Does the rabid Toronto hockey market have the patience to endure a long Toronto Maple Leafs rebuild?
It would seem that we’re about to find out. In a letter that will be delivered on Wednesday and is addressed to Maple Leafs season ticket holders, Maple Leafs president of hockey operations vowed not to raise ticket prices for next season. He also suggested that road back to contention, or respectability at least, will be a long and arduous one.
“There are no shortcuts to building a team the right way,” Shanahan says in the letter. “It will require patience and a long-term view, but it is important for you to know that the process will be well worth it when we get there.”
There are no shortcuts in a rebuild? What did Shanahan miss the part where his club got out of jail free on David Clarkson’s contracts? In all seriousness, read past the jump.
The Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran has more of Shanahan’s quotes, in which he assuages the fans that Maple Leafs management hears and shares their disappointment and frustration.
“This city … deserves for this team to contend for the Stanley Cup each and every year,” Shanahan writes. “With that goal in mind, our purpose here is to build a team that you are proud to support. I have heard of your frustration this year and understand it.”
The Maple Leafs spent the past month tearing down the club. Everything that wasn’t nailed down – or in David Booth’s case, completely without value – was sold before the NHL trade deadline, and reports suggested that the Maple Leafs tried to do more. They’ll surely try again at the NHL Draft.
While declarations of a scorched earth rebuild seemed premature a month ago, and frankly they may be still, that Shanahan seems to be managing the expectations of fans – and preparing his paying customers to be patient as he plays the long game – is the clearest sign yet that a detonation of the flawed and failed core that Dave Nonis and Brian Burke constructed is coming.
Now a city that has barely been able to tolerate the seemingly endless renovation of Union Station, may have to deal with another extended reconstruction project at Front and Bay. And yet, as restless as Toronto’s sports fans can be, it seems possible that Shanahan’s tougher test will be preaching patience to the MLSE board.