Alright, it's been a while. First off, let me congratulate Fletch on landing us Schenn. Great pick, we've got enough centers in the system and as much as I liked Boedker Schenn has more quality. Kudos.
Also, I'd like to blast Damien Cox for being a bigoted idiot. In this article he blasts the Leafs for not going with "skill" for their top 5 pick like the 5 other teams in the top 6 picked. In this article, he suggests that the Leafs take Schenn along with the 10th pick Tyler Myers (dream on Damien) for their "twin towers defense of the future" not four days before the aforementioned blasting of the Leafs. How does this make sense? It's simple, the Leafs are always wrong, and because Cox doesn't know anything he didn't know that Schenn was ranked in the consensus top 6 (and thus beyond the 7th pick).
As for the buyouts, well, we'll start with the easy one.
Goodbye Andrew. All the best, maybe one day when your confidence is regained you'll stop dropping into the butterfly when an opposing player crosses the blue line and learn to come out from your net. I honestly did believe you'd be a good goaltender someday, and I still do. But thank God we've got Vesa.
Now for the contested buyouts. When he came in Fletcher stated that the team would have a new look and we'd have 5-6 new guys next season. I'm not sure what others thought he meant, but generally revamping a team and rebuilding involves getting rid of old guys and underperformers.
Tucker was getting old, getting injury prone, and most of all he was an old stalwart from a time long past. It's not that I don't think he can't continue to play at a high level in the future, I think he'll make a team very happy come July 1st. Sad thing for Tucker is that he'll probably be broken down or retired by the time the Leafs would have a practical use for his services. That said, I fully believe buying him out had little to do with his relative playing ability into the future. Buying out Tucker was a locker room move, getting rid of him changes the comfort level of the room and helps to wean out the 'blame the refs', 'blame injuries', 'don't perform until the last 1/4 of the season' mentality that seemed to be creeping into our room. Blaming man-games lost to injury is such a Ferguson/Maurice-ism.
Wellwood is a bit of a tender issue, he had such promise for Leafs fans everywhere and was probably one of the most skilled forwards on the team not named Sundin. Reports also pegged him as lazy, a bit of a creep, and of poor conditioning. Rumour even has it that MLSE threatened to fine him unless he brought his workouts up to standard. There's good odds that if half of those rumours are true then Wellwoods hernia, second hernia, and touch-up surgery were all actually, legitimately his fault. If that's the case then waiting for him to one day become healthy is a fool's errand, if he can't commit to bettering himself then the injuries will keep coming. Not only that, but as a professional athlete, if he's not willing to do his job by staying in shape and performing to expectations then he deserves to be demoted or removed from the roster, it's good business sense that you don't reward people who violate their contracts by offering them a new one.
The Leafs dropped a good amount of skill in a few days, and not for more skill. Part of Fletcher's job isn't just to manage the team in terms of talent, but also to turn around a locker room that was getting too comfortable with losing out and believing that they didn't deserve it, that next year would be their year through no understandable reasoning. I'll stick by Cliff for dropping Tucker and Welly because he's more privy to the attitudes and private lives of his players than we are, and because I knew that moves such as this had to happen.
It just doesn't mean that I have to feel good about it.
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