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The Downward Spiral: Maple Leafs Post Mortem



Season Record


Did they make the playoffs?

What went right?

<Drums fingers on desk> Well, OK. I suppose Phil Kessel didn't completely disgrace himself, falling two points shy of his record total for the Leafs. Considering the defensive game was an abject disgrace, Jonathan Bernier's 26-19 record and 2.68 GAA was, let's say, borderline professional. James Van Riemsdyk smashed his points total from last season and for the most part did things on his own with the top line; he and Kessel recorded a quarter of the Leafs shots between them, proving what an utter shower generally skated on the lines behind him. Finally, a grudging nod is due in the general direction of Troy Bodie (Twitter bio: 'forecheck, backcheck, paycheck') who on a near-minimum league salary skated each shift like it was last and scored more points per 60 even-strength minutes than David Clarkson.

What went wrong?

The Leafs went 3-13 to finish the season to collectively revealed a spine cobbled together with duct tape. The defence was barely worthy of the word, conceding an average 35.9 shots per game and proving as if there were any doubt that spending all season getting outshot by ludicrous totals does not a playoff spot bring. James Reimer suffered for this more than anyone, almost certainly playing his last season in Toronto on the back of a patchy year. The less said about David Clarkson the better.

The fact is you could write a Domesday Book-sized list of things that went wrong with the Leafs this season. The reality is the entire organisation, from top to bottom, plunged new depths in shame and failure this season, once again spitting in the faces of those unfortunate enough to have committed their lives and emotions to them. How to improve this off-season?

No-one should be untouchable. Whether Randy Carlyle, who as head coach takes immediate responsibility for the 8-game slide, will be around next season is still open to question. After being poached from the NHL, new President Brendan Shanahan's first job will to be to decide the coach's future - the signs aren't particularly promising for Carlyle at this point. It's also been suggested that Shanahan may choose to unburden Dion Phaneuf from the captaincy so he can focus on his game, which would be the smartest move short of cutting him loose altogether.

Otherwise the squad needs a bomb dropped on it to make it loud and clear that this ****'s not gonna fly. With the eye-wateringly bad contract of David Clarkson almost untradeable, it appears at least that the Leafs' only way forward is to somehow find a way to work miracles with him. If the Leafs re-sign the half-decent-at-best Dave Bolland to the crazy money he's asking for... that's all the evidence the Nation will need to see that another season of despair around the corner.

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The majority of the Leafs problems stemmed from not having enough depth at center.  Who would you choose to be named Captain?

Anyone wonder if the Devils gave Clarkson first line minutes so the competition would then overpay for him come free agency?

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It's a wonder how Clarkson got the minutes he did, but it paid off for the Devils. As for captain, I'm not sure who I would hand the "C" to at this time, but it's clear that Phaneuf struggles as it is.

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