February 02, 2010


I've got a massive backpack, the Lonely Planet guide to India, and a return date of June 24th. After two days of intense celebration over the acquisition of Dion Phaneuf, and more importantly the departure of Vesa Toskala, I won't get to see the new and improved, offensively challenged Toronto Maple Leafs in action. I leave for the Indian subcontinent Tuesday night. The rebuild, however, is finally officially underway, and I've found comfort in that realization.

Here's how I've justified Brian Burke's three biggest transactions: as one massive, all-encompassing trade.

Jason Blake
Vesa Toskala
Matt Stajan
Ian White
Niklas Hagman
Jamal Mayers
2010 1st Round Pick
2010 2nd Round Pick
2011 1st Round Pick


Phil Kessel
Dion Phaneuf
J.S. Giguere
Fredrik Sjostrom
Keith Aulie

I know, that's a lot of draft picks going the other way. But you're used to that now. We're all used to that now. I'm also well aware, as you are, that the moves mean the Leafs have, other than Kessel, zero offence. And I'm OK with that. Because the problem for the better part of the last five years is that Toronto can't kill penalties, and can't keep the puck out of its own net. Burke will figure out a solution up front. That's what he's paid to do. If you don't have faith in him after he found a trader partner for the services -- and I use the term lightly -- of Toskala and Jason Blake, I'm afraid you never will.

In 24-year-old Phaneuf and 22-year-old Kessel, I can finally say the Toronto Maple Leafs have two young, established, and skilled players around which to build a team. Young being the key word. When was the last time you could make such a proclamation? Phaneuf is two seasons removed from Norris Trophy consideration. And, it bears repeating, still only 24. For once, for fucking once, the Leafs bought low.

It pains me to admit it, because only a true idiot would compare the Civil Rights Movement to the trivial world of professional sports, but when I heard Toskala had indeed been jettisoned out west, Martin Luther King's words echoed through my mind: "Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

One final word about Jason Blake, before I say my goodbyes. He was the whipping boy. From day one. And, truthfully, I'm not sure why that was the case. While I did my fair share of defending him, I found it difficult to do so this season. All the cool kids were slagging him. I was just trying to fit in. Now that he's a Duck, I can look fondly back on Blake's time in Toronto. While he didn't score as many goals as people would have liked, he performed. Early in his career, Blake played 82 games with the Los Angeles Kings, and registered 28 points, for a 0.34 point-per-game average. He then moved to Long Island, where he enjoyed fruitful seasons in hockey hell: 426 games, 258 points. A 0.60 point-per-game average. Finally, Toronto. The most productive stop during Jason Blake's career: 216 games, 141 points. A 0.65 point-per-game average. Blake may not have been worth the money to you, but based on his track record, he did what he was brought in to do. I'll miss the fist pumps.

I'll tell you this: it's not easy leaving the pro sports teams -- for this long, at least -- who routinely frustrate me and break my heart. It should be. But it isn't. Posting will be sparse around here, but I'll be dropping by. First things first, Aaron Hill will be replacing Roy Halladay in the Sports And The City banner. A logical choice. Thanks for voting. And, over the next few weeks, I plan to visit one of India's numerous internet cafes to watch Canada take care of business out in Vancouver. I'll be celebrating our nation's hockey triumph a world away, and plan to enjoy every second of it.

Here's what I'll miss most:
  • The Toronto Raptors' surge to the top of the Atlantic Division, led by Chris Bosh. The franchise will win its second playoff series while I'm gone. It's time. Believe in Bosh.
  • Interviews with Hedo Turkoglu.
  • Opening Day at the SkyDome. This one's tough; it's tradition. But I'll be there in spirit. Missing the first three months of baseball season might be the toughest of all. The silver lining: three fewer months of Cito Gaston. Win.
  • Ron Wilson being fired.
I've scheduled my return such that if the Boston Bruins do indeed select Taylor Hall with the Leafs' first overall selection, I'll be back in time to watch it happen. That'll surely get me back in the swing of things. My arrival back in Toronto also coincides with, hopefully, a date with Roy Halladay.

So, take care of yourself, eh? Remember: curve the bill of your hat, always support the home team, and never give up hope. Enjoy the rest of your winter, and the beautiful spring months. I'll be stopping by every now and then to holler "Playoffs!!1"

A brilliant and beautiful woman once told me words that certainly ring true today: "This isn't goodbye. It's see you later."



Loser Domi said...

Well Navin, I hope you have a great time in India! We'll keep the light on for you

Drew - LtB said...

Awesome dude, have a good time. Don't let the touts push you around, but I'm sure you're well versed in the arts.

We'll miss you brother. DEHLIBELLY!!!11!!

The Ack said...

Whoah. You kids and your crazy exploration.

Well, there's a good solid 5 or 10 minutes of freed up time for me daily anyway for the next few months.

Be safe dude. Think good thoughts for the Jays.

Ian H. said...

Safe travels, my friend! Enjoy your time in the homeland and hopefully by the time you return, the Blue Jays won't be 20 games under .500.

The blogosphere won't be the same without you!

dave said...

Awesome dude! Sad to see a positive voice leave the blogosphere for a bit though. Have a great time!

(WAIT! What will happen to the Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System?!? Let Ian take it over for a few months? Surely there will be some activity on that front!)

Bhattorious said...

Have Fun.....u getting married over there...LOL

Anonymous said...

Smell you later EBL.

Steve G. said...

Good luck, dude! Just don't kill any cows - I think they're kind of against that over there.

Space Weed said...

"The Toronto Raptors' surge to the top of the Atlantic Division, led by Chris Bosh. The franchise will win its second playoff series while I'm gone. It's time. Believe in Bosh."

True say. Have a great time in India dude

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Navin, and safe travels. Hope you make it back in time for the Habs' Stanley Cup parade.

Junior said...

Happy wandering, Navin. We'll miss you while you're gone, but the Barilkosphere has its own optimism now. You kept the flame alive, brother!

When you get back, I'm sure a whole bunch of folks would love to get together and hear some stories from you. PPPPub Night!!!

Hungry Leafs Fan said...

Have a safe trip, Nav. If the gang is rounding up for another Jays game before you get back, I'll make sure we make the sign in your honour!

Meredith said...

Wow...unreal. Safe travels, friend. you'll definitely be missed.

If the beautiful expanses of India get tired (ha) you're only three and a half hours from desert dwelling in Doha. Holla!

Meredith said...

That's three and a half from Mumbai. You kind of have to be specific, I guess. All the best!

William said...

I'll miss you, eyeb. But have a great sabbatical and take it all in.

LJ said...

Have a safe journey.

stucky said...

Take care! Safe travels in India!


Gio said...

I went to the game last night, in honour of you. I'll miss you dearly. Be safe.

eyebleaf said...

You guys are all amazing. Thank you for the kind words, and the well wishes.

I'm en route, in Abu Dhabi right now. My main mission upon reaching India, Goa specifically, is to find out how to say "PLAYOFFS!!!1" in Hindi.

Until then ...

(Until then read Drew's NAILS post on Bosh.)

aapd said...

Safe travels mang. Where you heading specifically? I came from India on the 9th of Jan.

furcifer said...

Hi Nav,
Have a great time in our motherland.

I still believe in Vernon Wells


Kavel Pubina said...

Catch ya on the flipside, eyebleaf.

(Oh, and I guarantee you, the Bruins won't get Taylor Hall.)

Meredith Martin said...

I'll miss you eyebeleaf. Happy trails. I think under the circumstances it's alright to talk to strangers.


HabsFan29 said...

The interwebs will not be the same without you.

Archimedies said...

Wow. I actually teared up reading this.

See the world, my friend. See the world.

May the people you meet return the respect and love you seem to give everyone you come across.


Anonymous said...

Goa, Karnataka and now Bangalore ...
Navin marches on.
Happy travels Bud.

metricjulie said...

I just discovered your blog despite the fact that I've been following you on twitter for quite some time.

Magical posts about your time in India. I will definitely read every single update.