To The Jersey Tosser

jerseytwo

A few hours ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost their second game of the season to the Pittsburgh Penguins. We learned some things, like that Jonathan Bernier, Phil Kessel, and Stephane Robidas are probably still nursing injuries, because they’ve been, well, uncharacteristically bad. We learned that Sidney Crosby, unsurprisingly, is still amazing at the sport he’s been atop of for years. Lastly, we learned how long it would take for somebody to rage-quit this year’s team in public. 

Four days. We are four days into the regular season. Here’s the thing about this jersey-tossing statement – it’s really stupid.

What You Were Thinking

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ failures have plagued your soul for too long. This season is clearly another lost cause, and it’s time to make a public statement against the cruel machine. So you rip off your jersey, your material connection to the team, and give it back to the players. They have failed you for the last time, and though that may be a pricy item you’ve given up to make your statement, you don’t want it anymore anyway.

You’re free. You’ve escaped the blue and white disease forever.

What You Actually Did

Teams start their seasons off with two consecutive losses all the time. Remember, there’s only three ways to start a season; two wins, two losses, or one of each. Even at a completely level playing field, much less against a conference finalist and an elite team, you have a 25% chance of starting the year 0-2. The Los Angeles Kings took six games to get their first regulation win last year, and lost two of their first three. They also won the Stanley Cup. Oh, and they’re 0-2 to start this year as well. The Leafs may not be very good; I think they’re a bubble team at best, but it’s too early to call anything.

Your defying statement? It’s being made to a bunch of new guys. Eight players in the Leafs lineup weren’t here last year. Most of the management staff is new. Most of the coaching staff is new. You can cling to “I’m still mad about the 70’s and 80’s” all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that NHL teams go through cycles and that most of your heartbreak isn’t on the guys involved right now. Hell, even the owner’s are only in year two. The owners, including the broadcaster that will get all that extra youtube-tie in from people watching your stunt.

You rebel against the players, who you don’t feel have reached your expectations. I mean, you payed to watch a hockey game, and you got one. Even if it was the other team that delivered it, you got excitement; two of the best players on the planet had three point nights. The team you cheer for? They lost, but they didn’t mail it in; don’t confuse being not as good with a lack of effort. In fact, you tossed your jersey on the ice at an exact moment where three Leafs that were on the ice were speculated to be playing through nagging injuries and injury recoveries (Kessel, Robidas, Bernier). Fault them for being bad, but they delivered the product and are trying their best to give you a win to go with it.

Not just that, you did it at a time that, most likely, gave you an excuse to leave. There was seven minutes left in the third period. If I had to guess, you wanted to beat traffic. Why do I say this? Because the timing made no sense! It was before an offensive zone faceoff. Tyler Bozak had just scored for the Leafs a minute and a half before. The Leafs hadn’t given up an attempt at a shot in about four minutes. If anything, this was the best they had played the entire game. What are you discouraging by waiting until then?

Oh, and your statement jersey. The statement you wanted to make was “I paid you for this thing, but now you can take it. I don’t want it. I care that much.”

Dude, you were wearing a Winter Classic jersey. You obviously felt happy enough with the state of this team within the past calendar year to devote money to a brand new sweater. The only two things this team has really done bad between your earliest time of purchase and now is suffer a statistical regression and extend Randy Carlyle, and god only knows if there’s an ulterior motive to the latter.

But lets look closer.

jerseyonice

Well, if I look at the header image on top. I see a K and a mystery letter. If I look here, you can see what looks like a 7 on the sl…

YOU TOSSED A DAVID CLARKSON JERSEY?

That’s your statement? That you’re so fed up with the direction of this team, that you’d like them to have back the jersey of the one guy that anybody with half a brain knew was a bad idea to sign? You were sure that David Clarkson was going to be good enough to worth a jersey purchase, but you’re “throw away money and make dumb, ill-timed statement” level of fed up with this team after two games?

I guess that makes sense. Both thoughts require little capacity to think.

By the way, it may just be the quality of the broadcast, but based on the brighter than usual colouring of the jersey and sketchy interior stitching, I’m pretty sure it’s counterfeit. That would be icing on the cake; if he was giving back his acknowledgement that he’d rather support criminal activity than actually invest into the team he supposedly cares about.

Final Thought

I don’t know. The entire idea of tossing a jersey onto the ice to me, is stupid. The players on your favourite team are obviously trying their best to win; be it for you or for themselves. If anything, that might be a factor that demotivates them, which would be counter-productive.

But to do it two games in, while your team is playing their best hockey of the night, while a bunch of guys who want to contribute so much that they’re playing hurt are on the ice, using a recently-bought jersey of a guy that everybody except for a mostly-replaced management and yourself knew was going to bomb?

You’re literally the worst of a bad kind. You’re not a disgruntled fan, you’re just an attention seeker. Congrats, you got it what you wanted. Was it worth the cost of the jersey that you probably replaced as soon as you got home?

  • jasken

    I disagree as you haven’t thought this out fully. We fans have so few options to voice our displeasure. What can we do
    – protest in front of MLSE
    – Demand a Cup
    – Vent on the radio show or this blog
    – Teach them a lesson by stop buying tickets

    A sweater toss (or even a waffle toss) is the about the strongest statement a fan can make. Further this is a necessary first step in the ultimate goal of getting Carlyle fired. Don’t ask fans to suppress their hate. Embrace it and soon fans will be chanting to fire Carlyle or trade Clarkson etc.

    • TGT23

      Except for the fact that it isn’t remotely a strong statement. Look at all of the reaction to the Oilers fan(s) who have done exactly this: people point their finger at that particular guy and say “what an idiot”. It could be a strong statement if, you know, other people joined in and all of a sudden there are 100 jerseys on the ice and people all walking out of the arena or something. One person’s actions, symbolic or shallow, mean absolutely nothing in a vacuum or in reality. It takes some magnitude to have an effect on something so big as MLSE.

      Furthermore, it won’t be the fans that get Carlyle fired. I think management learned that listening to the fans is generally a bad idea the hard way when Burke fired Wilson, who we can look back on with confidence and say that with the goaltending Carlyle has received would have made the previous, less-talented Leafs rosters playoff teams pretty much every year. The fans, unfortunately, are irrational and don’t know how to analyze the game in any sense of the word. Management knows that.

      While I’m sure that our ultimate desires (not goals, we have no real voting power) are similar at least to those of management: to weed out potential problems within the organization and to replace them with better parts. I’m also quite sure that as lovely as the idea of trading Clarkson or firing Carlyle are, they have looked at determining a course of action on those matters and have decided that there are no immediate improvements to be made or no opportunities available. It’s a matter of time.

      What you and others need to understand is that while things may not be good now, they can be made good and that such a thing requires patience and a careful approach. We’ve been a very kneejerk organization for a long while. Remember the teams of the early 2000’s with a bunch of aging superstars on it? those teams were put together hastily because we had a closing window as legitimate contenders and needed to make a strong push. In return, we lost our prospect depth and became what we are today. A similar move now, even if it’s just a couple small moves, carries a lot of consequences.

      For one, I don’t think trading Clarkson right now is a good idea, because it is well known that his contract is an albatross and that it’s got a low return on investment. This means he’s detrimental for any team to take on, just for the cost. teams like Buffalo who expect to be bottom feeders are wiling to take these contracts but they want 1st rounders for them and I think that’s a fair deal. Despite that, we can’t afford to make a fair deal: we’re already so far behind even after all of this that missing our high draft picks when we have them means we won’t ever make that climb from the basement-bubble region.

      As far as Randy goes, it’s early enough that we could make the move and still have time to salvage the season (provided the replacement can maximize the effectiveness of the roster), but who is available? Dan Bylsma? That’s a sideways move. It’s a change of voice but we saw what he could do with the talent in Pittsburgh which is, effectively, nothing meaningful. Mike Keenan? Uhhh, I shouldn’t have to explain why not.

      Again, I must preach patience. Only time and dedication to either a rebuild or to just developing our current and future prospects are viable options.

      So I guess all that I mean by this long-winded rant is that throwing the jersey and trying to force their hands is a stupid move, both for your wallet and for the transformation of this team into a contender. I trust that Shanahan will direct this team in the right direction, but you have to give him a chance to.

  • jasken

    Only one slight nit-pick. Technically, the Leafs odds of going 0-2 through four games is 25%, not 33%. While there are only three outcomes, 50% of the time, the Leafs would be found to have lost one or the other game. Only in one in four options do we find both wins or both losses. Otherwise, spot on!

  • FlareKnight

    I don’t think this is something worth a long statement over.

    For the talk about 2 games in and such, are we just presuming this guy has season tickets? Maybe this the one game he’s going to this year. Does he need to buy a ticket to the last home game and then be allowed to do that?

    All I see from that picture is a jersey… There’s so many lines on that winter classic jersey you can’t make anything out. If it’s based on a report or a better picture than sure I can buy that.

    I mean who knows what the guy was thinking. It certainly doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Guy is out a jersey, Leafs lost, moving on. This seems like a really personal vendetta against some random person.

  • Gumby

    I agree Jeffler.

    I also think maybe this guy was just really regretting buying a Clarkson jersey as you said and just thought “here’s my time to ditch this and look real cool”.

    2 games in. Calm down buddy, whoever you are

  • TGT23

    I agree with everything you have said Jeffler with one extra point to make. Throwing a team jersey into the ice is as not only costly but it also disrespects a franchise. Yes be frustrated! Be angry! Stop going to the games/ buying the gear/ supporting the network airing the games. But don’t disrespect a franchise that has brought good in the past. The Johnny Bowers and Davie Keons of old. By throwing that jersey on the ice you have negated the teams past successes and triumphs. Sure it says Clarkson on the back but it’s the Maple Leaf on the front (a long standing Canadian symbol) that also hit the ice.

  • Jeffler, this didn’t require you to make the longest post of this season. It’s a statement that didn’t disrupt the game, although was tossed with poor timing considering the context of the game. Other than that I’d say you’re super jelly that this guy beat you to the punch in tossing a leafs jersey, and clarkson’s to top it all off. The Leafs sucked, and Carlyle again deserves a punch or how poorly he handles minutes and the lines. Hopefully Shanahan will take notice. Did he grab all the attention, no! He didn’t put his name on the jersey, nobody other than those few at the game that saw him knew who tossed it. He threw it and left, go back to writing about the marlies if you’re going to take this incident so seriously.

  • I think your wrong Jeffler. The big thing is we were promised all this massive change by team management as soon as season ended last year. What did we get a bunch of little changes that amount to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We maybe only 2 games into season but the style of play has been a continuation of the train wreck from the end of last year. And I’m sorry but this team did mail it in last night. They started off good but at the first sign of adversity (Bernier’s bad goal) they shattered. I don’t give a rats ass if players are injured or not. If they are healthy enough to play they are healthy enough to play well. If they cant do it get the hell out of the lineup until you can. I’m tired of all the excuse making that people make for this franchise.

    • BubbaLou

      IIRC, we weren’t promised anything this year.

      Changes in management or direction need a few seasons to evaluate their success/failure. It’s like changing a GM – hard to say what’s what after two losses, one of them contested, even just speculation.

      And you probably should care if the players are injured – aren’t they our players? I mean, all else being equal, isn’t an injured NHL-level player at a disadvantage to a healthy NHL player?

      That’s like the “back-to-back game fallacy” that’s easy to criticize – “Well they’re pro athletes, all they do is play sports they shouldn’t be tired after a back-to-back game”. Well, by the same logic, a fresh pro athlete has a definite advantage over a pro athlete who played a night game yesterday, flew across the country, got in at 2 am, and has a matinee sunday game at 1 PM.

      • BubbaLou

        Actually we were promised change after the end of last year by both Liweiki and Nonis. Go back and listen to them and you will hear in their own words about change was coming. Ill grant you Shannahan said very little but others in management did indeed promise big change.

        And yes I do care if players are hurt however, what I am tired of hearing is excuses. If a player x is too hurt to play well, don’t dress. All I am saying is if you feel healthy enough to play, then you are healthy enough to do your job properly.

        • BubbaLou

          I hear ya. Frankly I thought the biggest change was the mindset in the offices. Lots of firings – Poulin was a yes-man, Loiselle was cap manager… and that turned out horribly. Big shift in thinking as well towards a more scientific/analytics approach, new president as well. More “moneypuck” decisions this off-season as well – bargain hunting rather than large sweeping changes.

          That’s actually a big change, but like I said, it’s a mindset change – similar to hiring a new GM – so you can’t really fault the new focus until it’s had time to make moves, and two games into a season, you won’t see the difference at all yet. I figure we will really see changes in the next offseason with regards to roster moves, as Shanahan will have had a full year to observe the team and the new office corps.

          Randy Carlyle probably isn’t long for this city either. The reason you extend his contract is to buy time to get the coach you really want – because after all it makes no sense to fire Carlyle, bring in someone just to fire in a year or two, so you can hire your dream coach. Based on what he said in preseason regarding enforcers – and how we have none in the line anymore – I don’t think he has roster control anymore anyway. Usually a good sign he is being squeezed.

          • BubbaLou

            Yeah that’s pretty much how I see it as well. I think your absolutely right. I predicted that the Leafs would miss the playoffs this year and in fact think they have a pretty good shot at a top five pick again. Its just I’m getting so frustrated at the state of affairs in Leaf land. Ever since Burke came in promising big changes 6 years ago I have yet to see big improvements in the product on the ice. I know the future looks bright and it is going to take time but I’m just tired of all the spin from management and media surrounding this team.

            As for Carlyle if he makes it past Christmas I will be very surprised. Loiselle as a cap manager was one of the biggest failures I have ever seen. How can a bottom 10 team have cap issues year after year? I know the changes that Shannahan has set in motion will take time I just get frustrated.

  • jimithy

    Two police officers found a dead guy in a park near Yonge Street. He had on a bright red dress, hi heels, makeup and a flowing blande wig, as well as a Leaf’s jersey . After making their reports, one officer took off the Leafs jersey from the man, When the other officer asked “what are you doing’, his fellow officer replied “No need to cause his family further embarrassment.

  • jimithy

    Finally a real fan showed some emotion, although I would have preferred a waffle. This could be the start of some real fan participation. Rather than sitting and waiting for all the pieces to fall in place and then gloat with glee and claim “I told you so”, fifty years later. The team looks terrible. Two lazy uninspired games orchestrated from behind the bench by a guy who has changed nothing in terms of strategy on this team. It shows. And that is what is so frustrating.

  • jimithy

    Years ago, in Montreal if the refs made a really bad call in especially in a playoff game, those fans would throw shoes on the ice. I know, as my husband took me to a game once at the Old Forum and I threw a very nice pair of expensive stilettoes out onto the ice

    Guess I got caught up in the moment.

  • Jeremy Ian

    From Kelly in the Globe (a good line):

    “The Leafs and their adherents are like pet owners who begin to resemble their dogs. As years pass and the club continues to tunnel beneath life’s Mendoza Line, the fanbase has become as twisted and reactionary as the team they support.”

  • Jerkball

    This fan can do whatever he wants. Showing his frustration for the 70s and 80s really? Dont think fans have to reach that far back down the memory hole, less then 24months, or last seasons collapes holds plenty of ammo.