Loads and loads of Maple Leafs questions this week, but in the interest of fairness, we’ll deal with just one. Let’s start things off, though, with a question from a Pittsburgher who apparently didn’t take too kindly to a Screen Shots column of mine on delusions for each of the 30 NHL teams.
“Pittsburgh Delusion: Dany Sabourin and Ty Conklin can hold the fort until Marc-Andre Fleury returns from injury in February.” Care to revise your statement?
Mike G., Pittsburgh
After Conklin’s stunning play of late – which I’m certain you and all your fellow Pens fans saw coming 1,000 miles away – I sure do. Let’s go with this delusion instead:
Pittsburgh Delusion: The Penguins can enter the playoffs with the same goaltending trio they have now and actually win a round.
Given the poor play of the Leafs since John Ferguson took over as GM, do you see him staying on much longer? God knows he has done very little that has actually ever improved the club. As a true blue Leaf fan for most of my life, watching this team is like sticking needles in your eyes, and I truly believe the blame fully falls on Ferguson's lap.
Peter Sawler, Halifax
Ferguson is done like dinner and/or toast. In fact, between the time I file this to the editors and the time they post it to the site, he could very well be de-jobbed.
Is it all Ferguson’s fault? Of course not. It may be his fault that he wouldn’t –or wasn’t allowed to – make the kind of significant trades that define the league’s top GMs. But it isn’t his fault he operates under a management structure that moves to change and improve the team as swiftly as one of those senior citizen motorized buggy deals.
That’s why Ferguson’s replacement shouldn’t be judged by his resume, but rather his ability to push Leafs ownership into taking advantage of their financial edge in areas that aren’t governed by the salary cap (i.e. player development, scouting, sending underachieving NHLers and their huge contracts to the American League).
When you start seeing those types of moves, you’ll know things are truly changing for the better in Toronto.
How long can a player stand behind the goalie to set up a shot? It seems like some players stand there forever! Is there a time limit? Goooooo SHARKS!
Margie Surber, Sacramento, Calif.
No, no time limit of which to speak. Perhaps there’s a good case to be made for instituting a maximum amount of time allowed behind the net, but I’d rather use one to limit the number of seconds you can cycle the puck along the boards.
For me, that’s the biggest entertainment-killer in the game today. Other than Jacques Lemaire, I mean.
I am a longtime Bruins fan and am concerned that their season is starting to look a lot like last year. It seems to me something needs to be done before they end up watching the playoffs from their sofas. Do you think they will make a trade soon? If so, who do you think is likely to go? Thanks,
Keith Cieslinski, Greefield Center, N.Y.
What’s that? The Bruins not demonstrating any real consistency from game-to-game? I’m shocked. Shocked.
Unfortunately, I think Boston’s mammoth Brandon Bochenski deal might be it for them prior to the Feb. 26 trade deadline. They’re still in the hunt for a playoff berth, so GM Peter Chiarelli may not wish to cashier the likes of Glen Murray for the prospects and/or draft picks such a player would receive in return.
There have also been some rumors Phil Kessel is on the block, but I wouldn’t put too much credence in them. You’d hope a team that has dealt away Joe Thornton and Brad Boyes in the past few seasons would learn not to give up on their youngsters quite so quickly.
Why does the league use the all-star ballot system that is currently in place? I don't understand the value of limiting voters to just those named to the ballot along with one write-in for each conference. Doesn't this create a tendency for the same guys to go to the game year after year? In this age of technology and online voting, how hard would it be to put every forward player's name in the drop down box for that position? I understand this opens up the possibility that a truly undeserving player might be voted in as a gag, but at least it would be easier for a guy like Mike Richards or Alexei Kovalev to get the votes they deserve, compared to guys like Simon Gagne (who was injured) or Chris Drury (far lower stats and impact). Perhaps it is too much to make all the forwards eligible for voting, but maybe the ballots need to be more flexible concerning who is included.
Craig Parker II, Philadelphia, Pa.
You make a strong case, but I don’t believe there’s any perfect method by which to choose all-stars in any sport. It’s a subjective process no matter which way you decide matters, so there’ll inevitably be fan bases who feel wronged by a particular exclusion.
Wish I had a better answer for you, but the general apathy NHL players and coaches have for the All-Star Game has crept into my system as well.
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