As I was looking at James Mirtle's Magic Number-esque chart, and looking at it-- not only did my head almost explode because I hate numbers and math, but also just how close teams are to either winning their way into the playoffs, or losing and heading to the tee time early. Of course, you have your races for the 8th spot and all that other stuff, but one thing was really intriguing to me; the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs are quite a way away from making it into the second season.
Obviously, Leafs Nation is in a panic and the call for the head of every executive is the status quo. The thought must be that once they topple the statues of Pat Quinn and John Ferguson Jr., the fans will be liberated and have a new regime that will bring back the glory and honor back into the team and get them their first Stanley Cup since 1967. It's not usually the case, but there's always hope and well wishing that comes with it.
The injury bug hit the Leafs hard. Losing players like Bryan McCabe, Mats Sundin, and Eric Lindros for an extended amount of time could have been the damning of the Leafs season. In that time, especially with the loss of McCabe, the Leafs went on an eight-game losing streak which is probably why the Leafs went into the dire situation that they are in today. With the mix-up in chemistry, that could derail even the best of teams, especially when it is the bigger names of the team.
Then, of course, you have the debate on whether age is a factor or not. Some believe that the Leafs should have kept some of their younger players and put more responsibility onto their shoulders, rather than relying on their old horses to carry the load. The average age of the team is right around 30-years-old, with 11 of the 24 rostered players being at or above the age of 30. In comparison, the Leafs only have six of their 24 rostered players at or under the age of 25. The amount of older vets could be good in some instances, but when they start to be almost half the team, it could get a little overkill.
Then you have the play as a whole. With the new NHL being basis on plenty of divisional play, the Leafs have been horrible in their division. Going 7-12-3 in their own division isn't the best way to get into the playoffs, especially when you go 0-5-2 against the rival Ottawa Senators. However, the Leafs have 10 of their last 22 games against division rivals, two (the Canadiens and Bruins) of which that are vying for the same 8th spot in the playoff race in order to get into the playoffs. Having only won three games in their last 18, the Leafs would need a miracle right now in order to make the playoffs.
Of course, then you have the Coach Pat Quinn and GM JFJ. Many have said that Quinn is past his time and should step down. Quinn could have worn out his welcome in Toronto, but only the players and executive board knows that for sure. I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Quinn was not back for the next season, but you never know what tomorrow will bring. Ferguson, however, has been under scrutiny for a while. There could be a chance that Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment could make a move to replace both Quinn and Feguson, but the former is probably more likely than the latter or both.
I'm sure the suicide watch is in effect for most of the hardcore Leafs fans should the Leafs not make the playoffs, which seems to be the case right now. With the trade deadline only a couple days away, you can bet if the Leafs were to lose on Tuesday night, the fans will all be yelling to sell off some of the veterans and hope for the best. Plus, can you imagine the Toronto based sports networks who are all over the Leafs' jock and what they would do?? They may have to go into a month of mourning or wait until the playoffs end to talk hockey again...sad, sad state of affairs for them.
You know, as a Senators fan, this should make me laugh and all that fun stuff-- and a part of me is. However, with all the die-hard, hardcore fans in Toronto, it's almost a shame for the Leafs to not get into the playoffs.......and I'm over it. The NHL is all about parity and the Leafs are just a victim to parity in the NHL. The East has had plenty of surprise teams like the Sabres and Canes, plus some late season surging teams like the Bruins, Thrashers, and Habs. It's a shame about the Leafs, but that's the breaks and you have play with the cards you are dealt.
That's the excitement of the NHL, you never know who could get the top-8 playoff spots.
This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!