Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wade Belak: Canadian Hero

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Wade Belak must have left a favourable impression on John Ferguson. Right when I thought the last of the Quinn loyalists were finished in Toronto, Ferguson goes out and signs the lanky fighter to a one-year contract extension through 2007-2008.

Truthfully, I don’t know what surprises me more, this or the Kubina contract. Belak is referred to as a “utility player”, but to me, that just means he plays defense and forward with equal crappiness. I guess he rates as a decent enough enforcer, but the way other sluggers lost their spots around the league last season, I thought his days had to be numbered with the Leafs. I even speculated he might be a buyout target along with Domi, another casualty of the “new NHL”.

On the other hand, with Domi booted to the curb, if Belak isn’t kept around, there aren’t many others left on the team who will drop the gloves. (And no, Tucker doesn't count, the enforcer role can't be assumed by a one hundred and fifty-pound player.)

Oh, and last fall, when struggling to remember something positive about Belak, Pat Quinn said:

“He’s our fastest backward-skating defenseman.”

So I guess that seals it right there. I mean, you can never have enough speedy, backward-skating guys who take bad penalties and don't score any goals. Am I wrong? Am I wrong?!

Or maybe Ferguson was simply spurred into action by Chris Neil’s signing today:


The scene: John Ferguson’s office. He’s smoking what he calls his “Victory Cigars”, something he’s been doing on a daily basis since he fired Pat Quinn. He’s watching a television in rapt concentration.

Paul Maurice: Ferg, did you see on TSN –

Ferguson: Wait – shhh! Hold on, I love this part. Wait – okay, here it comes!

On the television, Jeff Daniels screeches with pitiable abandon, emptying his bowels into a toilet, kicking his legs in spastic hysteria. Ferguson thumbs his remote control at the television, pausing his movie.

Ferguson: BWAH HA HA HA! Oh man, that is the greatest! I love that scene! Is there even such a thing as “Turbo Lax”? Can you imagine, Paul?

Maurice: Uhm, yeah. Woah. I didn’t mean to interrupt anything here.

Ferguson (wiping his eyes): Hey, no, not at all. Whoo! What’s on your mind, bud?

Maurice: I just saw that Muckler gave Chris Neil a three-year deal today.

Ferguson: Neil? He’s a punching bag! He looks like this kid I remember who used to steal lunch money when I was in grade four. Three-year deal, are you serious? Domi always kills that guy!

Maurice: Yeah, but we don’t have Domi anymore.

Ferguson: Eh? Oh. Oh! Yeah, you’re right. Hmm. Well, we still own Belak though. Let’s extend him another year, how’s that sound?

Maurice: Great idea, Boss. Hey - just when I think you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this. AND TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!

Both men explode in laughter, slapping each other in the back, staggering around Ferguson's rather messy office.

Ferguson: (blowing his nose) Oh, man. That was fantastic. Classic. Great one, Paulie. Oh shit, I think I peed my pants a little. Hey, wanna watch the rest of Dumb and Dumber with me?

Maurice: No, I gotta go come up with some game plans. We need to be organized if we’re going to score any goals this season.

Ferguson: Yeah, you do that. Turn off the light on your way out, willya? I hate seeing movies with the light on.


Yes, I'm pretty sure this is how it all went down.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Belfour - finished?

Contrary to the reports of a "done deal" with Florida reported on Eklund's rumour site, (what a surprise) it looks like the Eagle is still looking for work. After striking out with both the Panthers and Wings, I'm beginning to wonder if his days in the NHL have drawn to a close.

Don't cry for Eddie, though. He still has the billion dollars the Dallas police turned down a few years ago.

[Update: Looks like Florida reconsidered - maybe that was only a coffee-stain on the MRI. Whatever - the Eagle soars again, for $750,000 big ones this season. Good luck, man.]

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Garth gives Wang a Snow job

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I have nothing to contribute to the fiasco happening in New York. Nothing other than, I'm relieved that there can be no more jokes about what the worst-run NHL franchise has to be - there's no doubt the Islanders are now the reigning champs. A couple quotes:

"Snow holds no experience as a general manager, though he has had a desire to be a general manager for some time."



"This is a proud moment for me, a dream come true."

--Garth Snow

I can just imagine the interview in an office someplace with a stuffed grizzly standing beside the desk:

Charles Wang: What qualifies you to be the GM of the Islanders?

Garth Snow: Well, this is kind of a life-long dream for me. I want the job really, really bad.

Charles Wang: I like your passion, Snow. You know, if I were to have that Smith fellow killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you.


One more:

"Most importantly, Garth is a man of integrity, someone I trust will work hard, be creative and represent the Islanders with dignity."

--Charles Wang

It's good to learn how important integrity and ethics are to Charles Wang. The guy is as pure as the driven snow.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Eric Lindros seeing Stars

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According to Sportsnet, the Dallas Stars have offered Eric Lindros a $2 million dollar contract for next season.

If you read my post from yesterday, you already know what I think about this situation - John Ferguson is a fool for playing pissant money games with Lindros. It's obvious he is a player in demand, and it's obvious that if Ferguson stalls long enough, Lindros will sign elsewhere for more money.

Does he really believe Lindros can be signed for $750,000? The fact that Dallas is willing to pony up $2 million for Lindros is indicative of this summer's free agent market; there just aren't very many high-quality centres available to sign.

In other news, the Toronto Star reports that Ferguson is leaning away from re-signing Jason Allison:

"Interest in Allison, meanwhile, appears to be waning, largely because other hockey people in the organization are beginning to have some success in talking Ferguson out of signing him."

What I want to know is, why is it other organizational insiders, not Ferguson, who are the ones who can see a problem or two in re-upping Allison, and why they need to convince Ferguson this is a bad idea?

Shouldn't Ferguson be able to assess what Allison brings to the table on his own?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Seeya, Eric?

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After seeing that John Ferguson signed Erik Westrum (yeah, that’s what I was thinking too - who?) to a two-year contract, I hit the roof shortly thereafter when I read that Ferguson is on the verge of losing Eric Lindros to another team, possibly Edmonton or Dallas, two clubs in obvious need of a centre. Kind of like how Toronto needs one:

“Lindros admitted last week that he sat down for meetings with Ferguson and coach Paul Maurice and was buoyed by the news they want him to play a prominent role on the team's second line.

But then Ferguson stood firm on his negotiations with Lindros, who is representing himself. The Toronto GM wouldn't budge from his initial offer of $750,000 annually (all figures U.S.), an offer made last season shortly after Lindros was lost because of wrist surgery.”

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Yeah - that's me right after I read Ferguson
might not sign Lindros. Look out, baby.

John Ferguson has made some extremely puzzling moves (and I’m gritting my teeth as I attempt to diplomatically describe his spending habits) with his budget allocation this summer.

Okay, so if I understand - he’s willing to give a couple of aging minor leaguers (John Pohl, Eric Westrum) who have proven absolutely nothing at the NHL level guaranteed contracts for next season, but now, NOW, he’s decided to shut the vault when Lindros has come, hat in hand, willing to take a substantial discount to stay in town. He asked for 1.25 million bucks - that's what Domi made last year, for crying out loud. Is Ferguson thinking Lindros is worth less than Domi?

I don't get it. Ferguson overplayed the hometown discount card last year with Roberts too, and look what happened there.

What do I know, though. Maybe a 33-year-old former Hart Trophy winner with 839 career points is only worth $250,000 more than the legendary John Pohl.

It would be an organizational embarrassment (this is another attempt at diplomacy) if the Leafs let Eric Lindros go to another team because Ferguson decided to dig his heels in over a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Lindros is now three years removed from his last concussion, and before he was sidelined last season with an unrelated freak injury, was putting together an excellent (surprising?) year. There's no reason to think he can't produce that way again. He would slot in perfectly into the Leaf lineup as a solid third-line centre, on a team that could really use one. Think about it - who else is a character forward on the Leafs right now?

And the risk? Absolutely zero – Lindros would be added to the roster as a role-player only, not a pillar player to be relied on, and should the unthinkable happen and an injury takes him from the lineup, his salary comes out from under the cap, and you insert another centre in his place. Like the incredible John Pohl, for instance.

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Lookit 'im. Poor little guy, in his new
shirt and all. Fergie's going to call, right?

Look, Lindros asked for $1.25 million, Ferguson has offered $750,000. So you pick up the phone and saw it off at a million dollars for one year, and wham-bam, you’ve got a 6’5”, 240 lb. centre who projects to 20 goals, 40-50 points next season, as long as he stays healthy. And if the big man insists on $1.25 mill, you give it to him. There’s room under the cap, and more importantly – nobody who was available (restricted free agents don't count) with his kind of upside has signed a deal this summer for so little. Nobody, it's not even close. Check the list. Even Roenick signed for $1.2 million plus incentives - and he's 36 with about 200,000 miles on the odometer. I can't believe that Ferguson entertained this petty flea-market haggling with Lindros from the outset. Unless there is a list of players with Lindros' resume willing to play in Toronto for $1.25 million?

And even if Lindros signs for that amount, it leaves salary room to pick up Peca, assuming he still wants to play under this big top. Lindros' contract is one of the simplest no-brainer slam-dunks Ferguson should be contemplating this summer.

So, Fergie. Buddy. Pick-up-the-phone, and call him. Call. Him.

What are you waiting for?

Horse manure

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I just saw another update on Barbaro, the Kentucky-Derby winning racehorse whose leg literally exploded out of the gate at the Preakness Stakes on May 30th. Apparently, he’s clinging to life with a case of laminitis, a disease that forced the euthanasia of racing legend Secretariat in 1989. Barbaro’s condition is regularly mentioned in the news, and I’ve read that he’s even receiving bags of get-well cards from adults and children alike from around the world.

It’s a sad story, but let’s be honest. The biggest reason Barbaro wasn’t put to death on the track (this happens often enough that race organizers keep screens handy to place around a horse, so that it can be killed with some concession to privacy) is because Barbaro was an undefeated, high-earnings racehorse who 1.) was likely worth more money than his insurance would pay out, and 2.) would produce millions of dollars in stud fees, if he survived.

I don't have any doubts that the owners of Barbaro feel genuine concern for the well-being of their horse. By all accounts, they are supposed to be nice people who care a lot for him, and have been described in the press as humble, self deprecating, and all that other good stuff. But but the fact is, thousands of racehorses lacking Barbaro’s pedigree and income potential are euthanized on an annual basis. The fact that doctors are attempting to save an obvious lost-cause like Barbaro when other horses are often put to death with far less catastrophic injuries means one thing: like anything else, horseracing is only about the money. Barbaro's owner may have said otherwise, his own vet didn't:

"A normal horse on any other day in any other race would have been put down already."

---Nick Meittinis

Who are you going to believe, the millionaire owner/investor, or the guy who puts the needles into the horses?

One-way street

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Today’s Toronto Star reported the Leafs have signed career AHL veteran Erik Westrum.

It’s strange that TSN’s scouting report identifies him as a defensive forward, when he finished second in AHL scoring last season with 34 goals and 98 points in 71 games for the Houston Aeros. Westrum turns 27 this summer, so it’s unlikely he’s poised for an NHL breakthrough. But he’s a body that can be inserted onto the AHL Marlies lineup card, which as part of the Leafs’ minor-league organization, describes as a “mile wide, and an inch deep.”

Puzzling about the deal is the fact that Westrum’s contract is one-way in the first year -- meaning he'll make $450,000 whether he plays in the minors or the big club -- and two-way in the second year, with an NHL salary of $475,000 in the NHL and $100,000 in the minors.

Why is a career bush-leaguer like Westrum landing a one-way deal with the Leafs as a free agent (and John Pohl as well for that matter, a 27-year-old offensive dynamo with all of 3 NHL goals to his credit - why does John Ferguson so often choose to pay money when he doesn’t have to?) when Kyle Wellwood spent his entire rookie season playing for the big club, scoring 11 goals and 45 points, and is offered a two-way contract?

Maybe it isn’t just Pat Quinn who had a problem Wellwood and his tomfoolery.

Where’s the love?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Maple Leafs' 2006-2007 Salary Commitments

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I’ll be honest with you, the past week of free agent signings and trades interested me more than watching the Stanley Cup final. Imagine that - a week of refreshing TSN’s homepage, wondering what the Leafs were up to on the trade market trumped boosting a team I never follow during the regular season. Sorry, Edmonton. Your greatest achievement in sixteen years couldn’t compete with the news that the one and only Hal Gill had signed a long-term contract with Toronto. I mean, this was freaking Hal Gill! Seriously, I jumped out of my chair. I really did. Where’s the blue face paint?

Anyway, now that the dust has settled a bit, it’s possible to do an interim assessment of the team’s salary structure. With the Leafs’ major acquisitions - Andrew Raycroft, Hal Gill, and Pavel Kubina - now signed to contracts, most of the team is now in place for next season. So what’s left to spend?

Here are the payroll stats, taken from TSN’s website. Some of these figures may be incorrect - the reason for that is because TSN only reports salaries earned by the player in the current year, but not the overall cap hit, which is all anybody really cares about. (Like – why do they list McCabe’s salary as $7.15 million? Everybody wants to know what his contract means to the salary cap next season, not what he will earn in the calendar year.)

Unfortunately, no site I know about reports player contract lengths. So for the ones I could find the details for, I worked the calculator to figure out the cap hit. And the others that I couldn’t find - I had to use TSN’s numbers. (In other words, this is as good as I could do. If any figures are off, leave a comment with the correction. Why isn’t there a resource for this?)

Toronto 2006-07 Salary Commitments

Mats Sundin 6,333,333.00
Bryan McCabe 5,750,000.00
Pavel Kubina 5,000,000.00
Tomas Kaberle 4,250,000.00
Hal Gill 2,100,000.00
Andrew Raycroft 2,000,000.00
Darcy Tucker 1,596,000.00
Jeff O'Neill 1,500,000.00
Nik Antropov 1,007,000.00
Chad Kilger 900,000.00
Alexander Steen 720,000.00
Alex Ponikarovsky 725,000.00
Wade Belak 675,000.00
Staffan Kronwall 612,000.00
Mikael Tellqvist 589,000.00
J.S. Aubin 525,000.00
Ben Ondrus 475,000.00
John Pohl 450,000.00

Tie Domi buyout 1,250,000.00
Ed Belfour buyout 1,500,000.00

Current known obligations: $37,969,333.00

Unsigned RFA's, and their qualifying offers

Carlo Colaiacovo 901,740.00
Matt Stajan 845,880.00
Kyle Wellwood 689,700.00
Ian White 498,300.00
Jay Harrison 495,000.00

By these numbers, the Leafs are fast approaching the $44 million salary cap. Since John Ferguson has already said that he intends to keep a buffer of about 2 million dollars, he’s got maybe $4-6 million left in the kitty to sign a forward or two, depending on who will comprise the final roster to begin the season.

So who's left in the bargain bin?

Saturday, July 08, 2006


To recap, neither Pronger ("it would be intriguing" to play in Toronto) nor Roenick ("Toronto is the hockey mecca") ended up in a Leafs jersey.

The latest NHL player to publicly announce his desire to play for Toronto is Mike Peca:

"It'd be a dream come true," Peca said. "At the same time, I realize the importance of putting on that jersey and the privilege of it.

"It would be a case where you'd pinch yourself."

This sounds all well and good, but too many players say they want to play in Toronto and then end up smiling for the camera in some other uniform.

If the rumour of negotiations going on between Peca and Toronto is true, it would be excellent news for Leaf fans.

Peca is a proven playoff performer, having gone to the Cup final twice. He's a centre who had a 55% faceoff win percentage last year, which fills a big hole on the Leafs behind Mats Sundin. Yes, Stajan, Steen, and Pohl are listed as centres, but I'd be taking Peca as my guy on the draw with twenty seconds to go in a tight game. Peca has grit, heart, and is a clubhouse leader. And if he comes cheap, he'd fit the rapidly-shrinking cap space of the Leafs.

If I'm John Muckler, I'm making a pitch for Peca in a big way. He implied a need for depth at centre at the trade deadline this past March when he acquired Tyler Arnason; Peca would slot in perfectly as the number-two pivot behind Spezza.

Leaf fans should be hoping Muckler doesn't wake up to that fact.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Oil be damned

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Edmonton fans, already apoplectic over their best player requesting a trade, must now be going ballistic over the measly return Kevin Lowe managed for unloading Chris Pronger.

Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, Anaheim's first-round choice in 2007, a conditional first-round pick and Anaheim's second-round pick in 2008 to the Oilers.

That’s it. There’s no word of Anaheim including any magic beans in their trade package.

Over the past year, Brian Burke has proven himself to be the best general manager in the NHL, beginning with the acquisition of Scott Niedermayer. Since the summer of 2005, Burke has completely re-worked the lineup to suit his image, in signing sniper Teemu Selanne for a ridiculously cheap contract; adding skilled, gritty role players in Todd Fedoruk, Todd Marchant, and Chris Kunitz; and most significantly, overhauling the defense with the additions of Niedermayer, Sean O’Donnell, Joe DiPenta, and Francois Beauchemin, whom Burke acquired when he traded Sergei Fedorov. It was pure genius to unload Fedorov's crippling contract at all, never mind getting a seriviceable asset back in return.

These key moves, in addition to others, put Anaheim in the playoffs for the first time since 2002-2003.

John Ferguson, are you taking notes?

And today, Burke robbed Edmonton of Chris Pronger, giving Anaheim easily the best 1-2 defensemen in the game. Maybe even the best two ever.

There’s no understating how badly Kevin Lowe blew it today. Golden rules of player trades are:

1.) Never trade an impact player to a team in your own division;
2.) Never be the team trading the best player in the exchange;
3.) Never trade from a position of weakness

In pulling the trigger, Lowe violated all these rules, although it's true he was compromised because Pronger put a gun to his head in going public with his demands.

Edmonton is a team trying to keep together the assets that took them within one game of the Cup Final in 2006; why trade for a package consisting mostly of prospects and draft picks? Lowe didn't even receive an NHL-experienced defenseman in this deal. There's a word for trades like this.

Lupul may turn out to be a decent player some day, but various internet sources peg him as a decent second-line player at best. As the centrepiece of Anaheim's package, he is not even close to equivalent value for a player of Pronger’s calibre.

Ladislov Smid, a defenseman, was Anaheim’s fourth-best prospect, behind Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry. All “prospect” means is that he hasn’t done anything yet at the major-league level. Since Edmonton’s position has to be “return to the finals”, Smid does not address their current need on defense. And by extension, neither do any of Anaheim’s draft picks, which may never help Edmonton, particularly since Anaheim is going to be a contending team for years to come. The picks in any of the rounds are going to be low ones.

This transaction qualifies as a rebuilding move by a team that is not in a position to rebuild.

Burke, on the other hand, made the no-brainer trade: prospects for the proven superstar (and Pronger isn’t just “proven” – he’s one of the best defensemen in the NHL), a trade you always make if you are given the chance.

Lowe managed to bungle the timing of the transaction as well; the time to move Pronger in a trade with any team was last week, before the free-agency period began. With uncertainty over player movement affecting team decisions, the trade value for Pronger was never going to be higher than it was before 12 pm, July 1st.

With the majority of teams addressing their defense needs over the weekend, there was no longer any urgency to trade Pronger before the season started.

What did Lowe have to lose if he waited until training camp to move Pronger?

Burke gave up one player off his roster, who is easily replaced, for a Hall of Fame-bound player in the prime of his career who will help the Ducks in the playoffs for years. And Burke still has his top-three prospects waiting in the wings to contribute.

How many sneering Edmonton fans wish they could roll back the clock to last week and accept any package from Toronto with Kaberle as the key player involved?

And for Toronto fans – why wasn’t Ferguson able to put together a trade package that rivaled what Burke assembled?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Wendel Clark Tribute

While looking for something else on (I could spend all day on that site), I came across this Wendel Clark tribute video.

I want to know where on earth they got the footage for this. Wendel, driving around in a beat-up car with a toothpick in his lips? Sneering, frowning, and slapping his fists menacingly, in time with Bryan Adams music? It looks like a video put together by a grade eleven media class.

Anyway, enjoy. I miss Wendel.

Pronger a Leaf - Part Two

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I just read a blurb written by Kevin Gibson on Eklund's blog. Apparently, Pronger could still be coming to Toronto (yeah, I just spit coffee all over my monitor too):

"Tucker and Telqvist Offered In A Deal For Pronger

Obviously the Leafs would have to offer more then these two, what? I don't know. With the Leafs having Raycroft and Aubin between the pipes, Toronto won't be able to send Telqvist to the minors without somebody grabbing him and you don't carry three goalies. With JFjr. signing Aubin to a two year deal at the end of last season and trading for Raycroft, who's the odd man out? Telqvist. After last seasons offensive output, Tucker has never been worth more. "

Before yesterday, with Kaberle and McCabe already inked for next season, and prior to Kubina's signing, Pronger coming to Toronto had to rate as a pipe dream. And even before McCabe finally agreed to his contract, a casual observer would still have rated it as unlikely - who would Toronto trade to the Edmonton Oilers for one of the top-3 defensemen in hockey?

But now, after having dedicated an incredible $17.1 million dollars annually to McCabe, Kaberle, Kubina and Gill (39% of a $44 million payroll, and that's not even taking into account Belfour's and Domi's buyouts, and Sundin's heavy salary), we're supposed to believe that Pronger is on the way for Toronto's third-string goalie (which is what Tellqvist would be in Edmonton behind Roloson and Markkanen) and a rapidly aging third line agitator (Tucker). There's no chance, not with how the team is presently constituted.

Of course, the trade could not be limited to just those two players. One of Toronto's defense would have to go back in the deal to even out the talent and salaries, and it would have to be Kubina.

I'm not saying it makes much sense. It's considered a major no-no in hockey circles to sign an unrestricted free agent, only to trade him again days later. It would severely cripple a teams ability to recruit future free agents. That is, unless Kubina knew he'd be trade bait in a Pronger deal from the outset. From the reports I read in the papers this morning, Kubina simply signed with the highest bidder, since Tampa offered him $2.5 million to stay in Florida, and Toronto was the first team to step up and show him the money. So maybe Kubina would be all right with a move to the Oilers, and his signing makes sense in that it's part of a larger move.

And on Thursday, McCabe was announced this week as a "cornerstone" of the Leafs defense. In a rare fit of pique, Kaberle announced through the media that he would be very unhappy with a move to Edmonton, so it is unlikely he'd be willing to give up his no-trade clause. These two should be the odds-on favourites to stay. The wild card though is Kaberle's very reasonable salary, which would definitely be of interest to Edmonton. Good luck convincing Kabby to give up his no-trade clause.

But if Ferguson did manage to land Pronger for a package including a defenseman - who is going to play forward?

I just can't see the trade happening. But if it does, I call shotgun on the John Ferguson bandwagon.

Rebuild? Shmebuild.

Questions concerning who is in charge of personnel decisions for the Toronto Maple Leafs were decisively addressed yesterday. Forget the last couple of years – the player moves the team pulled off during that time had Pat Quinn’s fingerprints all over them. Yesterday’s actions marked the first time the Leafs had made any major moves without Quinn’s influence complicating matters.

And make no mistake – the real John Ferguson Junior era has begun.

In addressing Toronto’s defense as the biggest weakness of the team, Ferguson executed a major departure in strategy the Leafs have employed since Quinn was hired in 1998. Under the Big Irishman, “playing defense” meant allowing Curtis Joseph or Eddie Belfour see 35 shots per game and employing a player like Aki Berg as the team’s third defenseman, meaning traditional stay-at-home play was an afterthought at best. Toronto was routinely among the league leaders in shots allowed under Quinn.

Ferguson evidently read somewhere that “defense wins championships”, and so, opened the wallet for Pavel Kubina and Hal Gill in a big way.

Did Ferguson overpay? Does a bear – nevermind. Yeah, he overpaid, but show me any defenseman who signed for what a fan might call a “fair” price. Jay McKee – four million per season? Is Zdeno Chara worth more than Lidstrom? Yesterday's signings had everything to do with what teams wanted, and nothing to do with what a player is worth. But you know what, “worth” always means, “what someone is willing to pay,” so today, I suppose that means Kubina is worth five million per season. (No, I don’t really believe that. I’m just trying to rationalize all this. I haven’t looked up the numbers, but statistically, I doubt Kubina is in the top-15 in defense stats, but he’s right up there in salary. Oh well.)

The offseason isn’t over, so it’s impossible to rate Ferguson’s performance in revamping the Leafs just yet. All that matters right now is that:

1.) He targeted and landed two free agents that he wanted on the team, something that didn’t happen last summer
2.) Toronto’s defense is now the strongest it’s been in at least a decade
3.) Toronto’s defense now compares favourably with any team in its division

With less than one year remaining on Ferguson’s own contract, Leaf fans can be sure he is going to spend every dollar he can under the cap to make a winner in one season. He has absolutely nothing to lose. So with his coach, goaltender, and defense now taken care of, all that’s left are the forwards. Start flipping through the available players, and don’t be surprised if another name-brand acquisition is introduced in short order.

John Ferguson’s Plan:

1.) Buy everybody
2.) Win the Cup in one season
3.) Become a Toronto legend
4.) Pick up more hair gel

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