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THN.com Blog: Leafs divided in new direction

Interim GM Cliff Fletcher will not be able to trade his high-valued captain, and will have to get creative with his moves. (Photo by Graig Abel/ NHLI via Getty Images)

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Interim GM Cliff Fletcher will not be able to trade his high-valued captain, and will have to get creative with his moves. (Photo by Graig Abel/ NHLI via Getty Images)

One of the unfortunate aspects of living in the Toronto area is you are constantly bombarded with news and innuendos about the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In the past month, that has meant Mats Sundin this and Mats Sundin that every stinking day.

So now, with the NHL’s annual trade deadline less than a day away, Sundin has said for the millionth time he will not waive his no-trade clause and wishes to remain captain of the Maple Leafs.

Fair enough; that is his prerogative.

Sundin denies saying anything to the effect that it shouldn’t be up to him to fix John Ferguson’s mistakes, but even if he didn’t say it, you have to know that is exactly what he is thinking.

Regardless, the Maple Leafs are in a very sad state and with five players holding no-trade and no-movement clauses, it is going to be very difficult to make the types of significant changes required for this organization to start moving in the right direction.

Whether it is interim GM Cliff Fletcher or his eventual replacement, some very tough decisions are going to have to be made.

But when you think about it, the timing couldn’t be better. With John Tavares available in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, it would benefit the Leafs to suck for just a little longer.

The problem is, while the Leafs have all but admitted they are willing to lose in the short term, if it means being a better team in the long run, coach Paul Maurice and company continue to push forward in an attempt to make the playoffs. Talk about a weird dynamic…your interim GM wants to tear it down and the coach wants to keep on winning.

So what will happen?

Well, you will know the Leafs are serious about changing the culture of the organization when they start buying out contracts in the summer. And when they stop playing No. 1 goalie Vesa Toskala every game. And when they reduce the ice time of certain veterans who have not lived up to their potential. And when they give more players on the Marlies a shot at playing in the NHL.

Until then, it’s all just cheap talk.

Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.

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