Friday, June 15, 2012

Cool Story, Bro

So unless you've been dead, you've probably both A) have seen this and B) know the back-story behind it:

Basically Brian Burke used the above quote to justify not selling* the Maple Leaf's future in a bid to buy additional short-term talent in order to make the playoffs in the East this year.  And as we all know, the 8th seeded Los Angeles Kings are now Your Stanley Cup Champions For 2012.

And probably for the next three years as the Maple Leafs continue their graceful slide in irrelevance, this image will be dragged out as a rebuttal to any hint of patience or conservative trading.

What those in Toronto tend to overlook are the differences between the 2011-2012 Kings and the 2011-2012 Maple Leafs.

One of these teams has a recent track record of success in the regular season.  One of these teams has a roster which had people complaining all year that they were underachieving.  And one of these teams had the fundamentals in place so that it could all come together with a bit of luck to win it all.

The Leafs are not the one team.  The Leaf's "success" in the regular season was A) a symptom of other teams not taking them seriously; and B) over in February.  Not even firing their coach could turn the team around from its nose-dive.  Their success was due to hard work and luck, but not due to any qualities one could point to as them actually being an underachieving hockey team.  No, it was pretty obvious that they were overachievers.  And while it isn't impossible that they might have continued to overachieve, they would have required sharply more luck than... well... they'd need a lot.

If you have an underachieving team that has responded positively to a coaching change, then trading away some future for the present might make sense.  But the Leafs are, let's be honest here, a couple of years away from being any kind of serious contender -- longer if Mr. Burke is shown the door over the next six months, which isn't an impossibility itself.

But to claim that all you need to do is get in -- and then hope for luck -- is stupid.

Get in with a legitimate chance to win.  Don't lunge and then hope.

* = what little was left of