So this is why the GM needs an advisor. I joked about the Leafs being charged with crimes before but I didn't think Mark Bell would get convicted. Too bad he's a hockey player in California. They treated him like a normal citizen.
I'd like to think that the Leafs were aware of this considering some sens fans at the BoO (Damn you Notch!) were aware of this at the time of the trade. Needless to say, the denizens of Leafs Nation are up in arms and with good reason. The sentence might not start until after the season but as one friend put it "you think Bell will be able to concentrate on hockey with his new cellmate Tito weighing on his mind?"
Now, there are a couple of ways to look at it:
- JFJ knew about the pending case and decided that either the odds were good that Bell would not be sentenced to jail time or that he wouldn't convicted. In either case, getting Toskala was worth it in his eyes.
- JFJ was completely caught off guard and had no clue that Bell has both a drinking and a driving problem.
Either scenario is pretty grim and this quotation seems to indicate that the truth is closer to the latter scenario:
Leafs' GM John Ferguson had little to say when reached by Sportsnet."I will reserve comment until I can more fully review the situation," he said.
If the team knew then they should have been prepared to deal with any result.
Bell is far from the first NHL player to get in trouble with drinking and driving and some have been able to recover from their mistake to have productive careers (Heatley, McTavish). Sadly, Bell won't even be the first Leaf to have had problems. That article cites Rob Ramage, Jamie Macoun, Tim Horton, and Miroslav Frycer as other alumni that have distinguished themselves as morons.
Hopefully, Bell learns from his mistake as does JFJ although I'd like to imagine that he will be doing his learning in the unemployment office.
Mirtle's take here.
Update: In all of the smug self-satisfaction we should all keep in mind that Bell has yet to be sentenced. Mirtle noted that Bill Watters brought this up on Leafs Lunch. Maybe there is a deal in place that we are not aware of and the MSM jumped on the 6 months in the clink angle too quickly. He could just get community service and a fine.