Lose tonight and we are officially done for the 7th year in a row.
But no doubt there will be the usual delusional leemings down at the ACC tonight who will cheer and clap like the trained seals at Marineland.
While the real astute Leaf fans at the ACC who are fed up with the garbage product year after year will boo Brain Burke's epic colapse losers right off the ice because they damn well deserve it.
You know what... I've been a Leaf fan for all my life. Started paying close attention back around 1989, and have followed them up to now.
They had a good run in the early 90s, and yeah the past 7 years has been crap. But you know what? We got boned by the same thinking the first 4 years of this current playoff drought.
"We're just one or two pieces away from a good cup run". nonsense. We were like the blue jays. We had a crap pipeline of prospects, and a bunch of pretenders and past-their-primers on the main roster. Lots of risk and no reward.
Vesa Toskala as a #1 starter? Huge risk no reward. The thing is, Brian Burke didn't have much to work with when he took over:
Seriously. Go read that roster. it is absolute garbage with a few bright spots. Schenn, Grabovski, and I remember being hopeful that Justin Pogge, hot off his world junior performane, would be the next Cujo. That didn't turn out.
Now, take a look at the, admittedly outdated, list of prospects scroll across the top of the screen. Take a look at our current roster:
Right off the bat we have a legitimate scorer in Phil Kessel. Knock him all you want, but he adds speed and scoring. We have a decent d-corps. I wouldn't say amazing, we still have some stiffs, but something that we can build on, especially with Jake Gardiner. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are in WAY better shape than that horrible 2008 roster.
We have a lot of driftwood, though. And that's going to be a sign of the times. Teams are locking up their stars to longer term contracts, and they're not letting them get to be UFAs. So we have to be patient and be smart with drafting. The old approach of "we're a couple of pieces short of a good playoff run" is just that: old. Be patient, and understand that the players we have that are not your favourites are there because we need players there.
I don't like Komisarek, but you know what? He's a big body, and he fills a position until a) one of our prospects is ready or b) someone better comes along via trade/free agency.
I would much prefer small, incremental progress than the same result every year like we had in the early 2000's: finishing 6th-8th and lasting a round or 2 of playoffs. Making a bunch of moves in the offseason overpaying veterans who may or may not be able to perform still. It gets old.
Give Burkie some time to build up the team. I'm sure he'd be the first to admit things haven't gone the way he wanted as well.
In short, be patient. We're better off now than we were 7 years ago, regardless of the result. We sucked back then and we had no future. We suck now, but at least we have some potential prospects.