As long as I’ve been a Leafs fan, I’ve yet to see things really spiral out of control the way they have this time around. I wasn’t exactly alive for the Ballard years, and in the late 90’s (when the team was sort of in reset-mode) I was a kid in junior high.
For the entirety of my adult life, the Leafs have been dreadful. This season is obviously no different results-wise, but it feels like a lot has changed.
Everything surrounding the team seems in such disarray that it’s tough to decide on which issue you’re going to touch on when discussing hockey on a given day. Usually you’ll find, when logging on to Twitter in the morning, that there’s an opinion or quote that fans and analysts are all dipping in to, but now it’s as if they’re coming on in barrels.
The latest string of talking points have been centered around the end-of-season tailspin that Brian Burke has fallen into. In past years, Burke would take the podium at the end of the regular season campaign to let us all know why the Leafs sucked and how they’ll get better. You can read into most of it as excuses, but at least it seemed like things were headed in the right direction, so why care, right?
It’s doubtful that things will be the same this time around, and as is evidenced from some quotes over the past couple of days, the amount of backtracking and excuse-making should break the meter soon.
After Francois Allaire came under some fire for the Leafs’ goalie struggles, Burke came to the rescue:
"Funny, no one was complaining about Francois Allaire until Brian Gionta blindsided Reimer last fall" Burke said on Monday.
Odd point to try to make, considering Burke deemed the hit as alright at the time. Because the Leafs went on winning and not collapsing, Burke was fine with the hit because he felt players should be going to the net that way and it was Reimer who was outside the crease, basically making it his own fault. Now that the Leafs are in the basement, Burke goes back to call the hit a blindside? I mean, it was, but why pipe up about it now?
Then Burke sounded off on criticisms of the poor Leafs’ management team. I feel so bad for those guys.
"Those are the mechanics in the Toronto market. It has to be someone who works for the Leafs. It can’t ever be the players. It can’t be, in the case of Reimer, that second-year goalies in our league historically have trouble"
I thought it was Gionta’s hit that did it? Perhaps it was both the hit and sophomore slump?
But that’s not even the good part. The tidbit about the players receiving no blame is laughable and ridiculous. Did Burke read or watch anything that’s happened over the past week? I was on vacation and still managed to catch all the craziness over Phaneuf. Before that Kessel was being run out of town, and Luke Schenn’s living in a constant hell of media scrutiny. And it doesn’t just stay within the mainstream media either, a lot of us who write blogs are tough on players as well.
It seems as though Burke, who embraced the media spotlight when things were going well, is trying to shed it on to the players now that the spotlight has turned a burning red. It’s as if he’s reached somewhat of a breaking point when it comes to the "pressure cooker" of Toronto.
I honestly never thought I’d see the day. But we’re here. And the end of season press conference should really be a dandy next week.
Odds on whether Burke says the Leafs were still in the hunt when Lupul got hurt?