"You're talking about the Vatican if you're Catholic, you're talking the centre of the hockey universe..."
Saturday, July 18, 2009
"The Other Vatican" Manifesto
Greetings my Blue and White brethren (and..sisteren?) and welcome to the newest and truculent-ist TML blog on the Barilkosphere. We here at TOV are dedicated to the dissemination of the great truth and beauty of our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs, and by so doing, we hope to bring others into the comfy middle of the hockey universe. There's plenty of foot room here in the comfy middle, plenty of squealing like schoolgirls at old youtube hockey fights and plenty of speculation of the comings (Kessel?) and goings (Kaberle?) of this, our epic rebuild. Or..um...retool? No, wait...we are in the "open window" time right? Is Owen Nolan around? Brian Leetch? Yanic? What are we doing anyway? Wont, oh wont someone guide us through these murky waters of the post-Sundin leafs?
Well Leafs Nation, you are in luck, for tonight's topic shall certainly serve as the lamp to your darkened path. I present to you The Other Vatican's Toronto Maple Leaf Manifesto: The Guide to Hockey Team Classification. Don't you wish you knew what side we are on? Do we want the team to strip down to its proverbial skivvies (Tlus-tastic!), or retool for character building first round exits? Or maybe we are in that weird time where the window to the promised land is seductively open, quietly beckoning to us and whispering sweet nothings in our ear like, "Owen Nolan is better than Alyn McCauley, Brad Boyes and a baby undrafted Mark Stuart combined. Dooooooooo it." Or maybe we're one of those Tyler Durden types who want to bring this whole mother down and start from scratch. Barricade the streets, "I am Joe's unrealistic hockey team," buy some soap and that sort of thing. Or maybe you have no idea what we are talking about.
So here goes. What are the Maple Leafs today, and what ought they be?
TOV's Option #1 Das Tank All teams are in some sort of flux. (Heraclitus would be proud of me saying that). They are either embarrassingly realizing they suck, they are chomping at the bit to get enough experience to vie for the cup, they are actually vying for the cup or they think they are good, but actually suck and their window shut years ago. The tank is the first category. This is waking up and realizing that a scoring top line of Mariusz Czerkawski, Jason Allison and Jeff O'Neill is not going to put you over the hump. The rebuild is a painful time of old favorites leaving, weird new people coming in and most likely a lot of losing. But, ah, the draft pick. Remember, a tanking team does not win in May, but late June. There are plenty of people out there that say that das tank is the way to go. "Screw the pooch," they say "and thine glory shall reveal itself anon" And fair enough, suck for a number of years and first rounders will pile on and you will undoubtedly be winning cups eventually. (See: Pittsburgh Penguins ed. Crosby & Malkin, Pennsylvania ). But das tank is a painful process, and you have to stomach a Czerkawski or two for a bunch of years to build up those lil draft smurfs, and keeping them fed and well watered before they can take the ice and beat the Wings is, I humbly submit to you, an unsustainable way to run a team.
Huh? What do I mean? Well, das tank model is based on a "V". A meteoric fall with (fingers crossed) an equally dramatic meteoric rise. You are likely to compete for a cup soon enough, but good luck trying to keep all those superstars paid son! With das kap, das tank can come back and cripple an organization in a season. Look at the current state of the Blackhawks. Everyone had a feel-good spring in their steps thinking about those Hawks, but there is a really strong likelihood that they may lose a Kane or a Toews. And losing a Toews to an offersheet is way worse than losing a Toews to frostbite. And don't make me make a Hurry-Kane joke! Or if they want to keep Kane or Toews, they'll have to screw around with someone they already signed in good faith. Having to send a decent 3rd line guy to the AHL for cap reasons? Not a cool way to run a team.
So should the Leafs Das Tank? It may give us a small window to get a cup, but I think it is a fundamentally unsustainable team model. Put it all on black and take a spin? No thanks.
TOV's Option #2
The Window Hey, Mickey Grabs put up some points last year, pissed off some of Les Horriblants and made it home in time to have some apple juice. Toskalol now has a robogroin and Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek and Francois Goodtrail are going to turn opposing players into little clouds of pink dust next year right? Buy shares in tinfoil because of Christian Hanson? Maybe the seductive window is slightly open to us...calling...beckoning us with her siren song. What's that? Give in to your lopsided trading ways? How can I resist you, seductive window...
Well, sorry Leafs nation. We're not there yet. Sure, we'll get there. I actually don't mind trading youth for veterans if you are on the cusp and need to go over the edge. (Before you go all Tucker-crazy-eyes on me, keep reading.) Teams in the window phase are looking for that one guy that's going to give his all and make sure Crosby doesn't trip on that pout. But the Leafs ain't here yet. So keep moving, nothing to see here.
And seductive window? I'll see you in 2011.
TOV Option #3
The Build The Build is very different that das tank. It may seem similar on the face of it: we kinda suck, we draft and encourage those lil draft smurfs and we wait for the siren call of the window. But it is much different than the drastic V of das tank. This is more of a controlled U. The Build understands that there are lean years and fat years. The Build knows that you need to have a balance between your youth and your vets. The Build knows that you don't want the unsustainable shock to the system that the tank gives, but that you want to produce a cycle of victory! Lil smurfs growing up into slick scorers, mean sobs and character guys. Vets going and giving their all. Lil smurfs vying for a spot on the team, hungry for more ice thus pushing the veterans up and eventually out. (Hopefully even trading our vets when their stock is high, but filling the gap with a ready smurf, and getting new lil smurfs in return.) Hopefully having enough lil smurfs to trade for a good guy for a postseason (and not killing your future in the process.) In short, a nice, sustainable cycle. Yeah. Lets get that going.
So patience, my brothers and sisters. Let's just not demand a cup, but let's demand a dynasty!
Hmm? The fourth? The fourth what?.....OH! Yeah...the fourth option
TOV Option #4
The Pyrrhic Sunglasses This is thinking your team is great because you made an improbable cup run (lost in 5) and thinking that you can recapture that magic with your top line of a giggly center, a creepy-eyed scorer and a fearless and faithful leader. May we never fall into that error.
But don't worry Leafs Nation. We here at The Other Vatican are dedicated to keeping you on the straight and narrow path and keeping you from the Great Errour (it's not a typo. Go read some Spenser).