NHL

Your Call: Was the Leafs' season a success or failure?

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TSN.ca Staff
4/6/2010 11:49:57 AM
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As fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs get one last look at the club at the Air Canada Centre, one question stands - are they moving in the right direction?

When the Leafs were eliminated from playoff contention last year, general manager Brian Burke called it, "a day that represents failure."

Few had high expectations for the rebuilding organization in 2008-09, but Burke still felt the goal should always be to make the postseason. That said, he went to work on making the changes he felt necessary to make the playoffs.

But before the calendar turned to April this year, the Leafs had dropped out of the playoff race for the fifth straight campaign.

The Leafs will likely finish lower in the standings than last season, but some bright spots seem to be emerging. So what word would you use to describe the current Leafs' season: success or failure?

Heading into Tuesday's action, the Leafs sit in 29th place in the 30-team NHL. On paper, that would hardly fit the definition of success or 'the achievement of something desired'.

Last year, the Leafs finished with a record of 34-35-13 for 81 points. With three games remaining this year, they have just 29 wins and 72 points, which would seem to accurately fit the definition of failure or 'the fact of falling short.'

When you add in the well-documented scenario that sees the Leafs without a first-round draft pick over the next two summers, it could also be argued that all seems lost for "Leaf Nation".

But what if the goal was to overhaul the roster and get younger in order to contend for many years to come?

"I came in here with eyes wide open and I knew it was going to be a struggle," head coach Ron Wilson told the Toronto Sun last week. "But I see ourselves making a lot of improvement. Some (youngsters) are big-time ready right now, others have lots of area to grow, but we believe they will be good players in the future. I think we've kind of turned a corner."

Since the Olympic break, the Leafs have been one of the hottest teams in the league with a record of 10-5-3. So maybe long-suffering Leaf fans have something to cheer about after all.

After missing the first 12 games of the season, sniper Phil Kessel has scored 30 goals in 67 games and appears to be the franchise player Burke was hoping for when he surrendered two first-round picks to the Boston Bruins for his services. Also, forwards Nikolai Kulemin, Tyler Bozak and Viktor Stalberg are gaining invaluable experience that should pay dividends next season.

The rebuilt blueline appears to be much-improved with the addition of Dion Phaneuf, Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin along with the continued emergence of Luke Schenn and Carl Gunnarsson.

And after starting the season as the back-up to incumbent Vesa Toskala, goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has taken the ball and run with it, winning four of his last six games with a 1.79 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage. With Jean-Sebastien Giguere in support, there appears to be strength between the pipes.

While those improvements seem to represent reasons to hope for an organization in desperate need of positive results, the bottom line is making the playoffs and that goal was not met this season.

Yet Leaf fans seem to be a little more optimistic than usual when they utter the same old line, 'Wait 'til next year.'

Now it's Your Call: Would you call the current Leafs season a success or failure? 

Phil Kessel and Francois Beauchemin (Photo: Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
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