Tag Archives: Cliff Fletcher

Time For A Change In The Morning

I am going to go out on a limb here folks. It is time Nelson Millman to make a change to his morning show over at the Fan 590. I don’t want to call for someone to lose (not loose) their job, but the morning show is just stale. Why do I bring this up today, well, Don Landry was out ill today and Damien filled in for Landry. It was the best morning show they have had in ages. Let me be clear, I don’t know Don Landry from Adam. To quote Pat Burns, “I wouldn’t know him if I hit him with my car.” I don’t dislike him personally, nor the work he does. However, if ever there was a guy suited for a mid day slot it would be him. He can be funny, he likes to do more shtick then substance and I am sure he has a ton of loyal followers. He just isn’t a sports guy. This is a time slot the Fan has all to their own and to be honest most mornings I punt to 550 or god forbid music. If I am not getting sports at 590, there is no reason to listen. Nelson needs to find a replacement for Landry during that show and move Landry to an hour where his talents will be more appreciated. I can’t see the ratings for this show getting any better then they are right now. The show has peaked and I predict will decline until a change is made.

Damien was fantastic this am with Gord. They have amazing chemistry and man, they spent time actually talking about what their sports guests earlier in the am had to say. Damien was saying how he thought wht Burke was doing with Pogge was the right move, that it was part of a plan. He said he disagreed with Scotty’s take from earlier in the am which was great in that I didn’t get to hear all of it. There was a lot less hijinx then there usually is and a bigger focus on sports. Again, for some reason I think Damien’s column has suffered greatly as a result of the other things he does. He is better in his blog and is better then that on the radio. Watching him faceoff against Simmons on Sunday’s is pretty interesting too. In his column he rarely says why leaf fans should be happy that Cliff is gone. It sounds like a personal vendetta, and more so every time he says it isn’t. This morning he actually put some meat on the bones saying that if Cliff were still in charge we would have seen more deals like the one Cliff made for Lee Stempniak, trading away 2 guys who at the very least should have been given a shot with the Marlies to work our their careers. Damien guaranteed that Cliff was going to do everything in his power to get the team to the playoffs this season and deals like that were evidence of such. Now, I have no clue whether that is true or not. Damien also wrote that Doug Gilmour was paying for his players to be at the ACC this Saturday and we have since learned otherwise. At least it makes for interesting radio. It is certainly better then another bit of Ken Dryden in the house of commons! Good on Damien for mixing it up a bit, making it interesting etc.

I would like to see the Fan 590 think outside the box a bit more. In many major cities I have lived in the morning show and the drive home show feature a radio guy and a print guy as permanent hosts. The radio guy is always there (except for vacations) and the print guy is sometimes a little late, sometimes on the road or sometimes absent. They have good chemistry and create a good product. Now Brunt is a part timer on the Fan, not full time with McCown. While I love Brunt’s work, I think he comes across as being to cerebral for radio in this town. He is certainly better then some of the other guys though. I would love for the Fan to find a way to get Damien or someone like him in there with Stellick. Maclean would be a better fit to be honest. One of the problems I think is that we don’t have a huge bullpen of talent (at least known) in this market. It’s not like there are 5-10 guys on other shows who you say, man they would be awesome on the Fan. With the exception of Brady on 640 (and I think he would be terrific with Stellick, but can’t see that happening anytime soon), I really can’t think of anyone. Now Brady came from Detroit and there are probably a lot of folks in the industry looking for work in other markets. I think Nelson really should make a change, move Landry to the mid-day and bring in someone else to work with Stellick. This morning was a tease.

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Draft Schmaft?

If you only read one article today (besides this one of course) check out the hockey news story by Ryan Dixon. It’s another story on how securing a top draft pick is not the only way to build a winner:

Consider if you will:

” the more you look around the league, the more you realize the folly of this sentiment. High picks are to NHL GMs what miracle diets are to the lumpy couch potato; sure, they can give you an immediate jolt, but if you want sustainable results, you have to hit the gym. In the case of NHL GMs, you need your scouts to scour gyms, arenas and any other place you’d expect to find a burgeoning hockey player who has yet to be spotted or has, at the very least, been underrated. That way, your ability to select impact players isn’t restricted to the 20 minutes immediately following the chorus of boos Gary Bettman receives right after saying, “Welcome to the NHL draft.”

There is no question about this. It’s never about 1 guy, it’s a team game and you will win and lose by your roster.

“Want three examples of why you don’t need famine in order to feast in the NHL? Start with Detroit, San Jose and Boston, also known as the three best teams in the league. The highest any of those clubs have chosen since 2000 is No. 5, which is where the Bruins got Phil Kessel in 2006. Boston has selected in the top 10 on two other occasions over that time frame, while San Jose has three top-10 picks, the highest coming at No. 6 (Milan Michalek). Detroit, as you’d expect, has none.All of those teams got to the top – and can expect to stay there – because they’ve done an exceptional job of drafting in the mid-to-late first round and beyond.”

Keep in mind folks this is in the new NHL era. It is the one reason I have hope. The old days of building teams are over, the need for an influx of new minds is every present.

“Once upon a time, the Sens were among the NHL’s best at unearthing draft gems. In 1997, they nabbed Marian Hossa with the 12th overall pick. Two years later, with the 26th selection, they grabbed Martin Havlat. But Ottawa’s depth has been undermined by its inability to continue finding players of that quality. In the virtually idiot-proof first round of 2003, Ottawa drafted Patrick Eaves 29th overall. Boston took Patrice Bergeron with the 45th pick and Nashville hit a home run with Shea Weber four slots later at No. 49.
The year before that, in 2002, Ottawa took Jakub Klepis No. 16 overall. Oops.”

Again, stories of pre salary cap NHL aren’t overly relevant. Teams operated completely differently back then (look at our leafs). The Sens much like the leafs (but to a different degree) haven’t adapted to the post war era. Their GM is still stuck in the old mindset. He has over priced talent that he can’t move and remains steadfast in their value despite their lack of production. Detroit isn’t a fair comparison. They were SO bad for so long that when they started to get it right they had built a system that was for lack of a better word recession proof. The machine was built pre Cap and still works post Cap. Let’s see what they do next season and the season after. The pressure will be higher because expectations are high AND the cap isn’t supposed to increase, rather it’s supposed to go down. The pressure to draft properly especially from the bottom of the rounds will go way up.

“I completely understand why bottom-feeders like the Islanders, Atlanta, St. Louis and Toronto are drooling at the prospect of drafting a John Tavares or Victor Hedman. Those teams are, to some degree, devoid of talent and need a new cornerstone around which to build. But being bad and picking very high for a number of years does have its perils. First of all, the boom only comes after a bust and who knows how many fans a prolonged down cycle alienates if you’re not in a market where hockey is the undisputed No. 1 sport.”

Thankfully that isn’t a Toronto problem. At least not right now. We have suffered so long without a marquee name (an elite, best of the league type) for, well almost ever! ( i know certain Sundin lovers will throw shit at me for that, but the truth hurts).

“Secondly, at some point you’re going to be paying out a huge amount of salary to a small portion of your team. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to pony up for both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews after next season when their entry-level deals both expire.”

Having two young studs is a problem I can live with. Dixon brings up the Pens with this problem too. I have a difficult blaming the fact that they have 2 guys who are going to make big bucks as the problem. It’s a problem when you don’t have a GM who knows how to put the right pieces around them. I mean no disrespect to Detroit’s grind line, but they are the type of team that they are because their muckers and grinders- Plumbers as Burke calls them are better then anyone elses. That’s where the good teams make the big difference. Great players are great. It’s the guys who get dirty where you need to seperate yourself from the pack.

“Fans of struggling teams can cry for a complete rebuild if they want, but a steady diet of top picks can leave you with nothing more than a bloated salary cap if you’re not supplementing it with a nice dose of hidden gems.”

Or some great plumbers!

you can read the story here

Is Cliff Fletcher The Next Maple Leaf To Go?

Damien was on the Fan this am (sorry the audio isn’t up on their site), you may be able to hear a clip on an update. He was saying that the Cliff appearances seem to be on the rise lately. You have seen him quoted, his face on TV etc more in the last couple of weeks then in the past then over the last couple of months since Burke took over. Damien said that Burke wouldn’t let this (Fletcher’s presence in the media) continue, he actually guaranteed it. The implied story is that this is Burke’s team and Burke won’t allow Cliff to be the face of it. This should be interesting to watch simply because Cliff’s coziness is allegedly what lead to his departure from Tampa Bay. Of course we have to be mindful of Damien’s anti Cliff bias which has been most apparent lately.

Stay tuned…

Our Beloved Prophets

A lovely Monday am to all. I have a big smile on my face this. I am not happy that Al Coates lost his job. That is never fun for anyone. I have no clue what he was doing with the Leafs, so I have no clue what this means for the team. I am happy because it is further evidence of how lazy and out in Geroge Bell (left field) some of our local media members are.

“2008-06-16 13:10:00

TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Al Coates as their player-personnel director Monday.

The move will serve to further fuel speculation that Anaheim Mighty Ducks general manager Brian Burke will become the Leafs’ GM once his deal with the Ducks expires next summer. Coates comes to Toronto after spending the previous six seasons with Anaheim.”

So Coates=Burke eh???

Ooooooops

The majority of the scribes would have let us believe that Coates=Burke. The reality is this type of investigation is akin to the work of one of my favorite investigators
:
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The reality, from what I am told is that Burke, through fourth parties tried to send smoke signals this way, not to hire Coates and that Cliff decided to hire his old friend anyway. Now if I can get my hands on inuendo like that…imagine what a beat writer could do??? A few members of the media said that this was Cliff doing a favor to an old buddy of his…

More on this subject in a post later

Pre-Airwaves Post

A happy Sunday morning to all of you. Here are some random thoughts before taking to the airwaves on The Sunday Showcase on 740 AM here in the GTA at 11:30:

Howie and I disagree on one more thing, fashion. I was yapping at LT at how ugly the Flyers jersey was, way too florescent for me. Howie said it was his favorite of all the third jerseys. I realize this is biased, the Leafs jersey that has the old style maple leaf is my favorite. Followed by the Pens blue one.

Nice move by Lou and the Devils to ink Brendan Shanahan. He is happy being the New York area and may still have something left in the tank. Time will tell if it was a good move.

Anyone have a tape of hockeycentral from last night. I hear there was another near dust-up between Nick Kypreos and Bill Watters. An emailer sent me this account:

Kypreos: Hartsburg has worst body language I’ve ever seen in a coach, calls out his star players, Eugene – do something!

Watters: Hold it, Nick, HOLD IT….You can say what u want about Hartsburg, but he is as fine a young man as I’ve known..

Kypreos: So what, Bill….

Watters: And he’s a better coach than you’ve ever had!

Kypreos: Really????? (getting right pissed)

Watters: Yes, that’s true!

Kypreos: He is a Junior A coach….He is a Junior A coach..

Watters: NO HE ISN’T! NO HE ISN’T! He is an NHL COACH!

Kypreos: He isn’t. He’s proven that.

Watters: Do you think he’d call you a Junior A Player (screaming)??? You couldn’t carry his jockstrap!!!!!

Kypreos: Well….(then just sits there steaming…)

Honestly — Kypreos just looked like he’d gotten kicked in the balls.”

Here’s hoping someone out there has it so I can post it.

You know- us leaf fans and the franchise itself just can’t win. When the team was winning, Cliff did a lousy job because the team was performing too well. When they are losing the sky is falling. It’s no wonder someone hasn’t started a site devoted to bashing the media in this town 🙂

“The Maple Leafs continue to rediscover their backbone, but victories, well, that’s a different matter.” That from Paul Hunter in today’s Star. The undertone is blatent. What happened to the leafs need to tank sentiment? I mean as an old boss loved to say, you can’t suck and blow at the same time. The media just can’t have it both ways. I didn’t see the game last night, but for the opening 5-7 minutes. From all accounts it was the game we as fans should hope for every night. The boys played hard, really hard. A strong effort especially in the physical department and they lost. Isn’t that what we want from this team this year? Compete hard yet not enough to advance in the standings. The best part is the players we want to move are all playing reasonably well, therefore hopefully raising their respective values. Let’s hope they don’t peak too early or get hurt.

Love the bit in Ottawa Sun today that Brian Burke won’t be afraid to trade with the Habs or Sens…Man would #55 look great in white, red and black!

Type at you after the show

Best Article Of The Day

Brian Burke isn’t going to let up on Kevin Lowe anytime soon. He references “that contract” about as often as Richie MacLean discusses the current status of his 401k/RRSP. In any event, David Staples a writer out west is looking enviously at Mr. Burke and his recent fortunes in taking over the Maple Leafs. Here are a few snippets:

“One has to give credit to the cagey Burke for escaping a team that is already over the cap (Anahem is at $58 million thanks to Burke) and seizing control of a team that is well under the cap (credit to Cliff Fletcher). From his grave, Niccolo Machiavelli tips his hat to Burke, the master of fortuna (good luck) and skillful machinations. This year, Toronto’s cap number is $47 million, while Los Angeles is at $45 million. There’s room for both teams to pick up one or two stars.”

I have yet to hear anyone refer to Toronto as shopping for or being able to pick up stars…

“So don’t be surprised if you see an NHL superstar making his way to the Kings or the Leafs in coming months. And don’t be surprised if fans in the numerous cities that are right up against the cap — such as Edmonton, Chicago, New York, Ottawa, Philadelphia, San Jose, Pittsburgh, Washington, Anaheim, Calgary and Detroit — find themselves waking up and looking with great envy at Los Angeles, where Lombardi might soon be hailed as the smartest head in hockey for the way his team has recently shed salary, positioning itself perfectly for the the NHL’s coming fire sale.”

Surprised??? If it is the right guy we will be dancing in the streets!

I think the best thing Burke can do is hold. Next season doesn’t concern me as much as the season after. Burke would be wise to keep that cap space handy because teams who are at or over are going to be in trouble when the cap goes down in the season following next…

You can read the story and a classic photo you don’t want to miss here….

McCown/Brunt & Burke Why PTS is #1

If you want to know why McCown is number one in this market, listen to his interview of Bryan Burke last night. It is just stuff you don’t get anywhere else. I give a ton of credit to Bob and Stephen Brunt for this one. It was an excellent interview, they asked all the right questions at all the right times. Kudos to Burke too. Here is a sloppily written account, but I highly suggest you listen to it yourself.

Q So are you comfortable that you have a sense what this team is and what it needs?

A Yes, from the start i said that we are too small and that has proven to be our biggest need. The second thing is consistency. If you said to me how is your goaltending? On some nights its adequate, it’s been terrific and on other’s it’s not. Our defensive play, on some nights we are a unit we play hard, the next we don’t. We need a consistent approach

Q Is this a time now where you are still looking at how the teams play or are you asking yourself are the players you have, are these guys good enough?

A The latter-I inherited Ron Wilson, i respect Ron, our coaching is sound, its a good system, it’s entertaining we aren’t trapping- i like the coaching- The question now is do we have the right people to execute that system.

Q You have a long term project here. How much of your brain in focused on the short term like the brad may deal which is obviously is a short term thing and how much is like a chess game where it is three or four moves away and will pay dividends next year and into the future?

A This franchise has suffered from, and that’s a great question and a fair one… This franchise has suffered from a series of short term fixes and patch work approaches, patches on tires, I am going long term here and our goal is to win a championship. That being said, I do have a responsibility to season ticket holders and sponsors to play the hardest and to win the most games we can. With Brad May it’s not just the toughness element which he does bring, but more importantly the leadership he brings to the locker room where the younger guys can see a guy who prepares properly and approaches the game properly and has the leadership skills.

Q You like him, it’s the 3rd time you got him – he is 37 – leadership can be tricky sometimes can he bring those things to a new group mid stride?

A That is the hardest part of being a leader, is coming into a new group mid term and trying to be a leader- But i have seen Brad operate before and the one guy on our staff, Keith Acton pushed harder for this then anyone else…This isn’t a Brian Burke project, I love him as a player but he brings other things, he is very positive and that is very important to a young team, he never comes in a pouty, or in a bad mood. Every day is a great day to Brad May. I want a positive influence for those kids, a guy who pays a terrible price to win on the ice, a guy who practices hard. He is not a great hockey player, but he does a lot of things well and i think our team needs to see those things, how to prepare and act like a professional hockey player.

Q I spent a lot of time talking about the value of draft choices the direction this franchise is going and i don’t want to get into a fight about what cliff did, because I endorse most of what he did, but he did give up a lot of draft choices and well this probably isn’t much, it’s a 6th round draft pick, but I want to ask you, not you specifically, but what value do you put on draft choices as you try and build and get the buidling blocks in place, which is more important draft picks or free agents, what is your philosophy?

A My philosophy has always been that draft picks are very important. This changes as you get close. When we were close in anaheim I traded everything I could to get Chris Pronger because I was close. Ken Holland and Doug Wilson will deal draft choices because they are close. IDifferent weights you place on things depending on where you are. Right now they are the lifeblood of our team. You are right, there is no point on arguing with what Cliff did. He did some good things. He is a wonderful guy and a friend of mine. I have always tired to avoid throwing rocks at any of the guys who went before me. That is very important. People say that Cliff traded some picks and yes he did, but you will never here me complain about it. First because I don’t like guys who complain, nobody out there listening wants to listen to Bryan Burke complain and second he did what he did to make the team better. We have to do what we can to replace those picks. They are absolutely vital in a cap system. Teams that are successful have kept their picks and drafted wisely. Especially now, after the Edmonton offer sheet everyone locks them up after their entry contract so you are never going to get an elite young young kid..

Q Do you have any sense or confidence that you can start that process of reclaiming these picks before the deadline or is it going to take longer ?

A Yes we have one guy that any team would love to draft in any position in Schenn. Grabovsky is a good pick too, no one is going to quarrel that move either. But I am confident we can move some assets and start to replenish these picks, yeah sure.

Q As you approach that time- and you mention the inconsistency, what do you really like-what do you say, there is something we can hold on to there?

A if you asked me at the 7 minute mark of the first period of last night’s game when the shots were 10-0 I would have not said many names. I don’t call my team out very often. You know that, I try to be very loyal to my team. I was very sour last night and I would have made any player who was on the ice available with the exception of Luke Schenn.

I know what people are saying, why are you dealing the lifeblood of the franchise away for a guy like May? Well he told you why. He obviously has a plan, and he obviously knows exactly what is missing in the room right now. I think it is a huge indictment on Mayers and other veterans in the room. He couldn’t be more clear that there is no one in the room who is doing the little things right. I think we owe it to the guy to sit back and lets things unfold for a bit.

You can listen to the interview here.