Enjoy the view from Cloud9

Cloud9 Sports: Opinionated musing on the sporting world.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Corporate NHL: We the dying stand united.

[Edit: Note the Date of Publication. JFJ was fired 4 days later (Jan22). Enjoy!]


General Managers all over the league have been outspoken with their steadfast disapproval of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainments' lack of professional etiquette and disrespectful conduct. Most prominently this furor is directed at the 'debacle' (to quote Leafs' Coach Paul Maurice) characterized by the effectively labeled Lame Duck GM John Ferguson Jr., who thanks to MLSE's procedural malfeasance is presently handcuffed to the radiator staring at the Trade Hotlines off in the distance.

According to hardliner, and fellow GM Brian Burke, JFJ doesn't have a leg to stand on when he reaches out in the trade market. Burke draws from his experience as a lame Duck in Vancouver when he alludes to the near impossibility of making a deal considered equitable on both sides. When cornered similarly to JFJ, Burke claims that anchors and puck bags were the best offers available for his legitimate stars on the trade block – a consequence owing to the reluctance of his team to extend his contract. Just as with Ferguson currently, Burke -- and the rest of the league – knew then that he would not be returning the following season, thus forcing the Lame Duck to deal with insufferable GM's looking to vulture any valuable assets available.

Fergusons' long-standing inability to improve the roster of the Maple Leafs aside, the impact of MLSE and their managerial decision-making are complicit with their on-ice shortcomings. As the most profitable organization in professional hockey, they screwed their fans and supporters, their team and organization by refusing to extend Fergusons' contract. Irrespective of their intentions to retain JFJ in his current position, the assertion that he could perform in the straitjacket that is his current contractual situation is elementary and wrong; as is demonstrated above and historically.

While the other GM's vocally sympathize for their brethren, little else can be said for their efforts to improve JFJ's situation. The common bond among these men is inherently paradoxical: they are ALL trying to improve their team at the expense of one another (particularly at the trade deadline which rapidly approaches). With JFJ's current level of desperation palpable across the NHL, there is an understandable harmony between the empathy and blood lust among his cohorts.

In the near term, we will learn little from all of this. JFJ will be replaced and the Maple Leafs will unload undesirable contracts prior to the trade deadline and in the off-season. Barring further organization restructuring, the likelihood of an expedited return to greatness seems unlikely as the business of hockey will always come before the quality on the ice – something that has become increasingly evident for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs over the past decade.

However immoral and deceitful the conduct of MLSE brass, they must be reminded that years from now the boldly-listed black ink that marks Torontos' bottom line cannot, and will not, overshadow the epic disappointment that is their franchise.

No comments: