Monday, August 10, 2009

From the Oracle: The Pogge Trade

Sorry, it's taking time for my magic dinner plate to load the "promising Leafs traded" file

So soon for another installment of From the Oracle? Well, we find ourselves back in that frenzied position. You know that position—a trade has just gone down and the chemistry and makeup of the team has been altered and you are in that scared and worried place: “did we just screw ourselves over? Did we win that trade? Will I miss player x? My google search of player y has yielded no fruit. I’m lost and frightened and I seek council.” Well luckily we here at TOV recognize that you are feeling lost and adrift and that is why we take the arduous trek to visit our oracle whenever a trade happens. We vow to bring you her secret and mystical utterances.

Surely by now if you are faithful followers of our fantastic franchise you will know that the Leafs have all but traded Pogge to Anaheim for a conditional draft pick based on his performance for the Ducks (*edit: it's official now.) Recently we here at TOV profiled our beleaguered puckstopper, where we weighed the pros and cons of keeping our lil cocky Poggers. Ultimately we were in favor on keeping him and letting him test his mettle by competing for a backup position on the Baby Leafs (and we also mused about a dream scenario of loaning him out to a team, much like they do it in Europe and much like how I loan out all my crappy young players when I’m playing FIFA 09. Off to Nottingham Forrest for you! Haha!) We were actually looking forward to seeing if he had what it takes mentally to work his way up the ladder.

However, St Brian had other ideas. He actually went through with his “this kid deserves a chance to play and I’m going to give him a chance to play by not playing for us” threat. Methinks Burke actually means what he says when he says things to the media. Weird. We are so used to JFJ lawyer speak: “I am not currently at liberty to discuss that particular issue regarding that particular player or players like him, but all I can say to our fans with their insatiable hunger for any scrap of knowledge from the front office is that I am looking at all options, non-options, potential options, options both known to me and unknown to me and any options that fall into the category of unknown unknown options, in order to bring this club to the level of competitiveness that we would like to see our team be at” zzzzzzzzzzz….*murf* hmm? Oh yeah. Oracle.

So Burkie is doing what he says. How odd. When we posed to the Oracle our question of why the Leafs would trade away an asset such as a gold medal, Russian shutting-out, Rask-beater goalie of the future, she gave us an answer and ultimately a point of view that we had not considered before. After several poured libations, and countless incantations in an ancient tongue lost to us now she eventually emerged from her secret cave. Her oracle is as follows “a murmurer overboard murmurs alone. A murmurer below deck scuttles the fleet,” which is another way of saying “I think I’ve had too many poured libations.”

Incomprehensible as it is, our experts, lawyers and general holy men took to work unpacking her pronouncement. What we have gathered is as follows:

There are many good reasons to have kept Pogge: he’s young. He’s a goalie. Goalies develop slower than humans. He has that unfortunate moniker of potential—wanted by 19 year olds, dreaded by 25 year olds. He’s got a gold medal and a pretty wicked backstory of humble beginnings. He would push Reimer, or Reimer would push him, or something would be pushed in the Marlies. Whatever. It’s the Marlies. Everyone is trying to get out. Plus it is never really a bad idea to have options at all positions, especially goal. We liked these options. These options made sense to us. We slept at night knowing that Pogge knew what job he had in front of him and it was time for him to go out an win our hearts and minds. Done and done, lets go make fun of Eklund (e5).

Well, St Brian said “kid won’t get time to play here. I will trade him for a pick kthxbai.” What do we say to this?

Our take

Three little words that have been the culture of the Maple Leafs for almost a decade now: country club entitlement. Fresh faced youngsters fresh off the boat, or fresh off the combine skate into town, get a few goals or some nice toe saves and the Toronto Media gets all love-shy and bashful and competes for who can write the best “I Wanna drink Justin Pogge’s Bath Water” article. All of a sudden the kid with Maple Leafs' shining in his eyes soon stands on his balcony, o’erlooking the city like a second Nebuchadnezzar and pronounces “is this not the Great Crease Legacy I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (For all you biblically literate readers out there, perhaps we should have a, “Is Justin Pogge going to turn into a Donkey” blogpost. We digress.) Before you know it the player is penciled in on the starting team and they start asking the equipment manager if the lawn chair they brought to practice is going to damage the blue ice.

So Burke is sending a message. You may be the goalie of the future. You may be a great talent that is waiting to develop. We may have been really happy to have you in our line-up in three years once you begin to breakthrough whatever it is you need to breakthrough to become the premier puckstopper that you have always envisioned yourself to be. However you are living and acting as if you have done it, and once you live like you have done something, you will never do it. Basically, Pogge started being Pete from Madmen.

So St. Brian’s message is that we are willing to trade a probable goalie-of-the-future in order to stamp out the culture of entitlement. As long as Pogge thought he was a great goalie without having been a great goalie, he would never be a great goalie, and there was a real strong potential that he would drag down the rest of the team with him. Scuttle the fleet.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a GM who valued heart before talent, so we’re not really used to this. We’re concerned that a promising player has been shipped out of town, but in reality it may have saved the whole show, both for us and for Pogge. Kid just got slapped around. Kid just got schooled. He just learned the lesson that any sign of any taint or blemish on your work habits can infect the entire team and will not be accounted for on a team that is pushing to win. Pogge now has two options: 1. Go to Anaheim, work your tail off, live the Rocky III storyline (“Yo Adrienne, we did it!”) and become a goalie. Or 2. Go to Anaheim, never shake your delusions of grandeur and become Trevor Kidd, who was only ever good at growing horrible facial hair.

So we stamp out the culture club and all the bad karma chameleons, get a low pick and give a kid a chance at becoming an honest player and shaking the messiah-in-waiting label.

But here is our final point for you, our faithful brethren. If Pogge does go to Anaheim and Rocky III’s it there, once he is a free agent looking for a place to take his new found A-game, to whom do you think he will have a feeling of loyalty? Pogge probably hates Burke now, or is indifferent, or lost in a syrupy mire of self-pity and delusions of grandeur, but he would be truly shortsighted if down the line he doesn’t realize that this is the opportunity he needed to achieve the highest honor he, or any NHLer could have: being known as an honest and classy player. If anything, Burke is a good General to his men (and we love him for it!) Men marshaled under a good General usually welcome opportunities to be marshaled under them again.

Keep the faith.


leaf fan stuck in ottawa said...

I really enjoy reading your posts. You have such a unique voice, I think you will be one of the best blogs that the Barilkosphere has to offer, which is saying something because the overall quality from what I've seen is quite high.

Keep doing what you do.

Kleric said...

Culture of entitlement? Really? Still banging this drum? As far as I can see, Burke has traded away or bought out a significant portion of the team that would still be propogating this. The bulk of this began with Fletcher and Burke finished off the job last year. I don't buy the entitlement cra.... er... stuff.

Pogge was a good prospect. Perhaps he still is, but when he was called up last year (Even if he had not earned it or was properly ready for it) He completely floundered. As you already intimated everyone wants out of the Marlies. As such, everyone is working their tail off to get to the big club (See Andre Deveaux) I believe that Pogge was indeed working hard on the Marlies, (where he was generally average for an AHL goalie most of the time) and simply could not cut it.

As far as I can see, Pogge is much like Telqvist. Or more to the point, we have had beer goggles on. Looks great from afar, but ugly up close. Telqvist has been trying to crack the NHL for years, was given the starters job in Phoenix for a substantial time and could not hack it Pogge is much ths same. Forget the potential, the numbers and the past acheivements. Pogge had is number called and blew it. His angles were horrible, he played way back in the net and let easy goals in. That is not entitlement, that is poor play.

There is no point in keeping a young goalie around to compete for the backup job on the minor league team. Forget his potential. Pogge has.

And on another note, would it be bad manners to muzzle Jason Blake, stuff him in a crate and ship him off to the KHL? I can't stand this guy...

GBDonaldson said...

I think the Pogge/Telqvist analogy has some legs. I'm picking up what you are laying down. But Pogge came into the system, or at least after the WJC in 06, was viewed as the best prospect we had (ranked #1 on But we all know they are really really bad at ranking prospects.)

No argument that Pogge stank his way out of town; I just think this trade had the added benefit of removing the old culture. Reimer must be like a nervous puppy these days--and that is a good thing. Work hard, succeed. Phone it in, you're going to an old Burke team.

GBDonaldson said...

Leaf fan stuck in Ottawa: appreciate the support brother. Sorry you are in Ottawa

Kohma said...

Fantastic read. Your blog is always intelligently written and entertaining. I agree with the Oracle's assessment. Well done.