Constant chatter about the `Leafs Nation` is beginning to grate on the nerves much the same as the badgering about `America`s Team` did in the NFL. Some connected with the NHL game, like Statman for instance, would be content if the entire apparatus - fractious front office, moaning coach, whining players, and self-regarding fans - was deposited north of Cambridge Bay. That would be the North Pole.
A characteristic of Pat Quinn-coached teams is their persecution complex: no one likes us, refs conspire against us, the league creates roadblocks, and so on and so forth.
Every penalty assessed against a Leafs player precipitates and yap-fest, most recently in San Jose. Toronto coughed up a third period lead and managed a tie. However, the Leafs had one power play opportunity and the Sharks six. Bloody referees. Hold on a second: Toronto scored on its only chance while the Sharks were 1/6. Leafs had two penalties in the third period, neither resulted in a goal. Those scheming refs, huh?
The Sharks game was the third of a six-game road trip. To hear anyone affiliated with the Maple Leafs talking about this trip you would think we`re talking about Francis Drake here.
Let`s build ourselves a table and consider the plight of the persecuted Leafs.
The abbreviations, left to right, are: OZ - games in a team`s time zone; 3/4 - times a team plays three games in four nights; Z-C - time zone changes 3/4; BTB - Back to back games, and LT - longest road trip.
TEAM O Z 3/4 Z-C BTB Z-C LT
Vancouver 48 14 10 13 6 9
San Jose 49 12 8 16 8 7
Los Angeles 49 10 5 15 6 7
Toronto 71 6 0 12 0 6
Toronto plays 71 games in the Eastern time zone, Vancouver plays 48 Pacific time zone games; Toronto six times plays 3/4, all in the same zone while Vancouver is 14 times in 10 zones; Toronto plays 12 times back to back in the same time zone and San Jose has 16 in eight zones; Toronto plays one six-game trip and Vancouver has a nine-gamer.
They have a nerve complaining. Between November 24 and January 31 the Leafs play one game out of their time zone. They remain in the East from February 5 to the schedules completion.
Los Angeles does have an awful schedule. They have been across the continent twice with three trips later on to the East coast. Toronto travels from eastern time to pacific time once. The Kings have four successive games in four zones and their first road game in the pacific time zone is Dec. 22 in Vancouver.
San Jose`s schedule has a sting: They play 3/4`s 12 times yet seven of them involve zone changes within those three games. In February they play 12 games, traipsing through six time zones in a stretch of 6/7 on the road.
Vancouver has four two-zone 3/4`s and an unbelievable 3/4 with each game in a different zone. The Canucks longest trip, technically, is five games at the end of January. However, they recently completed a spell of nine games with travel between each one: two road games, one at home, two more road games, one at home, three on the road.
Toronto has never seen anything like that, but to be fair neither have the Canucks. Pointing fingers and blaming others is unprofessional. Leafs have plenty to straighten out within the club. Life would be so much more pleasant if they`d put a sock in it and play harder.