TORONTO - The best news about the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund looking to sell its shares in Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment is that perhaps the new majority owner, whomever that might be, will be someone who is willing to stand up, step forward and face the music.
Part of the deep frustration Leafs fans have felt over the years ó as the franchise has basked in mediocrity ó has been the fact that there hasnít been a real face to the organization, no one the fans can really aim their venom towards when the chips are down.
Richard Peddie didnít have enough power to count. Has to be an owner.
Say what you want about individual majority owners of sports franchises ó Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks is a good example ó but the buck stops with them. Cuban is a glory seeker and egomaniac and the greatest guy in the world when the team is going well, but heís also there if the team struggles. He faces up to the criticisms. He eagerly gives out his email address to fans, writers, players, and he answers his messages.
The Leafs organization hasnít had a person like that since the late Harold Ballard, though letís all hope the new majority owner isnít quite as flaky and destructive as Pal Hal, but IS someone who will not only face the music, but will show the fans that he desperately wants to win.
Thatís been the other problem with this franchise. Thereís not been that ďwin at all costsĒ feeling emanating from ownership. Itís been more like a ďletís make a profit and see what happensĒ kind of mentality. At least thatís the perception.
And that has to change.
THE KID IS AlL RIGHT
James Reimer is not only playing a ton, heís taking a beating and heís rising to the occasion in a big way.
The Leafs goaltender was kneed in the head/neck by Evander Kane on Feb. 27 in Atlanta, and started the next Leafs game on March 2.
He took a shot to his glove hand on March 8 against the New York Islanders, which caused big pain, so much that they originally thought he might have broken it. But the young goaltender kept playing and started the next game.
And on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres, he took a hard shot to the shoulder area, in the second, which clearly stung. The shot almost brought him to his knees, but he hung in there.
The kid deserves a purple heart.
His performance in Torontoís come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Sabres was especially impressive. He managed to retain his composure after allowing a goal on the first shot of the game and he even recorded an assist on the winning goal scored by Phil Kessel.
BAD NEWS ON THE FARM
All the talk about concussions and blind-side hits hit home for the L eafs organization on Friday. The clubís young prospect Joe Colborne, whom the Leafs acquired on Feb.18 from the Boston Bruins in the Tomas Kaberle trade, missed Saturdayís game between the Marlies and Manitoba Moose at the Ricoh Coliseum after being blind-sided on Friday in Rochester by Americansí rookie Eric Selleck. Colborne had passed the puck and was looking the other way when the on-rushing Sellick nailed him. Colborne left the game, though he had already recorded a goal and two assists as the Marlies beat the Amerks 6-5. He definitely got his bell rung, though the organization is not calling it a concussion ... yet. It will be interesting to see how many games he will miss. Itís a shame. The last thing the Leafs need is a young prospect to suffer a concussion before his NHL career really starts.
Leafs are now 0-for-42 on the power play against the Sabres ... Just wondering, does Leafs forward Joey Crabb have a piece of Crabby Joes? ... Mike Brown may be the fastest plumber in Toronto ... The Sabres have been impressive since Terry Pegula became owner on Feb. 22. Pegula may be a billionaire, but he seems to have the common manís touch. He actually ate in the media room with the lowly media guys prior to Saturdayís Leafs-Sabres tilt. Not sure if Larry Tanenbaum knows the Toronto media guys exist.