Reading along in the totally predictable Berger Blog on the Fan590 website this am, trying to stay awake when i read this:
“Cliff Fletcher — as promised — has re-modelled the Blue & White for 2008-09. But, how does one re-model anything while retaining the centre-piece? That’s why Fletcher’s insistence that he’d gladly furnish Sundin another one-year deal with a no-movement clause smacks of ownership meddling.”
This, my friends reeks of bullshit. It just makes no sense in the current maple leaf environment. While I am not naive enough to believe that the board hasn’t meddled in the past, I don’t believe they are telling Cliff what to do here at all. I am certain that Cliff has presented a plan which the board probably questioned and then approved. I believe the meddling that has gone in the past did involve pressure to retain a certain “non” tough guy. I do believe that the meddling that has gone on in the past may have involved trying to lure executives from other clubs through improper channels. I don’t for one second believe that the board has mettled in player matters.
Here are some facts. One, why would Cliff have come out of “retirement” for that? He left Toronto in a cloud of smoke after dealing with the ultimate meddler, Steve, thought shall not trade for Wayne Gretzky” Stavros. Why would Nieuendyk take that job if that were the case? The guy could have gone to other cities but he decided to come here. The guy doesn’t (or shouldn’t) need the money. Ron Wilson, said as much on the radio the other day. Now, what is he going to say, the cynics in all of us is going to ask. Wilson, without provication said that He had more questions of the Admin during the interview process then they had of him. He said that all the stories out there are pure media fabrication (hello Howie). The guy was going to be paid, he could have waited it out and probably gotten offers from teams in much better shape then the Buds.
Brady, on the 640 the other day, said that while his station criticizes MLSE all the time, the station, despite being rights holders for the Leaf games, has never been told what to say or not say from the powers that be at MLSE. I would assume that given the blatant, biased, hatred Bill Watters has for his ex-bosses at MLSE, and the way he then attacks the Leafs and MLSE ALL the time, that this would be a place the board WOULD meddle; but they don’t. Brady went so far as to say that other teams in Toronto do. Now, MLSE owns the Raptors, so I am betting it isn’t the Raptors who are telling the Fan what to say. That leaves the Jays (sorry sports fans, the Argos don’t count). One does have to wonder why the Jays are telling the folks at Rogers what to say??? What do they have to hide/worry about?? That’s a topic for another day.
Back at MLSE does anyone believe that the board told JFJ to sign Jason Blake or Pavel Kubina? I can tell you that there isn’t a person on that board who would have known either of these guys had their limos hit either one of them. I think the Wilson is right. The perceived meddling is media BS. Who do I think drives it? This great game of ours is driven by an old boys school of executives who are jealous as all hell. The guys who didn’t get the job when Peddie et all where doing their search aren’t too happy about being “not good enough”. These guys ALL talk. They talk to each other, they talk to agents and they talk to the press. This is how guys like Berger get their info. Wilbur allegedly used to be Berger’s source. What do you think the fired executive tells people about his departure? “Oh, well they were right, I got my fingers caught in the fax machine, I talked to much to the press and otherwise was a bad employee…” Of course not. No fired employee talks well of that employer.
The reason Cliff wants Mats back is simple. Cliff looks at his roster and sees a gap the size of the grand canyon. Wilson said they don’t have a franchise player. Mats isn’t going to get a multi year deal from the leafs and will have no long term effect on the payroll. If Mats wants to come back for the year and have some influence on the younger guys what is the risk? The other reason I think is purely for PR. Ciff brought Mats here. If he thinks he wants to leave for either another team or retirement, why not say the right things? What is there to lose in saying he will be welcome back if you know he doesn’t want to come back?
“Instead, Fletcher’s public remarks about Sundin more than likely reflect the infatuation of his superiors at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. The Leaf directors adore Sundin — justifiably — for his comportment as much as his playing ability. Always aiming to uphold a sleek corporate image, MLSE understands how uniquely Sundin has represented the company through the years. Undoubtedly, Fletcher is being encouraged to keep open the lines of communication with the long-time captain, and to welcome him back to the fold… even if it thoroughly counters what the GM is aiming to accomplish with his restructured team.
That’s how a franchise in a 41-year Stanley Cup funk does business.”
It says here the Leaf brass is probably more irrationally angry at Mats for not waiving his no trade at the deadline last season. That move prevented the Buds from being years ahead in the building process. Face it folks, Sundin won’t draw more fans, he won’t sell more jerseys or concessions. I was at the Gardens when the likes of Val James played for John Brophy. The seats were filled then, as they are now. Corporate Toronto would rather envision the MLSE board behind a total revamp then a team that is tooth and nail trying to contend for the final playoff spot.
Finally, the Board isn’t as stupid as Howie wants us to believe. You don’t get to where these guys are being Howies. Agreed, lots of guys when they own teams do dumb things. This just doesn’t add up though. It’s also not what the real experts say. JFJ has said that the only time he was “meddled” with was when he wanted to blow everything up and rebuild. This board has already allowed Cliff to start. Why would they let him be half pregnant? Move along howie, like in the mistreatment of McCabe story….there is nothing to see here.