Finishing up with my tongue in cheek year in review of the Toronto Maple Leafs; Oz style. I hope you enjoy the photo shop as much as I did creating them. As a Leaf fan, I needed something to help ease the pain of another season without playoffs. Enjoy.
There is no denying the vulnerability the two goaltenders for the Toronto Maple Leafs exuded throughout the year. Coach Ron Wilson was unable to come to a consensus on who should be handed the reins and be the number one goalie, allowing both Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer to flounder. As a result, an entire team playing in front of the net minder could not find the rhythm of consistency in order to string together more than five wins in a row.
Reimer and Gustavsson both could not outshine the other for any length of time for even the fans of this franchise to pick a sure number one starting goalie. If you took the time to look around the NHL, you will find most teams are capable of knowing who their consistent goalie is by mid-December the latest. Not this team, it couldn’t put the pieces together to give a vote of confidence or even bring in one of the AHL goalies for a chance.
One of these two goalies needs find what it is inside them that will bring out a winner. They might not be around Toronto long enough to find out if they are a number one goalie or not. This off-season will be all about addressing the “goalie situation”.
This team often showed no signs of life in the opening minutes of the game. Night after night the team would come out of the gates flat. No zip or urgency to their game whatsoever. I lay most of the blame on the early disaster that Coach Wilson put the team through, lack of preparation and inconsistency between the pipes is just the tip of the iceberg. The journey for this team will be to find a bond, join in effort to win games and come out with first goal games in order to take control of the tempo. This team does not have a viable leader in Dion Phaneuf. His inability to carry this team when needed is just not part of his character. The disrespect this Captain showed by not attending Mats Sundin franchise sponsored evenings the weekend of his jersey retirement speaks volumes to his immaturity. Lack of heart and lack of respect to one of proudest fan bases in the world is what he showed and I am putting it mildly.
The man behind the curtain better sit this young defenseman down over the summer and explain to him what it means to represent the Leaf on the front of his sweater. It won’t be long before the nation that is passionate and often critical of Dion Phaneuf start chanting from the rafters “Trade Dion”.
The yellow brick road is not paved with a path to the Cup unless you have a leader that can take you there. Dion better learn to be that leader or hand it over to someone who can handle all the adversity of being a captain in Toronto.
The journey to the Playoffs has become a long and winding path for the Toronto Maple Leafs and will continue next season. How many fans are willing to follow this rag-tag bunch along the way? Some of us with bags over our heads in complete disgust with the franchise and some of us loud and proud bleeding blue and white. I know I will be back next season and will be spending this summer watching to see what the man behind the curtain can do to lift this team towards success.