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article imageOp-Ed: Trade winds swirl around Toronto Maple Leafs, club should rebuild

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 17, 2015 in Sports
The losing in Toronto has been going on for years yet the club has never tried rebuilding. Starting from scratch and drafting and trading for youth and trying to find a winning formula that way. The other way ain't working — so why not?
Maple Leafs: One goal in 4 games
This team is not getting better anytime soon. They've lost 12 of their last 15, their 3-0 shutout loss in St. Louis Saturday night ended a four-game road trip that saw them score one goal. That is a .25 goals for average, which might get you the occasional win in a defense-orientated soccer league. Maybe.
There are now as many trade rumors around the club as there has been in the history of the franchise. Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson and Tyler Bozak have each been mentioned. Coming back? Ryan O'Reilly in one deal, Mike Richards in another, a second-round draft pick, etc. etc.
Likely most of this is simply media speculating at who they think might be the players that GM Dave Nonis would ship out, and not based on any source. It's a bit of a no-brainer to throw captain Phaneuf's name out there, you don't need a source to tell you that the Leafs would love to jettison his massive salary — six years left at $7 million per — and frequent mistakes for almost anyone.
Kessel is a great player but he is so streaky and so petulant at times that surely he, too, would be moved if a decent offer came along, and one should given that scoring is a prime asset in any league and that if made happy, Kessel can provide lots of offence.
There must be a way to get younger with those two on the market, and Lupul, who, if he's healthy, is a proven goal-scoring winger that plays with edge. To try and placate the market, each season Toronto tries to get to the playoffs and given their strategy has been so unsuccessful (one postseason appearance in the past eight seasons) they need to change tact.
Trade for youth in Toronto
They need to trade for all the draft picks and prospects they can. Instead of finishing 10th and 11th in their conference, as is their modus operandi, finish close to the bottom or, if they can manage it, at the bottom. It may be too late even for them to lose at such a rate as to put them into the running for Connor McDavid, who is from Ontario, but imagine how he would have looked in a Toronto uniform.
Someone in the Leafs' organization should have been thinking about this over the summer. And why would they not have? Did they really think that the team they've assembled was likely to be a contender?
The fans in Toronto are hopelessly loyal and keep coming back, losing season after losing season. The club has dropped to 10th in their conference, seven points out of the playoffs and with a number of teams around them who've played fewer games. The playoffs are, once again, about as likely as Phil Kessel embracing the media day in and day out.
Let it go. It's over. Give the fans a future to hope for by stockpiling picks and prospects, instead of frustrating them every season with teams that excel both at collapsing and at falling farther and farther behind.
Time to blow it up.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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