There’s an important piece of news circulating this morning when it comes to the Leafs and their long term plans. We’ve all seen plenty of speculation over the past few weeks about the organization potentially nuking their roster and starting over in a true rebuild, but there have remained questions about if MLSE, obsessed with mediocrity and false hope, would approve of such a tear-down.
Well, it appears they already have.
Cathal Kelly of the Globe indicates that Shanahan and his management group have recently presented their ideas on the future of the club to the board, and have now been granted a license to start removing the bricks on this already shaky structure.
There’s no doubt that this is the correct course of action, but we didn’t have confirmation like this before. According to Kelly, it all came about from a meeting a couple weeks ago with the people upstairs to plot a course of action and bring the team back to being competitive. It seems like the Leafs’ monstrous collapse in January helped things along.
Mr. Shanahan and his lieutenants have now finally received a broad mandate from ownership to scorch as much earth as they see fit in order to return the Leafs to contention, according to two sources familiar with that meeting. It will mean a new philosophy on building slowly through the draft and long-term projects, rather than quick fixes via trades for established players. It will mean at least three more years of pain for fans, and as many as five.
We’ve discussed it a number of times in the past, but in the short term this likely means unloading as many rentals as possible this month, then moving on to the bigger names like Phaneuf and Kessel during the summer. Kelly notes that, unsurprisingly, neither of those guys appear to be in the team’s plans.
As a fan of the team, it’s easy to get on board with this approach. The fear that MLSE wouldn’t be on board with scorching the on-ice product due to some sort of potential “fan outrage” always seemed a little puzzling, since even when the Leafs aren’t actively trying to tank, they’re still tanking.
The organization is probably headed for a number five-or-six pick this summer with a roster supposedly built to compete now. If they flatten the lineup and trot out a team of youngsters and spare parts next season, the result is still around the same or just slightly worse, so there isn’t much lost here in terms of fan experience.
Questions about where the line will be drawn on a core will likely continue for months, but it’s now clear this team is mostly being reduced to rubble.