The collective hysteria over the Toronto Maple Leafs continues to amaze the more rational among us.
Over the past seven days, public radio/TV airwaves and message boards have been jam-packed with thousands of suggestions on how to cure the Leafs’ many ails; I believe the only options that haven’t been put up for debate are (a) voodoo sacrifices of assorted poultry, (b) Jim Balsillie purchasing the franchise, and (c) immediate and extensive federal government intervention.
But here’s a concept almost nobody is paying heed to: letting the situation simmer as the Leafs kick off their five-game road trip in Vancouver Saturday night, and postponing any additional conniption fits until they return home to play Tampa Bay Nov. 3.
I mean, what do people think Leafs GM Brian Burke can really do with this group at this point in the year?
Roster-rocking multi-player trades – such as the one that brought Doug Gilmour to Toronto many moons ago – are virtually impossible to make in the salary-capped NHL. And as we noted in this space last week, there’s no way the Leafs should or will consider firing head coach Ron Wilson – a.k.a. the same man Burke and Team USA will have behind the bench at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
Sure, demoting a high-salaried, low-producing Leaf like Jason Blake to the American League Marlies is worth considering. But it’s also worth considering whether sending Blake down would poison the same waters Burke is trying to use to develop future Leafs stars in a way so many of his predecessors could not.
The only truly safe move the Leafs can make is to stay the course and hope that, in turning their fortunes around on their own, they won’t have to make any trades with a gun at Burke’s back – which is the way it is now.
So relax a little, all you nervous Nellies and incontinent Irenes. Giving yourself an ulcer over something you can’t control isn’t the ideal way to prove yourself a diehard Leafs follower.
To the contrary – believing in the men in charge is the very definition of fan support.
This article also appears in the Toronto Metro newspaper.