It's Like Rain On Your Wedding Day

Originally posted by Kim Jorn on August 15, 2007

Allan Maki goes all post-modern on us in today's Globe and Mail, mocking Leafs fans and the Toronto press for caring about the Leafs summer activities by writing a column about...uh...the Leafs summer activities.

Let's get down to it boppers:

We interrupt this column for a breaking news story:

Leafs skate! Leafs skate! Leafs skate!

Let's go live to our reporter at the suburban arena where the Toronto Maple Leafs are staging an informal practice one month before the official opening of NHL training camps.

Reporter: "I am here at the Lakeshore Lions Arena, where the Toronto Maple Leafs are staging an informal practice."

TV anchor: "Is it true training camps don't open for another month?"

Reporter: "Yes, it's true, but the Maple Leafs are practising so they can get a leg up on their rivals and win the Stanley Cup."

TV anchor: "Go Leafs."

Can I play too?

Globe Sports Editor: Hey Allan, what are you writing about today?

Allan Maki: Check this out, dog. I'm going to write a column about the Leafs skate at Lakeshore, but my angle is going to be how stupid people are for having interest in this stupid story that doesn't deserve coverage at all.

Globe Sports Editor: But...

It's not often that a summer skate gets the big news treatment in any city, let alone a Canadian one. But coverage of the Maple Leafs' informal practices is being cranked up because:(a.) there's precious little else going on;

There is a lot going on: The success of Toronto FC, Michael Vick, Tim Donaghy, baseball pennant races, Rogers Cup, Mike Ricci retires, Jose Offerman, CFL. You could write about these things, but I doubt they generate all kinds of readership and heated e-mails.

(b.) the Leafs are practising, which means they're not losing;


(c.) media types know that just scribbling the words Maple and Leafs generates all kinds of readership and heated e-mails.

Allan Maki will indeed receive all kinds of readership and heated e-mails.

This is bizarre on many levels and even more so if you consider how many hundreds of NHL players are skating in arenas throughout North America; NHLers such as Jarome Iginla and Andrew Ference, who have been on the blades for two months now in Kelowna, B.C. They've since added Dany Heatley, Wade Redden and others to their informal practices held before the official opening of training camp.

But do they get any media attention?

Does this column count?

Did Iginla and Ference make the front of Kelowna's Daily Courier yesterday? No, they did not.

Turns out that the Kelowna Daily Courier doesn't print two-month-old news on the front page.

Of course, the Maple Leafs are different because they are a phenomenon unto themselves just like Zsa Zsa Gabor, who is famous for no reason we can think of,

Zsa Zsa Gobor has won a Golden Globe and appeared in 62 films. She won the Miss Hungary beauty contest in 1936, but was disqualified for lying about her age. She has been married 9 times and was arrested in 1989 for slapping a police officer in the face. For those reasons, she is famous.

and Lindsay Lohan, who is extremely popular for being bad.

When did this turn into a Bill Simmons column? (Come on, Lindsay Lohan? Really? And you're not even going to throw in a Mark Bell reference?)

That said, the Maple Leafs could make real news today by doing what they often do best, which is nothing.

It's like Seinfeld on ice.

Unrestricted free-agent centre Mike Peca will continue talks with the New York Rangers and could sign a deal that would give the Rangers another useable forward, this one with strong defensive skills and leadership. Peca broke a leg last season with the Maple Leafs and played in only 35 games. Toronto management wasn't quite sure what to do with Peca so it let him hang for a while until he decided to look elsewhere.

Since Peca isn't signing with Toronto, he is a usable forward with strong defensive skills and leadership. If Toronto had signed Peca again, I guarantee you Allan Maki complains about the Leafs overpaying for an aging, injury-prone third line centre.

The Maple Leafs have taken the same approach with Peter Forsberg, another unrestricted free agent who is collecting his thoughts in Sweden on where he wants to play this season. Already, the Ottawa Senators have let it be known they covet Forsberg. The Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings are equally interested.

I can think of hundreds of reasons to bash the Leafs. This is not one. The Leafs do not have enough cap-room to sign him, and he is going to ask for a lot more money than he is worth. Forsberg is turning into the NHL's very own Roger Clemens, and a half season of Forsberg could help Ottawa and Detroit, or any other team that are making a serious run at the Stanley Cup, but would do little for the Leafs, who will be trying just to make the playoffs. Would I like to see Forsberg playing for the Leafs? Sure. Would I look forward to Allan Maki's column criticizing the Leafs for overpaying for a half season of an aging, injury-prone player? Very much so.

Have the Maple Leafs asked captain Mats Sundin to visit Forsberg and talk him up on the merits of their organization? The word is no. Then again, maybe Mats is too busy skating to even make a phone call.

WTF? Is it Mats Sundin's job to big-up the Leafs to free-agents that the team appears to have no interest in signing?

Maple Leafs management hasn't covered itself in glory, either. General manager John Ferguson Jr. was supposed to get a mentor, someone he could learn from, consult with. John Muckler and Scotty Bowman were interviewed, but neither has come aboard.

I'm guessing neither wanted the job. It is hard to tell, since the Globe and Mail has been inventing the news regarding this subject over the past few weeks.

Recently, Richard Peddie, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, acknowledged there was no adviser headed Ferguson's way. Peddie then added the GM's future would be based on performance. Translation: a poor start by the players means Ferguson could be gone before Christmas.

And there are players who would like to see Ferguson gone. Why? For many reasons, but this one stands out: The GM has made the players sit in assigned seats on flights. He won't let them pick their seatmates, which is shocking and another big news story for August.

Really? I didn't know that.


That isn't front page news, but it is the most interesting thing in this entire column. Multimillionaire grown men are being forced to use the buddy system on road trips. I wonder who has to sit beside Hal Gill?

Right next to Leafs score in practice; no one injured.

Because they didn't sign Peca or Forsberg.

Even stranger than doing nothing is the fact the Maple Leafs can be so vulnerable to criticism when they actually do something. Mind you, when you sign goalie Vesa Toskala to a two-year contract extension worth $8-million (all currency U.S.), then ink Jason Blake to a five-year, $20-million contract, you deserve to be jabbed. Both players got more than they should have based on what they've accomplished.

The length of Blake's contract is a bit troubling, but it seems like he got what he was worth on the market. In fact, this signing was viewed positively almost everywhere except for certain Toronto newspapers. Toskola's extension is a gamble, but I'm willing to wait and see how he performs before I criticize this deal.

It is worth noting that Maki has now taken the Leafs to task for both doing nothing and for doing something. Poor Allan Maki. He seems to detest the Leafs with every bone in his body, yet he knows that a story about pre-season skates will generate more readership than anything else he writes this summer. It must really eat him up inside. Hopefully he can redeem himself by ending this column with a clever twist, acknowledging that he is in fact a large part of what he is mocking...

Come to think of it, that makes them a fine fit for a team that hasn't accomplished much but still gets all kinds of attention, month in and month out.

... I guess not.

Reporter: "The Maple Leafs are practising and sources close to the team say the Leafs will practise again tomorrow."

An entire nation quivers in anticipation.

Go Leafs. Go out there and skate.

That was exhausting. The season is still two months away, yet Allan Maki has set the bar impossibly high.Can Cox and Simmons possibly top this hatchet job?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Godd Till published on August 24, 2007 1:43 PM.

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