Americans and Russians aren’t the answer. #mycolumn

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.

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  • CMpuck

    Don’t fret Leafs Nation, Mark Hunter is a huge mark for Marner. You get your dream pick for another year.

    Could we address the fact that a Kadri, Nylander possibly Kessel top six is a concern in terms of lack of size. I mean the Bruins built a contender with size and grit while shipping out top five picks like Kessel and Seguin (who play a marginal role in their cup runs).

    Is Kadri, Nylander, Kessel and Marner really the pieces you want to build with?

    • TGT23

      I’m not entirely sure why Nazem and Nylander are too small…

      In terms of size compared to players that teams like Boston or Chicago have used to great results, many of the players thought to be in the Leafs future plans aren’t THAT small.

      Brad Marchand is 5’9 / 183
      Marc Savard is 5’10 /
      David Krejci is 6’0 / 188
      Rich Peverley is 6’0 / 195
      Tyler Seguin is 6’1 / 182

      Patrick Kane is 5’11 / 181
      Dave Bolland is 6’0 / 184
      Brandon Saad is 6’1 / 202
      Marian Hossa is 6’1 / 210
      Patrick Sharp is 6’1 / 199

      William Nylander is 5’11 / 174
      Nazem Kadri is 6’0 / 188
      Peter Holland is 6’2 / 194
      Phil Kessel is 6’0 / 202 (I think he’ll be gone but you mentioned him)
      James van Riemsdyk is 6’3 / 200

      Now, your point about grit isn’t a bad one, but I don’t fully believe size is the issue. I believe overall talent level is a greater issues.

      Having your most gifted C on the 2nd line with players that are often 3rd or 4th line talents while your top line RW plays with a 3rd line C and a 2nd line LW seems a bigger issue than whether that C or RW are 6’0 or 6’3.

      There are plenty of spots in the Top 9 where size can be added to compliment what the Leafs already have. As what I’ve just shown proves, not EVERY player needs to be 6’3 / 215.

      So, yeah, I am comfortable with Nazem and Nylander. Kessel should be traded but that has less to do with size than it does attitude, and if Merner can be a solid producer on an NHL team we’d be lucky to have him.

      Though being 175 or so is a bit concerning, he should bulk up a bit just naturally through training and age. But, frankly I hope we draft a D-man.

      Speaking of… McDavid is 6’1 / 185… So, if the Leafs get top pick should they instead take Eichel at 6’2 / 195 instead?

      • CMpuck

        You’re being a bit deliberately obtuse with the McDavid/Eichel point, really childish to ignore context. Eichel vs McDavid isn’t a choice… Strome/Hanifin/Marner is a choice.

        Again the context of Peverly, Marchant, Seguin who either marginal or not top six . Marc Savard wasn’t a member of the cup runs, in fact Boston would hit the wall in the playoffs with Savard as their 1C.

        Again I’m talking top six, especially when the issue at had is a top five draft pick and you shoe horn in top nine.

        Kadri and Nylander have size? Maybe a bit on player but both are match ups other teams drool over.

        Marner, Kadri, Nylander is just more of the same and they’re not the type of talent you win championships with. Again, why are we trading Kessel and not learning the lesson Chiarelli already knew when you bent Burke over?

        Power forwards, big centers, mobile and/or big blueliners. Just want to see the Leafs have a winning blueprint instead of taking the BPA and hoping it magically all comes together.

        • TGT23

          You’re being ridiculous so I figured you deserved an equally ridiculous question in return.

          You’re using size as a reason to hate on specific players by deeming them as too small.

          But, the players aren’t dramatically undersized. And I mention the TOP 9 because my point was you can have Kadri, Nylander, and Marner on the small side of your Top 6 when you have a lot of room around them to add size.

          Take New York for instance. St. Louis has a cup ring and his team made the cup finals last season. He’s not a big guy. You can have smaller guys and surround them with bigger guys.

          Not EVERY player can be a powerforward or “big center” and any team you are going to want to blueprint the Leafs future after have similarly sized players to Kadri and Nylander.

          And the whole “you can’t win championships with these types of players” is laughable. You hear that every year about different players and teams win with them sometimes.

          • CMpuck

            It’s ridiculous to criticize Kadri? So he’s beyond criticism because he has good 5 on 5 production in shelter minutes?

            It’s ridiculous to point out that building a contending team requires more than draft the BPA based only on offensive production?

            I hate a losing team, I’VE SAID A BILLION TIMES….


            Those what a team that cares about building a playoff competitive team and organization depth collect. Those are the gambles worth taken because when they pay off it matters.

            Marners, Nylanders, Kessels, Kadris, ok… nice luxury items but hardly corner stones.

            What happens to cinderella teams like New York, they eventually hit a wall and LA walked all over them. St.Louis, ok, an exceptional talent, got to that ring piggy backing on two big centers in Vinny and Brad.

            Not every player but every draft pick has the potential to be, collecting skill small guys in the draft and through trade is rotting this organization.

            It’s like RNH, what’s the point, he’s not a guy you can win with unless he’s hella sheltered.

            Just look at the Leafs, the one piece that is off the table is Rielly because he’s a PMD and that’s a special player.

            Maybe look up and down the roster of contenders and take note of who their best players are and this discussion can go somewhere.

  • CMpuck

    Come on people take it easy on Bobby. Satire is foreign to him just as the Russian and Americans are as well. Ironically old crazy uncle Harold wouldn’t bring in Russian players as they were commies all a bunch of left wingers in the demented mind of Ballard.

    Bobby you actually don’t realize what your article is really stating about Bailey. You are implying for Casey, the leafs are a farm club that will get him closer to the N.H.L.

    Bobby one further comment, promise you won’t try to go up on the stage on comedy amateur night. It won’t have a pretty ending buddy.

  • STAN

    Tongue firmly planted in cheek? Accidentally?

    This is another embarrassing attempt at sarcastic humour.

    The real issue is getting 23 guys to play as a team and finally making some decent draft picks and trades. Simple as that. Nationality has nothing to do with it.

  • FlareKnight

    Yeah, I like a bit of sarcastic banter as much as the next person. But at the same time maybe just use it for the first paragraph or so?

    Having to read a whole article with “so he’s really saying this…” Gets a bit boring after a while.

  • MacTwoTimes

    Even if this post is a joke, this is the first Bobby Cappucino column that I agree with. The most talented players in the world are from Canada (mostly Ontario), and yet we love to sign players from as far away as possible. Sure makes sense to me.

      • MacTwoTimes

        Sure there are many elite players from many great nations across the world, all I’m saying is that the talent pool here in Canada is just so much deeper. Why go out for burgers when we have steak at home? Steaks that might actually want to play for the Leafs.

        And don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Kane, Ovechkin, Kopitar or Karlsson as a Maple Leaf.

  • MacTwoTimes

    62% of players in the NHL are born in Canada, 172 Americans played in the NHL this past year and 64 Russians have laced them up in the NHL in the past year. The NHL is no longer the domain of Canadian only players. You could not get a tougher competitor than Borje Salming nor a tougher nut than Grabovski. Just sayin.

  • TankNationRises

    Wow, I think I would rather have Americans and Russians over some of the Canadian players currently on our roster. This team plays with absolutely no grit. When playing the Leafs a 50/50 puck battle looks more like a 100/0 puck battle. Give me players who give a S$%T and give an honest effort, regardless of nationality!!!