Declan came onboard for MLHS in 2011, combining forces with his old website and MLHS into what you see today. A life-long Leaf fan who counts his favourite player as Wendel Clark. A self-employed entrepreneur, he works in the web development area with an Internet Marketing focus.
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GS: What’s the one perk about being the captain of an original six [NHL] team that we wouldn’t know?
WC: It’s probably the hugest honour because it’s the team in Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs and your peers allow you to be captain and you’re a part of that room. The good thing is you’re answering all the questions. The bad thing is you’re answering all the questions. You can’t take everything personally all the time like Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leaf’s current captain] is going through sometimes where he takes things personally. He doesn’t take it personal, but people think they’re picking on Dion, but they’re really not. The media and fans are going at it because he’s the captain. So they’re really picking on the team: “How come you’re not being good enough?” The captain sometimes takes that heat. Also when you’re winning, the captain gets raised to another level as well. So it’s a double-edged sword when you’re wearing a “C” on any of the original six.
GS: Do former captains call current captains and tell them that?
WC: No. You probably talk a lot without saying anything, that’s kinda what the hockey thing is. Nobody sits down and you have these heartfelt conversations. But there’s a lot of talk in general. That’s how guys learn about each other and how they handle different things. You kind of watch people.
GS: You never want to call him and say, “Listen, I love it when you throw those big checks but try not to be out of position after you finish the check?
WC: No. One thing you do as an ex-hockey player is that you don’t critique other ones unless you’re in the media side of it. Because you understand what they’re going through. Because when we played we all made mistakes and that was all part of it. As many good things happen, you’re going to make lots of bad things happen.
Wendel Clark’s interview with George airs on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 7 and 11:30 p.m. on CBC. Hockey fans will also want to tune into the show Thursday, January 9, 2014 when George interviews Stanley Cup winner and former Montreal Canadiens tough guy Chris Nilan.
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 4: Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers celebrates a first period goal with teammates during NHL game action against the Toronto Maple Leafs January 4, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
Interesting that a lack of practice time and a busy schedule were cited by Randy Carlyle prior to the Christmas break, as this was a disgraceful effort while carrying the rest advantage in a two-game week while the Rangers played the second game of a back to back.
Tim Gleason won’t have to wait long to draw into the lineup.
A quick Tim Gleason scouting report from Hockey Forcaster: Assets: Is capable of playing a shutdown role, due to a combination of hockey sense, mobility and an aggressive nature. Also has a little offensive acumen. A good team player, he always works extremely hard and sacrifices his body. Flaws: Doesn’t take enough shots to be a key contributor at the point on the power play, nor does he take full advantage of his skill-set on offense. At times, he can be overly aggressive when lining players up for the big hit.
The sun rises over Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., before the Detroit Red Wings face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. (Dave Sandford/NHLI)
It’s been a year and a half of a build up for the 2014 Winter Classic. The NHL lockout prevented the winter classic for happening January 1, 2013, and now a year later, the event being dubbed as “The Biggest Hockey Game Of All Time” is going to take place today, weather permitted.
HBO 24/7 has been documenting two teams: the Detroit Red Wings, who have been struggling with injury and consistency problems and, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have been struggling with injury and consistency problems.
Toronto recently had Tyler Bozak return to the lineup versus the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto’s face-off percentage was in around the 60% mark for the first time in some time. Not having to rely on—and overplay—Jay McClement for all of your key face-offs makes a big difference in how you deploy your team and it’s one of the positives of having Tyler Bozak back in the lineup. Constantly losing draws, while not the most important aspect of the game, does come into play in key situations and game breaking goals off of key draws. Bozak was 56% on the dot vs Carolina and hopefully a trend we’ll see continue.
Toronto will be starting Jonathan Bernier, who has a sizzling .949 save percentage in his last five games, settling into a groove in the Toronto crease. much as been made about the goaltending tandem the Toronto Maple Leafs employ and how James Reimer is not a favorite of coach Carlyle, and is not getting the starts and chances he deserves. Reimer has been given every chance to succeed, and Bernier, even by the slightest of margins, is showing to be the better of the two (shootouts not included).
Henrik Zetterberg will be a gametime decision, as will Daniel Alfredsson, who is nursing an injury.
2014 Winter Classic: Maple Leafs vs Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs vs the Detroit Red Wings matchup.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston is reporting that the Winter Classic is going to come across the border to Toronto in 2017.
The planned location for it would be BMO field, with extensive renovations to outdoor facility taking place. MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke has been in talks with Municipal, Provincial and Federal Officials to make this happen and they all appear on board.
This dovetails nicely into the Maple Leafs 100th anniversary season.
The cost for expanding the woefully small stadium, would be twice it’s $60,000,000 initial build price, said Leiweke.
“It’s big money, huge money,” Said Lewieke
“It fits a lot of needs,” he said. “It renovates it for TFC, it certainly renovates it for the Pan Am Games, it renovates it for rugby. The Grey Cup would be phenomenal in an outdoor setting in Toronto on the lake, but (the Winter Classic is) clearly one of the things we put on the wishlist.”
“The city, the province and the feds have all told us it’s important to them from an economic stimulus standpoint because we see what it’s doing to the economy in Detroit now – imagine what would happen in Toronto.”
Part 2 of the 2014 Winter Classic Alumni game shows both team’s best lineups (save for the Maple Leafs’ Sundin, who is recovering for Surgery). The lineups for both teams are stacked with Hall of Fame talent, and many Stanley Cup Winners. Toronto’s lineup, unsurprisingly, contains a lot truculence (that can play).
Michigan Stadium (aka:
"The Big House" seating chart)
Do you have good tickets to the 2014 Winter Classic? With 107,000+ tickets sold and fuzzy details on where Toronto Maple Leafs fans and Detroit Red Wings fans will be sitting, this chart, courtesy of SBNation shows you where your seats are at Michigan Stadium (The Big House) and where the separations for both fan bases will be. The Maple Leaf fan’s sections are outlined in blue, obviously, and the Red Wings section is in, predictably, red.
Click image below for a link to the full image and a closer look.
Michigan Stadium (aka: 2014 Winter Classic Seating Chart at Michigan Stadium / “The Big House”
A bit of a tour on the seating situation at Michigan Stadium / “The Big House”:
HBO 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs – Road to the NHL Winter Classic – Full Episode #1
In Episode #1 of HBO 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs – Road to the NHL Winter Classic, hockey fans get an inside look to The Original Six Franchise’s dressing room, coaching staff, players, and hockey operations.
The Maple Leafs played their best game of the season, but were dealt a taste of their own medicine with a sublime goaltending effort by Martin Jones, ultimately thwarting a plethora of fantastic chances and a game full of uncharacteristic sustained offensive zone time by the Leafs.
The first minute of the game had the makings of yet another one of those games where Toronto was going to spend way too much time in their own zone (“The Leafs have difficulty getting the puck out of their zone™”).
That quickly changed at the 18 minute mark, with the Rielly/Gardiner pairing moving the puck with efficiency and in the proper direction.
The initial fears of the game going the way of L.A. domination were scuttled at around the 16:50 mark; Lupul’s first touch was a scoring chance for Kulemin off the rush and should have been buried but for a fantastic save.
Come the five minute mark of the first, the shots were 5-3 Toronto. LA’s slow defense was having to hurry pucks on the breakout, and Toronto seemed more committed to a fast forecheck. If not physical, they were putting a lot of pressure on the Kings, who were being made to look like, well, the Leafs on any given night this season.
The penalty kill still continues to plague the Leafs game, and sunk them early. Despite taking the play to the slower LA Kings team, this was their chance to set up, control the play and get their 1-0 marker, which as an elite team they proceeded to do.
Despite the score, the shots were 9-4 Toronto late in the first.
One of the habits creeping into the Leafs’ heads more and more: their inability to close out periods and games. Inexplicably, the last minute and a half the Leafs were hemmed in and looked like they would concede another goal.
The Leafs got off to a nice start to the 2nd period.
Toronto’s defence was pinching and activating on the rush regularly, and it was giving the Leafs a chance to show off their speed more than they have this season. The D pinching down the wall was giving the Leafs more zone time than as long as I can remember, as reflected in the shot and shot attempt count (as close to a proxy for possession as we have). The Rielly/Gardiner pairing got regular shifts with the Kessel-Kadri-JVR, and they were fantastic in every area of the ice. They held the zone well, made great tape-to-tape saucer passes, pinched with great timing and, of course, lugged the puck as you would expect; lots of clean zone exits, zone entries, and controlled set ups in the offensive zone.
With Phaneuf injured, it’s forced Carlyle to do things he never tries, which is having Gardiner/Rielly on PP#1 and Gardiner/Franson on PP#2. The puck carrying duties went to Gardiner on the breakout and the Leafs achieved easy zone entries by not having, without fail, Phaneuf and Franson on the same PP unit. The dynamic duo are able to pinch with efficiency and still have the skating ability to get back into position on time.
As the 2nd period was winding down, it was apparent that this was the longest stretch of good hockey Toronto has sustained this season.
The Leafs finally evened the game on a 5 on 3 powerplay. It was Gardiner/Franson again, with Leafs getting a flurry of great chances. More great play from the Leafs in front of the net drew a penalty. On the ensuing 5 on 3, Frason scored on a beautiful switch with Kessel on the powerplay. Franson and Gardiner finally called the audible and switched sides (which Carlyle seems to coach them not to do), opening up two one-time point shots.
The Kings were previously a perfect 8 for 8 on 5 on 3s, but that changed tonight. The small victories, right?
That was a hell of a 2nd period for Toronto.
The Leafs were exposing the LA Kings lack of speed; worth noting the Kings were in the 2nd leg of a back-to-back on the road.
A note I made before the game: I was hoping that the addition of Lupul would open up the lines a bit for Toronto and allow Lupul to avoid some coverage, and for the Leafs to roll two lines properly. He looked like the Lupul of old and had a number of great chances tonight; he was hard on the puck and drove the net with reckless abandon. It makes the Leafs a tougher team to play against.
The pinching was a bonus for the Leafs tonight, but it has also cost them with the go-ahead goal by Jeff Carter. A pinch from Ranger resulted in a 2 on 1. Fraser was in a tough spot; he can play it like a 2-on-1 and take the pass away, which he does for the most part, or take the shooter with Ranger closing in on the pass option. He correctly elected for the latter and Carter got off a sneaky hard shot through Bernier’s legs to make it 2-1 Kings. That’s a game breaker goal that Bernier has to save and he didn’t. This was a decidedly average performance from Bernier; he needed to be better tonight. You wonder if starting Reimer against a team that doesn’t have the book on the goalie (like LA did) might have been the better decision.
Once again evident in the period, Gardiner and Rielly were dynamic tonight. Where they usually are a high-risk/reward combination, they were all reward tonight and moved the puck up the ice with skill and speed, making plays that are both exciting and effective. They beat LA’s heavy forecheck, as puck-moving defenseman are wont to do, when they play the game at a high speed.
There was a surefire holding penalty on the JVR rush missed by the refs late in this period. It was a free-hand hold, which is usually a call on every.single.play in every.single.nhl.game. While my tinfoil hat is currently at the dry cleaners, the calls against the Leafs this year are, quite frankly, staggering. I’ve never seen officiating as poor in the NHL in my decades of watching hockey. Perhaps coming out of the 2005 lockout when new rules were implemented, but that’s not saying much.
JVR blew by Regehr, but Regehr impeded JvR’s progress with the loose arm. That’s called holding.
Shortly thereafter, Kadri got cross checked and absolutely filled in from behind by Voynov without the puck.
Alas, Kyle Clifford came back the other way and scored. Insert dagger here. Game over.
0:03it’s amazing isn’t it
0:07that’s what pro sports there I was something that happens it makes you
0:12shake your head
0:13I’m by far was our best effort
0:16the last couple months but
0:19no reward Fort and we have to use it as a starting point
0:23but one thing about tonight was that with Aston
0:26we’ve been pleading forward demanding tick collar whatever’s is that
0:31from the defensive side of it we had to work as hard as we have been
0:36on the backcheck versus the four check and
0:40that was very evident tonight there in the room
0:44solve them no other down because we had so many
0:47opportunity so many offenses chances and that’s what happens is you get
0:52and sports it seems like the the mountain seems to get a little bigger
0:57versace’s where it should be getting smaller and
1:01get no complaints with the work ethic for group
1:04we executed from a defensive standpoint we
1:08you know when but gore good break up passes and we attacked
1:12before checked we didn’t samples at
1:16called harder because
1:20the playing the way need to play with them get the war
1:23it’s harder mentally but if we continue to
1:26apply that table work ethic will win our share games:
1:30if we have that type a dog at work ethic if we gonna
1:34effectively with the park covers on with
1:38the way we did tonight back check is hard can create as many of us have
1:43then we’ll win our share games: but
1:46its again it’s is like push that snowball seems
1:50every time you lose it gets bigger concert with the Rangers
1:53a little that decision that decision
1:57with three guys at that and then or
2:0111 11 hockey with 10 minutes left it’s not by spent
2:06but has earned them steaks that happen in the game
2:09you know either as I said it’s its mistakes like that
2:13and the cost you but to the effort was there and win
2:16we have to correct those mistakes is that closer to all you want
2:21team but definitely are
2:24as I stated before you got here the work ethic on the backcheck
2:27in the defensive side over was the best we’ve had in months
2:32him Park movement
2:36years old guys were not
2:39use him pop
2:42yellow well again
2:46the we’ve been pleading begging picking coddling
2:50whatever you want to do that to try to get a starting point and
2:54because it you know it’s been frustrating for everybody
2:57and players and coaching staff as well
3:01we think that there’s more from this group that we can
3:05we can continue to build on it and we need to
3:08feel good about ourselves but it’s not good
3:12when you lose don’t feel good when you lose some Plaza with will be the
3:16I’ll two dudes up
3:19well it was a little bit of a risk but the you can obviously see that they’re
3:24they have skill set and skating ability that the
3:27they can and they will be NHL players
3:30regular players but we’re asking a lot of two young guys specifically the pair
3:35them together but
3:35we just felt that that was the best grouping them we shot Morgan rallies
3:39were tired and
3:40as deserve you know an opportunity in
3:44you make decisions eg again for the next one toward
3:47results but as US
3:51lawyers in Chicago this perk up skins is your doesn’t
3:58on be home keep song
4:01hey are you build on the positive did you try to accentuate are the things we
4:05did well and
4:06correct the mistakes that we made your looking at what happened last night in
4:11plays a role in your diabetes composes
4:14were for I think it I think again desperation has to take place and that
4:20it takes place a different levels you know we’re the benefactor to
4:24about catching it even a second I have a back to back we can ignore that that’s a
4:27fact you know
4:29so we should be fresher we should be you know
4:32we should be jumping on our toes we should be aggressive in
4:35in love in the areas where you can tell they’re a veteran team
4:39that methodically the way they will the park in the way they play their big
4:42strong hockey club that has played well and played together for a long time
4:47you touch up look come back
4:50today difference makes the lineup a
4:53no I didn’t it in with loops its it’s always a
4:57with guarded optimism because if he’s
5:01been able to come back and get hurt come back get her so we’re
5:05you know we’re going with crossed fingers at you can maintain it obviously
5:08gives us another dimension
5:10he had a review 3-4 scored test scores gorgeous
5:14so the searching for
5:18loss much closer to the what we need
5:21and as I stated earlier that the the
5:25work on the of it subsided and we explain to our team I think we’re third
5:29in there in their Eastern Conference in office
5:34were third so we can provide enough of us to have success
5:38it’s the defensive side that are our work ethic and our commitment
5:42has been there right