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The Leaf Fans Version of the "Are We There Yet" Whine

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03-26-2012, 01:01 PM
  #1
Drew75
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The Leaf Fans Version of the "Are We There Yet" Whine

Sorry for the length - a boring work day, lol. Felt like sharing some positivity! Rip away as desired

Firstly, let me be clear what my expectations have always been. By next season, I expect the Leafs to be safely in the Playoffs all year. I expect us to make the Playoffs, and compete when there. Not necessarily a cup contender yet – but not a scrape in and get booted in four games either.

I then expect us to become perennial contenders by the following season.

Should we fail to make the Playoffs next year – I believe Burke has failed, and should be fired – and I’m a fan of the job he’s done. That’s what I call fair accountability.

Now, I read all the “we suck” and such threads / comments here. I know many feel that this team meeting the above expectations is simply not possible. That is where I disagree.

As a team – you are never as bad as your worst run, or as good as your best run. The truth always lies somewhere in the middle. Looking at this organization, I can see a lot of good things coming into place, and I for one am excited about the future.

I know a lot of people here just look at stats and feel that paints an entire picture, but those of us who have played and studied the sport will know otherwise. Sure – stats are an indication – but not everything. For example – there is a huge difference between the team finishing lower in the standings this year than the team who finished 9th in the conference the year before Burke came in. You can focus on the standings, or you can look at the whole process of building an organization from top to bottom. For those saying that the “Standings speak to where we are”, or “our prospects haven’t made an impact yet” – I liken those posts to the annoying kids in the backseat on a road trip, constantly asking “are we there yet?”

Let’s look at the process of re-building an organization from top to bottom in relation to the Leafs:

The Foundation

Management:

JFJ was horrible and insecure. He filled management with people he felt wouldn’t be good enough to threaten his job. Even before him, our management team was never that strong beyond one or two guys. Ever notice how a lot of our assistant GM’s / GM’s never went on to act in the same role for other teams after being let go by the Leafs? See: Bill Waters, JFJ, Gord Stellick, Mike Smith, Ken Dryden, etc, etc.

Now under Burke, we have one of the strongest management teams in the NHL. We’ve gone from guys who will never work as a GM again, to a host of men other teams are after – see: Nonis, Newy, Loiselle. There is strength there – and whine all you want about Burke, but it’s a team effort. These boards may suggest our management sucks – but when the league who actually knows what’s what is threatening to go after members of our management team, I’m going to think they know a little more than the “experts” here.

Prospect Development:

This is where a little imagination is required, because like on the road trip – we aren’t there yet – but we’re close.

Some here like to point out the solid prospects that JFJ had given us – but the fact is the guy who provided those prospects / players (Frattin, Kulemin, Reimer, etc) is Dave Morrison – promoted to Head Scout in 2006 and the only JFJ guy Burke recognized he needed to keep. Not only was he kept – but his scouting department has doubled in size under Burke.

I know a lot of people here don’t think hockey players are actual people and thus affected by things like pressure – but the fact is they are. In the past where guys were given 1 or maybe 1.5 years to develop before joining the pressure cooker that is the Leafs, the prospects are now being sheltered to develop 3 or 4 years first. Historical evidence has shown that makes a HUGE difference at allowing players to reach their potential.

As to the pool itself, many will whine about the lack of top end talent – and fine. I could argue that we have more than a few prospects that are showing signs to develop into legitimate top 6 players, but I realize that until we see the results – it’s entirely a question of faith that can’t be proved. The proof will come – I have no doubt, but I’ll be happy to just be able to say “I told you so” in the next couple of years. What I can point out though is when Burke took over, this team was ranked 17th in the HF Organizational Rankings. We are now ranked 8th. Add to that Ashton, a potential top 5 pick along with an early 2nd rounder this year, and maybe even a Shultz if we get so lucky – and that ranking could be even better next year. I call that a great deal of progress to be proud of.

The Marlies:

The Marlies are primed for an extended playoff run this year. Burke and team have created a successful, winning environment in which to develop our prospects. I hear stupid arguments about Zigomanis and Hamilton leading the team in scoring, but I’d like to point out that a) they are both property of the Leafs, and b) since when did having older guys to help your kids develop become a bad thing? Both Kadri and Colborne are playing well, and the presence of the other guys allows those kids to spend time focusing on the areas of their game they need to work out like defensive play.

What does a strong AHL playoff mean to the big club? Well looking at recent history, strong play by the farm team has resulted in improved play for the big club. Last year Ottawa’s farm team won, followed by a huge point jump by the Sens this year. A few years back, Philly’s farm team won with guys like Richards and Carter, leading to the big clubs emergence as one of the better teams in the East. Teams like Vancouver and Washington won in the AHL before seeing the success translate to the NHL.

The Team

Forwards:

We’ve gone from a team that didn’t have a legit top 6 player (Antropov was closest) to a team with at least 4 legit top 6 players.

Keepers:

Kessel, Lupul, Kulemin, Grabovski, Steckle, & Brown
Kessel is ELITE, and I don’t care if you like the trade to get him, the fact is that we have one of the best offensive weapons in the NHL. I’ll admit he’s not the guy to build around, but when you have a chance to grab a guy like that you take it. It was a risk, and we lost the trade – but people who make it out like we got smoked are just crazy.
Kulemin is a beast and to give up on him is both short sighted and a huge mistake. Lupul and Grabovski are just hitting their primes, and Steckle with Brown makes up 2/3rds of a solid 4th line for years to come.

Prospects:

Kadri, Colborne, Frattin, Ashton, McKegg, and Biggs, all have the upside to be solid top 6 players for the Leafs. Add in a top centre drafted this year, add in wild cards like Olden and Nichols. Then there are a ton of guys like Ross, Carrick, Broll, etc that will fill in the bottom set. Those who know hockey know that the checking and energy roles are just as important as the top 6 when the games really matter. People who say “good bottom 6 guys are a dime a dozen and can be had cheap” really don’t understand what a good bottom 6 guy is, and probably don’t understand a lot about hockey outside of the fact that team who scores more wins.

Assets that can be moved to improve:

Connelly, Lombardi, Bozak, MacArther. So many rip on Connelly – but he is a legitimate top 6 centre in the league who just didn’t click with any line mates here. There is going to be a lot of teams interested in him once the UFA market dries up on July 2nd. Lombardi missed a whole year plus training camp, but should be able to improve greatly next year, and his contract status will make him attractive. Bozak and Mac are other pieces with value, which just likely won’t fit when the team improves where it needs to.

Needs:

Improved size and skill up the middle, more size in the top 9.
I can see Burke making a big push for a guy like Dustin Brown this summer, and if you add one of the top centre’s available in the draft this year – that goes a long way to solidifying our offense for years to come.

Defense:

Our defense is pretty solid and young – the main thing they need is just a better system in place. Carlyle and Farrish will go a long way to course correcting the issues there. We also have the depth on the back end to move a piece or two to help get the help up front.

Prospects:

Blacker, Holzer, Percy, and Nilson are three guys I’m really excited about. Add that to Gardiner, Phaneuf, Schenn, Franson, and Gunnarson – we honestly have one of the best corps in the league at both the NHL and Prospect level. One of the keys to remember is how long it takes a defenseman to develop – with even guys like Pronger, Foote, and Chara not putting it all together until past their 25th birthday.

Needs:

Patience.


Goaltending:

Gus is gone. Riemer is a solid young goalie who had a rough sophomore year that started with a concussion. The fact is, goalies with concussions take longer to recover (see: Ryan Miller). The fact is, young players struggle in their sophomore year (see: 80% of NHL Players). Reimer will be fine, and we’ll have a veteran / more experienced goalie to pair him with next year. Every year when the goaltending failed, Burke has tried to fix it – he brought in Gerber, and Giggy. He brought in 5 young goaltending prospects and is giving them the chance to succeed. Gus didn’t work out here – but I give Burke credit for not overpaying to find a temporary fix.

Overall –

You can look at the standings all you want – but when you compare player talent of the team he took over to what we have in the organization now, it’s night and day. A few key pieces this summer and we’ll be poised to make a significant jump in the standings next year. That is not an anomaly either – but a natural part of the progression of a young, developing team. This years collapse is only going to have a positive impact as we can now draft that top line centre everyone’s been craving.
People complain about the cap hits of L.A.C.K, but forget that all of their contracts will be movable in the next year or so. People complain about Burke not signing the handcuffing 10 / 12 year contracts, but fail to see the cap flexibility we currently have. People whine about Burke not rebuilding, but base it entirely on one trade while ignoring the fact that trade brought us one of the leagues best 24 year olds, while every other move Burke has made has been about bringing in young assets, and complementary pieces to let those assets develop but who can be moved with ease when those assets are ready.

It’s easy to complain about the ride, when we’re not at our destination yet. I don’t care what Burke said when he was hired. He’ll be the first guy to tell you it’s taking longer than expected – that there have been a few detours along the way, which has led to many impatient fans here whining “are we there yet?” It doesn’t mean we won’t get there, and when do – which I am confident we will – I know that I for one will enjoy saying “I told you so!

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03-26-2012, 01:07 PM
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Erza Scarlet
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you should stop making these kind of threads. It's always the same crap about we're on the right track blah blah blah.

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03-26-2012, 01:09 PM
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The glass is half full. I absolutely hope you are correct in your assessment. It cannot possibly get any worse, can it?

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03-26-2012, 01:11 PM
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another MLSE employee

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03-26-2012, 01:12 PM
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Thank god, somebody with a little sense and some brains. It is getting rarer and rarer to see around here. Great post.

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03-26-2012, 01:13 PM
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I like almost everything you said, but would add to your assets to move list. Phaneuf. That is just my opinion, and not making it to start an all out battle. Like I said. I like almost everything you said.

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03-26-2012, 01:23 PM
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Kulemin was most definitely a JFJ pick. JFJ personally watched him a lot and made it clear that he wanted the kid as a Leaf, including when he met him multiple times in Russia

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03-26-2012, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beezle View Post
you should stop making these kind of threads. It's always the same crap about we're on the right track blah blah blah.
Exactly.
This guy must work for the Leafs in some capacity.

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03-26-2012, 01:37 PM
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another MLSE employee
I wonder how many of them work on these forums.

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03-26-2012, 01:40 PM
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03-26-2012, 01:45 PM
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HockeyGuruPitka
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Lol, if you dont work for MLSE then i would definitely be concerned if i was your boss...

I agree with your assessment

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03-26-2012, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew75 View Post
Sorry for the length - a boring work day, lol. Felt like sharing some positivity! Rip away as desired

Firstly, let me be clear what my expectations have always been. By next season, I expect the Leafs to be safely in the Playoffs all year. I expect us to make the Playoffs, and compete when there. Not necessarily a cup contender yet – but not a scrape in and get booted in four games either.

I then expect us to become perennial contenders by the following season.

Should we fail to make the Playoffs next year – I believe Burke has failed, and should be fired – and I’m a fan of the job he’s done. That’s what I call fair accountability.

Now, I read all the “we suck” and such threads / comments here. I know many feel that this team meeting the above expectations is simply not possible. That is where I disagree.

As a team – you are never as bad as your worst run, or as good as your best run. The truth always lies somewhere in the middle. Looking at this organization, I can see a lot of good things coming into place, and I for one am excited about the future.

I know a lot of people here just look at stats and feel that paints an entire picture, but those of us who have played and studied the sport will know otherwise. Sure – stats are an indication – but not everything. For example – there is a huge difference between the team finishing lower in the standings this year than the team who finished 9th in the conference the year before Burke came in. You can focus on the standings, or you can look at the whole process of building an organization from top to bottom. For those saying that the “Standings speak to where we are”, or “our prospects haven’t made an impact yet” – I liken those posts to the annoying kids in the backseat on a road trip, constantly asking “are we there yet?”

Let’s look at the process of re-building an organization from top to bottom in relation to the Leafs:

The Foundation

Management:

JFJ was horrible and insecure. He filled management with people he felt wouldn’t be good enough to threaten his job. Even before him, our management team was never that strong beyond one or two guys. Ever notice how a lot of our assistant GM’s / GM’s never went on to act in the same role for other teams after being let go by the Leafs? See: Bill Waters, JFJ, Gord Stellick, Mike Smith, Ken Dryden, etc, etc.

Now under Burke, we have one of the strongest management teams in the NHL. We’ve gone from guys who will never work as a GM again, to a host of men other teams are after – see: Nonis, Newy, Loiselle. There is strength there – and whine all you want about Burke, but it’s a team effort. These boards may suggest our management sucks – but when the league who actually knows what’s what is threatening to go after members of our management team, I’m going to think they know a little more than the “experts” here.

Prospect Development:

This is where a little imagination is required, because like on the road trip – we aren’t there yet – but we’re close.

Some here like to point out the solid prospects that JFJ had given us – but the fact is the guy who provided those prospects / players (Frattin, Kulemin, Reimer, etc) is Dave Morrison – promoted to Head Scout in 2006 and the only JFJ guy Burke recognized he needed to keep. Not only was he kept – but his scouting department has doubled in size under Burke.

I know a lot of people here don’t think hockey players are actual people and thus affected by things like pressure – but the fact is they are. In the past where guys were given 1 or maybe 1.5 years to develop before joining the pressure cooker that is the Leafs, the prospects are now being sheltered to develop 3 or 4 years first. Historical evidence has shown that makes a HUGE difference at allowing players to reach their potential.

As to the pool itself, many will whine about the lack of top end talent – and fine. I could argue that we have more than a few prospects that are showing signs to develop into legitimate top 6 players, but I realize that until we see the results – it’s entirely a question of faith that can’t be proved. The proof will come – I have no doubt, but I’ll be happy to just be able to say “I told you so” in the next couple of years. What I can point out though is when Burke took over, this team was ranked 17th in the HF Organizational Rankings. We are now ranked 8th. Add to that Ashton, a potential top 5 pick along with an early 2nd rounder this year, and maybe even a Shultz if we get so lucky – and that ranking could be even better next year. I call that a great deal of progress to be proud of.

The Marlies:

The Marlies are primed for an extended playoff run this year. Burke and team have created a successful, winning environment in which to develop our prospects. I hear stupid arguments about Zigomanis and Hamilton leading the team in scoring, but I’d like to point out that a) they are both property of the Leafs, and b) since when did having older guys to help your kids develop become a bad thing? Both Kadri and Colborne are playing well, and the presence of the other guys allows those kids to spend time focusing on the areas of their game they need to work out like defensive play.

What does a strong AHL playoff mean to the big club? Well looking at recent history, strong play by the farm team has resulted in improved play for the big club. Last year Ottawa’s farm team won, followed by a huge point jump by the Sens this year. A few years back, Philly’s farm team won with guys like Richards and Carter, leading to the big clubs emergence as one of the better teams in the East. Teams like Vancouver and Washington won in the AHL before seeing the success translate to the NHL.

The Team

Forwards:

We’ve gone from a team that didn’t have a legit top 6 player (Antropov was closest) to a team with at least 4 legit top 6 players.

Keepers:

Kessel, Lupul, Kulemin, Grabovski, Steckle, & Brown
Kessel is ELITE, and I don’t care if you like the trade to get him, the fact is that we have one of the best offensive weapons in the NHL. I’ll admit he’s not the guy to build around, but when you have a chance to grab a guy like that you take it. It was a risk, and we lost the trade – but people who make it out like we got smoked are just crazy.
Kulemin is a beast and to give up on him is both short sighted and a huge mistake. Lupul and Grabovski are just hitting their primes, and Steckle with Brown makes up 2/3rds of a solid 4th line for years to come.

Prospects:

Kadri, Colborne, Frattin, Ashton, McKegg, and Biggs, all have the upside to be solid top 6 players for the Leafs. Add in a top centre drafted this year, add in wild cards like Olden and Nichols. Then there are a ton of guys like Ross, Carrick, Broll, etc that will fill in the bottom set. Those who know hockey know that the checking and energy roles are just as important as the top 6 when the games really matter. People who say “good bottom 6 guys are a dime a dozen and can be had cheap” really don’t understand what a good bottom 6 guy is, and probably don’t understand a lot about hockey outside of the fact that team who scores more wins.

Assets that can be moved to improve:

Connelly, Lombardi, Bozak, MacArther. So many rip on Connelly – but he is a legitimate top 6 centre in the league who just didn’t click with any line mates here. There is going to be a lot of teams interested in him once the UFA market dries up on July 2nd. Lombardi missed a whole year plus training camp, but should be able to improve greatly next year, and his contract status will make him attractive. Bozak and Mac are other pieces with value, which just likely won’t fit when the team improves where it needs to.

Needs:

Improved size and skill up the middle, more size in the top 9.
I can see Burke making a big push for a guy like Dustin Brown this summer, and if you add one of the top centre’s available in the draft this year – that goes a long way to solidifying our offense for years to come.

Defense:

Our defense is pretty solid and young – the main thing they need is just a better system in place. Carlyle and Farrish will go a long way to course correcting the issues there. We also have the depth on the back end to move a piece or two to help get the help up front.

Prospects:

Blacker, Holzer, Percy, and Nilson are three guys I’m really excited about. Add that to Gardiner, Phaneuf, Schenn, Franson, and Gunnarson – we honestly have one of the best corps in the league at both the NHL and Prospect level. One of the keys to remember is how long it takes a defenseman to develop – with even guys like Pronger, Foote, and Chara not putting it all together until past their 25th birthday.

Needs:

Patience.


Goaltending:

Gus is gone. Riemer is a solid young goalie who had a rough sophomore year that started with a concussion. The fact is, goalies with concussions take longer to recover (see: Ryan Miller). The fact is, young players struggle in their sophomore year (see: 80% of NHL Players). Reimer will be fine, and we’ll have a veteran / more experienced goalie to pair him with next year. Every year when the goaltending failed, Burke has tried to fix it – he brought in Gerber, and Giggy. He brought in 5 young goaltending prospects and is giving them the chance to succeed. Gus didn’t work out here – but I give Burke credit for not overpaying to find a temporary fix.

Overall –

You can look at the standings all you want – but when you compare player talent of the team he took over to what we have in the organization now, it’s night and day. A few key pieces this summer and we’ll be poised to make a significant jump in the standings next year. That is not an anomaly either – but a natural part of the progression of a young, developing team. This years collapse is only going to have a positive impact as we can now draft that top line centre everyone’s been craving.
People complain about the cap hits of L.A.C.K, but forget that all of their contracts will be movable in the next year or so. People complain about Burke not signing the handcuffing 10 / 12 year contracts, but fail to see the cap flexibility we currently have. People whine about Burke not rebuilding, but base it entirely on one trade while ignoring the fact that trade brought us one of the leagues best 24 year olds, while every other move Burke has made has been about bringing in young assets, and complementary pieces to let those assets develop but who can be moved with ease when those assets are ready.

It’s easy to complain about the ride, when we’re not at our destination yet. I don’t care what Burke said when he was hired. He’ll be the first guy to tell you it’s taking longer than expected – that there have been a few detours along the way, which has led to many impatient fans here whining “are we there yet?” It doesn’t mean we won’t get there, and when do – which I am confident we will – I know that I for one will enjoy saying “I told you so!
I ain't even gonna read that. I will say this -- when Dad said we'd be there in 2 hours and we took 2 years to get there -- we have a problem.

Seriously -- how friggin long do fans have to wait to see a playoff game. My son is 7 -- almost 8 -- never seen a Leaf playoff game.

If that's not reason enough to be pissed -- and call out this sorry excuse for a franchise -- what is.

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Old
03-26-2012, 01:57 PM
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I wonder how many of them work on these forums.
I'd have to guess 2-4, with one in particular working in PR

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03-26-2012, 02:01 PM
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you should stop making these kind of threads. It's always the same crap about we're on the right track blah blah blah.
I generally agree with the threads... But I agree with this sentiment more...

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03-26-2012, 02:23 PM
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Great post. I just hope that Burke remains steady and doesn't sell the farm in an attempt to win now.

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03-26-2012, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Beezle View Post
you should stop making these kind of threads. It's always the same crap about we're on the right track blah blah blah.
OP, your thread is intelligent , well thought out and clearly beyond the average poster here as shown in the post I quoted. I agree with you 100% but you will find the average fan here is not interested in logic, reason or realism and only want to whine for the sake of whining.

Please do not be discouraged by the moronic comments that will inevitably follow. Too many smart Leaf fans have been scared off by A.D.D./ bipolar nation of late or have gone quiet.

What a breath of fresh air your post is.

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03-26-2012, 02:29 PM
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Great post Drew, unfortunately it will fall on deaf ears. People rather just whine and be like Cox and Simmons starving for attention.

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03-26-2012, 02:33 PM
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you should stop making these kind of threads. It's always the same crap about we're on the right track blah blah blah.
Go cry in another thread, there are many options.

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03-26-2012, 02:43 PM
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Drew75
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Originally Posted by Beezle View Post
you should stop making these kind of threads. It's always the same crap about we're on the right track blah blah blah.
Hey .. if you want to read some negativity, you have 90% of the threads these days to choose from ... I like to share some of the positives that I see from time to time for those who, like myself, can see something good starting to form here.

Unfortunately, as I like to back up my points with reasoning, etc - it can get a little long. sorry about that.

Also - no, I actually work for a Bank as a Business Architect ... and some times I need I break to focus on something other than work

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03-26-2012, 02:43 PM
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I have zero confidence in Reimer. I mean you can pick the top left corner on him like a ****ing cherry. Kessel probably has a field day with him in practice. He's always too deep in his net and down too early. I don't see what others see in this guy. And I don't know what it is but I just hate this blocking style that he's playing.

It's nice to be optimistic, and yeah obviously the team is in a lot better shape than it was a few years ago, but it's all relative. Once you compare the leafs to other teams in the NHL the picture isn't so pretty. I mean we're the only team in the show not make the playoffs since the lockout. You have a team like Ottawa with 10+ more points than us in April. Have we improved? Yes. Has it been at an acceptable rate? Not even close.

The "Are we there yet?" "whine" can hardly be considered whining when it's taking us longer than any other car on the road to get to the destination.


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Old
03-26-2012, 02:46 PM
  #21
Hero
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Nice effort in being positive

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03-26-2012, 02:55 PM
  #22
Stephen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebluemachine View Post
Great post Drew, unfortunately it will fall on deaf ears. People rather just whine and be like Cox and Simmons starving for attention.
Anyone who writes a novel like Drew and addresses a portion of the fanbase as a bunch of whiners is clearly starved for attention themselves...

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Old
03-26-2012, 03:13 PM
  #23
nsleaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen View Post
Anyone who writes a novel like Drew and addresses a portion of the fanbase as a bunch of whiners is clearly starved for attention themselves...

How so? A portion of the Leaf's fan base are a bunch of whiners. Every team has them. Leaf's have more whiners than most. Goes with the territory.
At this point I would much rather read something with a positive vien than all of the negative stuff. No one can change the past so all we can do is look forward and have hope.

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Old
03-26-2012, 03:14 PM
  #24
thebluemachine*
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen View Post
Anyone who writes a novel like Drew and addresses a portion of the fanbase as a bunch of whiners is clearly starved for attention themselves...
Shortest novel I've ever read, not sure why you would consider a few paragraphs one. Sounds like Drew is just trying to livin up the forum by posting something positive about the teams future with all the negativity around here lately.

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Old
03-26-2012, 03:33 PM
  #25
Gike Bagpipe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueBaron View Post
OP, your thread is intelligent , well thought out and clearly beyond the average poster here as shown in the post I quoted. I agree with you 100% but you will find the average fan here is not interested in logic, reason or realism and only want to whine for the sake of whining.

Please do not be discouraged by the moronic comments that will inevitably follow. Too many smart Leaf fans have been scared off by A.D.D./ bipolar nation of late or have gone quiet.

What a breath of fresh air your post is.
I resent this statement, I have A.D.D. and TBH it has help me lose focus of the Leafs development at key times that corresponded with them shhting the bed and not playing up to expectations.

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