“What’s new with the boys at the Hub? Just got back from the moon. I left right after the Pittsburgh game. Leafs still cruisin’?”
*Slight pause followed by a long disgusted sigh.*
“The freakin’ Sabres. Are you kidding around or what? 6-2 eh. That burns.”
*Another pause…looks at phone.*
“Kessel told Jonas to what? Get away from me? Haha. Phil getting pissed. Bet that turned things into the Toronto Zoo around here pretty fast. So who did we have next? Nashville was it?”
“9 goals. 9 goals at home. At home. After losing like that to Buffalo. Is Randy still here?”
“Huh. Handled them pretty easily. Man, Tampa has been playing well too. Must say I’m a little shocked. Alright, we beat Tampa and then what happened?”
“Salute? What salute? We salute? Okay, now I know what you’re talking about, they go to center, yeah. Anyways, go ahead….”
*Smirk. Followed by a half angry-face.*
“Well who in their right minds would decide to do that? It doesn’t matter. I can guess. I mean honestly, does anyone really care about that foolishness? But still, don’t be so stupid to do it and then make up stories and stuff. Good grief. I assume the Wings pounded them after turning the heat back on themselves like that, lol. What a bunch.”
“So you are telling me they played a fundamentally sound game with structure. No Polak and 5 D to finish? Looked like a true team?”
*Looks to the sky.*
“Boys…the Leafs are a whole hell of a lot easier to understand from the moon.”
All in all a pretty dormant spell in Leaf land during my space travels. Doesn’t sound like much drama revolving around the team to speak-of? Typical run of the mill stuff. Even the media have been fairly subdued this last stretch.
Right around now your sarcasm meter should be lighting up faster than the Montreal Police Department’s switchboard after a Zdeno Chara hit. It’s been a spell of absolute pandemonium in the Big Smoke. People were running around naked, lighting themselves on fire, calling for executions, throwing jerseys, you name it. I just have to ask…..
What the deuce happened?
The last time we chatted I was talking about demons being exorcised and whooping the Bruins. The Hub was feeling better about the team, optimism was in the air. Hi-Fives were flowing like water through Leafs Nation after that win. Then the Pens came to town and although we fought the puck a bit, Toronto certainly delivered a respectable effort.
So we are finally on some solid ground this season. Possibly settling in to a comfortable place. Smooth flight path. Good times….
Nah. Screw that. No fun in that ride.
In Leafs-ical fashion, we just figured on “peacock strutting” our way down the QEW and laying the smackdown on a poor Sabres team. “Sure it’s our third game in four nights but c’mon, we’re rolling. Easy breezy, lemon squeezy. Turnovers? Pffft. Who is worried about that nonsense? We’re the Leafs. Maybe you didn’t catch the Boston game? The Sabres, gimme a break. Let’s show off those peacock colors, boys.” Well the bird that strolled into Buffalo left without a feather.
Hey, let’s look on the bright side here. Perfect message for a still youthful team growing into themselves. You can’t assume victory in this league on any night. Especially when quite frankly, you are an average team at best, hoping to become more. Best thing about an 82 game schedule is there’s another night right around the corner. Nashville is in town and we are going to get right back up on the saddle. Big effort to come. “About getting up on that saddle? Do we actually need to push?”
Well they climbed up like city boys (like me) who’d never seen a horse, let alone rode one and the Predators bucked. Flung the Leafs to the stable floor and gave them a kick on the way out the barn. Left a pretty good horseshoe mark. Yep, still trying to scrub some of the manure off. 9 goals? Lost by a damn touchdown.
So here we go again. Broken and humiliated with character at the forefront of conversation, or lack thereof. A group seemingly void of confidence with changes imminent. Lost in space. The fan base who had absorbed so much disappointment was finally reaching an unrest powerful enough to maybe even influence change. Accountability was the word of the day and something had to give. The message from the top was that the players would have to own their sour performance. Logic would dictate that the Leafs couldn’t pull themselves together enough to take down the Stamkos led Lightning squad. The pressure and fragility would finally put an end to the “core”, like fans have been clamoring for and some sort of response personnel-wise would come.
I can’t do this any longer. I have to be honest….I wasn’t on the moon. Yes it’s true. We all know what happened. They won. Then we suffered through two days of #SaluteGate together. I too watched the silliness that transpired this past ten plus days. And maybe this whole shake up the core stuff is a bit melodramatic. After all, these last two wins have been a couple of our finest. What we are going through in Toronto is no different than half the league. But you know how it is around town. Everything is scrutinized, over-analyzed or whatever adjective you choose to the nth degree. Why is this latest encounter of misfortune the one to institute roster change?
I don’t really know how else to word it, other than simply something was different this time around the Leafs orbit.
It has been a bit of a “space odyssey” for the Leafs recently, hasn’t it? Or maybe more like riding Space Mountain on LSD. Chaotic and mind-blowing with severe highs and lows. These cosmic shifts in momentum often seem out of this world. Since we are on the subject of the great beyond, let’s ask ourselves why we would ever travel to space in the first place. There only is one real answer.
To learn. The answers can lie in the information gathered or in the journey itself.
There is a new Head of Astrophysics at Leafs NASA base. His name is Brendan Shanahan. It is his duty to assemble a team of scientists to help decipher ways to improve the Maple Leafs and their ability to navigate through the space that is the NHL. Dr. Nonis and Dr. Carlyle (I like to picture them evil) will continue in their roles to ensure protocols are followed. All matters involving data and personnel will run through Professor Dubas. Gentleman, we have made some remarkable discoveries.
Shanny had to let the Leafs circle the Earth a couple of times to see if he can detect any patterns. This stretch would have surely uncovered some startling research. In normal terms, these times have been telling. So telling in fact, that I’m fairly certain the evaluation period has ended. Enough information has been compiled. Reports are being written and finalized.
What will the findings be? That we are headed for a meteor? Perhaps spontaneous combustion leaving not even the nucleus?
Likely not. Reality is probably not so bleak. I’ll tell you this though, space travel and hockey have similarities. If you are going to venture anywhere you need to do so with people you trust. People you can count on. Astronauts need to be reliable in every sense. Hockey teams and most importantly its players are no different. Shanahan is not taking this journey much further without the proper men. He wants his type of men. Leaders who lead by consistent example and professionalism. Some of which are here now, but I’ll promise you there’s a couple guys who will never take flight on the spacecraft Brendan is building. They may be here now, but not when he does his final count down.
Can I say that this period has unequivocally shown that change is coming to the make-up of this team? Nope. But it could easily be T-minus 14 seconds before you see two or three guys rocketed out of town. I eagerly anticipate the conclusions of the Leafs team of physicists. Shanahan has taken his “one small step for man” and may be about to take his “giant leap for Leaf-kind”.
I for one am looking forward to riding the Starship that Shanny is working on. We don’t have the men to take it up yet and it still needs work, but we’ll get there. The journey is just beginning.
Do your best to hang on. There will still be some G force turbulence ahead. We are the Leafs after all. It’ll just make it all the more satisfying when we reach the end of our grim mission. How long ago was 1967 in light years, again?
Until next episode of…”LEAFS…..IN….SPAAAAAAAACE!!”