Friday, December 03, 2010

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

As a kid, three things terrified me more than any other: quicksand, Bigfoot from the Six Million Dollar Man, and bottomless pits.

When Catwoman fell into that bottomless pit on the old Batman shows I was horrified. First off, what a waste of Julie Newmar (seriously) and secondly – a bottomless pit? Really? Falling forever, right through the planet? That is some worrisome stuff to a nine year old (although my kids sure do love to sing along to John Prine's Bottomless Lake).

Thirty years later, none of these fears seem all that legit anymore. You don’t hear much about quicksand, a seemingly ubiquitous plot device in the TV shows and movies of the 1970s and 1980s. The big foot clips on youtube still give me the heebie-jeebies (what is up with those eyes?!?) but I’m no longer worried about what to do when a sasquatch attacks.

As for the bottomless pit, lately that’s what it is to be a Leafs fan - every time you think the bottom has been found, the franchise proves us wrong...

What are the Odds?

I never though this year’s squad would amount to much, likely a tweener team – not good enough for the playoffs and not bad enough for the draft lottery.

Many of the so-called pros saw it the same way: Vegas had the Leafs Stanley Cup odds at 60 to 1 (which seems generous to me); online sports betting sites don’t think much of the Leafs either; and Sports Club Stats has the Leafs odds of making the post season down to a slim 6.2%

That's what makes the next step such a tough one. If this team is under-performing, it's not under-performing by much.

Coach Wilson

Even with the teams' abysmal performance, I have no idea if coach Ron Wilson should be fired.

The holes on the Leafs roster have been evident for some time and it was clear Burke's off-season spackle job wouldn’t be get this team out of the bottom third of the league.

I’m not sure any coach could win with this pop-gun offence. I’ve seen puddles that have more meaningful depth.

The only coach Brian Burke ever fired was Mike Keenan and, if you go back and read the press clippings, Burke apparently did it for two reasons:

  1. The Canucks were on a horrific losing skid;
  2. Burke was worried another team would fire their coach and hire Marc Crawford, the guy Burke wanted.

There is no doubt the Leafs are all over criterion number one. With only four wins in their last 20 and six shutout losses in their last 16, this is an ugly skid.

As for criterion number two, I have no idea who the best available coaches are, but you’d have to think the Leafs brain trust has gone over that question on a daily basis and have a list of candidates whittled down and ready to go.

I think that's the only reason Burke might fire Ron Wilson: if he thinks another organization is going to scoop up his top choice as coach, otherwise I wouldn't bet on Wilson going anywhere this season.

The Month Ahead: A New Low?

The NHL roster freeze is December 19th, but Brian Burke freezes his roster on December 9th. No word on whether that freeze includes changes affecting coaches. Knowing Burke's so-called code, I have a feeling it does.

Looking ahead at the Leafs schedule, they play five top teams in the next 10 days. I’ll be shocked if they come out of that stretch with 2 wins; sadly, I’ll be surprised if they come out of it with more than 2 goals.

If you’re a gambler, you can make the safe bet and take the under against the Leafs at proline. If you're looking for something more entertaining than another shutout loss, there's always Julie Newmar as Catwoman and those haunting Six Milion Dollar Man vs. Sasquatch videos...


  1. Great stuff.. thanks for writing as always...

  2. Anonymous12:09 p.m.

    Good points. Burke won't can Wilson unless he thinks the Leafs have to be better and Wilson is failing miserably, plus a guy he loves as a coach is waiting in the wings. Like last year, Burke can say, "So and so was injured for 10-20 games, that's why we sucked all year." We have no Armstrong or Phaneuf and Burke dreams that those two guys are worth 20 points in the standings at least, I guess.

    So I see Wilson coaching until 2012 June.

    Maybe Burke will go for the gusto and try and draft Yakupov in 2012.

  3. Paul Steckley12:25 p.m.

    I met Julie Newmar this summer. After meeting Carrie Fisher a few years ago, I hope I can meet Dawn Wells next and complete the trifecta of my list adolescent crushes.

    I couldn't sleep without nightmares for days after seeing Bigfoot the first time. Thanks for the memories.

    The only time a coach should be fired, in my opinion, is when the team has stopped playing for him or when the players are seriously under-performing due to a lack or proper preparation or planning. Given the lack of significant talent on this current Leafs squad, does anyone really believe that any coach in the history of the NHL could make a significant improvement with this team? The media is all over Kessel for not scoring but when 29 NHL teams know that he is the only legitimate scoring threat on the Leafs, and he doesn't possess extraordinary talent like Crosby or Ovechkin, what more can be expected of him, or by extension the team?

    The Leafs have clearly not given up on their coach and on many nights deserved a victory that their hands simply couldn't deliver. The game on Thursday against Philly is one that a team with more talented scorers ends early and convincingly. There was nothing wrong with the Leafs' effort that night, they simply couldn't score. The fact that they won 3 out of 5 games against the best teams in the East suggests that they are still trying and can be successful, although it will never be easy to secure a victory. Wilson has a proven track record of regular season success prior to joining the Leafs. He's not a bad coach. I say Burke should let him continue as the coach and see what he can do when the roster has more to offer than this current team does.