Why The Leafs Suck And How They Can Be Fixed Paperback – Sep 21 2009
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About the Author
AL STRACHAN is the author of I’m Not Making This Up and Go to the Net, and the co-author of Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories and Stuff. He has appeared regularly on Hockey Night in Canada, Sirius Radio and FoxSports.com, and he has been writing about the NHL for more than thirty-five years.
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The match between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Strachan, then, is a good one. For the Leafs have provided plenty of material for cranky observers to be in a bad mood in the years since 1967, their last Stanley Cup.
When Strachan was given the opportunity to write a book on why the Maple Leafs have, um, fallen short of the ultimate goal, he must have been quite happy. Strachan knew the history of the team, and how it would be good fun to review their many mistakes.
Thus, "Why the Leafs Suck" was born in 2009.
The author goes through the history of the team and its attempts to get better. Ultimately, one of the problems is that the fan base is too loyal. The Leaf backers have been willing to fill up arenas, and thus the team's bank account, without regard to won-loss record. That's taken away some of the pressure to actually win games. Every team would like to win, but a little urgency doesn't hurt.
The Maple Leafs have gone through all sorts of people in more than 40 years of mediocrity or worse. Toronto has had at times bad ownership, bad management, bad trades, bad draft choices and bad players. No team has a perfect record, but the Leafs' batting average obviously hasn't been good enough.
Strachan goes through the past with a certain amount of glee, ripping management for its many mistakes over the years. Some of the stories are familiar, but they still are head-shaking and in some ways laugh-causing, at least if you don't root for the team. You hear stories about organizations not rowing together; the Leafs sometimes aren't even in the same boat.
The 326 pages do go quickly - perhaps too quickly. Once the book arrives around page 200, it becomes something of a reference book with a year-by-year description of results, player moves, leaders, awards, etc. There's not much to read there, and it's hard to say if it has much value. But discounting that section, the pages go racing by. Yes, it's fun, but it could have been longer to justified the $23 paperback price when new. (I bought it for $1 at a used Canadian book sale, and that was a nice bargain.)
The book was written in 2009, and the Maple Leafs finally made the playoffs this past season after missing every year since 2004. That's a long dry spell, and maybe better times are ahead. Therefore, let's call this book "Why the Leafs Sucked," and consider it a breezy, entertaining look back at an era of incompetence that Toronto fans hope has gone forever.