Where Do the Toronto Maple Leafs Go from Here?

After the news broke about a week ago that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be without their captain for at least two weeks, the news hasn’t gotten any better.

Just before the injury, which he sustained after fighting twice leading up to the All-star break, one of the team’s better blue liners, Cody Franson, is now the biggest subject of trade rumours. Apparently the two sides are nowhere near in their negotiations. That shouldn’t be too much cause for concern, the last time they were in talks regarding Franson’s contract, talks actually went backwards (nowhere) for about a month before they finally agreed on something.

It’s also a mid-season change of philosophy that makes no sense for a team that appears to be neither fish nor fowl. Neither a Stanley Cup contender nor a serious contender for the Connor McDavid draft sweepstakes.

This is a team up hard against the salary cap. A team that is full of long term contracts – Kessel (7 1/2 years), Dion Phaneuf (6 1/2 years), David Clarkson (5 1/2 years), Jake Gardiner (4 1/2 years), Tyler Bozak (3 1/2 years), van Riemsdyk (3 1/2 years), Joffrey Lupul (3 1/2 years) and Leo Komarov (3 1/2 years).

These aren’t the ingredients for a team that is ripe for the complete “tear down and rebuild”.
Notice that none of those contracts above have a duration of less than  3 ½ years. Is this the key to putting together a championship team the way the Penguins, Blackhawks and now LA have done? Don’t sign any player to a contract longer than one year or two years?

Of course there are some exceptions to this ideal (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or maybe someone like Jonathan Quick).

The Maple Leafs resumed the 2014-15 season last night when they took on the New Jersey Devils. Things did not go well, again. They fell 2-1 in a shootout. Jonathan Bernier gave up two goals, as he usually does, while Cory Schneider stopped everybody.

There is no way the Leafs will be able to ‘rebuild’. There is no way at all they can even start to ‘rebuild.’ Where would they start? Rebuilding involves getting rid of what you have AND THEN figuring out what would be the next course of action. Does anybody have any idea how long that could take?

Some other teams around the NHL have to have interest in any number of players on the Leafs current roster, then they have to have something on their team that appeals to the Leafs.

What this team has needed since the Doug Gilmour days, is a Doug Gilmour-type player. Word out of Kingston (where he runs an OHL team) is that he actually isn’t the greatest coach or manager. He was my first choice for someone to coach this train wreck back to prosperity but after hearing about Kingston, I am not sure about that.

You can’t duplicate what he did on the ice though. He had everything. He is pretty much everything Dion Phaneuf is not. The Leafs need a guy like that and need him now.

The other thing they need is someone who, not only knows how to coach in this great game, but someone who knows how to coach this great game in the City of Toronto.

Phil Kessel is a top line forward on any team in this league, what he isn’t, is a leader. Same with most of the rest of them. Most of them are too young to be captain, or to take on any form of leadership.