The Toronto Maple Leafs are akin to the Boston Red Sox, if one were to compare Canadian hockey to American baseball. Their foil is the Yankees, or rather, the Canadiens of Montreal. Montreal has greater success much more recently than their counterparts in Toronto. More importantly, the rivalry is of utmost importance to residents of both towns.
The Leafs added a win Saturday against the Canadiens, with new head coach Randy Carlyle at the helm. With history in mind, Carlyle has definitely made an excellent first impression. Never mind the fact that the Canadiens are terrible and the Maple Leafs needed that win to remain in the playoff picture.
The Maple Leafs and GM Brian Burke remained inactive at the trade deadline, causing an uproar among Leafs faithful, who felt the team needed a spark. Burke had a surprise all his own, deciding to shake things up from the top down, replacing Ron Wilson with Carlyle.
While Carlyle had the positive first impression, it’s not hard to see the folly in Burke’s strategy. The Maple Leafs are not good. They are three points out of the postseason. Again, that’s OUT of the postseason. They have a few players that would have been tantalizing at the deadline, like Mikhail Grabovski, but did not seek to acquire prospects or draft picks. Burke also seemed to think the team was good enough to reach and make waves in the postseason as it stood. As they fall further back, it’s easy to question his assessment.