Monday, May 25, 2015
Authors Posts by Alec Brownscombe

Alec Brownscombe

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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]

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We began our search for a new head coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs with an in-depth look at Peter DeBoer over the weekend. DeBoer officially received the MLHS stamp of endorsement, but he has since been confirmed to be remaining in New Jersey next season. Be it a new deal, or a contract option we weren’t aware of, apparently his contract isn’t expiring anymore.

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Photo: Getty Images via NHL.com

So ends the three-week nightmare that derailed a promising 2014 Leaf playoff bid. So begins weeks of soul searching while the real teams compete for the Cup in those playoff contests the Leafs teased us with last May.

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Head coach Peter DeBoer’s three-year contract with the New Jersey Devils is set to expire at season’s end.

(Warning: What follows is a long-winded analysis of a potential head coaching candidate for the Maple Leafs, who haven’t yet fired their own coach, when said future candidate is still currently under contract with another team).

While Lou Lamiorello recently endorsed the work of DeBoer and his staff despite a second-consecutive season out of the playoffs, there appears to be an opportunity here if the Maple Leafs are interested — which, it just so happens, jives with the latest dispatch from the rumour mill. The Devils are financially strapped and the Maple Leafs are in a position to offer DeBoer whatever it takes in terms of a contract offer, as well as the allure of returning home (DeBoer is a Dunnville, Ontario native) to work alongside the familiar likes of new Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan (appears to be a connection here), Steve Spott (a long history together in junior), David Clarkson (a long history together in New Jersey and Kitchener) and Nazem Kadri (an OHL championship together in Kitchener, DeBoer is a known ‘Naz’ fan). And get this: The Leafs are the team who drafted DeBoer in the 12th round in 1988 (worked like magic with Randy Carlyle).

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 10: Goaltender Drew MacIntyre #35 lets a goal slip through by Brandon Pirri #73 (not pictured) of the Florida Panthers while teammate Jimmy Hayes look on at the BB&T Center on April 10, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

About that pre-game talk of pride and putting in a good effort for Drew MacIntyre in his first ever start…

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning - TAMPA, FL - APRIL 8
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 8: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning has his shot blocked by Tim Gleason #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs while goalie James Reimer #34 attempts to make a save during the first period at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on April 8, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

I mostly watched this one with my eyes half glazed over, dozing in and out of consciousness, with a smell of burnt toast lingering, symbolizing the end of the Randy Carlyle era (fell asleep with something in the toaster.. BOBBY!). This was a dead team skating, one not worthy of much analysis on this night.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 3: James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a second period goal as Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins skates past during NHL game action April 3, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs were done after the Red Wings loss, but would that stop them from turning it on in their final six games, you ask? Are you new to being a Leafs fan? Of course not.

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 1: David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores a third period goal on Karri Ramo #31 of the Calgary Flames during NHL game action April 1, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames were just what the doctor ordered for the Leafs, at least as far as ending the losing skid goes. The 10-game skid of 1967 will not be touched, and the “making the playoffs and winning the Cup” theme of the 1967 season also likely won’t be repeated.

Toronto survived a choppy, out-of-synch first period that was clear evidence of a team playing in fear in their home building amid an eight-game collapse. It was a terrible period of hockey by both teams, and really a terrible game in general, too.

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Feb 1 2010- Stand-up photo: Don Cherry talks to the media after he touched the "lucky loonie" that was buried in the ice when Canada won hockey gold at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Loonie will be on display for public to touch during February at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. (Photo by David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Don Cherry said something nonsensical with no basis in fact, guys. Let’s talk about this.

 

 

We’ve heard Don Cherry rail about this type of thing before. It is one of my favourite misinformed Cherry rants (no sarcasm, Don entertains me and makes me laugh regularly and I’d love to become his tweeting scribe if the woman who does it now ever tires or if Don outlives her).

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Jonathan Bernier
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings tries to knock in the puck against Jonathan Bernier #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Staples Center on March 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

“We didn’t seem to be able to break the cycle, and they were using the points. We play with a lot of people down low in our zone so the points are going to be open. And yet they seemed to be getting the point shots through and a lot of tips and rebounds. Obviously something.. something was wrong there.”
– Joffrey Lupul after the 5-3 loss to St. Louis.

After the loss last night, Randy Carlyle and Joffrey Lupul both came to the conclusion that this Leafs team is tense — on account of all the recent losing — and it has hurt their starts in games by exacerbating an inability to calmly execute breakouts. After all, the team has been able to battle back in games after falling behind by a couple of goals, repeatedly, during this losing streak. Lupul said “our skill seems to take over” once the Leafs shed their “fear” and play come-from-behind hockey.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs St. Louis Blues
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: Alex Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues waits on a shot against Dion Phaneuf #3 and goalie Jonathan Bernier #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 25, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

At what point do we stop saying the next game is a “must win?”

Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

It’s amazing how quickly things can change at this time of the season. Combined with the loss in Washington, this four-point swing puts the Red Wings five back of the Leafs for a wildcard spot with two games in hand. That’s still a sizeable gap at this stage, but two consecutive losses by the Leafs combined with three straight wins each by Montreal and Tampa Bay suddenly has the Leafs in a wildcard spot and looking in the rear view mirror.