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The Leafs Aren't Nearly As Bad As Their Record Suggests



James Reimer and Phil Kessel celebrate after their victory

PHOTO: mapleleafs.com

Quite possibly one of the worst collapses in recent memory is that of the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Two months ago the Leafs were in a respectable playoff position with hopes of playing in the post-season for the first time in almost a decade. However, a monumental collapse in February, that has continued into March as well, has left the Leafs stranded far from a playoff spot as they currently sit seventh last in the entire league. With the win yesterday, Toronto's record is 31-32-8 with only 11 games left in the season. But are the Maple Leafs really as bad as their record suggests?

The Leafs only have three wins in their last 15 games, and many fans who were praising the team just a few months ago, are now turning against Brian Burke, with complaints that he hasn't assembled a good enough roster. In my opinion, such criticism is not fair to Brian Burke. Many are quick to judge, but have short memories. Before Brian Burke became the General Manager in Toronto, the teams top three forwards were Matt Stajan, Alex Ponikarovski and Nik Antropov. Now, our top three forwards are Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, and Mikhail Grabovski, a big improvement from the previous three players listed.

There is a simple way to sum up Toronto's woes this season. It isn't uncommon for a young team, who started out strong, watch their season crumble. This happened to the Leafs and they were unable to pull it back together. Add a coaching change and a new playing system and things get complicated even further. But are the Leafs a bad team? I don't think so. Sure, there are a few bad contracts on the team, but asides from those players, the Leafs are far from being a bottom ten team in the NHL. They may not be a Stanley Cup contending team, but they are definitely playoff contenders.

Things didn't turn out that well for them this season, and the Leafs find themselves in a familiar position in the standings, near the bottom. After the playoff hopes went out the window, I am glad the Leafs continued to lose. There is no point in winning here and there and finishing just a few points out of a playoff spot but not having a top ten draft pick. It seems most fans understand this, and remember those years of finishing a few points out after the last lockout, yet these fans are the same ones that criticize the Leafs for losing a bunch of games. You can't have it both ways!

So, I am looking forward to next season. A clean slate for the players to make up for the mid-season mistakes. A clean slate for the goaltending to step it up and for the defense to help the goalies out, instead of hanging them out to dry. All of this with a new coach and a new style of play, likely a more defensive strategy, and if all goes well, a high draft pick developing in the Leafs' system en-route to becoming a good contributor in the years to come.



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TML what the leafs need is a new GM and a new direction. this what 8 years out of the playoffs. if the leafs fired burke and went with the hell with it start rebuilding model I bet playoffs are in the the future next year maybe 2014. look at my flyers this was supposed to be a rebuilding year. traded stars for young players and picks, now they could finish anywhere from 1st - 5th but in the playoffs. and we all know what can happen when you make it into the dance

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i think burke has done an admiral job, but he hasnt done an absolutely amazing job.

he has built up a good group of prospects in the marlies etc. and has brought some youth to the team that actually has skill. as i said before, when burke became the GM in Toronto he didn't have much to work with. Since he has became the GM he has made a much better team. There are a few terrible signings on the roster that you would like to avoid, but nobody is perfect, nobody is immune to such mistakes.

I will say on thing though, despite the amount of garbage thrown on John Ferguson Jr, quite a few of the young Leafs/Marlies players are his draft picks. He may not have been a good GM, but he is definitely a good scout for the young players (either that or he got really lucky)

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Another promised year without making the playoffs, the fans of Toronto have the right to expect more. The leafs need to address their goaltending this summer.

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