It has been a while since I’ve done one of these. I’m not as deliriously tired as I usually am when I write these. I just have a few thoughts buzzing around in my head I think you might like!
1. Leafs fans are nuts for wanting Burke fired already, and it’s the damn Leafs the made them this crazy.
Dear other fans around the NHL: Please be patient with your Leafs fan friends. They are currently losing their minds. The team was in a playoff spot all year, and after a January that saw the Leafs earn a shutout pretty much every second or third game, the defence and goaltending collapsed like a drunk student on St. Patrick’s Day.
Fans have plenty of reasons to be mad at Burke. If they acquired Lombardi’s awful contract so that they could get Franson, then why the hell is Franson sitting? $4.75 for Tim Connolly? Is it just me or is the goaltending only getting worse the longer they are under Francois Allaire?
All those points aside, you brought Burke on to rebuild. He has drafted 23 players over three drafts, only Nazem Kadri has seen NHL action, and he’s only 21-years-old. Many fans are saying “Fine! Then I’ll give him one more year and that’s it.” Even that’s wrong, I think. Two. You give him two more years. Burke’s three years without the playoffs is one thing, but what fans are losing their minds over is that the team’s futility streak is eight.
Grin and bare it, Leafs fans. You’re screwed.
2. Alex Radulov is going to quickly discover that the NHL is not the KHL
Before Alex Radulov’s goal against the Penguins in his comeback game (Preds down 4-0), Radulov was a -3. He finished the game with a goal and a -2. In his defence, it’s the friggin’ Penguins. They’re kind of the hottest team in the National Hockey League right now. But my worry is this: The NHL is nothing like the KHL.
Watch this randomly selected “KHL Top 10 Goals of the Week” video I found from Oct. 10, 2011 (early this season). The goals are dazzling. You have to admire the skill. What I want you to look for however is how many times you ask yourself “what the hell are the defenders doing?” “What the hell is the goalie doing?” “Why wasn’t that attacker obliterated?” and “Are they even allowed to hit in that league?”
The #1 goal by Capitals prospect and Russian World Junior captain Evgeni Kuznetsov is a testament to both his talent and the KHL’s lack thereof. I worry about young players like Kuznetsov or St. Louis Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko learning their trade and developing over there, because the second Tarasenko takes a crazy KHL-style cut through the middle, take your pick of the Central Division defencemen that would knock him into another solar system. Knonwall? Weber? Suter? Seabrook? Keith? One of the Blue Jackets?…Ok kidding on that last one, but seriously, you get my point.
Radulov’s skill set has always been way ahead of his peers’ in the KHL, and with so little time left before the playoffs, he will need to adapt quickly. He has the benefit of past NHL experience, so hopefully he can use that to his advantage, rather than get demolished.
3. Jay Feaster is a silly goose
So maybe Flames GM Jay Feaster shouldn’t have said his team will make the playoffs, eh?
The sugar-coated version is the Flames have points in three straight games. The ugly truth for the Flames is they have lost four straight games in a fight for their playoff lives. They lost to the 29th place Edmonton Oilers in regulation, the 30th place Columbus Blue Jackets in the shootout, a Colorado Avalanche team in the western playoff hunt in overtime, and the 25th place Minnesota Wild in the shootout.
Yes, the Flames have injuries. Everyone does. The Penguins have only had Sidney friggin’ Crosby for 13 games this season. The Flyers don’t have Pronger. The Caps don’t have Backstrom. The Canucks made it you the Stanley Cup Final with the Sedins, only one or two of Ryan Kesler’s limbs, and the Manitoba Moose on defence. Injuries? Fooey. Don’t tell me about your team’s injuries like they’re special from everyone else.
What has made this train wreck of a team’s slow and agonizing descent into mediocrity is Sven Baertschi came in and gave them hope. “Maybe he can save us!” No, he can’t. Oh, he might be good. He might even be great! But one great player can’t do it all.
Speaking of Jarome Iginla: Trade Jarome Iginla. Even if Iginla doesn’t want to be traded. Force him! Send him to a team with an actual plan and shot at winning, for crying out loud. Show the man mercy! As a lifelong Toronto fan – please don’t let him be Mats Sundin’d out of town. Ray Bourque him. Do it for Iggy. Eleven straight seasons with at least 30 goals. Eleven. Don’t let him waste that. Let him win somewhere else, because he ain’t ever winning with you.
And those are the things that fell out of my brain, onto the keyboard, into my blog, through your computer screen, shone into your eyeballs, and processed by your brian on this wonderful Friday morning at 3am.