Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blame MLSE

But all of these Leaf employees, really, have a limited role in the success of the team.

The same can't be said of ownership, but MLSE directors are rarely seen, almost never quoted or interviewed.

They never have to answer for the team's failures, and never even appear on the ice when a player or former player is being honoured.
A good piece on the Maple Leafs' nebulous ownership situation from today's paper.

25 Comments:

At 2:52 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I have heard this argument before where people say the Leafs ownership doesn't need to win because they sell out every game already and as a result don't really care. Well, just look at how much additional revenue they would get if they made the playoffs and went a few rounds every year or even won the Stanley Cup.

The fact is, the hockey media in Toronto will never stop complaining about anything and everything. If they had an active and present owner they would complain about him too for being too hands on. Barring the Leafs going 82-0 in the regular season and 16-0 in the playoffs, I am confident Toronto hockey media will find something to complain about.

 
At 3:15 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hear hear!

 
At 3:23 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did they sweep the pre-season as well? See, there's alwasy room for improvement.

 
At 3:53 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

Barring the Leafs going 82-0 in the regular season and 16-0 in the playoffs, I am confident Toronto hockey media will find something to complain about.

... and barring the Leafs going 0-82 in the regular season and 0-0 in the playoffs, I am confident Leafs Nation (sic) will find reason for optimism.

 
At 3:57 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

... and barring the Leafs going 0-82 in the regular season and 0-0 in the playoffs, I am confident Leafs Nation (sic) will find reason for optimism.

They kept their 7th round draft pick right?

 
At 4:29 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

David, on th is one, I agree with Cox. I find very little encouraging with the way the team's ownership is structured, and I think that's at the root of why they've failed to put together any sort of momentum postlockout.

I've lived in Toronto more than four years now, and the Leafs have made the playoffs just once in that time. I'm no fan of the club, but it'd be nice to have some interest in this city in the playoffs (and maybe even some games to go to?).

Supporting the team is one thing, but I don't think fans have to also support the corporate overlords in charge.

 
At 4:43 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Barring the Leafs going 82-0 in the regular season and 16-0 in the playoffs....
I thought the Conservative government had revoked the Faint Hope clause in the last session of Parliament.

 
At 4:51 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leafs don't need to go 16-0 in the playoffs, but having an actual playoff record for the first time in three years would be a good start.

 
At 4:51 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous PPP said...

Sounds like maybe you are bad luck James. Maybe you could get a transfer out of Toronto so the Leafs can get back to the playoffs? Please.

 
At 5:07 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

James, I do agree somewhat that ownership is a part of the problem, but on the list of problems they are well down the list. Would the Leafs be better off with a single owner in control? Possibly if they get the right guy in there but individual ever present and accountable owners have messed up teams too (and probably more often than corporations).

The problem with the Leafs right now is they lack direction and to a small extent the current ownership is to blame for that. They need to either commit to JFJ and Maurice by giving them 3 year contract extensions or replace them. The uncertainty is hurting the team. But that is a minor problem and only really affecting the club right now, not over the past decade (or however long this group has been in charge).

And as I said, there are a gazillion issues with the Leafs that probably have a greater negative impact on the team than the owners and the ever negative media is probably far more to blame.

Back when Pat Quinn was GM and coach of the Leafs the Leafs were posting good regular seasons and had some solid playoff success. Outside of New Jersey, Detroit, Colorado and maybe Dallas not many teams had better playoff records. But even then the defense sucked, they had horrible offense and no wingers for Sundin, and they only won because of CuJo or Belfour, yada, yada, yada the media went on. Most of it was pure crap being spewed by the media back than and the same takes place now.

How does that affect a team? Well, players start playing as individuals for themselves to cover their own butts, not as a team and that is compounded by the fact that the GM (and coach) are probably on thin ice. Why should they play for a coach or GM who is unlikely to be there in a year (or a month). For that I blame the ownership group, but again, that is only for this season.

I apologize if it seems I am brushing all the media with one black brush of dismay, but they aren't all bad, but many of the most prominent ones are. I challenge anyone to find a Steve Simmons column where we writes something positive about the Leafs or a current Leaf player. It is next to impossible. Damien Cox isn't quite as bad but close. Mike Zeisberger mentions the high shot totals as evidence to support the fact that the Leafs defense sucks but I never heard anyone touting the Leafs low shot totals against last year (Leafs were 7th best in the NHL).

The negative media compounds everything in Toronto and in my opinion they have a more significant influence on the success or failure of the team than a group of owners in the background.

 
At 5:33 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous penaltyshots.ca said...

Come on you guys, now we have moved up the chain from the players, to the coaches, to the GM, all the way up to owners? Maybe the media should watch their back, because they are next in line before us fans, then it has reaches everyone.

The fact behind the Maple Leafs lack of success is undeniably because three years ago the league scrapped the Leafs successful business model (8 straight playoff appearances) of buying and trading their youth for expensive, but proven free agents. The league did so in order to create a welfare system to cover their asses over a ridiculous expansion policy that had the entire league on shaky ground.

And it wasn’t just the Leafs who have suffered, but every other team that followed the same policy as them. Philadelphia, Colorado, and the New York Rangers have all missed the playoffs since the lockout. Detroit is the lone team that followed a system of spending money that hasn’t seen a decline, and a large part of that has been the ridiculous condition of their division.

Not the owners, not the GM, not the coach, and not Bryan McCabe can fill cupboards stripped bare in order to bring in the likes of Nolan, Francis, Leetch, etc. You can’t recover from 8 seasons of not developing drafted players overnight.

Damien Cox fell victim to a city that covers too little too much. He woke up with a yesterday with a deadline and instead of writing a story worth reading he poked someone in the eye to draw blood, because this would draw a crowd and a conversation. And at the end of it all Toronto is ONE GAME UNDER .500, 9 GAMES IN.

 
At 5:41 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

The fact behind the Maple Leafs lack of success is undeniably because three years ago the league scrapped the Leafs successful business model (8 straight playoff appearances) of buying and trading their youth for expensive, but proven free agents. The league did so in order to create a welfare system to cover their asses over a ridiculous expansion policy that had the entire league on shaky ground.

Let's not forget about the heavily unbalanced schedule that gives teams in a weak division (like the southeast) an unfair advantage to make the playoffs over a team from a tough division like the northwest. And let's also not forget about the fact the NHL changed its rules so that teams can make the playoffs on the basis of a skills competition. People don't realize that the Leafs had the 5th best regulation record in the east last year. Is it fair? No, but the league think that gimmicks will sell the game more but as James has pointed out in other posts, the league revenue has flatlined (at best).

 
At 5:53 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I don't think you're going to find a lot of support for that argument. An organization should not be influenced by the media in any way or form, and if it is, that's a sign of organizational weakness as much as anything.

How on earth could a pro sports organization be influenced by what fellows like Steve Simmons write more than its own ownership group, those who do things like, say, hire John Ferguson and give him zero direction or impetus to build through the draft?

 
At 6:10 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous Karina said...

I think he was being facetious about the media being blamed.

At least the Hawks had someone they could look to and blame. Who do Leafs fans look to? Their child's teacher whose pension fund grows because of their ownership?

The Leafs are more of a corporation than a hockey team. I just haven't ever heard a suggestion of reasonable way for the fans to let ownership know that they're upset. The corporation draws in so much money and there's such a large base of people who feed into it, knowingly or not, I just don't see what we can do.

 
At 6:13 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous penaltyshots.ca said...

I'm not blaming the media, only I think if everyone else is going to be blamed, then, hey "why not".

I shouldn't have taken a swipe at Cox, because Lord knows I'm not above eye gouging and I don't have the excuse of deadlines. Accept my apologies.

 
At 6:14 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I think he was being facetious about the media being blamed.

Have you met Mr. Johnson? He's not kidding.

(But he's always welcome here.)

 
At 6:39 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous Gerald said...

as James has pointed out in other posts, the league revenue has flatlined (at best).

Not to deflect yet another thread, but his point was emphatically refuted.

James, do you not think that the media can impact on the performance of a sports team? Performance in just about every endeavour is impacted by close observation, not just in sports. Athletes are not automatons.

 
At 6:44 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

His point is that the negativity of the media has "far more" of an impact on the team's performance than the ownership — not that it has an impact.

I'm sure increased scrutiny does make it harder for some athletes, etc., but many of the biggest market teams in the world manage to succeed in spite of that.

 
At 6:59 PM, October 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about this James:

"The fact behind the Maple Leafs lack of success is undeniably because three years ago the league scrapped the Leafs successful business model (8 straight playoff appearances) of buying and trading their youth for expensive, but proven free agents. The league did so in order to create a welfare system to cover their asses over a ridiculous expansion policy that had the entire league on shaky ground."

Does Cox's argument hold up?

 
At 7:16 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Of course the cap is a factor. But the team wasn't exactly the model of success before the lockout, either — and certainly not when it comes to player development.

The thing is, ownership determines who sits in the GM seat, and what power he is given, and Ferguson's failures have been, in part, due to the fact he hasn't been given a mandate that would allow him to rebuild this team under a salary cap.

Sure, the team has lost much of its financial advantage, but we're not talking about the dismantling of a perennial champion here. You can blame the CBA if you like for where the Leafs are, but the fact is that several organizations made the transition from big spender to a team under a budget and won a lot more games than Toronto has.

 
At 10:58 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Adam C said...

To me, some of the recent Leaf problems have clearly come from the top. This determination to sacrifice multiple first round picks in order to merely qualify for the playoffs comes straight from ownership. If they wanted to build a winner they wouldn't tell the GM that his job depended on a playoff spot this season.

(I think they probably will make the playoffs this year. But they aren't anywhere near contending for the Cup, and they won't be any closer next year.)

But I'm skeptical that it's the ownership structure that's the problem. There are no shortage of examples of 'accountable' owners who have run their teams into the ground. There is certainly evidence that current ownership wants to win - the Leafs have consistently been among the highest paid teams in the league for years. Ownership that was satisfied with mediocrity would cut payroll, Bruin style.

For whatever reason, though, they have installed poor decision-makers above JFJ who are making bad choices and hurting the team.

 
At 12:48 AM, October 24, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I am not saying the organization is influenced by the media, I am saying the players do. If every day a number of people told you that you are overpaid and suck at what you do and should be released or traded or whatever and constantly asked you about all the bad things you do during the course of your job and when you doc ome to work some of the half-truths that those people write cause 18,000 other people to come and boo you and yell 'you suck' over and over again, can you honestly tell me that it won't affect you in some way? Wouldn't you at times get demoralized and wouldn't that potentially have an adverse effect on your own performance or how you feel you fit in with your co-workers (who may not be getting criticized)?

Yeah, yeah, I know the arguement. These guys are supposed to be professionals and making good money they should get over it, but honestly guys, they are still human.

Now, I am not saying that the media play a huge role but they do have an influence on the team.

 
At 9:35 AM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Chemmy said...

The Leafs need a defensive coordinator to come in, set up a defensive system, and for coaches to bench players not adhering to said system.

If the Leafs defense tightens up, their goaltending will sort itself out, and their offense is obviously fine.

There's no media frenzy if the Leafs fix their D. It doesn't have to be the best in the league, it just needs to be adequate. Get this team a 15th ranked defense and we're heading into the playoffs no problem.

 
At 10:47 AM, October 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its about time Leaf fans demanded better from the media who cover their beloved team. Their isn't a reporter who covers them regularly whose articles don't drip with hatred of the team that pays for their living. Leaf fans aren't negative by nature, but whipped into it by the nagative media they are forced to swallow every day.

Toronto medai are all busy humping Alfredsson, Spezza, and Heatley's legs as bad as the Senators media are, while the captain of the Leafs is on pace for the Art Ross with Ponikarovsky on his line.

There is a good opportunity for a writer willing to break from the herd because Leaf fans are tired of the old.

 
At 8:50 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Black Dog said...

Hey anon (the last) if you're so tired of the old then why don't you have a problem with 40 years without a Cup? Doesn't that get old?

As for the media - Jesus - try being a Yankee or Red Sox player - for that matter I lived in Tampa and the coverage of the Bucs was a million times more critical then the Leafs. Yet it seems these teams have all survived and had success in the past number of years.

 

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