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Are the 2011-12 Leafs a step backwards?

Mar 8, 2012, 9:07 AM EDT

James Reimer, Mikhail Grabovski, Phil Kessel AP

Don’t look now, but the 2011-12 Toronto Maple Leafs might actually do worse than the 2010-11 team. Despite Joffrey Lupul, who is now out with a separated shoulder, and Phil Kessel setting new career-highs in points, the Leafs are on pace to get just 82 points this season, compared to 85 last season.

Of course, this is due in no small part to the fact that, as Leafs GM Brian Burke recently put it, the Maple Leafs are an 18-wheeler that ran off a cliff. Toronto has won just two of its last 14 games.

Still, when the dust settles on the 2011-12 campaign, it will be judged as a whole and not just based on the last couple months of the season. Although context matters, their cold streak shouldn’t be used as an excuse to claim that they were significantly better than their final record suggests.

So what should the Leafs do moving forward? Well, Burke apparently thought that a coaching change would be part of the solution. There might even be calls to start the rebuild over from scratch. However, the Maple Leafs might be best served by being patient. After all, Toronto is the second youngest team in the NHL, according to capgeek. Burke should continue to make tweaks and look to add players when it makes sense to do so, but taking a drastic change in course could prove to be counterproductive. Leafs fans might not enjoy seeing the their team’s recent collapse, but rebuilds can be a painful process.

  1. phillyphever - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Enough of Burke already. He’s the biggest problem, not the solution. Toronto’s better off firing him and get someone who can do better than this joke.

  2. polegojim - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Although it’s just 1.5 game point difference, this year just feels more painful and ugly for the Leafs.

    Maybe because much more was expected.

  3. babar61 - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    But at least they didn’t overpay to keep grabovski. Oh wait….

  4. 4twistedlogic - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    It’s funny. Non Leaf fans seem to be more upset then Leaf fans about Burke and this entire season.

    This season is playing out how I and most of you expected. Sure this latest skid is has killed playoff hopes but whatever. Most of us knew Burke would need 5 years to rebuild. Playoffs was a hope for this season, with that dwindled all we care about is getting a better draft position.

    PLEASE not another 9th place finish.

    • bcisleman - Mar 8, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      Almost no non-Leaf fans who are not professional journalists have paid much attention to the Leafs’ failures on twitter. Leaf fans, however, are all moaning and groaning big time.

      You may not have had high expectations for the Leafs, but many Leaf fans in the blog and twitter spheres did…and now they are bitterly disappointed. I don’t think they got the memo about the 5 year plan and Burke is certainly NOT a five year plan guy. That’s more Garth Snow’s shtick.

  5. jlindsay24 - Mar 8, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    With Wilson fired, Burke’s gonna be under a lotta fire. Let the real games begin:http://nhloutsider.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/with-wilson-fired-now-burkes-underfire/

  6. elguapo12 - Mar 8, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Time for Leaf fans to emerge saying that they expected this all along and that it’s all part of some master plan. No disappointment at all…afer all, they’re still one of the youngest teams in the league and they’re still learning.

    Looking forward to seeing what wily vet Burke trades his first rounder for! I’m guessing a three-way deal that nets the Leafs Steve Sullivan and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

    Next year will be worse. How can it not be?

  7. canuckinamerica - Mar 8, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    4twistedlogic. Was it not Blustering Burkie himself who said before this season started that anything but making the playoffs would be deemed a failure? So…..who would you hold responsible for what seems to be an inevitable failure?

  8. hawknuts - Mar 8, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    he needs to concentrate on doing his all for the team and not what the media is saying about him or the leafs…getting into a pissing match with the cbc???

    smart guy burke is ha ha ha. harvard should be embarrassed that the first thing anybody says about him is that he attended their institution.

  9. crazemastercraze - Mar 8, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    Burke has been foot-in-mouth all season long. I think he might be going crazy….

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