fourth-line player, another Bates Battaglia, or Kris Newbury. Ferguson said Moore will be in the lineup Saturday night to provide "energy." My question is, why not summon Newbury, or Jeremy Williams, or Robbie Earl, from the AHL-best Toronto Marlies? It boggles the mind.

And the promotion of Justin Pogge to the Leafs is my worst nightmare. The Leafs simply couldn't afford to mess with this kid's development, and they may now going to throw him into the pressure cooker head first, while everyone's ass is on the line. Oh yeah, I really like this idea. Pogge was having a solid season in the AHL and while he may be hungry to get some NHL action, keeping him in the minors for the full season would have made him even hungrier.

When will these douchebags ever learn? I blame Ferguson, Maurice and Andrew Raycroft for this pathetic last stand in Justin Pogge. First of all, I blame Andrew Raycroft for being such a pathetic excuse for a goalie. I think the summonage of Pogge may finally mean that Raycroft is done with the Leafs (read: the silver lining). He cannot play in this city any longer. He doesn't have, and I'm reaching back to my WWF days for this one, the testicular fortitude to get the job done. And testicular fortitude is quite essential to tend the twine in this town. Quite.

Raycroft's incompetence set off a chain of events Thursday night that led to Pogge being called up to the show. Vesa Toskala was forced into action after Raycrap's brutal first period, in which he let in four goals on 11 shots (a typical Raycrap night). Toskala apparently reinjured his groin while he mopped up Raycroft's mess. Instead of playing goalie carousel with Scott Clemmensen (who was ironically sent back to the Marlies on Thursday afternoon), the Leafs chose to phone Pogge, for reasons I will never understand. Like I said, It stinks of a general manager and coach trying to save their bottoms, and is the worst possible scenario for Pogge to join the Leafs, with rumours of a team having quit on their coach flying around the dressing room and following the team like a virus.

Now I've read, and I think it was Shoalts, that Toskala has announced himself fit and ready to go tonight in San Jose, so I don't know who's getting the start and whether Vesa is really injured again. If it is Toskala between the pipes against his former team, look for Pogge on the bench and Raycroft...well, who cares where that douche is, as long as he's not with the team.

If Toskala in fact has been reinjured, I'm going to be mighty peeved at Maurice. He had absolutely no business putting Toskala into a game in which the team was down four-to-nothing after 20 minutes and showing no competitive spirit whatsoever. Vesa had just returned to action for the first time in three weeks the night beofre, for Christ's sake. It was a move akin to playing with fire, and it simply shouldn't have been done.

But, most importantly, Maurice wouldn't have even needed to think about sending in Vesa had Raycroft not shit the bed entirely. I read a comment on TSN's website after the LA Kings debacle that read:

"If Andrew Raycroft were a horse................we'd have to shoot him."

I couldn't agree more, and believe me, I've tried. It's time to put Raycroft, that mother sucker, down, and bury the memories of him far, far, really far, away.

As for Sundin, I think his All-Star snub is a good thing. Mats has been to a boatload of the games over his career and, well, shit, it's the All-Star game, so who really cares? Mats' odometer has put on some serious miles over the years and a weekend off can't hurt the man. It will give him some time to contemplate his future, and hopefully decide on a team he would like to be traded to at the deadline. Here's one for you: Sundin to the San Jose Sharks for Patrick Marleau and a draft pick or two. What do you think? Marleau's been brutal this season, but I'd take a chance on him in a heartbeat. And Sundin would give the Sharks the secondary scoring Marleau was supposed to provide. Imagine a one-two punch at centre of Joe Thornton and Mats Sundin. Very excite!

It should be one doozy of a game tonight in the Shark Tank, especially if Justin Pogge gets the nod in goal. A little baptism by fire, please! And if the Leafs get their behind's handed to them on a platter once more, Sunday will be memorable as well, I'm sure.

Welcome to the life of a die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan. The lunacy continues, and Toronto is burning...


Preet_Singh said...

Good writing as usual Navin. We'll indeed see how tonight plays out.

- Preet (aka The Raghu).