Everyone and their dog has theories about how best to fix the Leafs and make them a winner again. I am no exception. The difference between me and them is that half of them are idiots and don't know what they're talking about, whereas I am an actual fan (a loyal one at that) and understand what this team really has and doesn't have. So, as I sit here waiting for an important e-mail to come through, I will give you my grand scheme for complete and utter Leaf domination of the NHL. By the way, I don't think the Leafs will win a Cup before I am 50 years old. Anyway, here goes:
1. Now that JFJ is gone, I would hire a GM who has proven experience and is a winner. I wouldn't just talk to Scotty Bowman or Jim Rutherford, I would seriously pursue them or someone else who was available that fits the criteria. I would make sure that Richard Peddie, that friggin' chimp, would have zero say in the day-to-day running of the team and all matters hockey-related. All that idiot knows about is making money. He would be silenced, or better yet fired, if I had my way. If you feel the same way, please go to http://firerichardpeddie.ca and sign the petition, thus registering your discontent. As of this moment there are 13,307 signatures and counting...
2. As much as it pains me to say it, it's time to cut Mats Sundin loose. The reasons for saying this is that a) we could get super draft picks or young players if we traded him, and b) he deserves a chance at a Stanley Cup with a contender before he retires. He will be 37 years old in a couple weeks and does not have many more years left as a player, I would imagine.
3. It's time to gut the rest of the team and stop believing that the "young guns" (what a misnomer that is!) are going to save us. Only in Toronto would fourth liners like Stajan, Steen, and Wellwood (it hurts me to type KW's name because I love watching his playmaking) be hailed as "star youngsters". None of them have come even close to living up to their potential or showing the form they displayed as juniors. You need to earn the right to play on a team with as prestigious a history as Toronto (regardless of their crap form right now) and none of these guys are getting it done, with the exception of perhaps Ian White.
4. We need to think about the future, rather than trying band-aid solution after band-aid solution. The whole "trading for/signing geriatrics and/or has-beens" phenomenon needs to end NOW (Ed Belfour, Jason Allison, Owen Nolan, and a host of others, please stand up...). It's time to stop trading away our future just to try for a desperate last push for the playoffs. Toronto has made more bad trades than pretty much any other sports franchise I know of (just read '67: The Maple Leafs, Their Sensational Victory, and the End of an Empire if you need any more proof beyond my word) and if there is any hope of righting the good ship Maple Leaf, this is a darn good place to start.
5. Winning starts with having a winning attitude and acknowledging your past. So, let's cut the crap and start retiring some numbers. Dave Keon, Daryl Sittler, and a host of others need to have their numbers officially retired, and thus not able to be worn by future Leafs, as a tribute to their legacy. Montreal has retired their legends' numbers, so why the hell can't we? If I were in charge, I'd have Keon on the phone before you could say "13 Stanley Cups"!
6. Our scouting needs improvement. The reason Detroit is so good year after year is that they find these treasures deep in the draft, some of which end up being stars. Pavel Datsyuk was drafted 171st overall in 1998 and Henrik Zetterberg was drafted 210th overall in 1999--this was not a fluke, but rather the result of good scouting. The two of them may have turned out to be far more elite players than Detroit initially guessed, but the franchise's scouts can take full credit for their discovery. It also helps to have Scotty Bowman as an advisor to senior management rather than a horse's ass like Richard Peddie at the helm like we do (did I mention http://firerichardpeddie.ca?).
I could probably keep going on this, but these are the most salient points and remedying all of the above would do a great deal to reverse the poor fortunes of this historic, once-proud team. We have the money, facilities, and especially the fanbase to be one of the flagship franchises in the NHL, especially if I was in charge and allowed to run the show. Or if Scotty Bowman was.
Any other suggestions, oh loyal readers?