Friday, November 12, 2010
Will he deliver us to the Promised Land?
I bet you think I'm talking about Nazem Kadri? Well I'm not.
Sure there is lots of drama this weekend as Leaf management appears to be hitting the panic button and reversing their position on Kadri. But the Kadri promotion makes perfect sense. There is no question that Kadri has good offensive skills but his defensive game is lacking and management wants him to be a more complete player. But the Leafs greatest need right now is offense. Shuffling around the current players hasn't help jump start the offense so why not Kadri? Lets face it he is already the best centre in the Leaf organization so he might as well play on the big team. There won't be a better player coming down the pipe for at least two years because of the Kessel deal.
Which brings me back to the bigger issue. Even if Kadri becomes a star and Ron Wilson can get the team to listen to him, is there actually a blueprint to building a contender? I don't see it. I remember when Brian Burke was brought on board one of many of his memorable quotes with respect to the job was:
"You're talking about the Vatican if you're Catholic, you're talking the centre of the hockey universe, you're talking about one of the most important jobs in hockey running the Toronto Maple Leafs. It's a dream job."
Burke set high expectations for the team and himself. In two weeks he will have been on the job for two for years. Has he been successful to date? Well it's hard to say because he has not publicly set any timelines or milestones. He has only spoken in generalities. We are going to get bigger I want a team that other teams will hate to play against. I want to change the culture of the team. None of this appears to have been accomplished as yet.
Now when enacting change within an organization there will be setbacks and some failures along the way to achieving your ultimate goals. But where is the progress?
In the post-lockout era, there hasn't been a team that has successfully rebuilt without relying on the draft. Look at Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago, and Tampa Bay. You can retool without the draft but not rebuild. The old days of using free agency to replace draft picks are gone. So why are the Leafs the only team to consistently trade away draft picks? Do we know something the other teams don't? The Phil Kessel trade has put this franchise back another two years in its rebuild. There are no short cuts.
So Burkie, how's life in the Vatican?