by John McCauley
Fear, panic and confusion are running rampant in the Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room and it's being converted into losses, nine now in their first 15 games.
Is this team as bad as they are playing? No. Do the players have the ability to turn things around? Yes, but with each game frittered away to mental errors, bad penalties (even if some aren't deserved) and players trying to do too much, a turnaround appears less likely.
GM/coach Pat Quinn admitted after the Leafs' painful 6-3 loss in St. Louis Saturday night, if there was a trade out there (lot's of team's are looking --San Jose, Florida, New York Islanders and Rangers) he would probably shake things up.
| Mats Sundin believes roster changes aren't the answer. |
Graig Abel Photography
"You wait until you do something that makes sense, and hopefully we do that," Quinn said. "Let's face it, we're not playing where we need to play. The trigger hasn't been set, but believe me, if I could do something that would make sense, I would do it."
Unfortunately it appears the Leafs are waiting for that shoe to drop. Individually players are trying to make that perfect play that could ultimately save them from being banished. Obviously no one is going to admit it's happening, but the evidence is on the ice.
What can Quinn realistically trade with most of his players mired in this ugly funk? One of the most important theories a GM must adhere to is trading from a position of power. When your players struggle you have no power. Plus as far as the Leafs are concerned flopping third-liners or giving up a prospect for undoubtedly a high-priced veteran isn't going to flick the switch.
"We can't wait for someone to come in on a white horse and save this team," Mats Sundin said looking for answers. "It won't happen. It will take the guys that are in this dressing room.
"Guys are aware here. If you're not winning in a franchise such as Toronto, there are going to be changes. But I don't think guys need a threat to realize that. We know the situation, but we're going through the motions a little bit, waiting for something to happen."
Notorious for trading away talent when things aren't going well, Islanders' GM Mike Milbury hasn't yet shipped anyone out of Uniondale. Instead a recent bunch of callups has pushed the Islanders to a two-game winning streak.
The Leafs could do no worse if some veterans were given a seat in the press box. But therein lies the problem for Quinn. Sit veterans and risk losing them if the kids falter.
"Why is it happening? I wish I could tell you. On paper, I'd take this roster over a lot in the league, but we're not doing it," Quinn said.
It was veterans that pushed Toronto to the Eastern Conference Final last season and Quinn feels they deserve a chance to turn things around. It's clear though, if results are still unsatisfactory by weeks' end, some players will out of chances and out of a Leafs' uniform.