TORONTO - The anger of Maple Leaf fans has been heard in the team's tower of power on Bay St.
After missing the playoffs a seventh straight season, the club that considers itself the most important franchise in the National Hockey League issued a public apology on Tuesday morning through many news outlets including the Toronto Sun.
In an open letter to fans signed by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum, the club says, “We have fallen short of everyone’s expectations and for that we are sorry."
The letter added: “We take full responsibility for how this team performs on the ice and we make no excuses. The way this year ended was unacceptable. Results are the only measure of success in sports and the results speak for themselves.”
Toronto completed the season last week with a record of 35-37-10, five points worse than 2010-11. The letter does not mention general manager Brian Burke by name, only that “ownership believes in the plan for the Maple Leafs. All of the resources at our disposal will be used to make sure the entire organization is focused on making the Leafs a successful playoff team.”
Burke has been in charge since November of 2008 and has been trying to fast-track the club to playoff contention without going the full rebuild route through the NHL draft. But as the Leafs spin their wheels, once-struggling clubs such as Pittsburgh, Chicago, Florida, Boston and St. Louis have re-armed and qualified for playoffs.
This is a critical summer for Burke and everyone connected to MLSE and the Leafs. The new owners from the Bell-Rogers group will be solidifying power, there is only one more year on the GM’s contract and the expected improvement of the Blue Jays threatens to lure away even more fans who’ve become disgruntled with the record seven-year playoff drought and 45 years without a Stanley Cup.
“The Leafs are priviledged to have such passionate and loyal fans,” the letter concludes. “We do not take that for granted. Our entire organziation wants nothing more than to deliver a tream that makes you proud.”
Burke and coach Randy Carlyle are to address the media Tuesday morning to review the season.