Friday, February 29, 2008

The 2008 Deadline Disaster Blame-o-Meter

Now that the Great Trade Deadline Disaster of '08 has come and gone with nothing meaningful to show for it, there's not much left for a Leaf fan to do except point fingers. And luckily, there's plenty of targets available. You know what that means: time to fire up the Blame-o-Meter™.

As always1, we'll start at zero (no blame) and work out way up to ten (get the firing squad). Let's see where it all shakes out...

0 - The fans
Just putting this out there, since you know the Damien Cox's of the world will find a way to pin this on us. Remember folks, don't blame the victim.

1 - Cliff Fletcher
The Silver Fox did what he could, which turned out to be not much. Even though he was the guy running the show on Dud-line Day, he had little room to maneuver once the NTC 5 (a.k.a. the Loser Brigade) decided to stick around. Could he have salvaged the situation by playing hardball early on? Maybe, but at the time his nice guy routine seemed like the way to go.

2 - Tomas Kaberle
Out of all the NTC 5, Kaberle is the toughest to get worked up over. Unlike the rest of the group, he's actually being paid at or below market value, so it's tough to begrudge him his NTC. And he's played at an all-star level these past few years, unlike some other defencemen I could mention.

3 - Richard Peddie
Good old Ricky Lipsynch actually managed to stay out of the way at the deadline, probably because he was too busy screwing up the hiring of the next GM. But he's done his damage, and many of this week's problems can be traced to his moronic leadership.

4 - Paul Maurice
How can a coach be blamed for what goes down on Deadline Day? Maybe he can't, at least directly. But it's clear from the eagerness of the NTC 5 to stay in Toronto come hell or high water that the Leafs dressing room is a pretty comfortable place to be these days. The next star player Maurice benches, sends to the press box or publicly admonishes will be the first.

Yes, his dry wit and little boy smirk make him popular with the local press (who judge everyone based solely on their media availability). But if he'd bothered to ask for even a little bit of accountability from his listless veterans this year, would they have been so eager to stick around and ride out another last place finish?

5 - Darcy Tucker
Tucker has had a terrible year, and still insists on spouting meaningless platitudes about how good the team could be if they were only healthy. On the other hand, his contract isn't actually all that bad -- especially if he's been playing hurt. And he's the only one of the veterans who seems to genuinely love playing in Toronto, so his refusal to waive seems somewhat reasonable.

6 - Andrew Raycroft
He deserves some blame for this somehow. Give me time, I'll figure something out.

7 - Pavel Kubina
The other NTCers were being selfish -- Kubina was just plain dumb. He could have hand-picked a deal to a contender, but instead he'll wind up going wherever Fletcher decides to banish him. Kubina is actually a better player than many give him credit for. I hope he enjoys proving it in Edmonton next year.

8 - Mats Sundin
I've been harsh on the captain this week, arguing that Sundin is selfish and mocking his NTC stance. There's little doubt that 14 years of service has earned him the right to make his own decision -- even if that decision turn out to be disastrous for the franchise, which it will. But once he made that call, it was a given that the rest of the veterans would fall in line. With retirement looking more and more likely, it's sad to think that our final memory of Mats will be of him torpedoing a desperately needed rebuilding plan for the sake of his own personal comfort zone.

9 - Bryan McCabe
The poster child and unofficial spokesman of the NTC 5. Has the worst contract of the bunch. Toyed with Leaf fans by pretending he'd accept a deal, then joked about it afterwards. Doesn't seem to understand how ridiculous he sounds when he says the Leafs are a good team. Probably wanted to leave, but couldn't get a signed permission note from his wife. Makes me so angry I write in incomplete sentences.

10 - John Ferguson Jr.
Apparently those wild street celebrations on January 21 were premature. Thanks to his weak-kneed willingness to hand out no-trade clauses to anyone who batted their eyes at him, Ferguson's utter incompetence has derailed this franchise so badly that it could take years to fix.

The only positive aspect to this whole debacle was watching Fergie squirm his way through TSN's deadline coverage, standing meekly by while everyone else piled on. I may not know much about the machinations of NHL front office work, but I know this much: if Mike Milbury is scoring points off of criticizing your performance, you were a monumentally terrible GM.

1Note how I cleverly make this look like a regular feature, instead of something I made up today.


  1. I'll be honest--I've never been a huge fan of Pavel Kubina. He just...annoys me for no reason at all. I've never been able to figure out why but he grind my gears for some reason that even I cannot comprehend. Sorry, I just had to get that out.

  2. Kubina's a solid player, but Leaf fans in general have never been behind him. I think a big part of that is from his UFA signing -- it was compeltely unexpected, and nobody really felt like we needed him at that price. And it's turned out to be true.

    Not really his fault for taking the offer the Leafs gave him... but I don't have the energy to hate JFJ any more than I already do, so I guess there's going to be some spill over to innocent targets.

  3. Here is how you can blame Raycroft:

    17 GP, .868 SV%, 4.07 GAA

    If he could even be just brutal instead of complete and total garbage, we could legitimately have between 4-10 more points and be anywhere from 5th to 9th.