September 13, 2008
MLSEL not budgeting for Leafs playoff dates
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA
Those skeptical Maple Leafs fans who feel a post-season berth is a long shot this season are not alone.
Those running Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. apparently feel the same way.
To that end, MLSEL president Richard Peddie revealed yesterday that the Leafs have not budgeted for any playoff dates for the 2008-09 campaign, the first time that has happened since Peddie became involved with the Leafs 10 years ago.
"It's not a defeatist attitude, it's just a matter of being aware of the situation," Peddie said last night.
"We talked about (the repercussions) of the decision with the board (of directors) and we came to the conclusion that our players are not going to try any less because of this."
Having watched the Leafs miss the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, MLESL officials have set much more modest goals for the upcoming campaign.
"First, we have to focus on how the young kids are developing on the Leafs and the Marlies, especially with the Marlies," Peddie said. "Secondly, we want to see the second half of the season be better than the first. We want to see improvement.
"We're not going to do anything stupid."
Peddie's comments come just a day after general manager Cliff Fletcher painted a similiar bleak picture of the Leafs' post-season chances this season, claiming the team has just one "top-six forward" in veteran Nik Antropov.
Admitting he had hoped to have Fletcher's successor in place by now, Peddie predicted the incoming GM will be on the job by next summer. In the meantime, the president delivered a vote of confidence for Trader Cliff and gave Fletcher a thumbs up concerning the rebuilding job he has done, both on and off the ice.
"From the moment Cliff came on the job, we knew there were not a lot of great assets to work with here," Peddie said. "Yet Cliff has done a good job bringing in an outstanding coach in Ron Wilson and a key addition to management in Joe Nieuwendyk.
"When Cliff does move on, he certainly has set the table well for whomever takes over."
With the implimentation of the salary cap system after the 2004-05 lockout, teams have reverted to locking up marquee players to mega-long term deals, such as the seven-year pact inked by Eric Staal with the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
According to Peddie, such contracts often are ticking time bombs ready to explode.
"We don't really have the players on the roster to do that right now," he said.
"Having said that, I predict that 50% of those deals will not work out. I know that from our basketball experience with the Raptors. We had seven or eight of those types of deals.
"It's a big hit on the cap down the road. We're already noticing a change in the economics.
"The Canadian dollar is at 93 cents right now, which means our gate revenues will be down 7% from a year ago. That effects the cap ceiling, and you don't want to be locked in with some of these big contracts."