The first two blogs in this three part blog series discussed the changes to the management team and players. This final blog will discuss the changes needed in the fan base and local media, the importance these final two areas play to making this market a safe place to play.
Over the course the last two years we have seen management mention making Toronto a safe place to play for the players, the two forces that directly impact this objective are fans and media. I will preface what I am about to say by saying this franchise hasn’t given us much to cheer about lately but many of the “issues” that the media fanned and the fans took up weren’t really what was going to fix this franchise.
No better example was “Hot Dog Gate”, local sports scribe Steve Simmonds wrote about Phil Kessel’s affection for the hot dog and the fans ate it up as another reason to hate on this player. Nothing was mentioned that Phil had missed very few games due to injury or illness over the course of his time in Toronto, no mention was made that Phil had he stayed may have broken goal scoring records and came up big in the only playoff series he played for the Leafs.
Steve Simmonds and Dave Feschuk have become a symbol of what is so wrong with the local media. No real semblance of critical thinking or even professionalism in any form and their prime targets are the lowest level of sports fan who are looking for more reason to complain. Which fuels an ever growing spastic fan base. Where extremes of building statues & planning parades are on one end and on the other end are the constant calls for trades and firings which in some cases include the concession stand attendants and cleaning staff at the ACC.
As mentioned in my second blog of this series, in many cases where players have been called out by fans like Kessel, Bozak, Kadri and Phanuef the real issue wasn’t the player at all but the roll they were asked to fill on a mismatch roster of players and coaches. Kessel was never going to be a captain, it isn’t in him to lead so why ask an enigmatic player like Kessel to take on a role he was destined to fail in? That decision wasn’t made by him, but yet he was the one being attacked in media and fan circles alike.
Those are simply a couple of cases where critical thinking and perspective would have taken many away from complete madness. Moving forward we fans need to turn over our own new leaf, and we need to expect it and demand it from our local media. Senseless criticism and the building and knocking down of statues is so 1980-90s Leaf fans, let’s take the same path as management with patience and perspective because there is a lot to be hopeful for with a prospect pool now ranked #1 in the NHL by ESPN with Nylander, Marner and Matthews leading the group, We now have a legit number 1 Centre in Matthews, we have potentially our goalie of the future in Frederik Andersen and we finally have a management and coaching staff that is superior to few in the NHL. We aren’t there yet, but we are worlds ahead anyone could have imagine when 30 months ago Shanahan put his plan into action. Down this path of patience is the potential for great success, and need I say it a PARADE!