Setting and Measuring Expectations: The Leafs Coaching Staff

No Strategy yet HPIM0785
In search of a clean slate for the X's and O's

For Leafs fans, the upcoming season will be an important one. Though it is (once again) extremely unlikely that the Leafs could win the big silver beer stein on offer at the end of the postseason tournament, fans of the team will be watching very closely for signs that any of the existing questions about the team might be answered. We’ll dig through the statistics like the oracles of old pawed through goat entrails, looking for evidence that augers well for a brighter future ahead. It is pretty safe to assume that Brian Burke and his staff will be engaging in a similar process.

Many of those questions concern individual players: what, for example, can we realistically expect from players like Jonas Gustavsson, Luke Schenn, Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin, all of whom are approaching their likely peak athletic potential in the next few years.   Other questions concern more collective issues:  what improvement can we expect from the Leafs’ power-play and penalty killing units?

All of those questions merit discussion, but they all relate to issues about the players; with Ron Wilson entering his third season as Maple Leafs head coach, and keeping in mind that last season in particular represented a disappointing step backwards, it’s safe to say that questions must also remain about the suitability of the current staff for the task ahead.

One of the things I like most about the hockey blogosphere is the very strong tendency to attempt to quantify, measure and make concrete and expressible these sorts of issues.  When we speak of “issues” and “questions” about the coaching staff, the reality is that there must be some set of performance metrics against which it is reasonable measure the observed outcome of this season, in an effort to dispassionately judge whether the coaches are making a discernible difference in the team’s play (and whether that difference represents an improvement).

Statistical analysis isn’t my strong suit, and I don’t pretend to have the facility with numbers that many other hockey bloggers have ably demonstrated, but I thought I’d try my hand at attempting to cobble together an answer to this last question.  What types of numbers should we look for when attempting to grade Messrs. Wilson, Hunter and Acton at the end of this season.  Please accept this analysis for what I hope it is:  a starting point for the discussion, and a jumping off point for others with the statistical chops that are absent from my toolkit.  Criticisms, comments and refinements are welcome – put ’em in the comments below!

I wish I could figure out a way to embed the tables I compiled directly into this post, but two hours of futzing about with Google, Google docs, WordPress, Excel and Numbers have failed to surrender any such secrets, assuming they exist.  Unfortunately, therefore, I have to just insert a link to the table I compiled.  All data are sourced from hockey-reference. com.

I thought the most logical place to start in assessing the performance of the coaches would be year over year changes in goals for and goals against.  I compiled the goals for and goals against data for all 30 teams in each season since the lockout, calculated the percentage change in each from the previous year.  I then tried to normalize the percentage change data by calculating the average change each year and the standard deviation of the data.  I then selected out those results that lie between one and two standard deviations away from the mean (classified as “moderately exceptional”), and those results that lie two standard deviations or more away from the mean (classified as “significant”).

Link to Google docs spreadsheet re: YOY data: change in GF and GA

Assuming that the year-to-year changes are normally distributed, if I remember my statistics class correctly, the results that are interesting are those that fall more than one or two standard deviations from the mean. Those are the results I mentioned above, with the moderate desirable increments marked in light green, the significant desirable increments marked in dark green, the moderate undesirable increments marked in pink, and the significant undesirable increments marked in red.

If I’m reading all of the data correctly, it would appear that the standard deviation of the Goals Against data is typically between about 9 and 12 per cent.  Thus, an increase or decrease of anything less than 9 to 12 per cent, statistically speaking, represents the mushy random middle, results in the 68% of data that cluster around the mean in a normal distribution.  If I am applying the theory correctly, it would be unwise to come to any conclusion that the team’s performance had either improved or deteriorated based on data of this nature.  To make that sort of judgement, I would suggest that to even make a weak judgment about significant differences in performance, we would need to observe an increment (or reduction) of between 9-12% and 18 to 24% (these would be the results between one and two standard deviations from the mean).  Variances of more than 18 to 24% from last year’s data could confidently be said to represent a clear indication of differential performance.

Two thoughts come to my mind: first, it’s important to keep in mind the (perhaps obvious) but important point that increases or decreases in a team’s goals for or goals against are not solely attributable to coaching.  In fact, it’s probably a live question whether coaching can be said to have a demonstrable effect upon the results at all.  Certainly, the old saw is that “you can’t teach scoring,” though it is generally believed that coaches and their systems can and do have a more pronounced effect upon the defensive side of the game (and, by extension, the goals against ledger).    If anyone has any thoughts on how to examine the evidence in that regard, I’d love to hear about it.

Second, the numbers involved are fairly large. I think the data seem to be telling us that wide variances in the numbers may be expected from year to year for purely random (or at least statistically uninformative) reasons.

If that last conclusion is correct, unless there is an enormous change in the Leafs goals against totals this year (more than +/- 20%, which in practice would translate into about a 54 goal change either way), it seems that we ought not to make any judgements about the performance of the coaching staff based upon these numbers.

Thoughts?

Misery En Scene:Leafs vs. Sens Rookie Game

I had hoped to watch the Leafs – Sens rookie game last night, and maybe write a little bit here about the game.

Unfortunately, the game wasn’t on LeafsTV – hey, what are the chances that anyone who is willingly extorted by MLSE pays for this service would be interested in actual hockey being played by actual Leaf prospects – so I had to wait instead for the tape-delayed feed being shown on mapleleafs.com.

jared-cowen
Actual Video Footage of Jared Cowen Skating

I don’t want to say that the online feed was difficult to watch, but let’s just say that what the video quality lacked in “herky”, it made up for in spades with “jerky”.  The video player in my browser was delivering about six frames per second;  as I tweeted earlier this evening, it occurred to me that this must be what the world looks like for Matt Carkner after he fights Colton Orr.  Anyway, I quickly found myself longing for something slightly easier on the eyes, like for example an epileptic seizure.  At one point, I thought the video feed had died completely, as the image on my screen didn’t appear to move at all for an extended period of  time.  The confusion was cleared up, however, when I realized that the camera was just showing the Senators’ Jared Cowen playing defence.

On the plus side, spending time watching the game using this feed allowed me to appreciate more fully the superior visual technologies available in today’s modern era: things like “flip-book animation”, for example.

I don’t know if anybody else was experiencing the difficulties with this feed that I was, but I sort of assumed that the Maple Leafs’ video servers were crumbling under pressure with so many people watching, just like Maple Leaf goaltenders have been doing since the lockout.  I don’t suppose it’s fair for me to wonder aloud whether fault should be found with the Leafs’ IT folks;  after all, after several consecutive years of hearing that the team is “building for the future”, who could have possibly known that many Leaf fans might have some interest in seeing what the prospects look like?  It’s planning and foresight like this that gave us the Andrew Raycroft/Vesa Toskala era, folks.

In any event, at some point I saw Jerry D’Amigo with his arms in the air, so I assume he scored a goal.  Either that, or he was trying to scare away a bear.  I don’t know, it was a little difficult to follow the narrative.  Are there many bears in the vicinity of the John Labatt Centre in London?

In the end, I have no insight to bestow upon you.  Instead, I give you a photo of the most wicked awesome baby booties ever manufactured – these were given to Spouse and I by a co-worker the other day:

Damn, those are cute.
Furious G's tootsies are gonna be covered in style.

Little known fact: the Montreal Canadiens ordered several sets of these in their team colours for Gionta, Gomez and Cammalleri.  Anyway, Furious G is going to have the coolest shoes on the block.

If It’s Tuesday, We Must Be Dropping One to Dixie

The Leafs lost to the Atlanta Thrashers tonight 3-2.   Where have you heard this before:  Tuesday night home loss to a mediocre Southeast Division opponent.

No doubt, some folks will be into the gnashing of teeth, given the Thrashers’ two goals in less than a minute in the second period.  No doubt, the Leafs fell apart for a bit for a few minutes there, and they paid for it when Atlanta cashed in a couple of markers.  Keep in mind, though, that this is the youngest team in the NHL.  They are bound to lose focus and composure from time to time this year, and it must be remembered that this will happen from time to time next year too.  The key thing for Leaf fans to watch when this happens – not “if”, but “when” – is how the team reacts.

A couple of nights ago, the Leafs got themselves down 2-0 to the Rangers after two periods and managed to come back and get a win in overtime.  Tonight, the comeback wasn’t complete, but the team bore down and got a couple of goals to tie it before surrendering the eventual winner on an Antropov tip in front of Gustavsson.   There was some inspired play from Bozak again tonight, his pass to Stalberg on Stalberg’s first goal was brilliant.  Stalberg himself showed some good determination to get to the net, though it was a bit alarming to see that his shot on that first goal was actually headed wide but bounced rather fortunately off the goaltender’s skate and in to the net.  Tonight was probably one of Christian Hanson’s better games as a Leaf.  There were also some terrific saves from Gustavsson – especially his save on Afinogenov with about two and a half minutes left in the second period, when Afinogenov was in alone on him just before the first Stalberg goal.

So yeah, another Tuesday night, another loss to a mediocre southeastern opponent, but I’ll say it again:  there is reason for hope.

What Senators Fans and Spouse Had to Say About the Game

Both Kidkawartha (via Twitter) and MattBlack (via the Pension Plan Puppets FTB links roundup) recommended to all Leaf fans a reading of the comments in the Silver Seven Sens game thread. It is sage and wise advice, gratefully accepted and immediately productive this morning of several out-loud guffaws hereabouts.  The game thread is a written record of the comments made by those inhabiting the Senators-themed blog thread dedicated to the Senators/Leafs game on Saturday night.  The Senators, of course, came into the night with high expectations.  Rested and rolling (they had Friday night off and were on an 11-game win streak), they and their fans looked forward to making some sort of a claim to bragging rights in this year’s version of the Battle of Ontario.  By comparison, in the previous day or so, the Leafs had travelled to and from Newark, had there put in 57 solid minutes of work before coughing up 3 goals in as many minutes to lose 4-3 in heartbreaking fashion, and had received news of the passing of their General Manager’s son.

Happily for all fans of the Blue and White, it was the Leafs who showed up ready for the most recent installment of the Battle of Ontario.  They ran the Senators out of the building, quickly and efficiently, much to the despair of Senators fans everywhere.

Following along with the game’s progress in the aforementioned game thread is an exercise in comparative anthropology:  whereas ordinary human beings experience “reality”, we are able to learn that Senators fans enjoy a rich and imaginative fantasy world of their own invention.  In this charming, but barely recognizable version of the world :

Meeting Brian Burke: Hope for Haiti at the Kings Game

I went down to the Leafs/Kings game at the Air Canada Centre last night with my Dad.

I’ll wait a moment or two while you make whatever derogatory, insulting and completely justified remarks about the woeful performance of the Blue and White.

(taps foot.  scratches ear.  coughs.  looks at watch.  scratches ear again. yawns.  checks email.  still scratching ear. you done yet? cracks knuckles…)

Well, that took some time but I’m glad we got it out of the way.  Very inventive use of profanity by you, by the way;  you have a special gift.  Your mother must be so proud!   To summarize, then:  the Leafs’ recent performance ranks somewhere on the acceptability scale between “cannibalism” and “child pornography”;  let us all agree that the Buds’ bed is now well and truly shat and – though it’s only late January – this has to be seen as another lost season.

I’ll have more to say about the reasons I think these things have happened and I hope to get into some discussion about the future too, but for now I want to give MLSE props where props are due.  I can hear the yowls of protest from the talk radio haters now; what good could possibly be said about MLSE? Everybody (well, at least everybody who calls into talk radio shows) knows that MLSE is a soulless corporate behemoth, one that greedily hoards every spare cent for the Pension Plan, right?  Everybody knows that the greed of ownership is the reason the Leafs always suck, right?  And everybody knows that’ll never change because the suits don’t have any incentive to ice a competitive team when they’re making money hand over fist already, right?

Except that the truth is more complicated than that.  As for basic economics and the impetus to compete, this myth has been compellingly debunked elsewhere by a commentator no less cynical than Sean at Down Goes Brown.  Some pretty compelling arguments  have been made that the notion of the perennial mediocrity of the Leafs is about as firmly grounded in fact as that of unicorn-riding leprachauns (read the piece by daoust at Pension Plan Puppets).

As for the heartless greed of MLSE, consider this: last night, MLSE and the Leafs arranged to collect funds from fans entering the building for relief of those affected by the recent earthquake in Haiti.  Typical, right, MLSE reaching into your wallet for your dollars, all the while cackling maniacally on a giant stack of their own money, right?  Except that the Leafs were matching every dollar collected threefold; that’s right, for every dollar collected from fans attending the game last night, MLSE is chipping in three bucks of their own for the emergency relief fund.   Apparently, the Leafs did the same thing at a Marlies game on the 23rd and a Raptors game on the 24th.   This doesn’t appear to me to be an attempt to grab some cheap publicity;  I wasn’t able to find any reference online to how much the promotion raised, though I did find the newspaper stories and press release announcing MLSE’s intentions to do the fundraiser.  None of the MLSE Twitter feeds make any reference to how much money was raised, according to a search I did earlier tonight.  I’m going to try and contact MLSE tomorrow to see if they can confirm the results.  I’d also like to find out whether that money is going to be funnelled through a charity to which the federal government’s matching program applies – which would effectively convert every dollar handed over by the fans into eight bucks in the hands of relief organizations in the quake zone.

Incidentally, I learned about the Leafs’ efforts in this regard from the big boss himself;  when I entered the Air Canada Centre with my Dad for the game at around 6:20, Brian Burke himself was at the front door, schlepping a coffee can for donations.   Say what you will about the way Burke is running the team;  go ahead and criticize the way his rebuild plan for the hockey club is unfolding.  Whatever you feel about either of those things, you’d have to agree that it takes some flat out balls for the General Manager of a Maple Leafs team that’s on its way to missing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year to stand right there in the lobby, look the paying customers in the eye as they come through the turnstiles, and ask them to pitch in for an excellent charitable cause.  When I spoke to him, he was careful to tell me that MLSE was kicking in the extra matching funds, and he seemed genuinely interested when I told him about the fundraising efforts that the crew at Pension Plan Puppets recently made.

The Leafs have rightly taken a lot of heat for their performance on the ice this year.  Give them their due when it comes to community responsibility and good corporate citizenship.

Getting out of the House

If you’re looking for me here today, you won’t find me at home. Instead, I’m over at Maple Leafs Hot Stove (in a virtual and metaphorical sense only – in real life, I’ve gone to work, honest, boss).

Alec Brownscombe has asked me to contribute my thoughts occasionally over at MLHS, and I’ve agreed to do it.  It doesn’t spell the end for this site;  I plan to continue posting here just as sporadically as always.  We may find, you and I, that my thoughts about the Leafs get plastered more frequently over there instead of here.  I honestly don’t know how this will go.  Anyway, I told Alec a couple of weeks ago that I’d “have something for him shortly”, which of course translated into a two week delay.  I think I was having a very difficult time deciding exactly what to write about in my first post.  I felt that what was needed was something fresh and different,  a thematically consistent column with insight, humour and unassailable logic.

Instead, I told a story about one night in a bar in Washington D.C.  Oh, and the Tragically Hip makes an appearance.  Go on over and check it out;  let me know what you think, provided your feedback is positive.

(Kidding.)  (Mostly.)

Introducing Happiness: Nikolai Kulemin

As I am currently disintegrating  into a small pile of trembling viscous goo under the combined pressures of a ridiculous workload at the office and the insanity of trying to make a Christmas in the paltry few minutes remaining to me afterwards, this is not going to be a long or particularly entertaining post.  Nevertheless, after collapsing like a pile of dirty laundry on the couch in front of the Leaf game tonight, I am moved to tippy-tap a thing or two.

I know there will be some gnashing of teeth in the Barilkosphere about OT loss to Buffalo tonight;  yes, there should have been someone in front of the net there when Derek Roy potted the winner, and I’m looking in the general direction of Francois “Happy Trails” Beauchemin when I say that.  Yes, it’s a bummer to lose to a divisional rival (and its apparently super-fucking-human goalie) like seventy-eight times in a row, but there are bigger pictures to see, larger fish to fry, and more metaphors to mix.  In short, there are reasons to take heart.

Hear me, Leafs fans.  Tonight:

  • On a Tuesday night matchup in late December, in a game that would be their third in four nights, the Leafs brought effort and forechecked the crap out of a Sabres team that has been their nemesis for oh, approximately nine years.  In years gone by, Tuesday night + 3rd game in four nights + pre-Christmas ennui = 9-1 shellacking led by a four goal third period from the Sabres’ team bus driver;
  • Viktor Stalberg potted a beauty and may still have the use of both shoulders;
  • the Monster raised everybody’s Christmas spirits by allowing the Sabres to ring enough pucks off the posts behind him to play the Carol of the Bells.  He also battled through some questionable play to post another solid outing without a visit to the cardiologist; and
  • NIKOLAI KULEMIN.  OMG BEST GAME AS A LEAF EVAR.

It’s the last point I want to really focus on.  I’ve been waiting for Kulemin to break out in a way that doesn’t involve a visit to the dermatologist and I think he is now absolutely poised to take his game to the next level.   If he plays every game in his career like he did tonight, it will be a long and fruitful one in Maple Leaf Blue & White, that’s for sure.  Kulemin was on the forecheck aggressively and with physicality throughout the game, showing excellent anticipation and then following through with the physical effort to get himself into the right spots at the right times.  He was the direct cause of several Buffalo turnovers.  He took a tremendous hit along the boards to chip the puck out and generate the rush that produced the second Leafs goal.  He was also quite responsible defensively and used his body to separate the Sabres from the puck, not shying away from some tough customers like Mike Grier.  Terrific game from this young guy.

Whatever, we could’ve had another point, yadda yadda yadda, but I really liked what I saw out of this kid tonight.  Best game he’s played in a Leaf uniform.

Psssst!! Wanna buy a stick?

Okay, Barilkosphere, here’s your chance to pick up a piece of Leafs memorabilia.

My wife and I are running a charity auction tonight.  One of the items that’s up for grabs is an autographed hockey stick that  Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was kind enough to donate.  It’s autographed by the 2008-2009 Toronto Maple Leafs;  you know, the pre-truculent ones.

Now I know that there will be some among you who say, “Meh.  No Nasty Nazem, no Komikazi, no Happy Trails.  I am excited about this year’s team.  Last year is so – well, last year.”   But there’s a lot of this year on the stick too;  Luke Schenn, Mickey Grabs, Nick Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin, for example, were all Leafs last year.  And if I could identify all the signatures on it, I would be able to assure you that they’re all there (just kidding – most of them added their numbers beneath their signature).

There are also some elements of history and soon-to-be-history.  For example the stick is signed by Nik Antropov and Anton Stralman.  Since both of those players were traded by the Leafs, the successful bidder is virtually guaranteed* to own a stick signed by sure fire future Hall of Famers and future winners of multiple Norris, Hart and Art Ross trophies.

The stick comes with a certificate of authenticity.  I picked it up myself from MLSE;  it’s the real deal.

The auction is taking place between 5:30 and about 8:00 tomorrow night.  If you’re interested in submitting a bid on the stick, I can do it for you – we can communicate by Twitter (my handle is warwalker) or email (junior [at] heroesinrehab.ca)  on my iPhone.   I’ll cough up the dough for the charity, you can PayPal me the amount of the bid if you win, and I’ll even pay to ship it to your home, apartment, dorm room, cardboard box or park bench. Which is a joke, of course, but it’s a nice way to segue to…

…the charity.  It’s called “Miles for Smiles“.  We’re raising money for homeless and street-involved youth here in the City of Hamilton.  All the money we raise tomorrow is going to the Good Shepherd Centres and is specifically ear-marked for two facilities they run for these kids, Notre Dame House and Brennan House.  They’re places that these kids can go when they have nowhere else to stay;  they offer social support services and try to hook the kids up with counselling and educational services to help the kids try to address whatever problems may be causing their homelessness.   This year, our honorary chairperson is a young lady who once found herself having to make use of these services, but who has made a success of her life – she’s off the street and attending a post-secondary institution, and she wants to become a social worker to help the clientele of these facilities.  So it’s a good cause.  If you’d like to help out, I’d appreciate it.

——————–

*If you listen to the mittenstringers, anyway.  What I’m saying is that the guarantee is entirely fictional.

Phil Kessel: The True Story

Imagine, if you will, Brian Burke sitting at his desk in the MLSE offices today.   Any GM

Clancy is an intimidating ghost
Clancy is an intimidating ghost

of the Leafs  is no doubt a busy man, but  Burkie’s recently been a bit busier than most.  On top of the usual day to day stuff, he’s still dealing with some of the remnants left behind by the previous occupant of the office:  emptying the crayons from the top drawer in the desk, tossing out the half-finished Word Jumbles and comic books scattered throughout the office and executive bathroom, and (most labour intensive of all) scrubbing  the yellow highlighter off the computer screen.

Imagine that as Burke is attending to these various tasks, shuffling things about on the managerial desk, he finds a dented and scratched old coffee can that’s filled with a bunch of dust.  The magic marker/masking tape label has long ago faded and is now illegible.  What Burkie can’t know is that the battered tin, a relic from days gone by, contains the ashes of a deceased player  – unceremoniously stored there years ago after the player’s cremation by a skinflint owner determined to economize wherever possible .

Seeing the tin, Burke is puzzled. He feels sure he would have noticed the disfigured canister on his desk before, but he has not.  He picks it up to examine it, and as he does so, it tumbles from his hands to the floor.  A pile of dust spills on to the plush blue carpet; there is a flash of light and a puff of smoke.   Burke rubs his eyes in disbelief and stares at the apparition that now stands before him in the office.

Something very rare and incredible has happened:  Brian Burke is speechless.

Slightly less unusually, the ghost of a hockey player dead for more than 23 years has spontaneously appeared in a downtown Toronto office building wearing full equipment and a period uniform.

The ghost appears as he did on the night of March 17, 1934:  wearing a bright green sweater with a large shamrock emblazoned across the back where his trademark number 7 ordinarily appeared.  He is carrying a stick and wearing skates. He is pale and very obviously dead.

GHOST: Greetings, Mr. Burke.  I (dramatic pause) am…

BURKE: (recovering his senses)   Great, another stick-wielding zombie  in my office.  Look, I told Chris Chelios just a couple days ago, we’re not looking for any undead players at this time..

GHOST: Silence!  Speak not, mortal.

BURKE: (rising from his chair) What the hell?  Listen pal, nobody talks to me like that, and certainly not in my office.

Leagues of Nations: Enough. No, Leafs, No!

No. Not "Leafs Nation"
No. Not "Leafs Nation"

I’m going to go ahead and say it – fuck “Leafs Nation”.  Strange words to hear from a lifelong Leafs fan and recent contributor to the Maple Leafs Annual?  Maybe.  Hear me out.

Kim Jorn, Godd Till and mf37, the Three Amigos of the Barilkosphere, have combined their considerable forces to launch a new blog called Zambonic Youth.  Armed with a somewhat confusing but nevetheless distinctly unsettling manifesto that takes time out from hockey issues to warn against the coming cyptozoological war, the electronic Zambonic goes sardonic on the Leafs Abomination lexiconic – yo they be riffin’ supersonic’ like the London Philharmonic¹ – on the recent Random House offering by Dave Feschuk and Michael Grange, Leafs Abomination.

Mf37 concludes his review thusly:

One last message: whatever you do, don’t buy this book.

Seriously.

One of the authors’ central arguments about the Leafs is that fans have supported crap for far too long and that support is partially responsible for perpetuating a four-decade string of mediocrity.

If you shovel $20 at product like this, there’s a real danger that it’s only going to encourage more publishers to hire basketball writers to pen a half-baked book about your favourite hockey team. And no matter what franchise you’re a fan of (and there are plenty of them that have gone 30+ years without a Cup to chose from) no good can come from that.

I believe the appropriate phrase would be “hoist by their own petard.”  Nicely played.

I have to say that this book does seem to be the lexical equivalent of a Howard Berger blog post, squarely raising the issue of why it wasn’t released in November, when things matter.  Others have rightly pointed out the hackneyed resort to cheap tricks like the upside down Leaf on the cover, the supposed selling price of $19.67, the guy on the cover with the bag on his head and so on.  I don’t know whether Feschuk and/or Grange were involved in making those design choices, but it doesn’t sound as though these features of the book’s exterior are thematically inconsistent with the actual content of the tome.  At the very least, Feschuk and Grange would seem by inference to be implicated as being complicit in this lazy and blatantly obvious resort to familiar cliches.  The whole idea (of both cover and book), presumably, is  to attempt inflame those who retain the capacity to be astonished by such nakedly calculated shit-disturbing and thereby gain publicity for the publication (remember the Maclean’s issue purportedly dedicated to exploring “Why the Leafs Stink“?  Bet that issue, sporting the Leaf-bashing cover story sold a shitload of copies too.)   All in all, shame on Messrs. Feschuk and Grange for falling victim to the sporting world’s equivalent of populist demagoguery.

For my own part, I am going to take the opportunity presented by the release of this book and the consequent recent focus on these tired memes to make a declaration.  I am going to formally and officially express my discomfort with the term “Leafs Nation”, a (hilariously witty, no doubt) perversion of which phrase  serves as the title for the Feschuk/Grange offering.