This will be a short post. I’ll start by acknowledging I’m not a Leaf fan and it’s easy to criticize them. Lots of pro sport teams aren’t very good over long periods of time. However, some are and I don’t think it’s luck.
Do you think the Leafs have started several of the last few seasons with a goal they all really believed in – to make the play-offs? If so, I’m going to suggest that their biggest problem is their choice of goals. Making the play-offs in the NHL doesn’t take much. There’s 30 teams and 16 make the play-offs. By setting the play-offs as their goal, they’re telling themselves they badly want to be a very average team.
Good NHL clubs have the same goal year in and year out. To win the championship. To be the best in their field. Period. Toronto should worry less about how many first round draft picks they have or don’t have and focus on picking people to include in their organization who simply want to be the absolute best – as a team and as individuals. Detroit does it, New Jersey does it, Montreal does it. Montreal hasn’t had much success lately, but it is their goal and it’s the right approach.
Having said all that, I also think the will to be the best starts with ownership and the Leafs are the best in the category their owners care about – financial success. To win on the ice, they need an owner that wants to win on the ice.