Lowdown on lowly Leafs
Re: Burned Leafs, Jan. 23
To the Editor:
This letter is not only directed at The Gazette's sports staff but also to all sportswriters around the world, especially in Toronto. As I pick up the daily newspaper, it seems like there is a constant, endless bashing of Cliff Fletcher and his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. Everybody seems to have the answers yet it ceases to amaze me how everyone focuses on specific individuals rather than looking at the whole picture.
As a die-hard Leaf fan, I too must admit that the Leafs are beyond despair, but unlike Mr. Gladman, I truly don't believe that Pat Burns is the answer. Heck, I don't think bringing back Punch Imlach or Toe Blake from the dead could salvage the Leafs.
In this era where defence rules, it's intelligible to see that the one main ingredient the Leafs, and many other NHL teams lack, is big, tough, physical players. Small, finesse players can no longer roam freely through the ice. When you're a five-foot-10, 185-pound forward and you're trying to pass a six-foot-three, 210-pound defenceman, it's not too hard to figure out who will prevail. If Mario Lemieux is having a tough time, how do you think players like Doug Gilmour or Theoren Fleury feel?
It doesn't surprise me one bit why teams like Edmonton and Buffalo are doing so well this year. For the last few years, they have rebuilt their teams with big, strong physical players. The only thing missing is experience. If one looks at the rosters, one can see that teams like Colorado, Philadelphia, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Florida are loaded with six-foot players. It's also the same reason why these teams will be competing for Lord Stanley's Cup come June and why the other 19 won't.
The Leafs don't lack heart but size. If Mats Sundin hadn't added 10 pounds to his frame, the Leafs might even have fewer points than the London Knights. Even though teams like Montreal, Calgary or Anaheim may make the playoffs, their best players are either too small or too finesse-like. In that case, I would rather see the Leafs rebuild on their size rather than see them get creamed four-zip in the playoffs.
Biochemistry/Chemistry Honours III