Maple Leafs of America

As a die hard Leafs fan I am totally dismayed by recent moves. I’m not one to jump on or off the bandwagon. No, I have slogged it out seemingly forever.

I think some of the moves that Brian Burke has made will move the team forward.

James Reimer may have a slump next season. That can happen to any goalie. But he is a pretty steady kid and played well post season in Europe representing Canada. I think that whether he becomes a ‘great’ goalie or not, he will be better than anything we’ve had for a few years. Remember, this past season the Leafs missed the playoffs by only a couple of games. How Reimer does playing a full season with the physical strain and emotional ups and downs remains to be seen.

But I think Reimer gives us those couple of games and I will say here and now for that reason alone I feel pretty good that Toronto will make the playoffs next year.

Gustaffson remains a problematic project. Again, I cannot fault Burke for going out and getting him 2 years ago. That’s how you find the next ‘great thing’…by sometimes taking a chance. So I commend Burke for doing that. Unfortunately, so far at least, it hasn’t been a success but perhaps next year (and what Leaf fan hasn’t said that a few hundred times?).

What does disturb me, however, is the growing Americanization of this team. I know Burke is American. But this is one time when he is not thinking outside the box. Rather, he is being very, very conservative. He is constantly going to the same well (the U.S.) for talent because that is what he knows best.

Toronto is a Canadian team and I don’t think you win a Stanley Cup without strong Canadian players.

Burke has just brought in more American coaching (now all the important coaches are Yanks). Our top sniper is American (Kessel) and Burke just picked up Tim Connolly as a free agent, another American.

Frankly, when the chips are up I really don’t think these are the players that are going to carry us to the podium. I think this team under Burke started to look creative but has now become wounded.

Jingoistic? Perhaps. But I was truly thinking next year would give us a round or two into the playoffs. Now, I’m not so sure.

Is there no respite for a Leaf’s fan?

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