Testify Brother Quinn!
Former Leafs coach Pat Quinn always had a love-hate (much more hate than love) with the Toronto media. Really, who could blame him when two local papers (the Globe's sports section sucks and the National Post is paper non grata in my life) have War and Famine (Cox and Simmons of the Star and Sun for you unfamiliar readers) on the payrolls. These two are basically paid to find the bad side of any situation with the Leafs and inflate it to catastrophic proportions. The latest incident, covered by Paul Hunter (where is Kenny?), will not endear Quinn to T.O.'s media any more.
Quinn spent an entire off-season of declining comment and refusing to sling mud at MLSE when he really must have wanted to dish some dirt. Now, Quinn speaks the mind of Pension Plan Puppets everywhere and it becomes a big deal. His quotation is below:
"I don't know who defines success today but we have a lot of those middle managers, so to speak, the presidents that don't have a clue what's going on but might be able to build a logo," said Quinn in the interview. "But you know what builds the logo? Winning hockey games, that's what builds a logo. Anyone else that says they can come in and make something work. ... It's like in Toronto, you don't need to be the village monkey to do anything. That thing was sold out when it was just a lousy team. So let the people that are given the job to run the hockey team, let them run it."
This sounds exactly like what Quinn has suggested the comments were meant to be: a discussion of the rise of business interests clashing with sporting interests.
Even the most ardent MLSE back cannot argue that the Leafs are a great example of too many chefs spoiling the broth. Also, the village monkey probably could get a job there if he did not pose any threat to Larry Tanenbaum and Richard Peddie's powerbase. Look at Rob Babcock. The crux of the point that Pat was trying to make is that for too many teams the business side of the team is clashing with the sporting side. Power struggles, nepotistical hirings, and a view on being 'good enough' rather than great have all contributed to 40 years and counting of agony for Leafs fans.
This is not necessarily confined to the NHL or MLSE. Examples can be found in the NFL (Jerry Jones' Dallas Cowboys), NBA (Whoever currently owns the hapless New York Knicks), MLB (the Red Sox for so many years), even in European football (Spain's Real Madrid and their Galacticos). These are all examples of teams that have had massive success in the past but whose owners were so focused on maximizing profits and revenue streams that they allowed their rabid fan bases to suffer through horrible championship droughts (see: Red Sox, Boston 1918-2004), bouts of irrelevance (see: Maple Leafs, Toronto 1970s/1980s), and the sort of ineptitude that has lately gripped the Knicks (see: Thomas, Isaiah).
Sadly, the common factor is that all of those teams have enough 'plastic' fans (fans for the sake of following the herd i.e. 90% of Chelsea's fans) that any real disenchantment on the part of true fans will never affect the bottom line. Even if Leafs fans organized a boycott there would be more than enough plastic fans willing to fill the ACC, buy some souvenirs, and patronize the concessions.
What we need is more people like Quinn to speak out and say that making money is well and good but your ultimate goal has to be winning. So I say Preach On Brother Quinn! Hopefully, the Pension Plan, Richard, and Larry will get the message.