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Can't Avoid The Controversy In Leafland

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Heading into his third season with, John McCauley helps keep you informed with all the most important Leaf news. You can read John regularly this offseason and he'll be onboard in the fall as the Leafs continue their quest for the Cup.

by John McCauley
July 24, 2003

TORONTO -- It's the controversy that never seems to end, even though there isn't one.

Toronto Maple Leafs' upper management, MLSEL CEO Richard Peddie, Vice Chairman Ken Dryden and current GM/coach Pat Quinn, are looking for a new GM, on their schedule.

Has anything significant been done? Not really, but simply put, it isn't hindering the team Quinn told reporters at his annual charity golf tournament Wednesday.

"If you understand the season and how it breaks down and how the responsibilities go, summer time is the culmination of all your year's work," he said. "So you need to do your draft, your signings and your qualifying offers and those sorts of things. No new guy coming in can really help you in that regard."

"The timing for a new manager should be for the start of the year."

It's true the Leafs haven't exactly been lighting the free agent market on fire, other than signing Bryan Marchment, which has led to criticism directed at Quinn.

One thing is always forgotten on this subject, which has been raging when no other story is purculating over the last two years. Is there really anyone out there that would make or break your season? Analysts may have thought so, citing Derian Hatcher, but it's clear Quinn's braintrust didn't feel he was worth the long-term investment.

Quinn has said repeatedly, with the collective bargaining agreement coming up shortly, teams will be willing to trade salary. So why sign a guy that you think isn't going to be as good as others soon-to-be available? You wouldn't and that's exactly the approach Quinn is taking.

Trades are always made from a position of depth and the Leafs' forward crew is among the deepest in the league especially with Owen Nolan and Gary Roberts expected to play full seasons. Add in Nik Antropov and some Leaf regulars will be fighting it out for between five and 10 minutes of ice time.

Another thing to think about is the play of some of the Leafs kids on defence. Carlo Colaiacovo made the team last season, but just got caught in a numbers game. Rick Jackman was with the team for most of the season and could step into a greater role. Brendan Bell is another smooth skater with a ton of upside. The team has had success in the past playing kids on D and could again in 2003-04.

You'd want to find a free agent that was going to be better than any of those guys while keeping in mind the youngsters need to play at the NHL level to improve. Not exactly an easy call to make.

Robert Svehla has hindered the team's plans whether he means to or not. All teams operate on a budget, not just the Maple Leafs, and even though $4 million may seem like a small amount of coin for a team as big as the Blue and White it isn't.

When they tried to cut ties with Svehla, he wanted money as an out clause. If you look at Quinn's history he will not fold when being held over a barrel. The team doesn't want to lose his rights because his retirement isn't exactly set in stone. There's still a strong likelihood he'll be back at some point.

Worry not though, if a new GM is hired, Svehla returns and a big blockbuster goes down, the newest controversy will be just days away, even if it isn't one.
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