By Doug Kennedy
There are so many Toronto Maple Leaf fans across Canada wondering what type of team they have this year. After three games, it looks like a lot of the same.They spend a lot of money on their top players but you always seem to want more from them. I believe some of the top players got paid too much, too early in their career without winning anything.
I believe the biggest mistake Brendan Shanahan made was not hiring Mark Hunter as his general manager. I believe Hunter would have hired the right coach, who might be the coach of the Ottawa Senators. Sheldon Keefe does not have the same resume as D.J. Smith. It is not even close. Both men played a handful of games in the NHL.
Keefe started coaching in Pembroke, where he built a strong team in the Ontario Junior Hockey league. After that, he went to Sault Saint Marie to coach in the OHL where he was successful, but did not win a championship. From there, he went to the American league to coach the Toronto Marlies. He won one league championship there but he had a lot bigger budget than most American league teams.
Hunter has built good OHL teams in Sarnia and London. He also managed the Canadian junior team last year. The juniors won gold overseas, which does not happen that often. His knowledge as a scout is well respected in all hockey circles. An insider told me he wanted to draft Travis Konecny in the first round a few years ago but Toronto Manager Kyle Dubas traded the pick and drafted Travis Dermott.I am glad they passed as my Philadelphia Flyers got him.
Smith was an associate coach of the Windsor Spitfires when they won back-to-back Memorial cups. A good friend, Bill Brown, took me to some of those games in Windsor, as he was scouting for the Spitfires then. He told me Smith could change the game plan on the fly better than any other coach he had ever known. Smith’s coaching partner in Windsor was Bob Bougner. He was the head coach of the Oshawa Generals when they won a Memorial Cup. Then he was Mike Babcock’s assistant coach in Toronto for four seasons. To me, the Leafs should not have let him go.
Hunter drafted Smith’s son 25th overall in this past year’s OHL draft. This will give them plenty of time to talk about what could have been in Toronto.
Time will tell if I am right. Right now, Ottawa has a young team that made some great draft picks. They sure looked better than the Leafs on the first weekend.
What a couple of weekends of NFL football. The NFC had three of the best ever older quarterbacks competing to get into the Super Bowl. The AFC had four gunslingers that look to be a lot of fun to watch in the future.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers won out and it should be a great game this coming Sunday afternoon in Green Bay. Drew Brees had a tough game at home for New Orleans, which could be the end of his outstanding career.
What about being a Buffalo Bill fan for the last 25 years? What a season it has been for them. I think they have the best young quarterback in the league. It must be killing their fan base not to be able to be at the stadium to cheer them on. A few years ago, the Bills traded up in the draft to pick Josh Allen out of Wyoming as their quarterback of the future. This is probably the best trade they have ever made. He looks so good and confident. He is one of the many new age quarterbacks that can pass and run the ball at any time, which makes them tough to defend against.
This Sunday in Kansas City looks like it will be a great game. K.C. quarterback Patrick Mahommes was injured last Sunday, which would really help Buffalo’s chances. I am hoping for a Bills team in the Super Bowl this year.