The tear down of the Leafs and starting from scratch is being well-received by most fans. But coming with it is the talk of how it is going to take four, five, maybe more years to get it done. People point to the hard times in Chicago and Tampa Bay before they became competitive, or how Edmonton has been rebuilding forever and is still bad.
But no one points to the best example of rebuilding – nay, retooling – of the modern era: The Calgary Flames.
Ironically, the genius retool in Calgary started when the Flames fleeced the Leafs in the Dion Phaneuf trade, and the Blues in the Bouwmeester trade, which allowed them to give Mark Giordano a more substantial role. People always talk about the pure exchange in a trade, but no one takes into consideration the way those trades can affect a team. If you need a more recent example, look no further than the Franson/Santorelli to Nashville trade – the return was okay, but how much worse it makes the Leafs is the real prize. It’s all about McDavid.
In their two high picks in recent years – neither of which were first overall by the way – they took two Ontario boys that play the game the right way. People can say that it is important to be strong at centre, but I think it is best to be strong in the most important area of the ice: compete. That is the culture that has been bred in Calgary. They don’t care that they aren’t loaded with skill. And they shouldn’t – you can’t teach hard work and that’s exactly what Bob Hartley has taught that team. That mentality is what allows goals like this to happen:
As I always say (this is basically my catchphrase): You gotta be lucky to be good and good to be lucky.
See, unlike the Leafs, the Flames play good old fashioned blue collar hockey. This team would be nothing without guys like Bollig and Engelland. Keeps everyone honest, except other team’s fighters of course because now they have players to fight. Last time the Leafs had players like that in the lineup they made the playoffs, but what do I know? I’m just a future member of the mainstream media.
But most importantly – and if you are going to read any part of this article make it this – the Flames don’t bow to the new Nerd Lords and the Fancy Stats they peddle in their Fancy Hats. I keep reading tweets and articles about how the Flames will come down to earth because their puck possession is bad. Yeah well you know what isn’t bad unlike the Leafs? Their win possession.
The worst part is that the Leafs were on a similar path a few years ago with Burkie the Hedgehog in charge. It’s no coincidence that the Flames have turned it around so fast with him in Calgary.
So if the Leafs want to re
buildtool quickly and efficiently, it IS possible. They just have to look west and bring back the most important Leafs mantra of the last few decades:
In Burkie We Trust.