Leafs’ struggles fun to watch

There’s a storm brewing in Leafs Nation. And it could get ugly, folks.
The hockey media mecca of the world had an 0-4-1 hockey team to scrutinize as the Toronto Maple Leafs prepared for a meeting with the Colorado Avalanche last night.
GM Brian Burke’s revamped lineup has not paid dividends so far, and you’d have to think changes are on the horizon with such a short leash to work with in the Big Smoke.
It’s déja vu for starving fans of one of the NHL’s longest-running franchises (who sport a Stanley Cup drought dating back to 1967).
The Leafs scratched veteran forwards Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan and replaced them with youngsters Viktor Stalberg and Tyer Bozak last night while also turning to back-up goalie Joey MacDonald in place of the struggling Vesa Toskala, who gave up seven goals to the N.Y. Rangers on Monday night.
To be honest, I do get some genuine enjoyment out of seeing the Leafs suffer. There are patriotic fans of the team across the country, but even their patience must be wearing thin as they watch re-runs of the same old song and dance unravelling again.
Burke put his stamp on the team during the off-season, to be sure. They are considerably tougher with Colton Orr in the lineup, but that doesn’t necessary translate into wins—and the proof of that is in the pudding, so to speak.
Is it already time to roll video of Jim Mora’s infamous “Playoffs?” rant already? Is reality setting in for Leafs’ fans yet, or do they still think this team is capable of coming around?
The train wreck that has been the Leafs’ season to date is harder to watch than Paris Hilton’s attempts at acting.
But why didn’t more people see this coming? It’s still a rebuilding year no matter how many middle-of-the-road free agents were acquired and no matter how many hockey prognosticators thought otherwise.
They were a non-playoff team last year and it’s a tall order to expect college kids to step in and put them over the top.
I do relish seeing them struggle, that much is true, but a part of me wants to see them succeed, too. After all, I’m a long-suffering fan of the Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets, so I certainly feel the same pain.
Maybe the cosmos will align and both of our teams will be contenders sooner than later.
But I won’t be holding my breath—and I suggest Leafs’ fans do the same.
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The Fort Frances contingent playing for the Thunder Bay Kings are off to a good start.
Defenceman Jon Carlson has three assists in six regular-season games while fellow defender Robbie Rae has a goal and two assists.
Bryce Knapp also has assist for those same Minor Midget Kings.
The Kings claimed the silver medal at the “Hamilton Reps Tim Hortons Tournament” this past weekend, losing 1-0 to the Toronto Nationals in the gold-medal game.
Jordan Larson, meanwhile, has two points in three games for the Bantam Kings.
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Former Fort Frances Jr. Sabre Mitch Cain has two assists in four games with the 1-3 Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL so far in his first season in the league.
His former teammate, goalie Ryan Faragher, has picked up his play for the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL. Faragher now sports a 2-3-1-1 record with a 3.12 goals-against-average and an .887 save percentage in a platoon role alongside Ryan Massa.
Fellow Fort Frances native Kyle Turgeon is off to a good start with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, notching three goals and an assist in eight games.
And T.J. Pocock also is on the Manitoba circuit, currently in a back-up role with the expansion Steinbach Pistons.
• • •
After tallying a goal and an assist in his opening game of the season with the Belleville Bulls, Emo native Luke Judson has gone pointless in his last seven as the Bulls have struggled to a 3-5-1 record so far.

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