The Toronto Maple Leafs are heading into their 23rd regular season game on Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. They’re taking what is a very poor 9-9-4 record onto the road for their next 5 games.There is no glossing over or glamorizing what has been an utterly embarrassing start to the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which was well summarized in that 6-1 thumping at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
There exists something very rotten within the Toronto Maple Leafs organization right now, and everyone seems to be pointing fingers in different directions. In my previous article I discussed the potential of this falling at the feet of the team responsible for deploying the team, the coaching staff.
Lots of Blame to Go Around
However, It would be ignorant to place the fault of this mess on one group of people. Even with the current deployment issues, the level of play from many members of the team has been far from what we’ve grown accustomed too. There are times that individuals have been caught completely napping during play and shirked any responsibility.
This lack of effort is something that should be of concern to upper management and fans alike. Regardless of whether players aren’t being placed in ideal situations for their success, they aren’t as bad as they have been playing.
Rielly, Muzzin, Barrie and Dermott aren’t bad defenceman, Tavares and Marner have looked like shells of themselves. This lack of consistency is something that’s currently rife throughout the entire line-up.
These current issues are systemic, and it doesn’t matter if as a fan you’re unhappy with the coaching staff. Taking nights off like that one against Pittsburgh is unacceptable. Lack of effort is down to a lack of care, this is a group of individuals playing like their jobs are more secure than their bosses.
Now, I am not defending decisions made by Mike Babcock in regard to deployment, but the effort level shown in the Pittsburgh game by the team in its entirety is unacceptable. This is an opportunity for Dubas and Babcock to show a united front and take back some of the respect that some players seem to be abusing.
Beyond Freddy, six forwards and three defencemen, everyone on this team should be fighting for their job. The Toronto Marlies are flying in the AHL again this year and there are a raft of players waiting to take NHL jobs.
Engvall, Agostino and Aberg are all legitimate call up options that the Toronto Maple Leafs should be exercising at times like this. Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Jordan Schmaltz are names on the blueline worth giving an opportunity too also.
It’s clear that something needs to change systemically with the Toronto Maple Leafs, that may be the coach, some players or even someone from upper management. Regardless of that change, the effort level is absolutely unacceptable and something that needs to be addressed with this young group.