The Leafs recorded their first loss yesterday to the loathed Senators. Like last year, I'm hoping this isn't the start of another dismal appearance against the team who seemed to single-handedly dismantle the Leafs playoff hopes last season. Since the Leafs play the Sens up to eight times, they need to come away with at least a few wins. Tonight in Ottawa will be a big test for the Buds and may well spell success or failure for the rest of the season.
IMO, the Leafs single biggest off season blunder was letting Eric Lindros go. The guy wanted to be in Toronto, and was willing to take a bargain-basement salary just to stay. I make an early prediction and say the Leafs will lack offense this season. Sundin can carry the top line with a couple other good players alongside him, but Tucker needs a quality centre to bolster the second line, and the big E could have done that. Injury prone or not, we're talking about a guy who was touted to be the next great one until a few concussions slowed his career down.
The Leafs have depth in young defense, and should have probably passed on Hal Gill who I doubt will do much to impress this season. Instead, they should have given a couple cheaper young kids a chance while investing in best you can buy defense coaching.
Finally, big news on the sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins to Jim Balsillie, owner of the massively popular Canadian company Research in Motion. The only reason the Pittsburgh Penguins ever survived in the hockey market was because of Mario Lemieux. Without him, the team would have been hauled away from Steel town years ago. As if some freak of nature occurred, they managed to haul in the next generation superstar in Sydney Crosby as well. But the city has lolligagged on building a new arena and talks have spun around moving to another state - Bad idea!
Where is the best market - the Toronto area is massively underserved. Per capita, there are more hockey fans in Toronto than probably any other major city in the world. Look at New York, with the Rangers, the Islanders, and the Devils. Count the Sabres too if you're talking about NY State.
In Toronto, Leafs tickets are always sold out. A second team, with the star draw of Crosby, Malkin, Fleury and Staal would be dynamite. South of the border, you're taking your chances on both a weak US dollar and questionable hockey markets.
Choose your Canadian city soon, Winnipeg, Quebec City, or the GTA. There's a dynasty in the making with talent that hasn't been matched since the Oilers broke into the league in the eighties.
The Leafs would be crazy to decline the possiblity of another team in the area. There are enough dedicated Leaf fans to sell out tickets forever, with or without a rival team nearby. It would also set up a rivalry for the history books and bring the best thing in hockey today back to the country his talents were made in.
The only thing to figure out now is a great name.