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The Leafs are Doomed


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I heard a story that Roberts and Nieuwendyk have actually been telling players not to sign

with Toronto. I guess Foote spoke to Roberts and then signed with Columbus even though he was thinking of signing with TO.

The Leafs are currently at 28.5 mil in salary cap. Even if they get rid of Nolans contract that puts them at 23 mil already.

They still have the following players unsigned

Nik Antropov, Wade Belak, Aki Berg, Pierre Hedin, Nathan Perrott, Karel Pilar, Clarke Wilm, Tie Domi, Brian Leetch, Alexander Mogilny, Drake Berehowsky, Ron Francis, Bryan Marchment, Trevor Kidd, Nathan Barrett, Harold Druken, Regan Kelly.

Actually as I write this they only have 9 players under contract including Nolan.

The free agents are being gobbled up with noone going to the Leafs.

Ferguson is the new Babcock

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[color:red]Leafs beaten again

Sly Clarke outfoxes napping Ferguson


It's almost as if the Philadelphia Flyers were ready for this.

Well, of course they were.

That the Flyers, known primarily as a big spender in the old NHL order, have proven to be so flexible and aggressive in the new capped NHL is a rather large compliment to general manager Bob Clarke and his organization.

Moreover, the Flyers' preparedness to compete forcefully under the altered economic landscape stands in rather sharp contrast to another team that also was known for its economic muscle in pre-lockout times.

That, of course, would be the Maple Leafs.

While the Flyers have stunned the industry by making a flurry of exciting personnel moves in the past few days, including yesterday's acquisition of the brilliant Peter Forsberg, [color:red]the Leafs and GM John Ferguson have appeared as the proverbial deer in the headlights, looking around as though they'd like to call a timeout.

To compare the Flyers and Leafs, needless to say, is not an exercise that flatters Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

[color:red]It's bad enough that Philly was the team that eliminated Pat Quinn's crew the last two playoff seasons, with goalies Roman Cechmanek and Robert Esche leading the way by outplaying in back-to-back years the more exalted and highly paid Ed Belfour.

But to see Clarke et al so badly outpointing the Leafs in the new environment created by the recently ratified collective bargaining agreement has to be maddening to the Leaf Nation.

Indeed, as the past three days have gone by without the Leafs making even a ripple in the ultra-competitive free agent pool, it's as though you can feel the collective temper of the city starting to rise.

[color:red]The Leafs, without question, have been caught utterly flatfooted by the frenzy of activity over the past two weeks.

They were seemingly floored by the entire Owen Nolan mess, and then, after making a decent move by picking up Jeff O'Neill from the Carolina Hurricanes, found that addition overshadowed by the loss of veterans Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk to Florida.

With Ferguson more inclined to stonewall and prevaricate rather than articulate his game plan to the public, the perception is that the Leafs hamstrung themselves with contractual commitments going into the salary cap era and now [color:red]don't have the ingenuity to figure their way out of the mess in which they find themselves.

[color:red]Without the ability to simply use money to mask their organizational shortcomings, the Leafs seem to have no answers.

The Flyers, by contrast, were always able to do more than just spend.

The Flyers have continued to draft very effectively throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium.

Players like Simon Gagne and Joni Pitkanen were drafted and developed into big leaguers.

Two weeks ago, while the Leafs were figuring out the Nolan mess, Clarke immediately bought out John LeClair and Tony Amonte to clear more than $11 million in cap space. Simultaneously, he got young guns Jeff Carter and Mike Richards under contract, in both cases without surrendering major bonus packages.

Indeed, those two prospects alone highlight how much more efficient the Flyers have been at competing and building at the same time compared to Toronto.

Carter was the 11th pick of the '03 draft, Richards the 24th, both taken after the Flyers had eliminated the Leafs in the first round of the playoffs that spring.

In that same draft, the Leafs didn't own a first-round pick.

With room to manoeuvre and quality kids to plug into his lineup in the wake of the new CBA, both the result of careful and thoughtful planning, Clarke got to work. He signed three big defenders in Derian Hatcher, Mike Rathje and Chris Therien, moving defender Danny Markov to Nashville to allow for those purchases.

After telling the hockey world "we're done," Clarke then moved with lightning speed under the cover of his own verbal camouflage and pitched for Forsberg. While rumours had the splendid Swede going to New York, San Jose or even back to Colorado, the Flyers struck.

"They got on the radar late, to be honest," said Forsberg's agent, Don Baizley. "But Bob Clarke got aggressive about it, and got really serious about it (yesterday) morning."

The deal put Philly over the salary cap, and Clarke is expected to fix that problem by moving Jeremy Roenick to Los Angeles.

Now, the Flyers have gone 30 years without a Stanley Cup, so they don't get organization-of-the-year just yet.

But while the Leafs have watched in stunned silence as the bodies have been flying, the Flyers have creatively rebuilt their roster in a determined bid to end that long championship drought.

Clarke's team will go into the season as the favourite to win the Eastern Conference.


The Leafs, meanwhile, are not enjoying life on this new level playing field.

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I have a different take on the situation: Yes they are in big trouble this year, of that there is no argument. However, it's not all bad. As of next year with the new collective bargaining agreement, players with with 7 years experience can file for free agency next summer. So why sign older guys like Nieuwendyk, Roberts who are coming to the end of their careers when you can possibly get guys like Joe Thorton (wants out of Boston) Vincent Lacavalier, Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara, Jose Theodoe and a whole bunch more young free-agents. The one place they are really goin to miss 'dyk and Roberts is the dressing room I will agree with that. As well who really knows what the actual on ice product is gonna be. Sure Philly bought a bunch of big bodies on the blue-line but what if they can't cope with the new speed of the game. What's to say Forsberg (32) who has had only 2 of the last 5 years un-interrupted by injuries, stays healthy. All this being said though, I am now officially an Alberta hockey fan, Oilers and Flames are both lookin super solid so I hope they represent for Canada.

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That's what we are going to find out I guess, the only intelligent thing I've heard Nick Kypreos say is that the new superstars in the NHL are the managers. The teams will be so close that it's the managers have to find that balance to make a winner. the good managers are gonna be seen as such and the poor managers are going to be shown up as well. This is a whole different league now.

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"Without the ability to simply use money to mask their organizational shortcomings, the Leafs seem to have no answers"

This is the biggest point to me. The Leaf brass was arrogant enough to think players would be tripping over themselves to play in Toronto. In fact the opposite has happened. Now without the extra cash to throw around (waste) the Leafs will be lucky to make the playoffs.

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Guest Low Roller

To continue on the point of managers being the new stars- do the managers fall under the team salary cap rule? If not, what's going to stop their salaries from rising to ridiculous amounts?

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Diggz, EVERYONE will be in the same boat next year so dont kid yourself. That is foolish thinking.

The FIRST thing they should have done was bought out Belfour. 9 players are taking up over 28 million dollars already, although the Nolan mess kinda screws them. There is no way they would have been able to sign higher-priced players, even though many Toronto fans have told me "Hey, they are going to sign Niedermayer! Hey, they are getting Forsberg!"

Idiots believed that, unless those players went to TO for very little money compared to what they got. The only way TO is going to be able to do anything is to sign players like Jason Allison (you know, those with HUGE question marks concerning their health) to incentive-based contracts.

Management has tied their hands and I love watching this go down.

If not, what's going to stop their salaries from rising to ridiculous amounts?

If you can work this new market well, you deserve a ton of cash! Most teams have probably hired on new accountants/salary-cap experts.

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I love Leaf fans. Back in 92/93 after the Habs won the Cup all the Leaf fans were so jealous. All I'd ever hear is

"That should have been a penalty on Gretzky"

"If the Leafs had been in the final they would have beaten the Habs"

and my personal fav

"Yeah, the Habs may have won the Cup but we've been to the Semi-Finals two years in a row"

The Leafs should just forget about the Cup and have "PARTICIPANT" sewn on their jerseys.

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Holy feck keep your panties on guys. I am not foolish nor am I trying to kid myself, I'm just pointing out a few things to the fanatics out there who think that the Leafs are going to explode or something next year. What do you think you know that I don't, do you have some mystical powers that allow you to see exactly how this season is going to play out? As I said before the good managers are gonna rise to the top and the bad ones are gonna be gone, if that includes Ferguson than good riddance, but the new season of a new era of hockey hasn't even begun and the Leafs apparently are the worst team ever. All I'm saying is let's see what happens during the season. Oh and Ottawa fans, you better hope you win it this year beacuse next years you are at risk of losing Hossa, Redden, Chara, back-bone of your team. And Hasek will probably want to go somewhwere else if he doesn't get injured, that's what he does.

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"Fer feck sakes I'm not even a Leaf fan I just live here"

I like you now. Cheers!

Yes, Ottawa wont be able to afford to keep their core and I completely agree that next year and the ones that follow are going to be interesting to watch what unfolds.

The sad thing is pretty simple:

The days of a player staying with the team that drafted him for their entire career are gone. Not that those days havent been gone already, but the new economic system is going to make it virtually impossible.

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"The days of a player staying with the team that drafted him for their entire career are gone. Not that those days havent been gone already, but the new economic system is going to make it virtually impossible"

I think they were gone already. Once a players contract was over they were just gobbled up by one of the big spenders, Det, NYR, Tor, Col etc. A team like Calgary was only able to offer a player like Iginla 5 or 6 mil while the big boys would offer 10. Any player put in that situation would take the money. There was such a discrepency.

Now I look at it this way. Once your initial contract is up or once you reach free agency the teams are on an equal playing field. So if the organization you are with makes you happy there is no reason to leave. ex Iginla, Naslund, Kovalev. However now the players also have more control on where they play. NJ actually offered Niedermyer the max pay for 5 years. He turned it down for a little less to play on the west coast with his brother.

The CBA seem to have accomplished what it wanted to (so far). The teams have ecomonice stability and the players have more control of where to play.

As a fan I like this situation. Granted we may not see players stay their entire career with a team, but if the team treats them well and is competitive they have no reason to leave.

Ohhh I'm just glad hockey is back

GOOOOO HABS!!!!!!!!!!!

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I dont agree Brad.

In the past economic system, teams could horde a number of players. Now, they will be dispersed throughout the league.

In a couple of years, the all-stars will be getting close to the max while other players wont be paid in a similar fashion.

For every Iginla, Kovalev and Naslund you give me, I can offer up a Forsberg, Niedermayer and Pronger.

This is the essence of parity. Picture any of the teams that could spend like crazy before (Colorado in the past few years). There is no way they could keep a team together with that many stars on it as it stands today. Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic (in their prime) on the same team for a number of years? Forget about it.

If Pittsburg isnt smart with their cap, they will lose Crosby the first chance he can bolt. Obviously, that is a HUGE stretch, but hopefully you can see where I am going with this.

I dont know either what this is going to bring, but that is how it looks to me right now.

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You are right about the cap. How teams control their cap spending will determine who they can keep and sign. Instead of Det, Col, Tor etc having a surplus of cash we may see Anh, Car, Col with more cap room and better able to sign players.

In the future I see each team only being able to have 1 or 2 players maxed or near it. This is all so new it's too hard to determine what player value will be 2 or 3 years from now.

So if a player wants to bolt in the future it isn't likely money will be the only factor more likely he is going to play where he wants. Though I'm sure a few teams will mess up their salary cap to cause problems.

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  • 4 years later...
Guest Low Roller

Another fun old thread to read. Five years later and the Leafs are still struggling as an organization despite throwing money at Burke to fix everything.

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