Volume 94, Issue 73

Thursday, February 1, 2001


Western hits the road

WAA provides a foothold - Women's sport gaining recognition

Disillusioned Leaf fans should chill

Disillusioned Leaf fans should chill

By Joel Brown
Sports Editor

The eternal optimism of Toronto Maple Leafs fans will never cease to amaze me.

I find it amazing that before each season they can dust off their replica jersey and wear them proudly. I find it amazing that each and every year they proclaim 'this is their year.' I find it amazing that they think each year they are only one player away from champagne glory.

But folks, this year has been no different and it will finish no different. Don't expect the 2000Ð2001 edition of the Maple Leafs to go anywhere but over to their buddy's house to watch the Stanley Cup. Let the crying and whining begin.

Please don't get me wrong, this is not a Hab-hate-on for make-believe fans. I myself have gone through the pain of growing up as a Toronto supporter. But where I separate myself from the usual zealot idiot, is that I keep myself in touch with reality.

In no way did I think before the beginning of the season that the additions of Shayne Corson, Dave Manson and Gary Roberts were going to lead the buds out of the depths of despair. They made the Leafs a better team but they're still not good enough. I still would never take Toronto in a play-off series over New Jersey or Ottawa, and they are a tailor-made team for an upset by anyone else in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs have flaws deeper than your roommate's philosophy on the benefits of beer drinking. Flaws that are unlikely to be corrected anytime before the March trade deadline.

Frankly, this is a team of losers. If they haven't been brought up on the losing ways of Toronto, another organization has done it for them. It's important to note Chicago, Tampa Bay and even the Winnipeg Jets and Québec Nordiques have been the source for many players who the Maple Leafs expect to be core players. This team does not have the winning mentality, that should develop while playing for a team that accepts nothing but winning.

Another thing wrong with this team is it lacks true top-line talent. With the exception of Mats Sundin and Curtis Joseph, no other player on this squad should be considered world-class. Yanic Perrault, who is being counted on to be the team's second-line centre, hasn't scored a goal in 16 games.

Think this problem can be solved by getting their hands on Rob Blake or Eric Lindros? Think again. For one, the Devils are willing to offer up waterbug youngster Scott Gomez, just for appetizers, in order to get Blake and keep him away from their conference rivals.

Second, Flyer GM Bobby Clarke is the most bitter man on earth and he'd rather see Lindros picking his nose than see him playing for the Leafs, even if it means his team loses in the process.

Thirdly, exactly who the hell do you think this team has to offer for any of those players?

So where does that leave our lovable Leafs? It leaves them having to obtain a consolation prize that ultimately is no better than what this team has to offer.

Maybe next year kids, maybe next year.

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