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70's Leafs - What would have been without Ballard?

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07-17-2011, 10:26 PM
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Toronto's lack of Cup success since expansion is that they've never had all necessary components in place at the same time.

With Stafford Smythe's death in 1971, Ballard took solo control. It seemed it was his life's goal to destroy everything Conn Smythe built. Ballard had Hewitt's gondola removed and destroyed. He removed every Cup banner from the Gardens and threw them in the garbage. He physically and emotionally severed the club from its past owner(s) and its own history. When Conn Smythe died in 1980, Ballard seemed to lose interest in the hockey itself. He was the worst of all ownership scenarios: he starved the team financially (as most profits went into buying back more Gardens shares); and he was unqualified to assess and produce talent on ice. Ballard might have been a decent and educated hockey man in the 1950s, but by the '70s he was Steinbrenner. By the '80s he was a porn star looking for attention, with no interest or ability in righting the ship.

Stavros managed to gain control of the team after Ballard's death, and had the wisdom to put a good hockey man in charge. Fletcher brought quick success, but ultimately couldn't sustain it due to the shallow pockets of Stavros. Stavros' partnering with Larry Tanenbaum in '96 marked the start of the Leafs descent again for the next half decade.

When Stavros sold out the Leafs were back to a half Ballard era. They put money into the team, but did not have a qualifed staff running the club. JFJ was the manager on paper, but everything major had to be run by the Board for approval, and the Board were not qualified to run a hockey team. They at least realized they were over their heads, and brought in Burke. For the last three years, for the first time since the mid-60s, Toronto's had all components in place to find success: deep pockets, qualified hockey management with autonomy, and patience. All this is in question again as the OTPP have put their team stake up for sale. Depending on who buys the club, the team's window may be closing again.

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07-17-2011, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by arrbez View Post
We'll see with Edmonton, but there's another side to that coin as well.

- eleven top-10 picks in twelve year franchise history
- This includes four top-5 picks
- Results: one playoff appearance ending in a sweep

-10 top-10 picks in 13 year franchise history
-These picks include: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th overall
- Results: one playoff appearance ending in a sweep

Florida is another team that has had their shot at many a blue chip prospect with little on-ice return.

It's not always a guarantee, and you can't control how good a draft is. Luck has a lot to do with it in some cases. On top of doing things "the right way", Pittsburgh got pretty damn lucky to win that first overall pick in the Crosby lottery, and that their 2nd overall the season before happened to be in a draft with just two monumental can't-miss talents and not a whole lot else. A bad bounce of the ping pong ball either year, and it's hard to say that's a Cup-winning team in 2008.

Being completely terrible can work out beautifully, but it can also result in just being a poor team forever.
Yep, the "tank for high picks" to rebuild is much more myth than fact. Many more examples of failure than success. You covered Pittsburgh, and it is at best short-sighted, and probably closer to flat-out wrong, to claim years of sucking and high draft picks were the catalyst for Chicago's Cup.

Despite sucking for a decade, Chicago only had two high picks that had an impact in Toews and Kane. They got lucky with Kane, winning the lottery as only the 5th-worst team in the league. (Interesting aside, the Oilers were poised to be 5th-last on the final day of the season before Chicago mysteriously blew a late two-goal lead against Dallas to lose their final game and clinch a chance at 1st overall. Hmmm...)

What is totally overlooked is that the Hawks got Sharp and Versteeg in trades for absolutely nothing. Basically swaps of 4th liners/minor leaguers that were pretty much unnoticed at the time. There's no way anybody could have predicted how big a part those two would play in their Cup win. Byfuglien was an 8th round pick. So basically, a championship-caliber 2nd line materialized out of nowhere.

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07-17-2011, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by mobilus View Post
All this is in question again as the OTPP have put their team stake up for sale. Depending on who buys the club, the team's window may be closing again.
Good job. Pretty concise & accurate history, and ya, as for the last bit.....

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