Hats off to Toronto sports anchor/reporter Lance Brown, who went down to Maple Leafs practice earlier this week to personally call the players out for their futility over the past two months. Since February 6th, when the Leafs were holding down 7th spot in the East, the team has completely collapsed, posting a woeful 6-17-3 record that puts the Leafs near the basement in their conference and out of the playoffs for the eighth-straight year.
Let’s hear what the players had to say for themselves.
While management and the Head Coach are quick to shoulder the blame when a team tanks (the Leafs’ poor play in February cost Ron Wilson his job and may well cost GM Brian Burke his), it’s refreshing to see a reporter hold PLAYERS accountable for their poor play, asking the tough questions that are truly on the minds of hockey fans across the city. In the case of the Maple Leafs, it was well deserved.
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The Leafs captain has helped steer this ship into an iceberg. The team’s leading blueline scorer has managed a mere 2 points over his last 13 games, adding to the question marks surrounding his suspect leadership down the stretch.
While his season totals (37-41-78) through Sunday all mark career-highs for the 24-year-old sniper, he’s been a liability
in his own end since the slide began – a whopping minus-19 over the Leafs’ past 26 games.
Not too far behind Kessel is Liles, who’s recorded 6 points and a minus-18 rating in 29 games since signing a 4-year, $15.5 million contract extension with the Leafs two months ago.
Another contract extension gone wrong, Grabbo has 4 points and a minus-8 rating in 13 games since re-signing for 5-years, $27.5 million.
You can add Nikolai Kulemin, James Reimer and Clarke MacArthur to that list too.
So, thank you Lance Brown, for making the Leafs’ players squirm a little bit and for holding them accountable for their embarrassingly poor play of late.
It was a well-deserved and much-needed wake up call.
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