Can you hear that? It’s the sound of thousands of Toronto-area hands wringing, combined with the sound of thousands of Maple Leafs Nation stomachs rolling like the inside of a washing machine, combined with the sound of millions of Buds-boosting teeth being slowly ground down in frustration.
Yup, nothing like an early-season Blue and White swoon to draw out the anxieties of Leafs fans.
But it’s far too soon to clutch your pearls and seriously worry about the star tenants of the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs are settling in where most believed they’d be at the end of the season – fighting to stay in the mix for the seventh or eighth slot in the Eastern Conference – and will remain a work in progress for at least the remainder of this season.
Still, if I can’t convince you to relax, let me at least attempt to direct your anger toward the proper target.
You shouldn’t be flipping out on coach Ron Wilson; he is only working with the players given to him – and in his three years in Toronto, he hasn’t been given the roster of the 1970s-era Montreal Canadiens.
You shouldn’t make a voodoo doll for GM Brian Burke, either. He’s been here for just two years – and if you think that’s a sufficient amount of minutes in which to build a Stanley Cup contender, you’ve spent too much time in fast food restaurants and watching movies on demand.
No, the real villain is the Leafs’ ownership – that massive corporate conglomerate known as Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
It’s MLSE that gave Burke full license to dismiss the most successful method of building a winning team – i.e. building slowly through the NHL draft – and instead asked him to capture lightning in a bottle through an on-the-fly rebuild.
That philosophy has, on occasion, yielded good results. Unfortunately, it more often leads to shortcuts, band-aid solutions and bad gambles.
So if you’re aiming to blame somebody for the state of the Leafs, don’t blame the employees.
As always, the story commences and concludes with the boss.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.