The worst start in the history of the franchise. That would be ZERO wins in seven games to date. That’s what big Brian Burke’s injection of “pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence” has wrought for the pathetic Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club. Pugnacity, male hormones and idiotic fighting on skates aside, the ‘Loafs’ just plain bite. Their goalkeeping is sub-standard. They have no scorers. (Woe to them if the next promised saviour Phil Kessel turns out to be another Jason Blake.) They have a defenceman Tomas Kaberle who would star for most teams, but Burke and his coach Ron Wilson spent the best part of a year denigrating Kaberle for his sophisticated approach to the position. Kaberle now appears confused. Last year’s promising rookie Luke Schenn is this year’s dull-witted, slow-footed sophomore. Maybe the startlingly handsome Schenn’s modeling assignments during the off season wore him out.
It has been a rude awakening for The Loaf Nation. The collective boy crush that the ‘sports media’ of Toronto had on Burke during the pre-season led many to predict that the Leafs were playoff bound for the first time in five years. A Toronto daily even ran a feature with admiring photos of Burke surrounded by the supposed worthies with whom he has filled the executive suites at the ACC. Perhaps that brain trust will produce a win before November.
I’d bet that the likes of Don Cherry is delighted that almost all Leaf games feature a contrived display of fisticuffs at some point. NHL management is no doubt quietly satisfied that such displays often lead the highlight package in what passes for sports broadcast journalism. (Gary Bettman is sufficiently cynical to know that selling fighting is in fact a critical part of marketing the NHL.)
Hey, let the testosterone flow! This hockey fan will eschew the Loafs and the absurdist, fight-riddled NHL while looking forward to some real hockey when the women’s Olympic tourney begins in February.