After the firing of Paul Maurice, Cliff Fletcher called a news conference for three o'clock yesterday afternoon. Intense speculation swirled in the air, a brisk breeze of hope and possibility catching the joy-starved masses of Leaf Nation in its musky embrace.
Maurice was fired, sure, but why now? What else had Fletcher to say at the news conference? Is there a new GM?! A new coach?! A new coach/GM?! OMFG, it's Fab Brunnstrom, isn't it? The Leafs landed Brunnstrom! I'm going to call him FB from now on! Wait, maybe he's the new GM?! Maybe they... (ellipses indicating this type of speculation literally going on into infinity)
And then, the hour came. George Clifford Fletcher took the podium. Oooo, I'm all excited! What bombshell is gonna explode?!? Here is the complete official transcript of Fletcher's address:
Subject walks onto dais, takes seat at podium.Cue the sound of a deflating balloon. Cliff spoke for 24 minutes and didn't say another word. Once again we all got caught up in the delicious possibility of something positive happening to the Leafs that we ignored our instincts and thought with our hearts. You can't blame us, though.
Subject takes sip of water, clears throat.
Subject: "Today, I'm here to announce that the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired coach Paul Maurice."
Subject rises from seat and leaves room.
I'm not sure who I feel worse for: Maurice (and assistant Randy Ladouceur) who were brought in to the Leafs at one of the teams' worst junctures, and because of that always seemed to be swimming upstream, or Cliff Fletcher. For it's Fletcher who has to get up in front of all of us and be the teeth-gritting mouthpiece for the Creep Cabal known as the board of MLSE. I mean, look, he signed up for it, but still. Fletcher (like Maurice and JFJ) is a class act, and you just get the sense that he knows how incompetent the people who run the team are, how they may be good business men, but they're not good [hockey] people.
Fletcher went through the motions and answered as well as he could (or wanted to) about what this means to the Leafs. For good measure he's assured us that this is the "start of a new era" for the Leafs. We can all assume he intends that to be true, but when the business model is as (financially) sound as it is for the corporate drones upstairs, how much "new era" can we all expect to see?