Tuesday, February 1, 2011

December-January Recap: Is there any hope?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as Winter Depression, is a mood disorder where people who enjoy normal mental health for most of the year break down during the winter months and suffer from depressive symptoms. It’s believed to be related to a lack of light. Just imagine yourself living in the dead of winter in Edmonton, waking up in the dark, going to work all day and coming home in the dark. You’d take up meth too. And people get mad at Chris Pronger for demanding out.

There’s a little known strain of SAD which has a similar onset and produces the same depressive symptoms. This strain is known as Maple Leafs Syndrome (MLS) and begins in late November and early December. Early onset has been known to occur even earlier - sometimes as early as October 1st. Its inception coincides with mounting losses in the stats column, a lack of first round picks, and a dearth of talent.

A well-known treatment for SAD-MLS is copious amounts of booze. Unfortunately, it’s only Tuesday night and I’m sort of a semi-productive member of society. So if you’re feeling blue about the blue and white then you might want to read the following points. Sometimes finding a glimmer of hope is all that can keep you going.

As you might imagine, this was a very hard list to compile. So sometimes the points aren't so hopeful. Take a shot if you feel sad.

- Giguere hurt himself again and the Monster was dismal in relief, but that convinced the Leafs to call up James Reimer, which has highlighted the goaltending depth the Leafs have in the system. Reimer went 4-3 with a 2.24 GAA and .933 SV% and has at least done enough to warrant playing time at the NHL level.

- Speaking of goalies, Giguere’s name is being casually mentioned in trade rumours. That’s encouraging, but most likely a nice pipe dream. I don’t know of any other instance where an over 30 goalie with a history of groin problems, a save percentage under .900, and a cap hit of $6 million was worthy of trading for.

- Speaking of trade rumours, for some reason Kris Versteeg’s name is floating around, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. He’s only 24-years-old, he plays some of the toughest minutes of any forward on the team, and he’s on pace to match his most productive season (20+ goals and 50+ points). Not only did the Leafs just acquire him, but he’s under contract at a reasonable rate for one more season. After that he’s still a RFA. I'm not sure how trading Versteeg improves the team.

- Tomas Kaberle’s name is also coming up in trade rumours... again. Groan.

- Phil Kessel made the All-Star game. Sure, they must select a player from each team and he ended up being selected last overall, but he’s still an All-Star!

- Dion Phaneuf is starting to hit people. Sometimes it lets the other team get a partial break, but I’m trying to sift through the rubble and find positives so I’m choosing to be excited by it.

- Ron Wilson is still the head coach (that’s not the optimistic part, don’t worry). It doesn’t matter how many death spirals the team falls into. The man is bulletproof. 24% of players in a CBC/NHLPA player poll rated Wilson as the coach they would least like to play for. And then Burke and the Leafs actually defended their beleaguered coach as if he is actually doing something productive behind the bench.

- My theory is that Wilson won’t be fired during the year – if he escaped the firing squad amid the past two disastrous months there’s nothing he can do to get himself fired over the next 30 games. However, Burke will fire him during the off-season. There’s no doubt in my mind. You can’t coach the league’s worst penalty kill for three straight seasons with no visible signs of improvement and expect to stay employed. The reason he wasn’t fired during the year is because he’s buddies with Burke.

- Nazem the Dream is playing at a PPG pace in the AHL, which is encouraging. Hopefully the Marlies make the playoffs so he can know what those are like. Lord knows he won’t find out playing for the Leafs until 2020.

- Keith Aulie made the AHL All-Star game. Yup, digging real deep to find reason for optimism.

- The Dallas Stars are leading the Pacific Division. Why is this hopeful for the Leafs? The longer the Stars lead their division the less likely they are to trade Brad Richards. This is good for the Leafs considering they have nothing to trade the Stars and if he is traded elsewhere he could potentially re-sign there. Who knows what’s going on with the Stars ownership so Richards is safe there for now.

- Leafs Nation, we are now cheering for the Stars to do well… but not too well. We don’t want Richards to actually want to stay in Dallas. We just want him to stay long enough that he makes it to July 1 and Burke can hit him over the head with a big sack of money.

- Conspiracy theory #1: the Leafs planted Joe Nieuwendyk in the Dallas front office to help facilitate their signing of Richards. Yes, Burke has that sort of foresight (just not when it comes to trading draft picks). Nieuwendyk isn’t going to trade Richards and he isn’t going to sign Richards. He’s just holding him until the Leafs get their grubby, tampering hands on him.

- HBO’s 24/7 was fantastic. How does this relate to the Leafs? Soon to be UFA Brooks Laich. I can understand why the Capitals chose Alexander Ovechkin as their captain, but it wouldn’t be hard to argue Brooks Laich is the real captain. The guy just sounds like a winner. If for some reason the Capitals are foolish enough to let this guy get to July 1st there will be 29 other teams that would love to sign him. I wish I could start promoting him as Future Leaf Brooks Laich (like I did with Former Future Leaf Patrick Sharp), but there is absolutely no way Washington lets this guy go.

- I’m trying to find reasons for hope, so say hello to your new Future Leaf Brooks Laich!

- OMGrabovski

- The Kulemin-Grabovski-MacArthur line has been the Leafs most dangerous and consistent line all season. They’re a great second line. The only problem is that they’re playing on the first line.

- I stocked my fridge full of beer in case of emergency. I advise you take similar action.


SabresFan said...

They don't have to pick a player from every team for the all-star game... *sniff*

Matt Horner said...

I didn't realize that, but at least Calgary didn't send anyone either. Although, Iginla at least was selected...poor Buffalo.

Anonymous said...

Buffalo sent Ennis, Calgary selected Iginla. Iginla opted out, Ennis was a rookie. Florida & NYI also only sent rookies. We likely would have if we had a rookie of note.

Geoff said...

Toronto would have been saved a lot of shame if they had just sent nobody too. I've shifted my focus from your hopeless optimism, to realistic complacency. How am I pleased with this team? Well, I just assume they're going to lose, and they haven't let me down so far.

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