Monday, 14 January 2008

The Dark Side

1967 is a long time ago. It's been 40 years since the Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup, and, thanks to Hockey Night In Canada, it appears that the Maple Leafs are content with making money and never winning. You hear that Leafs Nation? Don't expect a parade anytime soon featuring the Silver Chalice and your beloved Maple Leafs. It was revealed this weekend on HNIC that the Leafs had the opportunity to hire Scotty Bowman, he of nine Stanley Cup victories, but decided against hiring the winningest coach in NHL history due to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's unwillingness to give Bowman the same deal they gave Bryan Colangelo of the NBA's Toronto Raptors.

"I had pretty well put my cards on the table with Toronto that for me to come in it would have to be like a Bryan Colangelo type of deal," Scotty Bowman told Hockey Night In Canada. Colangelo has complete autonomy over the Raptors' operations.

"I said the only way it's going to work for me would be a Bryan Colangelo situation," Bowman added. "I think they might have been concerned about how much time I was going to be able to spend, but I spend all my living time in hockey. Even though I'm not behind the bench, I'm still 24-7 and I enjoy it."

After meeting with MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum in mid-August, Bowman met with MLSE President and CEO Richard Peddie a week later. It was at this point that Bowman presented his idea of autonomy over the Leafs. Peddie, having heard Bowman's ideas, decided that the status quo in Leaf-land would be suitable for the upcoming season, meaning Bowman's proposal had been rejected.

Now, I've watched hockey all my life. Many Saturday nights have been spent with Bob Cole and Harry Neale, Ron MacLean and Don Cherry, and Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey. The one thing that has always been spoken about was the fortunes, or misfortunes, of the Toronto Maple Leafs. They've made trades, hired and fired personnel, and watched them get as close as the Conference Finals. Hiring Scotty Bowman - a guy who eats, breathes, and sleeps hockey - should have been a no-brainer. Instead, Toronto is 14th-place in the Eastern Conference, and Richard Peddie has gone on record stating that the hiring of John Ferguson Jr. was "a mistake".

I'm not sure Scotty Bowman could have righted the ship in one season. This is a significantly flawed team at this stage, and their recent road trip down the west coast is proof. They mailed in two efforts and had a third period collapse. However, Bowman's hockey knowledge would have been a breath of fresh air for the Leafs, especially when you consider how many good young players have been jettisoned to other teams for aging talent.

According to CBC reporter Elliotte Friedman, the Leafs are now considering the return of Cliff Fletcher. On his blog, Friedman talks of the disaster that is the current version of the Maple Leafs. In talking about Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, he writes, "[i]t’s a dysfunctional group at the best of times, paralyzed at its worst. Consensus is never easy".

Friedman has identified the entire problem with the MLSE Board of Directors. Instead of worrying about making money, they have their hands in the cookie jar known as the Maple Leafs, meddling with every operational aspect of the Maple Leafs. MLSE made the right move in giving up operational control of the Raptors to a qualified individual. Why they haven't done the same for the Maple Leafs is a mystery.

And why they wouldn't hand the controls over to a winner like Scotty Bowman is a slap to the face to every single Maple Leaf fan out there. Enjoy Purgatory for the next millenium, Leaf fans. You're not getting out of it until MLSE gets their collective hands out of the cookie jar.

You can view the entire Scotiabank Hockey Tonight interview of Scotty Bowman by Ron MacLean by clicking here.

The Strong And The Proud: The first ever U18 Women's World Championship ended Saturday night with the powerful US squad defeating Canada for the first gold medal ever. The USA used goals from Amanda Kessel, Brooke Ammerman, Meagan Mangene, Kendall Coyne and Brianna Decker to pace their team to a 5-2 victory over the Canadians. Congratulations to the women!

"Beating them in their home barn with all their fans here was amazing," declared Kessel. "I won a national championship last year and it doesn't even compare to this."

The Canadians got goals from Carolyne Prevost and Jessica Jones, but fell behind 4-0 before breaking the American shutout late in the second period.

US goaltender Alyssa Grogan was named the tournament's top goaltender. Canadian captain Lauriane Rougeau of Beaconsfield, Quebec was chosen best defenceman and forward Marie-Philip Poulin of Beauceville, Quebec was selected as the top forward in the tournament.

The final results saw the Americans finish on top, the Canadians second, and the Czech Republic grabbed the bronze after defeating Sweden 4-2. Germany, Finland, Switzerland, and Russia finished fifth to eighth, respectively. The 2009 World Women's U18 Championship's site has yet to be determined.

I Guess I'll Get Paper?: Hockey Blog In Canada's first anniversary is coming up on January 21, and I've decided that I'm going to arrange a contest for you, the readers.

Prizes will be given out, so if you want some free schwag, please keep your eyes on this site. The contest will go up on January 21, and it will close on January 28.

I appreciate everyone stopping by and reading, so I figure that a few prizes are in order. Thanks again for stopping by.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Jibblescribbits said...

I have no inside info on the Leafs, but based on what I've read, and knowing what I do about Canadians and people, is that the people at MLSE think they are experts in hockey. They probably know they aren't experts at basketball so they don't mind giving up control.

But I'm assuming that the People at MLSE are Canadian, and like any good proud Canadian think they know all there is to know about hockey. They are intensely attached to the team and like anyone with any kind of power have trouble letting go of that power, especially to take care of something that they love so much.

It happens in the US with Football all the time. Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, makes all the moves in his organization and doesn't let the football people do their jobs. Not that he doesn't want to win, but he thinks he's helping, and he's not.

A good manager/owner/boss is good at delegating authority, some people just are control freaks.