First off, I'd like to thank special guest blogger, "Greener", for yesterday's Darcy Tucker post. We'll keep your resume on file, buddy. Keep plugging away.
By now, I'm sure Leafs fans must feel like a tornado came through town and swept away their cow. Calm down, that wasn't another Kyle Wellwood fatty joke. I'm simply referring to the speed and ferocity with which 'Purger Cliff' is dismantling this hockey team. You have to give the man credit, he's made some tough decisions and he's made them free of any emotion. Say what you want about MLSE, or the monotony of the ongoing GM search, but the wisdom in appointing Fletcher is beginning to show. He had no tangible connection to this current Leafs regime, or its players, and that will pay dividends in the long run.
As hockey fans we have a tough time separating the player from the crest. We overvalue our own players because they are fighting for our cause. But such blurred judgment isn't exclusive to fans, we see it all the time with GM's and coaches who leave for other teams. They want to bring in players, assistants, and other staff with whom they've had success. Fletcher was never burdened by any such loyalties, and because of that, it seems he's making the tough choices that John Ferguson couldn't - or wouldn't, for fear of magnifying his own poor judgement.
As it stands today, the Captain (Sundin), heart-and-soul (Tucker), and underachievers (Wellwood & Raycroft), have been dispassionately culled from the herd, without any assets coming back (at least not yet). But, the real payoff from Fletcher's moves might be bubbling beneath the surface. In showing McCabe, Kubina, and Kaberle that he's serious about starting over and getting younger, Fletcher has made the Toronto Maple Leafs a less appealing team to play for, simply from the standpoint of winning a Stanley Cup in the near future. With each key part dissected, perhaps the waiving of No-Trade clauses comes closer to fruition. The Leafs aren't the Flyers. The building blocks for a quick return to the top are not in place, and the only assets they have to garner those building blocks, are holding the aces. If these players want to win, they'd be wise to try it elsewhere.
As for the vanquished:
Wellwood will get a new lease on his career in Vancouver. It's only fitting that the laziest man in hockey could possibly find the laziest job in hockey falling into his lap - playing between those twins.
Sundin is putzing about, and if I'm Montreal I'm starting to look at other options. So a classy guy like Bob Gainey calls you and offers you: $7 million a year, the first line center job on the first place team in the Eastern Conference, a great city with great fans...and you're still too bothered with the kind of crankbait you're gonna hook that next Mackerel with? Your heart probably isn't in it, Mats.
Darcy Tucker? The popular opinion is that the Alberta-born winger probably wouldn't mind a return home, and I can see Calgary having an interest. The Oilers are already overflowing with bodies up-front, so despite the fact he would bring some needed grit and leadership, it might not be a good match. Personally, I think the ideal team for Tucker would be Pittsburgh. With the Pens losing half their roster (and nearly all their left wingers) to unrestricted free agency, Tucker would not only address a positional need, he would bring back all the elements that the Pens are losing from the departure of Gary Roberts. Perfect fit if you ask me.
In the meantime, Fletcher will continue to go about his business and while the immediate future may not seem bright, their might be a Tavares, Hedman, or Cowen at the end of the rainbow.