Leafs rot from top

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

TORONTO -- The first letter needs to be changed. Richard Peddie generously acknowledged that "We Failed."

He really should have said that "He Failed."

The notion Peddie has come to grips with the Toronto Maple Leafs failure of three seasons without post-season, a crumbling roster and an organization almost devoid of prospects, finally is apparent to the CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.

This coming from the man who: a) hired John Ferguson Jr.; b) promised him a contract extension last June; c) reneged on his agreement when he couldn't get approval; d) deeply believed in everything Ferguson did; e) got in the way of negotiations that would have brought Scott Bowman to the Leafs last summer; f) and then later admitted hiring Ferguson was a mistake.

The carnage of those decisions is now evident. The Leafs, Peddie admits, are in bleak shape. None of the potential re-shaping of the past two months came to be: There will be no lottery pick barring a trade. There is no bevy of draft picks to rely on. This is a weak free-agent class.

"We," being the Leafs organization, failed miserably. Led, all the way, by "He," Richard Peddie.

THIS AND THAT: If I'm Cliff Fletcher, assuming his successor is not on the job come June, I'm dangling either Alex Steen or Matt Stajan along with my first-round pick in an attempt to pry the pick that will bring Steven Stamkos to Toronto. Third-line players are disposable. Franchise players are almost impossible ... From the night Steve Moore had his career ended, it sure seemed apparent that Marc Crawford played a role in Todd Bertuzzi's despicable on-ice assault. All you had to witness was his smirk from the bench to realize his approval. But there wasn't enough evidence for the NHL to suspend him. And now that Bertuzzi is suing his former coach, attempting to shift the blame for the assault, there may not be enough evidence to proceed further. To recap, Moore is suing Bertuzzi and including Crawford in the action; Bertuzzi and the Canucks have filed papers against each other; and Bertuzzi is suing Crawford. Why doesn't Gary Bettman get more involved to find the right figure to make all this go away ... I must have missed this: When did China become a curling powerhouse?

HEAR AND THERE: The first six seasons of J.P. Ricciardi and the last six seasons of Gord Ash as Blue Jays general manager are almost identical: Ricciardi has 481 wins, Ash 485 in the same number of years. In Ash's best season, the Jays were 88-74. In Ricciardi's best season, the Jays were 87-75. For the record, the Jays' best players, Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, are leftovers of the Ash era ... The boring old question has to be asked again: How do the Jays avoid finishing anything but third in the American League East? .... Not enough has been said about the World Baseball Classic coming to Toronto next March. This is big. In one four-country bracket, you've could have Erik Bedard, Jeff Francis and Rich Harden pitching for Canada, Johan Santana, Felix Hernandez and Carlos Zambrano pitching for Venezuela and Josh Beckett, Jake Peavy, C.C. Sabathia and maybe Halladay pitching for the U.S. And when I googled 'Italian Pitchers' yesterday, the first thing that came up was ceramic and hand-painted ... The Canadian lineup for the World Classic should have Russell Martin catching, Justin Morneau at first, Pete Orr at second and an outfield that includes Jason Bay and Matt Stairs.

SCENE AND HEARD: Wednesday should be huge for Michael (Pinball) Clemens. It's the day -- one year late, mind you -- when it will be announced that Pinball has been voted in as a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. ... The ever-officious NFL, apparently more worried about split ends than tight ends, is seriously considering banning long hair for the coming season. Like they don't have anything better to spend their time on ... Even when you try and take Jose Canseco seriously, you can't.

AND ANOTHER THING: All of those years of living off Barry Bonds and his performance-enhanced accomplishments, isn't is just a little contradictory of the San Francisco Giants for taking down any reference to Bonds at their stadium? Wrestlemania, like most things in life, ain't what it used to be ... If Stephen Curry hasn't made you a Davidson fan, check your pulse. You may not have one ... And hey, whatever became of King Kong Bundy?


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