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Two Things To Be Aware Of

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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The Maple Leafs season moves on with a game against Pittsburgh Wednesday and James Reimer’s neck has become the most influential body part in the whole organization.

That said the non-event that was this year’s trade deadline for the Leafs bears one more moment of review. Stick with me, I’ll make it worth your while.

There are two things of which we should all be aware.

First, the Maple Leafs are not going to win the Stanley Cup this year.  They will be in tough to make the playoffs and should they do so they will be roundly applauded as they gamely bow out in the first round. If the Leafs are playing past April 9, everyone, and I mean everyone, goes home happy. If you don’t get this basic piece of sequential reality, the whole spring-summer-fall-winter thing must blow your mind.

It’s not that the Leafs aren’t worthy of greater things. Since all-star, they are plenty worthy but they are one of the youngest teams in the NHL. They are challenged at centre and defence. We all know this, although Brian Burke is the rarest of managers who will say so out loud.

The Leafs’ roster features nine players (Joey Crabb, Colby Armstrong, Keith Aulie, Clarke MacArthur, Joffrey Lupul, Tim Brent, Darryl Boyce, Mike Brown and James Reimer) who weren’t wearing blue a year ago. Don’t forget two more intriguing assets, Joe Colborne, acquired in the Tomas Kaberle deal, and Jake Gardiner who came over in the deal for Francois Beauchemin. Okay, toss in two recently acquired first rounders. Other than that, Burke has been asleep at the switch.

But let me explain the trade deadline with this parable.

There is in most marriages a quiet covenant. In legal circles it’s called the ‘Marooned On A Desert Island with Cindy Crawford Clause.’

My wife knows that if Angelina Jolie was to somehow conclude she needed to spend a torrid night in Hamilton, and she wanted a mature man more worldly in the ways of love than poor Brad, well, I know just the guy. If Brad Pitt were holed in the downtown Sheraton, looking for love, I too would look the other way. It’s Brad Pitt.

These rules apply to a variety of stars, Jennifer Aniston, Cloris Leachman, the girl who played Marcia on the Brady Bunch, Angie Harmon, Ann B. Davis, Kathy Ireland and the Jessicas, Biel and Rabbit.

My wife has her own list, of which I am not privy save for the guy from the Old Spice commercial.

The chances of these things happening are infinitesimally small, mostly by virtue of the fact that very few sex symbols and even fewer centaurs find themselves in Hamilton in wintertime.

Still in theory, and only in theory, these things are, however remotely, possible.

And so is Florida moving Stephen Weiss for a middling prospect, or Shea Webber pulling an 11th-hour trade demand with only Burke hanging on the other end of the line. Dementia can hit at any time and some of these GMs aren’t spring chickens.

In other words if Johnny Depp or Jody Foster aren’t in the mix, you stay with what you have, what you have invested in, what you know, understand and appreciate.

The trade deadline is a quiet dinner on Valentine’s Day. July 1 is a raucous week in Vegas.

I don’t expect the Leafs to come away with Brad Richards. I do wonder if they will force the hands of GMs nervous about signing players into the end of the CBA.

Next year’s salary cap room for the Leafs has been pegged at $24 million with 12 players under contract. That’s plenty of room to take on salary from big spenders such as Philadelphia. For the few worthwhile players, Canadiens blueliner Andrei Markov comes to mind, the Leafs have gazzilions to dangle. Literally.

The only notable player pleased by the deadline deals was former Oiler Dustin Penner who we are told has a girlfriend in Los Angeles.  Today, Dustin Penner reigns as the most envied person to skate his way out of Winkler, Manitoba.

And so we return you to your regularly scheduled hockey season. The Leafs are four points out of the standings and the team’s most important neck is said to be working just fine…
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