Listening to Don Cherry, you would get the impression that rather than fire coach Ron Wilson, Brian Burke should have signed a player from Ontario.
On Saturday night, what started with an inquiry on CBC’s Coach’s Corner about the Leafs coaching change ended with Cherry complaining about how Toronto is the only NHL team without a player from Ontario on their active roster.
Typically local players do become fan favorites, although St. Catharines, Ontario native Bryan McCabe would argue that isn’t always the case. Besides, it’s not as if Burke has avoided Ontario players. In the 2011 NHL entry draft, Toronto used the 25th overall pick to select Stuart Percy, who was born in Oakville, Ontario and has played in the Ontario Hockey League. The Leafs’ next pick, which didn’t come until the third round, was another Ontario-native, Josh Leivo.
In addition to that, the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, has several Ontario-born players. The most noteworthy of which is Nazem Kadri, who has played in 19 games with the Maple Leafs this season. At the end of the day, it’s the players’ skill that matters. We can assume that Leafs fans would rather have Markham-born Steve Stamkos instead of Matthew Lombardi, but they wouldn’t trade Phil Kessel to get back Mississauga-native Matthew Stajan.