Thursday, March 30, 2006

The sky is falling in Leafland

Not that feeling the heat is a new experience for Leafs owners. During almost 40 years of, if not complete futility, a large amount of it, dealing with media and fan animus has been part of the job.

But former owner Harold Ballard and his bungling front office never experienced this level of media scrutiny or fury. Nor did management in 1997 and 1998, when the Leafs last missed the playoffs.

William Houston, The Globe and Mail

There's certainly no shortage of venom in Hogtown these days, as the city with the world's biggest hockey media gaggle picks over the remains of the as-of-yet still kicking Toronto Maple Leafs team.

It's of course no secret that Toronto is as hockey nutty a place as they come, but the over-saturation of the media market in this city has, as Houston says, pushed things to new heights. In terms of hockey coverage, there's your four all-sports TV channels — now nearly dedicated to all things Leafs — four major daily newspapers and two sports talk radio stations.

All that's missing, really, is a national magazine à la Sports Illustrated to offer those extra, in-depth feature bits on whatever may be left that we're missing. (The Hockey News, because it's based in Toronto, is as close to this as there is, although the boys at THN are thankfully judicious in the coverage they give the 'home' team.)

Combine all that with a mediocre hockey team having a mediocre season, and you get — apparently — a bustling orgy of analysis. First coach Pat Quinn was to be fired (which he almost certainly will be). Then the team's fledgling GM, John Ferguson. Now, the calls have come for MLSE execs like Richard Peddie and Larry Tanenbaum.

The only ones we haven't been told are due for pink slips are the guys cleaning the johns at the ACC — although one senses their time may, too, come.

Toronto's season is being post-postmortemed endlessly, even as 10 games remain on the schedule. While teams in Columbus, Washington and elsewhere have been allowed to slink to the bottom of the NHL's standings, die a quasi-honourable death and avert scrutiny until they make a splash at the July entry draft in Vancouver, the Maple Leafs' demise has been a public stoning, complete with the tepid and lifeless corpse of a roster being iced each night for the team's Bay Street patrons.

The dead horse, long since beaten, is decomposing.

Can we start the playoffs already?


At 2:32 p.m., March 30, 2006, Anonymous Karina said...

That picture of JFJ and Quinn is screaming for a caption contest...


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