I’m sure that all hockey writers who cover the Toronto Maple Leafs have been reading the obituaries of their team all day long. Honestly, some of what I’ve read is a bit hard to fathom. 

There was such great hope for this team. (I shared that hope.) This team was so good. (It set regular-season franchise records in several categories.) This team’s players had grown so much. (Several players – elite stars and others – had career seasons.) But, in the postseason, none of that mattered.

Related: Insiders Offer Hints On Maple Leafs Offseason Plans

The Reaction of the Fans Has Been All Over the Map

The fans of the Maple Leafs have responded with a huge number of different thoughts. Some fans were measured and suggested that the team was almost there. Some fans suggested that Kyle Dubas should be put on the next bus out of town. One fan suggested that trading Auston Matthews and bringing in prospects would be the move that would put the team over the top to win the Stanley Cup Final. 

Auston Matthews Maple Leafs 1

To show the illogic of the thoughts, I read one comment to a post that suggested that Lou Lamoriello had the answers and that things were better when he was here. Then, the same fan noted that Barry Trotz should be hired because he was available. That fan sort of missed the double irony that Lamoriello’s New York Islanders didn’t even make the playoffs this season and that Lamoriello just fired Trotz for some reason I haven’t heard yet.

Certainly, there’s no joy in Toronto today because the home team didn’t make the playoffs; however, some of the ideas I read bordered on – well, I can’t think of exactly the right word. 

One was that fans should quit buying tickets. That would show those who ran the Maple Leafs that this was serious business. One was that everyone in the organization should be fired – starting at the top with Brandan Shanahan. 

Three Crazy Mistakes the Maple Leafs Could Make Right Now, But Shouldn’t

There will be changes to the team’s roster and management, but it’s not time to make mistakes. It’s obvious there will be changes to next season’s team. There will also likely be changes to the management of the franchise and the coaching staff. However, it isn’t time to make big mistakes. 

Doing something radically stupid because it’s doing something (rather than sitting still) isn’t the best course of action for bringing a Stanley Cup to Toronto. Yesterday, Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun wrote an article titled “Off-season decisions for Dubas will be crucial, but (the) foundation is in place for success,” (May 15, 2022). 

In his article, he reviewed some of the changes that could be made for the 2022-23 season. Here I want to build from his thinking to highlight three mistakes the Maple Leafs should not make.

Mistake #1: The Maple Leafs Should Avoid Blowing Everything Up

For an advocate of blowing everything up and starting again, that means making significant changes. One would assume that Auston Matthews or/and Mitch Marner should be traded. However, as Koshan noted, if that were to happen, Maple Leafs’ fans should expect that very soon they’d be watching one of those young stars hoisting the Stanley Cup with another organization. 

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs

Matthews and Marner are really that good. If these two players are kept, the Maple Leafs have that opportunity. No one will come in that’s better. Name one team who wouldn’t want Matthews or Marner on their roster? Matthews’ Hart Trophy-type season wasn’t a fluke.

In fact, the way Koshan put it was “There’s plenty of heart in the 24-year-old, and most teams would kill for a chance to build around him. Marner is not much different. A career season ended with 97 points and he would have had 100 for the first time had he not missed 10 games.” 

Mistake #2: The Maple Leafs Should Not Ignore What Happened During the Regular Season

Koshan also noted that what happened during the regular season with this team wasn’t just smoke and mirrors. Ignoring that regular-season success would be foolish. As Koshan noted, “The best year in franchise history didn’t happen by luck or by accident. The Leafs were full marks for their team-record 54 wins and 115 points.”

Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas and Coach Sheldon Keefe

Koshan also asked, for proponents of firing general manager Kyle Dubas and coach Sheldon Keefe, which general manager/coaching pair out there would guarantee a better playoff result if they were hired? I might add as well that there are plenty of teams who would hire both Dubas and Keefe – like now. The ultimate irony would be them winning with another organization.

His answer: “There isn’t (a better twosome available). This isn’t a Leafs’ group that needs different guidance. That would be different if the Leafs were trounced by Tampa in four or five games. That didn’t come close to happening.” 

Mistake #3: The Maple Leafs Should Not Forget the Tampa Bay Lightning’s History

The Maple Leafs were beaten by the Tampa Bay Lightning. But the Lightning’s own history suggests a similar experience to the Maple Leafs. In 2019, the Lightning easily won the Presidents’ Trophy but were immediately swept four games to none in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning

Jon Cooper was not removed from his coaching position, nor was the team’s core of players traded away. As Koshan pointed out and Maple Leafs’ fans now know too well, the Lightning have not lost a playoff round since.

Now is not the time for lunacy.

Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 2-1 Loss to the Lightning

The post Maple Leafs’ Need Changes Without Lunging Into Lunacy appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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