I am a fan of all sports , but hockey is the winter sport that i have loved the longest . The only NHL game I've ever been to was at Maple Leaf Gardens when they had a captain named Salming and a rookie named Wendel Clark . they lost to Bernie Federko's Blues that night and lost most games that followed .
Toronto Maple Leafs fans have had a few moments of glory since , but most of it has been misery . Leafs owners don't seem to care that much because win or lose , they sell out every might and are one of the most profitable sports entities on the planet . From a financial perspective , the blue-and-white is hockey's equivalent of pinstripes.
Last year , they essentially threw the season away and alienated fans by not signing beloved captain Mats Sundin and trading away anyone and everyone who resembled talent . This year , they went for a change signing big names to big contracts trying to spend their way into respectability .
And something went wrong. Their coach , Ron Wilson is not a loved or respected guy in the league , but plenty of teams have banded together to overcome useless coaches with success if they WANT it .
The Leafs don't have a bunch of high-scoring talent up front , but they are tough and give an honest effort night in and night out . Defense shouldn't be a problem - they have the best collective of D-Men in the game . 9 guys who can be in the top 4 of any other team toil in the ACC . Tomas Kaberle has more assists-per-game than any player of any position in the league and leads the league in scoring from the blueline . With 12 men earning 2.5 million dollars or more and 6 hitting the $4 million mark , it's not a labour dispute.
It boils down to 2 things , or rather 2 words : Vesa Toskala
I know that hockey is the quintessential team game , but some players are just so tragically terrible that it is impossible to ignore. The goaltender is the 60-minute on-ice leader and the last line of defense . Teams have overcome enormous deficits to win simply by being inspired by one mind-boggling save or sunk by one soft goal . The emotional well-being of the team rests with the heart displayed by the man in the cage . Only the greatest position players earn colourful nicknames , but almost every goalie has one . And sorry ladies , Vesa is the Vagina .
Vesa Toskala is the only #1 man without a win . At 4.5 goals against per game , he allows a goal per game more than the second-worst Steve Mason . If he maintains his save percentage of 0.853 , it might be one of the worst in modern history . For those of you who don't dig math , he allows 15 goals per 100 shots faced . He hasn't stopped a single shot in overtime , where those precious points that make or break you are earned. He is a colossal waste of 4.5 million per annum that nobody else wants near them . And if the Leafs insist on starting him versus rookie Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson , they could wind up with their worst record ever.
And let's take a wee peek at this Monster kid for a second . While he still plays for the same crappy club , Jonas Gustavsson does not enjoy the same glorious stats as some other young fellows who get the coaching and goal support , yet he seems to be on a different PLANET than his Scandinavian cohort . His .903 save percentage and 3.06 goals-against easily eclipse Toskala's miserable digits . Plus , he has points in 6 of his 10 games and all of Toronto's few wins . When Toskala got hurt , weaselboy Ron started an older Joey Mcdonald whose numbers were abominable . The Monster has been given zero props and every opportunity and expectation to fail , but hasn't . At 1/5 of Vesa's dollars , he could be the biggest bargain in a mask .
It's a crying SHAME that the "thinking" men at the ACC have tried to destroy the spirit of an incredibly humble and talented young man to flatter the ego of a guy who has no interest in winning , team spirit , or accountability.
Until the Leafs get rid of the overwhelmingly negative sieve and wimpy , unaccountable Ron they will continue to be the NHL's laughing stock and the biggest waste of entertainment dollars short of a front-row seat to an AIG board meeting . Even loyal Raptors fans would revolt if apathy was this widespread . If this was Montreal , heads would roll .
sidebar : Vesa Toskala was a chef before he got to the bigs , he could always go back to making Lingonberry tarts. : sidebar over
Cue to 0:25 . Sorta sums it up in a nutshell