Thursday, March 30, 2006

Toronto Maple Leafs Top 10,000

10,000 point plateau reached for the first time in league history

In the summer of 2003, general managers Johnson and Read were camping on Shushwap Lake in British Columbia. At the time, the idea of a lockout was no more imposing than a small storm cloud on the horizon. Johnson emerged from a tent with a pad of paper covered in UFHL player names and statistical data from the previous seasons.

Because both Johnson and Read had been indulging in beer since breakfast, behaviour not uncommon on camping trips, the exact account of the conversation that followed has been clouded by the effects of lake-chilled beer and campfire fumes. Suffice it to say that Johnson believed he had projected the winning formula for earning the UFHL championship. "10,000 points, and I think I can do it to beat Knutson!"

GM Johnson was partly correct. 10,000 points would have won the UFHL title in 2003-2004. Johnson was wrong in his estimation that his roster could beat the Bruins. GM Knutson's roster won the title with 9982 points. 10,000 would have won it.

Fast forward through the painful days of checking the AHL scoreboard, and watching the Penguins draft Crosby, seeing Mark Messier, Dave Andreychuk, and Mario Lemieux retire, and even Jose Theodore finally getting the credit he deserves, and we find ourselves with under ten games left in the 2005-2006 UFHL season. The Toronto Maple Leafs, fresh off of five straight weeks as Team of the Week, broke through the elusive 10,000 point barrier on March 30th. While the Dallas Stars will also pass the 10,000 mark before the last puck drops, GM Johnson sense of accomplishment was evident when he quipped "winning isn't everything, doing it while drafting first overall would be everything."

While GM Johnson won't state it publicly, he believes his club has earned enough of a gap on Dallas to just about clinch first place. The Leafs would need to be outscored by the Stars by almost 200 points for two weeks in a row in order for the Stars to catch up. As a result, the Leafs have started looking at their potential playoff match-up, and have come to the realization that they will draft 1st (or 2nd, acquired from Phoenix), 29th (League Champion pick), and 30th (also acquired from Phoenix). Clearly things are going a lot better for R. Johnson Jr. than they are for J. Ferguson Jr.

The moral of the story? Don't spend all of your camping time playing crib with a guy who is going to Harvard.