February 7, 2008
Can Leafs turn rage into a win?
By JODY VANCE -- Sun Media
OK students, class is in session and it's time for some math -- Maple Leafs style.
Saturday: Toronto + Ottawa = 4-2 Leafs victory.
Tuesday: Toronto + Florida = 8-0 Panthers blowout.
Tonight: Ottawa + Florida = X (KI x DRT)
Tonight: Toronto + Montreal = X (KI x DRF)
Let me explain.
Of course, the Senators' start to the season was spectacular and provided them with some much-needed cushion in the standings. That cushion has all but disappeared as the improved Habs are nipping at their skates.
Ottawa's current 'X' factor is equal to 'KI' (Key Injuries) multiplied by DRT (Dressing Room Turmoil).
The Leafs' equation is somewhat different. Their early season performance has not afforded them any leeway in the standings and has led to front office upheaval.
Toronto's current 'X' factor is equal to KI multiplied by 'DRF' (Dressing Room Frustration)
Case in point -- Mats Sundin's post-game comments Tuesday night. After what can only be described as a demoralizing loss, the always-classy captain spoke openly about how he and his teammates should be embarrassed.
Head coach Paul Maurice didn't break from his strong front -- he even cracked a trademark joke post-game ... but behind his jest was very little that was funny.
When asked what was going through his mind during Tuesday's loss, Maurice said, "Mostly profanity."
Neither of these men are game for airing team frustrations in the media -- Tuesday is as close as either have come.
Make no mistake, the Leafs are proud professional athletes and they are mad. Mad at themselves, mad at their repeated inability to find consistency. Mad at their goaltenders, defencemen, forwards -- everyone. There is not one solitary goat.
If you are a frustrated Leaf fan, take solace in this -- interim GM Cliff Fletcher has already done the math. He knew the formula when he took the job.
We will see tonight when Toronto meets Montreal if anger plus frustration can equal a win.
-- Jody Vance is a longtime sportscaster and personality with "Leafs TV". Her column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.