It’s been a tough season in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Toronto Maple Leafs, a once proud Canadian franchise, have been terrible. Hockey is Canada’s game. Always has been, always will be. So it’s rough when any team is bad, but when that team is Canadian is stings even more.
The Leafs are a failure of a team. And I think we can all agree that it’s because its core is made up of Americans and undrafted players. And the last Russians we had? One stunk and the other was bought out after playing terribly after signing a big fat contract. Typical. That would never happen with a Canadian player, especially a hometown boy.
This year, five Canadian teams have a good chance of being in the playoffs. And each team has a ton of Canadians on their rosters. The Canadiens have 12, Canucks have 13, Jets have 15, Flames 16, and the Senators have 20. I don’t know how many the Leafs have offhand, but I can tell they have less just by watching the team on the ice.
So after watching this team full of non-Canadians toil away, Brendan Shanahan goes and signs an undrafted Russian and an American that couldn’t even finish college? Yeah, that makes sense. I’ve never been so dumbfounded and disgusted in my life.
Sure, the media can try and say that signing Casey Bailey is a big deal and a feather in the cap of this new management team. But let’s be real – he only signed here so that he could get to a richer payday sooner. The Leafs were the only team willing to let him burn the first year of his deal. Even the Buffalo Sabres wouldn’t do that.
But let’s look at the positives of signing Bailey. Now I’m not saying the Leafs signing Bailey is an admission that they should have taken Nick Ritchie over William Nylander in last year’s draft, but both Bailey and Ritchie are big wingers. The other positive about Bailey is that he shoots the puck a lot – he has over 5 shots per game in the NCAA. That’s great and all, and will tickle The Nerds pink, but what about the quality of those shots? And who did he take those shots against? Because if it was against teams that were known to give up shots, he probably shot more as a result.
After signing Bailey, the Leafs went and signed a Russian that no one had heard of. Maybe it’s because Kyle Dubas is too young to remember the Cold War. Or maybe it’s because Shanahan thought more highly of what Sergei Federov brought to the Red Wings than Steve Yzerman. Either way, solving problems by signing a small Russian winger not only doesn’t make sense, it’s inexcusable and misguided.
It would be nice to think that these players are signing with the Leafs because they want to go to a proud franchise that succeeds. But they’re only signing for the money and because they see that they can make the NHL faster (aka with less effort) in the Leafs organization. That isn’t character. And it speaks terribly on the state of the Leafs. Why should a Russian be able to come over to Canada and be able to beat out a lifelong AHLer who has been working hard for his whole life for a spot in the NHL? It goes against everything we stand for as Torontonians. As Ontarians. As Canadians.
All I know is that the Leafs better draft a Canadian in June. But as recent trends have shown, they’ll probably leave the draft with Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin or Ivan Provorov. What a failure that would be.