Cody Franson on Toronto's struggles: 'Sometimes people get the perception we don’t really care'

Cody Franson on Toronto's struggles: 'Sometimes people get the perception we don’t really care'

Cody Franson didn’t quite take the crash and burn approach out of Toronto.

But the newly acquired Nashville defenseman did make a statement – that the Maple Leafs players did indeed care, and that recent spate of losing was both bothersome and worrisome to the guys in the dressing room.

“We want to win in the room a lot more than people on the outside want to win and that’s the frustrating part,” Franson said via phone. “Sometimes people get the perception we don’t really care or whatever and that’s not the case. That can get a little frustrating sometimes.”

With Toronto dealing Franson and Mike Santorelli to Nashville for Olli Jokinen, a first round pick and Brendan Leipsic, it means the rebuild is officially underway for the Maple Leafs who have the 26th–best record in the NHL.

Interestingly, Toronto didn’t have a bad roster at the start of the year. But it was never going to be a Stanley Cup contending roster. And when the Maple Leafs started losing, a snowball/pile on effect took place. By the time Toronto had lost 11 in a row, setting a franchise record it was spun that this team was awful and needed to be changed.

Never mind that it’s essentially the same group that almost eliminated Boston from the playoffs two years ago.

“We went into this year with what I felt was a good team and you start losing a few games you really start to feel the walls close in and expectations are high in this city,” Franson said.

And once Toronto lost its footing, the Maple Leafs completely imploded. This was a group that at one point won six in a row and seven of eight.

So what’s the answer? Rebuild? Referesh?

“It’s one of those situations where management is going to watch everything, address the situation they need to address and make the best decisions they feel are going to better the team in the future,” Franson said.

There’s always a classic misunderstanding that a big market must have a win-now mentality. That fans won’t tolerate losing. This is a false pretense. The New York Rangers used this misguided philosophy in the late 90s and early 2000s, hoarding the free agent market for players who kept them good enough to be OK, but not bad enough to enjoy the high-end draft fruits of a rebuild.

But if you’re a fan of a team, would you take two or three years of horrible losing if you knew that it had a higher probability of leading to long-term success? This statement excludes Edmonton fans, FYI.

And when the 2004-05 lockout took a sledgehammer to the Rangers, that team suddenly looked a lot better after it had to start over again with a more prudent approach.

Now it’s time for the Maple Leafs to do the same. But do they have the patience?  Can they resist temptations of overpaying players and overestimating the fishbowl nature of the market?

If team president Brendan Shanahan has a plan to combat this, we’re about to find out  … and quickly.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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