As usual, our Leafs are going on a late-season charge and find themselves failing to be a playoff team or a top five draft picker. Here is a picture depiction of our team's winning and losing in relation to the .500 mark:
For the three seasons previous to the current one, the message from the Leafs organization was one of ambiguity. The team being ran by GM Ferguson appeared to be trying to make the playoffs, yet you'll hardly find a fan who was confident in the job he was doing or the idea that a plan for the future was in place.
But this year, to hell with it. I have more faith in Burke than I ever did with Ferguson. Sure, we probably won't be grabbing a franchise player this year, but Burke isn't going to rely on one pick when it comes to rebuilding this team. Everyone knows this, but sometimes we all get caught up in our draft positioning, myself included.
The bright side of this team winning, as many reporters have already noted, is that it puffs some confidence into our young guys.
And though this team is going on a late season charge, it's not for the same reason as the years past. The scenario looks the same, but you're not thinking clearly if you want to say it's for the same kind of reasons. First of all, Ron Wilson has been telling his team to work on a nightly basis, all three periods. He has not fully accomplished this yet, but he's doing well so far. Secondly, the reason we are jumping around in the standings is not because our veterans decided to show up - it's because of our young players. And you can hardly predict when youngsters are going to find their game. It's not their fault it was at this time of year, when the Leaf's playoff hopes are null. That's just the way it goes.
If we have any sort of expectation for Burke, it should be to build this team in whatever means he has available - and if that means he doesn't get to be one of the first pickers in the 2009 draft, so be it. Good GMs like New Jersey's Lou Lamirello or Detroits Ken Holland have proven that you don't need those picks to win long term. And likewise, GMs past like Mike Milbury of the New York Islanders have proven that you can do a whole lot of nothing with them too.