Hold on, before you abandon ship give my theory a chance. Like many of you I am excited the boys in Blue and W.hite are back on the ice, talking to the media and even the hockey shows have started to spin narrative for us to try and follow. That being said as the season starts to heat up I got to thinking how did we arrive to where we are now, a deep prospect pool, great staff top to bottom and a growing place that players want to sign as free agents like Marleau did this offseason. It led me to one recurring thought things have been done right and gone is the sense of entitlement and the same old same old attitude around the organization and there was one man who said what it was before he went about setting us back a few years.
Brian Burke said the Toronto Maple Leafs were ripe with the Blue and White disease. Everything that I just mentioned previously, so in fact he was the doctor who gave the diagnosis but he was not the one who could carry out the surgical procedure to remedy the Leafs into something to marvel at and not a laughing stock of the NHL.
Burkie spoke with conviction that the players didn’t feel they had to earn their spot on the team that things were just handed to them and he wanted to tear that out of the fabric of the leafs except his way of doing things wasn’t the way the NHL was going so he fast tracked it going after Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf hoping he could quickly right the ship and stripping us of what we needed high picks and young good prospects.
I look at the situation like this when a person feels there is structure at work and at home how do they usually perform and how is their mindset about going about their day to day tasks ? Usually it is pretty damn good. Toss a wrench in that say there is no structure just a way of doing things that’s gone on for a long time everyone is comfortable with and no one speaks about it except at the water cooler and that how and what if’s were managed better, then see how that affects home life and their overall mindset things sag in all departments right ? Harken this to Brian Burke’s failure and the Tim Lewicke gain he hires Brendan Shanahan who then starts to cut away at the disease and starts fighting it with positive direction and surgical precision, Dubas, Hunter, Babcock, Lou and so forth you start to build that structure I spoke of but it goes beyond that look at all of the support staff analytics staff the medical staff all of the in behind the scenes staff that make the whole world go round, as I have learned from my conversations with Jodi Lazoranotta of the Markham Royals that the behind the scenes staff who get no love for a lack of better terminology really make the guys day at the ice a lot smoother start to finish and when you have all of the right parts in place it makes the whole situation a lot easier to deal with.
Now that you have the the front, back and general staff in order you can focus on filling the empty cupboards we had for prospects. I mention this cause again like Burke alluded to the sense of entitlement came from somewhat from a lack of pressure if you have no one pushing you then complacency kicks in. Now the Leafs have younger players in the system looking to crack the lineup but not just any young players players that actually have a ton of skill and are looking to develop to be better then guys they are chasing what does that do for the guys in the current top twelve of the leafs well it in turn makes then skate the extra lap push the extra bit further and make the adjustments not to get passed by, by the younger players. Building a culture of winning along with having a vision that they are not afraid of sticking too no matter the pain and with the leaps and bounds of success they have also opened themselves up to being a viable market for key free agents just look at Marleau and we heard Doughty talk about the Leafs as well plus you know Thorton thought about joining his San Jose running mate in the big smoke. In all a whole system has been bred out of what Burke said but even he couldn’t have envisioned how this has played out. We now have a front office to marvel at an off ice section that is jaw droppingly good and while he may not of had a lot right in his time here (soundbites were always kick ass) truculence pugnacity aside he was right on the money about the blue and white disease and it was a grim waffle tossing prognosis but with the proper management and staff a remedy was concocted to combat it and now the heartbeat of Leafs nation is as strong as ever.
Enjoy the season…..