The Your Call deal on the TSN website is asking an interesting question today. Was this Leafs season a success or a failure? On the surface that seems like an easy call because as far as the standings are concerned it damn well sucked, but at the same time it’s not so easy to say epic fail and write it off as total shit.
This was a season that was pretty hard to watch for the most part either because the team was just god awful and looked like they should be anywhere but on a hockey rink or because they played so hard but would still come up short, but at the same time, I’m not sure what more we should have expected when I look back. When Brian Burke took over he said he was going to make big changes, and he did. And when a team makes big changes, sometimes they take time to kick in. The Leafs are in a period of rebuilding, which is generally sports speak for things are going to be awfully shitty for a while, and that’s obviously where the Leafs are right now. But rebuilding also means that some of the pressure should be off and that there should be time for the new blood to develop and for fans to start seeing glimmers of hope, and that, to me, is also where the Leafs find themselves.
For the last month or so, the Leafs haven’t been that bad. In fact, since the Olympic break ended they’ve gone 10-5-3, which for a team that only has 29 wins all year is pretty damn good. And when you consider that the lineup is full of young guys that are still growing into their potential, that’s even better.
Barring injuries or personal problems, guys like Stalberg and Bozak to name a couple are only going to get better and likely do huge things for this team going forward. And now that we seem to have some decent goaltending in J.S. Giguere and the also still finding himself Jonas Gustavsson, that can’t do anything but help either. And looking into the future, we’ve got Nazem Kadri who is tearing things up in the OHL, just waiting for his time. You could argue that his time should have come this year since he had a pretty decent preseason, but really, why rush? the kid is still young and it’s not like he’d be brought up early to play on a contender. More seasoning isn’t a bad thing, it just means he’ll hopefully be even better when he makes the big club. Along with the young guys there are also the more established players like Kessel and Phaneuf to handle the scoring and toughness, as well as take on leadership roles to help bring everybody else along.
When you look at all of that, there’s no way you could call this season a complete failure. You can’t necessarily say it was a success either, but if this is the start of a long-term plan, you have to look at the glass as more full than empty.