Monday, May 25, 2015
Authors Posts by Declan Kerin

Declan Kerin

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When on top of his game, Nick Ritchie is a monstrosity that wrecks havoc on opposing defenses.

Nick Ritchie has battled injuries and consistency issues over his three years in the OHL (late ’95), but Ritchie finally put it all together in the final 3-4 months of the OHL season. Once the Petes acquired Hunter Garlent, they had finally found a playmaker for Nick Ritchie, which simplified things for him and allowed him to really take over games with his physicality and scoring ability.

In the final 29 regular season games of the season, Ritchie had 24 goals. He had a terrific playoffs, too (although was considerably better against Kingston than Oshawa). The goal production is no fluke. On top of overpowering defenders near the crease for garbage goals, Ritchie also possesses one heck of a shot (rated as 3rd best in the East in the coaches poll). Like Dal Colle, he’s great at using his size to create room for himself to use it. When you think of what a solid prospect his brother Brett has become, you have to wonder what Nick is capable of considering he’s the better skater, has a better shot, and is better with the puck. I’ve read comments from people talking negatively about Ritchie, comparing him to some of the failed power forward projects of recent years (guys like Hugh Jessiman).

We’re talking about a 6’3, 230lbs winger who can lead the rush across the blueline. That’s a special player. He’s not a plug. Ritchie has the hands and skill to match everything he’s capable of physically. And we haven’t even talked about how effective he is without the puck, as a steamroller on the forecheck. He hits and he hits hard. Bottom line is you’re looking at a throwback power forward. They don’t make many like this anymore (think Kevin Stevens). Are the consistency issues legitimate? Yes. Does he have some conditioning issues? Likely. But those are very correctable things that can’t overshadow the massive potential (no pun intended) that Ritchie possesses.
- Brock Otten, OHL Prospects

Nick Ritchie Highlights

Nick Ritchie Statistics

SeasonTeamLeagueGPGATPPIM+/- Postseas.GPGATPPIM+/-
2010-11 Toronto Marlboros Minor Mdgt AAA GTMMHL68504595119|
Georgetown Raiders OJHL10000|
2011-12 Peterborough Petes OHL6216233960-22|
Canada Ontario U17 WHC-1731232|
2012-13 Peterborough Petes OHL4118173550-10|
Canada U18 WJC-184134101|
2013-14 Peterborough Petes A OHL613935741364| Playoffs11551024-5
Tournament Statistics
2010-11 Team Ontario CWG622438|
Nick Ritchie is a prototypical power forward with an impressive blend of size, skill and strength. He skates well for a big player and has agile feet. He bulls his way around the ice and has an impressive, erratic shot. (August 2013)

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A country that is perhaps better known for ice hockey, skiing, and humour (and not necessarily in that order), it could well add another couple of things to its future national heritage list over the next few months or so.

Two trends emerging from this great nation are rugby but also online casinos.  Having played second fiddle to its neighbour USA in the gambling industry, Canadian-based company Amaya Gaming Group Incorporated are buying up as many gambling entities as possible in a bid to benefit from more relaxed gambling rules by US states for legalised online poker.  Capitalising on the fact more and more bingo halls have been closed across the country in the past decade, they offer a multitude of alternative platforms and you can get the best bonuses here.  

Perhaps Amaya ought to now focus on investment in the rise of Canadian rugby.  The draw for the IRB Pacific Nations Cup was met with excitement in certain circles.  A match in the group against fierce rivals USA is expected to attract big crowds and audiences.

It is also a competition that has started to attract significant investment, with emphasis on closing the gap between tier one and tier two rugby.  A commitment of £3.3 million has been pledged, and the Pacific Nations Cup is an ideal tournament to act as an advert for the game, showing all the thrills and spills.

IRB Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan said:

“The Pacific Nations Cup is an excellent opportunity for all participating teams to play some tough, competitive test matches with just over a year to go until Rugby World Cup 2015.”

“We have a long-term commitment through our 10-year Strategic Plan to create greater levels of quality Test competition for Tier Two nations in order to boost the competitiveness of the world Game.”

“The PNC will help us reach that goal, but also provide some great Rugby for local fans, especially on the last day when great rivals Fiji take on Samoa in Suva and USA host their neighbours Canada in California.”

Canada’s more experienced players such as Jeff Hassler and Tyler Ardron at the Ospreys understand that downtime will be fundamental in the tournament and sports players have been known to partake in activities such as video games, pool, darts, and despite carrying financial implications online poker.  Gambling is something that sports players and athletes can get a thrill from with alcohol consumption prohibited.  Amaya may just start taking an interest in Canadian rugby for more than just one reason.



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Toronto Begins Round One with Back-To-Back Road Games in Best-of-Five Series

What You Need To Know About the Marlies

  • North-Division-StandingsDefenceman T.J. Brennan was named the Eddie Shore Award winner for 2013-14 as the AHL’s Top Defenceman
  • The Toronto Marlies close out the regular season ranked 9th in AHL powerplay percentage (19.9%) and 11th in AHL penalty kill percentage (83.2%)
  • Toronto Marlies rank 9th in AHL attendance with an average of 6,013 fans per home game
  • Jerry D’Amigo is the Toronto Marlies franchise leader in playoff points (22)
  • Spencer Abbott finished the season ranked 2nd in the AHL in assists (52)

Last Week:
Toronto_Marlies_Scoring_LeadersThe Toronto Marlies posted a record of 2-1-0-0 in three games this past week.

On Wednesday night, the Toronto Marlies traveled to the state of New York where they defeated the Binghamton Senators, AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, by a score of 5-4 in overtime. T.J. Brennan registered three points, including the overtime winner.

On Friday night, Toronto continued their road trip against the Utica Comets, AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. The Comets defeated the Marlies 3-2, with Brad Staubitz and Josh Leivo notching goals for Toronto.

In their final game of the regular season Toronto defeated the Rochester Americans, AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, by a score of 4-3 at Ricoh Coliseum. Sam Carrick notched two goals including the game winner with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.

Marlies-Playoff-ScheduleRound One Preview
The Toronto Marlies begin round one of the Calder Cup Playoffs with a best-of-five series against the Milwaukee Admirals, AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators, on Friday night. The Marlies were defeated twice by the Admirals earlier this season.

Rookie forward Miikka Salomaki led Milwaukee in scoring during the regular season with 50 points (20 goals, 30 assists). The Admirals had five players collect at least 40 points.

Marek Mazanec started 31 games in net for the Admirals in 2013-14 and posted a record of 18-10-3. Mazanec compiled a 0.914 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average.

The series will shift back to Ricoh Coliseum next Thursday at 7 p.m. Games four and five, if necessary, will also be played in Toronto.

To purchase tickets for 2014 Toronto Marlies Calder Cup Playoff games please call the team’s ticket line at 416-597-PUCK (7825) or visit

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Maple Leaf fans at Maple Leaf Square

The Toronto Maple Leafs have exited the 2013/2014 season in a slow death spiral, as opposed to the surprising, gut wrenching exit of the 2012/2013 season.

Ardent followers of the team will not find this surprising; the team has some glaring holes, particularly up the middle with one of the weakest center groups in the league, and a steep fall off after Dion Phaneuf in terms of two way defenseman able to defend against top competition. This on top of Dion Phaneuf playing the worst hockey of his Maple Leaf career, and possibly of his NHL career.

Dave Nonis is going to have difficulty acquiring talent  in the off-season in the two areas that every single team covets: number one and number two center men with two-way skill present themselves very infrequently, as well as top pairing defenseman that can play against the best players in the world while still producing points and playing on the powerplay.

Paul Stastny is an unrestricted free agent and checks the top line centerman box — if barely — but adds two-way acumen not seen in the center group and is an upgrade in pretty well every area hockey players are measured. With the much talked about pressure of playing in Toronto, on top of them being further away from being a contender optically, this is when the Toronto Maple Leafs become a hard sell to free agents. Why would he want to come play here? On top of actually acquiring a free agent, the small matter of paying him is going to be an even greater task with burdensome contracts such as David Clarkson’s and Tim Gleason’s getting in the way of making it fit under the cap.

The only other two-way center men that appears to be available would be Ryan Kesler, and he would have to waive his no trade contract to come and play in Toronto. Again, these players are not stupid and see sports highlights, hear commentary, and when you’re losing in Toronto, no one wants to play here. (Please see: Reimer, April for more details). The other question, obviously, is if going after a 30-year-old centerman with some recent injury history is getting away from going after young talent and building the core of the group using the same age bracket.

It isn’t hard to see who would be going the other way to Vancouver; Kadri’s best years are going to be right in front of him statistically (24, 25, 26), but you also have to question if you can win a championship with him. It would definitely reek of old regimes of Toronto Maple Leafs management to trade a young player before his best years, but by the same token is he the right player for this team right now? Almost all people would lean towards not moving him, but if you were to acquire one — or both — of the above-mentioned centerman,  you would go from a team comprised of players of similar skill sets that can’t win a board or one-on-one battle to save their life with limited defensive acumen to a topline two-way center men with defensive acumen, both above 50% on the face-off dot, and both with a bit more “heaviness” to their game. It would completely change the entire dynamic of the team, and by playing proper, two-way hockey, the puck will be on your stick more (possession) and allow your offensive players to shine by doing so. The Leafs can score without having the puck more than any other team in the league, but what if the same offensive players had the puck on their stick in middle-of-the-puck type of possession numbers? Or better than middle of the pack?

Having said all this, I would be remiss not to mention the coaching changes required in Toronto. Many thousands of words have been typed out here at Maple Leafs Hot Stove over Randy Carlyle’s offensive, neutral, and defensive zone systems, which are the main reasons that Toronto is on pace to be outshot at levels not seen since expansion. Randy Carlyle has staunchly stood by his system, which in the defensive zone focuses on outnumbering men in the corner, collapsing the forwards down tightly with the defenseman, and generally making coverage look like a Tyke hockey practice. Of note, Don Cherry highlighted Dion Phaneuf “running around in his own zone”, on Coaches Corner. The sad part is that he was playing how he’s been asked to play; he does this every game, against all the top players; it looks bad and it’s hard to watch, but he’s doing what he’s told. Jonathan Bernier has expressed shock in interviews about how there are regularly two defenseman the corners, and commented that at every level of hockey — especially with the Los Angeles Kings —he has always been used to having one defenceman in front of the net, at all times. The Maple Leafs are coached to do this and it goes against what any other coach in the league would do. As alluded to on “Hotstove Tonight,” coaching staff from another team said that the Maple leafs are very hard to scout because “they don’t even have a system”. Certainly damning stuff for Carlyle and the coaching staff (Dave Farrish, Scott Gordon, Greg Cronin and Chris Dennis).

Randy Carlyle’s systems, combined with horrible roster decisions, have almost certainly ended his tenure here in Toronto. Obvious, easy decisions based on common sense — and typically backed up with statistics — are tossed aside, and only when other teams force his hand is he making the correct roster decisions (Bruins ECQF, Lightning this year, Bruins this year).

Past performance is generally best predictor of future behaviour and Dave Nonis has a checkered past of bizarre decisions, combined with inaction (earning him the nickname No-No). His signature move in Toronto was rumoured to be a Tim Leiweke’s proxy trade, and he confirmed this in his lengthy, intriguing interview with Strombo.

That leaves Dave Nonis’ signature move right now as signing David Clarkson to a seven-year deal at $5.2 million; easily the worst contract signing in the almost 100-year-old franchises history.

To look for a certain transaction, use the search field at the top right of the table. 

Dave Nonis Transactions as Maple Leafs GM

2013-01-13Maple LeafsCody Fransonre-signed restricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-01-13Maple LeafsMike Mottau signed unrestricted free agent to a 1-year, two way contract
2013-01-16Maple LeafsGreg Scott (b)waived
2013-01-16Maple LeafsKeith Aucoinwaived
2013-01-16Maple LeafsMike Mottauwaived
2013-01-16Maple LeafsRyan Hamiltonwaived
2013-01-16Maple Leafs2014 fourth round pick (?-?)Matthew Lombarditrade with Coyotes
2013-01-17Maple LeafsTim Connollywaived
2013-01-20Maple LeafsJoffrey Lupulre-signed to a 5-year contract extension through 2017-18
2013-01-31Maple LeafsFrazer McLarenclaimed off waivers (from Sharks)
2013-03-04Maple Leafs 2014 conditional pick (third round if Oilers qualify for 2013 playoffs, else fourth round) (?-?)Mike Brown (S.)trade with Oilers
2013-03-04Maple LeafsJosh Leivosigned 2011 third round pick to a 3-year entry level contract
2013-03-05Maple LeafsKorbinian Holzerre-signed to a 2-year contract extension through 2014-15
2013-03-14Maple LeafsKevin MarshallNicolas Deschampstrade with Capitals
2013-03-15Maple Leafs Ryan Lasch, 2014 seventh round pick (?-?)David Steckel / Dave Steckeltrade with Ducks
2013-03-19Maple LeafsGarret Sparkssigned 2011 seventh round pick to a 3-year entry level contract
2013-03-19Maple LeafsTom Nilssonsigned 2011 fourth round pick to a 3-year entry level contract
2013-03-20Maple LeafsMike Komisarekwaived
2013-04-02Maple LeafsDrew MacIntyresigned free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-04-03Maple LeafsAndrew MacWilliamsigned to a 2-year entry level contract
2013-04-03Maple LeafsRyan O'Byrne2014 fourth round pick (?-?)trade with Avalanche
2013-06-13Maple LeafsColton Orrre-signed to a 2-year contract
2013-06-13Maple LeafsDrew MacIntyre re-signed to a 1-year, two way contract
2013-06-23Maple Leafsrights to Jonathan Bernier Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin, 2014 or 2015 (Maple Leafs option) second round pick (?-?)trade with Kings
2013-06-24Maple LeafsJonathan Bernier team tendered qualifying offer, making player a restricted free agent
2013-06-24Maple LeafsJonathan Bernier team tendered qualifying offer, making player a restricted free agent
2013-06-29Maple LeafsCarl Gunnarsson team tendered qualifying offer, making player a restricted free agent
2013-06-29Maple LeafsCody Franson team tendered qualifying offer, making player a restricted free agent
2013-06-29Maple LeafsFrazer McLaren team tendered qualifying offer, making player a restricted free agent
2013-06-29Maple LeafsJoe Colborne team tendered qualifying offer, making player a restricted free agent
2013-06-29Maple LeafsMark Fraser team tendered qualifying offer, making player a restricted free agent
2013-06-29Maple LeafsNazem Kadri team tendered qualifying offer, making player a restricted free agent
2013-06-30Maple LeafsAndreas Johnsonseventh round pick (#202 overall)
2013-06-30Maple LeafsAntoine Bibeausixth round pick (#172 overall)
2013-06-30Maple LeafsCarter Verhaeghethird round pick (#82 overall)
2013-06-30Maple LeafsFabrice Herzogfifth round pick (#142 overall)
2013-06-30Maple LeafsFrederik Gauthierfirst round pick (#21 overall)
2013-06-30Maple LeafsDave Bolland 2013 second round pick (#51-Carl Dahlstrom), 2013 fourth round pick (#117-Fredrik Bergvik), 2014 fourth round pick (?-?)trade with Blackhawks
2013-07-01Maple LeafsLeo Komarov signed with European team, Dynamo Moscow-KHL
2013-07-02Maple LeafsMike Komisarekreleased (team bought out contract)
2013-07-04Maple LeafsMikhail Grabovskiwaived
2013-07-04Maple LeafsMikhail Grabovskireleased (team bought out contract)
2013-07-05Maple LeafsGreg Scott (b)player became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsJussi Rynnasplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsMark Owuya team declined to tender qualifying offer, making player an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsMichael Kostka / Mike Kostkaplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsRyan O'Byrneplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsSimon Gysbersplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsTim Connollyplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsTyler Brenner team declined to tender qualifying offer, making player an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsFrazer McLarenre-signed restricted free agent to a 2-year contract
2013-07-05Maple LeafsJonathan Bernierre-signed restricted free agent to a 2-year contract
2013-07-05Maple LeafsKevin Marshallre-signed restricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsClarke MacArthurplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsMike Mottauplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsRyan Hamiltonplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsTyler Bozakplayer became an unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsDavid Clarksonsigned unrestricted free agent to a 7-year contract
2013-07-05Maple LeafsT.J. Brennansigned unrestricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-07-05Maple LeafsTrevor Smithsigned unrestricted free agent
2013-07-05Maple LeafsTyler Bozakre-signed unrestricted free agent to a 5-year contract
2013-07-10Maple LeafsMike Zigomanissigned with the Rochester Americans (AHL)
2013-07-10Maple LeafsJoe Colbornere-signed restricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-07-10Maple LeafsTroy Bodiesigned unrestricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-07-19Maple LeafsChristopher Gibsonsigned free agent to a 3-year entry level contract
2013-07-22Maple LeafsCarl Gunnarssonre-signed restricted free agent to a 3-year contract
2013-07-24Maple LeafsChris Dennispromoted to assistant coach
2013-07-24Maple LeafsPaul Rangersigned unrestricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-07-25Maple LeafsDave Nonisre-signed as GM to a 5-year contract extension
2013-07-25Maple LeafsDavid Nonisre-signed as GM to a 5-year contract extension
2013-07-30Maple LeafsMark Fraserre-signed restricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-07-30Maple LeafsSpencer Abbottre-signed restricted free agent to a 1-year contract extension
2013-09-06Maple LeafsMason Raymondinvited unrestricted free agent to training camp
2013-09-10Maple LeafsDylan Yeoinvited to training camp
2013-09-10Maple LeafsKevin Raineinvited to training camp
2013-09-10Maple LeafsNazem Kadrire-signed restricted free agent to a 2-year contract
2013-09-10Maple LeafsRyan Rupertinvited to training camp
2013-09-10Maple LeafsTrevor Murphyinvited to training camp
2013-09-10Maple LeafsZachary Yuen / Zach Yueninvited to training camp
2013-09-11Maple LeafsMatt Rupertinvited to training camp
2013-09-13Maple LeafsMatt Rupertreleased (CBS)
2013-09-13Maple LeafsTrevor Murphyreleased (CBS)
2013-09-21Maple LeafsKevin Marshallwaived
2013-09-23Maple LeafsMason Raymondsigned unrestricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-09-26Maple LeafsCody Fransonre-signed restricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-09-28Maple Leafs2014 conditional round pick (third round if Colborne scores 10 goals or 35 points during 2013ð14 season and if Flames qualify for 2014 playoffs, else fourth round) (?-?)Joe Colbornetrade with Flames
2013-09-29Maple LeafsDrew MacIntyrewaived
2013-09-29Maple LeafsJohn-Michael Lileswaived
2013-09-29Maple LeafsKorbinian Holzerwaived
2013-09-29Maple LeafsT.J. Brennanwaived
2013-09-29Maple LeafsTrevor Smithwaived
2013-09-29Maple LeafsTroy Bodiewaived
2013-10-01Maple LeafsPhil Kesselre-signed to an 8-year contract extension
2013-11-06Maple LeafsJerred Smithsonsigned unrestricted free agent to a 1-year contract
2013-11-16Maple LeafsPeter Holland, Brad StaubitzJesse Blacker, 2014 conditional round pick (second round if Holland plays 25 games with Maple Leafs in 2013-14, else third round) (?-?), 2014 seventh round pick (?-?)trade with Ducks
2013-11-19Maple LeafsMatthew Finnsigned second round pick to a 3-year entry level contract
2013-11-22Maple LeafsConnor Brownsigned 2012 sixth round pick to a 3-year entry level contract
2013-11-27Maple LeafsFrederik Gauthiersigned 2013 first round pick to a 3-year entry level contract
2013-12-04Maple LeafsJerred Smithsonwaived
2013-12-31Maple LeafsDion Phaneufre-signed to a 7-year contract extension
2014-01-01Maple LeafsTim GleasonJohn-Michael Liles, rights to Dennis Robertsontrade with Hurricanes
2014-01-22Maple LeafsBrandon KozunAndrew Crescenzitrade with Kings
2014-01-31Maple LeafsCameron Abney, rights to Teemu HartikainenMark Frasertrade with Oilers
2014-03-03Maple LeafsFrazer McLarenwaived
2014-03-04Maple LeafsTrevor Smithwaived
2014-03-25Maple LeafsEric Knodelsigned with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) to a professional try-out contract
2014-03-25Maple LeafsEric Knodelsigned to a 1-year entry level contract
2014-04-02Maple LeafsCarter Verhaeghesigned with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) to an amateur try-out contract
2014-04-02Maple LeafsCarter Verhaeghesigned 2013 third round pick to a 3-year entry level contract
Dave Nonis Transactions, Trades, Signings, Draft Picks as Maple Leafs GM

When Brian Burke was being interviewed for the position of GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Dave Nonis also interviewed for the job and was deemed unfit to run the team. He now runs the team.

Leaf Links (if you dare)

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Photo: NHLI

This game was a fitting end to the Maple Leafs’ playoff chase,
and a fitting final home game in the Randy Carlyle era.

15 shots after 40 minutes in a do or die game. 41 shots against by the end. The team looking utterly clueless as to how to get out of its own end (one shift rivalled the 1:30 shift in their own end in Boston back in November, leading to the Jets powerplay and game winning goal). All sorts of inexplicable stuff going on in the ice time distribution (Also, the team was playing with 11 forwards despite having 3 – Bolland, Lupul and Clarkson – forwards playing through injury. How was the view from the press box, Jerry?).

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 Toronto Marlies Set to Play Three Games in Three Nights Starting Friday in Utica.

Last Week
The Toronto Marlies posted a record of 2-0-0-1 in three games this past week. On Friday night, Toronto traveled to upstate New York where they defeated the Rochester Americans, AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, by a score of 4-2. Sam Carrick tallied the game winning goal while Drew MacIntyre stopped 24 of 26 shots. On Saturday afternoon, the Marlies were defeated 2-1 in a shootout by the Iowa Wild, AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild. Peter Holland scored the lone Marlies goal, while Garret Sparks made 25 saves. In their final game of the week, Toronto defeated the Abbotsford Heat, AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames, by a score of 6-4. The second period saw a combined eight goals, before Josh Leivo notched the game winning goal midway through the final frame. Drew MacIntyre earned his second victory of the week.

Marlies Next Five Games

*All Times Local

  • Fri. Apr. 4 – TOR @ UTI – 7 p.m.
  • Sat. Apr. 5 – RCH @ TOR – 3 p.m.
  • Sun. Apr. 6 – UTI @ TOR – 3 p.m.
  • Fri. Apr. 11 – TOR @ RCH –7:05 p.m.
  • Sat. Apr. 12 – TOR @ SYR – 7 p.m.

Toronto’s magic number is one point to clinch the North Division title

What You Need To Know About the Marlies

  • The Marlies can clinch the North Division title if Rochester fails to get two points in their game against Syracuse tonight
  • Spencer Abbott ranks 2nd in AHL scoring with 69 points (17 goals, 52 assists) in 64 games
  • With his 27th victory this past week Drew MacIntyre set a new franchise mark for wins in a single season
  • The Marlies rank 9th in AHL powerplay percentage (20.4%) and 7th (tie) in AHL penalty kill percentage (84.0%)
  • Toronto ranks 9th in AHL attendance with an average of 5,962 fans per home game

To purchase tickets for Toronto Marlies home games call the team’s ticket line at 416-597- PUCK (7825) or visit

Toronto Marlies

Look Ahead:
The Marlies will take to the ice for three games this coming week.

On Friday night, the Utica Comets, AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, will play host to the Marlies for the second time this season.Puck drop is 7 p.m. at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Pascal Pelletier leads the Comets in scoring with 55 points in 60 games this season.

The Marlies return home on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. to host the Rochester Americans. Phil Varone leads the Amerks with 51 points in 60 games.Toronto has posted a record of 4-2-0-1 against the Amerks this season.

In their final game of the week, the Marlies will host Utica on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. The game can be seen live on Rogers Sportsnet 360.

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Dion Phaneuf / Phil Kessel

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

“Personally, I think by a country mile he’s the best defenceman in the league. It’s not even close right now,” Ron Wilson said following a 4-3 win over the Penguins. “I think he’s comfortable in his own skin. He’s comfortable being the Captain, he’s healthy and I think without taking away from his play, the way Carl Gunnarsson’s played has made Dion’s job a lot easier. It’s just freed up Dion to play as best as I’ve ever seen him.”- Ron Wilson, Oct. 30st, 2011

It wasn’t too long ago that Dion Phaneuf was a 45-point lock on the backend for the Maple Leafs. If he had a good, healthy, puck-moving defenceman as his partner on the power play, he could probably eclipse that mark. That used to be the case, but it’s no longer a reality for Dion. As we will see in the numbers further below, Phaneuf’s numbers resurged in 2011-12 and 2012-13 but have fallen off again this season.

Full disclosure: I don’t think Dion Phaneuf has ever been the best defenceman in the league, let alone by a country mile. I will say that I think he is widely overlooked as being among the best in the league by a lot of people and is unfairly criticized for gaffes all defenceman are guilty of; they’re not of greater frequency for Phaneuf, or any less. There are millions of Leaf fans across Canada—and especially in Toronto—but a lot of them aren’t hockey fans and don’t watch other teams with regularity. If you watch enough of the good defenceman in the league, they get torched frequently. It comes with the territory.

Despite Phaneuf getting more criticism than ever, it’s not hard to see that he has evolved from a wild, open-iced hitting offensive defenceman and matured into an elite, two-way defenceman going up against—and shutting down—the best players in the world. While this is the case, it’s gone too far in one direction and it has crippled Phaneuf’s offensive production.

Tyler Dellow wrote an article outlining Dion’s increased defensive zone starts and dwindling shots for -— a hallmark for Phaneuf.

I don’t disagree with James that Phaneuf isn’t Pronger. He’s right about Phaneuf’s zone starts having become a lot more difficult as well. For the years in Calgary where we have data, he had a ZoneStart of 56.6%, meaning that 56% of his offensive or defensive zone faceoffs were in the offensive zone. From the time of this trade to Toronto through the end of 2011-12, this was 50%. In 2012-13, it was 41%. This year, it’s 39.3%. The road keeps getting steeper.

I think that there’s a little more too it than that though. As I mentioned back into the summer, I kind of got into breaking zone start effects down into their constituent elements by looking at how long we could see an effect after faceoff wins/losses in given parts of the ice. I haven’t tabulated this year’s number yet but I think that we can see a real Carlyle effect on this.

I’ve split Phaneuf’s career into three parts: 2007-10 in Calgary, 2010-12 in Toronto and 2012-13 in Toronto, which I’ve called TOR – Wilson and TOR – Carlyle, for obvious reasons.

It is striking the extent to which Phaneuf’s Corsi% just collapses following DZ faceoffs once Carlyle takes over. The personnel wasn’t that different in Toronto from the Wilson era to the Carlyle era but Phaneuf’s numbers just collapse. I’m not providing a ton of context here in terms of whether those numbers are good but I can assure you that they aren’t. The thing is though, we can tell from Phaneuf in Calgary and under Wilson that he’s capable of more.

The Leafs need to address the issues with the coaching and/or find a working defensive system that doesn’t sewer each and every one of their players’ possession numbers, first of all. As for Phaneuf specifically, while this has been a rough 6 or 7 games for him, the question remains not whether Phaneuf must go, but can the Leafs better supplement their 1D with more defensive talent and alleviate some of the taxing load shouldered by the Captain?

Back to his offensive production.

SeasonPts/gamePP pts/gameShots/gameSH%

It’s not hard to see where Phaneuf is being held back offensively; it’s on the powerplay, where he is currently putting up the worst powerplay-points-per-game rate of his career. He’s also shooting less than at any point of his career  (while it rounds to the same decimal, he shot fractionally more on a per-game basis last season).

Despite their powerplay ranking, Toronto has had a really rough time on the power play on the backend. Much of this has been masked by the play of their forwards, who made hay for much of the season. One of the most awkward things, which we talk about a lot around here, has been Phaneuf and Cody Franson on the blueline together on the power play. Phaneuf is a rare case as a defenceman who plays 5-on-5, PK and PP best when he’s on the right side despite being a left shot. The angles work better for him, his sweet spots on the boards are always in the same spot, and from a young age his slapshot was always used as a weapon in the arsenal of any team he was on. Under the guidance of Randy Carlyle and left in the hands of assistant coach Dave Farrish, Dion Phaneuf’s slapshot has been taken away in favour of “holding the line.”

It started to manifest itself in the playoff series against Boston last spring; Phaneuf, who is uncomfortable playing his correct side at both 5v5 and on the PK, and Franson, who is not the fleetest of foot on the best of days, are getting beat “holding the line” and are spending too much time in their own zone, giving up scoring chances against, unable to gain the zone with any efficiency and set up cleanly. It was disturbing that the coaching staff wasn’t able to recognize how obtuse it was having both shooters together in the playoffs; now, another 74 games later, the pair continues to play together with painful results offensively and it came to a head defensively as well when they were lit up for three shorthanded goals in the span of a week (shorthanded chances against are still occurring regularly, and nearly led to another SHG if not for a Bernier toe save versus St. Louis).

And yet, still, the coaching staff stubbornly keeps Phaneuf and Franson on their correct sides. While that is an egregious coaching error in and of itself, they aren’t a correct pairing to begin with.

With the help of data available at, we can see in the first chart Phaneuf’s shot location data on the powerplay for shots and goals. By having to make two touches on the puck — one to corral and settle it down, and another to wind up for a shot — there is just absolutely no efficacy to one of Toronto’s most dangerous powerplay threats. There is also a knock-on effect in that Kessel, as the primary puck carrier on the half wall, can be pressured more heavily and double teamed — which has been the case during this recent slide — with the opposition knowing that there is no real threat from the points. The same can be said on the other side for Franson and his dangerous slap-snap shot. Both have to take two touches and it’s compounded even further when they play catch with each other. It’s the main reason they get picked off on the points. The opposing penalty killers don’t have to respect the shot, and instead can cheat, pressure the points harder and take greater risks knowing that both are standing still trying to settle a puck down before taking a shot.

Two seasons under Carlyle/Farrish

Dion Phaneuf SOG
2013-2014 (74 games) / 2012-2013 (48 game schedule)

What does it look like when Phaneuf gets to use his one-timer and isn’t stuck on the left side?


And some more…


(2010 was skipped due to the injury from a skate slice injuring Phaneuf’s MCL).

Note the goals from the right side of the ice.

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TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 12: Jonathan Bernier #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs defends the goal as Mark Fayne #7 of the New Jersey Devils stops in front during NHL game action January 12, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs (4-6-0) take on the New Jersey Devils (4-6-0) (7pm; RDS2, LEAFS TV). Preview coming up shortly, and also a piece from Petrielli on Leiweke.

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Does it get any better? The Hockey Mecca and the also-ran do battle on Hockey Night in Canada. Toronto could have a full line up for the first time this year if Bernier and Bolland dress.

As far as big games go, this is a biggy. If you can’t get up for the Montreal Canadiens, in your barn, on a Saturday Night on Hockey Night In Canada, I think you need to find a different team to play for.

The playoff implications also make this an extremely important game for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs looked like they were going to be a nice little dog fight for 3rd overall in the Eastern Conference with Tampa Bay, but that has all changed with the Maple Leafs looking to stave off being eliminated from the playoffs rather than pushing for home ice advantage. Their lacklustre play—specifically starts to games—is alarming and disconcerting.

Hopefully, they can turn it around tonight vs Montreal.



Leaf Links



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Photo courtesy of Christian at

Last Week:
Marlies-statsThe Toronto Marlies posted a record of 1-1-1-0 in three games this past week.

On Friday night, Toronto traveled to Cleveland, where they were defeated 3-2 by the Lake Erie Monsters, AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. Spencer Abbott and Jerry D’Amigo scored for the Marlies, while the two teams combined for 200 minutes in penalties.

The Marlies returned home on Saturday afternoon for the second half of back-to-back games against the Monsters. Toronto earned a 4-1 victory behind a hat-trick from rookie forward Josh Leivo. Three of Toronto’s four goals came on the powerplay.

In their third game in as many days, the Marlies were defeated 4-3 in a shootout by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Captain Trevor Smith recorded two points against his former team, while Drew MacIntyre made 32 saves in the loss.


Look Ahead:
The Marlies will take to the ice for two games this coming week. On Friday night, Toronto travels to New York for a 7:05 p.m. game against the Rochester Americans, AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.

The Marlies have posted a record of 1-2-0-1 against the Amerks so far this season. Phil Varone leads
Rochester in scoring having recorded 50 points (14 goals, 36 assists) in 52 games. The Marlies return home on Sunday afternoon for their final meeting of the season against the Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens.

The game can be seen live on Rogers Sportsnet 360 at 3 p.m. Toronto has posted a record of 5-4-2-0 against Hamilton so far this season. Martin St. Pierre leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 40 points (10 goals, 30 assists) in 54

What You Need To Know About the Marlies
Spencer Abbott ranks 4th in AHL scoring with 62 points (14 goals, 48 assists). Abbott’s 48 assists rank 1st in the AHL -T.J. Brennan ranks 5th in AHL scoring and leads all defencemen with 59 points (21 goals, 38 assists)

  • Drew MacIntyre ranks 2nd in AHL wins (25)
  • The Toronto Marlies rank 9th in AHL powerplay percentage (19.9%)
  • The Toronto Marlies rank 7th in AHL penalty kill percentage (84.4%)
  • The Toronto Marlies hold a record of 24-0-1-1 when leading after two periods of play
  • The Toronto Marlies rank 9th in AHL attendance with an average of 5,950 fans per home game
  • Six of Toronto’s 18 remaining games are against the Rochester Americans

To purchase tickets for Toronto Marlies home games call the team’s ticket line at 416-597-PUCK (7825) or visit

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Toronto Maple Leafs Hoodie
This is a 2nd run of similar design and the 1st run had excellent quality.

This original updated MLHS design includes all
the names from 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs.

Beautiful, unique Leafs and hoodies found only here and not anywhere else. The initial run with the white piping was extraordinarily popular and these will be, too.

This is a limited time offer and a small run. This campaign will end in 7 days and be gone for good, so buy now.


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The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics – Men’s Hockey Schedule


Olympic Mens Hockey Schedule


Preliminary round:
Feb. 12, 12 PM ET: Czech Republic vs. Sweden (Group C)
Feb. 12, 12 PM ET: Latvia vs. Switzerland (Group C)
Feb. 13, 3 AM ET: Finland vs. Austria (Group B)
Feb. 13, 7:30 AM ET: Russia vs. Slovenia (Group A)
Feb. 13, 7:30 AM ET: Slovakia vs. USA (Group A)
Feb. 13, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. NORWAY (Group B)
Feb. 14, 3 AM ET: Czech Republic vs. Latvia (Group C)
Feb. 14, 7:30 AM ET: Sweden vs. Switzerland (Group C)
Feb. 14, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. AUSTRIA (Group B)
Feb. 14, 12 PM ET: Norway vs. Finland (Group B)
Feb. 15, 3 AM ET: Slovakia vs. Slovenia (Group A)
Feb. 15, 7:30 AM ET: USA vs. Russia (Group A)
Feb. 15, 12 PM ET: Switzerland vs. Czech Republic (Group C)
Feb. 15, 12 PM ET: Sweden vs. Latvia (Group C)
Feb. 16, 3 AM ET: Austria vs. Norway (Group B)
Feb. 16, 7:30 AM ET: Russia vs. Slovakia (Group A)
Feb. 16, 7:30 AM ET: Slovenia vs. USA (Group A)
Feb. 16, 12 PM ET: CANADA vs. FINLAND (Group B)

Playoff round:

Feb. 18, 3 AM ET: PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION - Austria vs. Slovenia
Feb. 18, 7:30 AM ET: PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION - Norway vs. Russia
Feb. 18, 12 PM ET: PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION - Latvia vs. Switzerland
Feb. 18, 12 PM ET: PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION - Czech Republic vs. Slovakia
Feb. 19, 3 AM ET: QUARTERFINAL - Slovenia vs. Sweden
Feb. 19, 7:30 AM ET: QUARTERFINAL - Russia vs. Finland
Feb. 19, 12 PM ET: QUARTERFINAL - Czech Republic vs. USA
Feb. 19, 12 PM ET: QUARTERFINAL - Latvia vs. Canada
2014 Sochi Olympic's Mens Hockey Schedule

The Olympic Mens Hockey Schedule as now moved away from the preliminary stages of the hockey tournament, and onto the qualification stages.

As Leaf fans, and primarily Canadians, there’s an allegiance to root for the Canadian Olympic Men’s Hockey Team, but with 3 Toronto Maple Leafs going to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, one for Russia (Nik Kulemin) and two going for Team USA (Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk) there could be a certain contingent of fans in the camp of: “If Team Canada is out of it early, I’m rooting for Team Kessel/JVR” with support going to Toronto’s two stars.

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Phil Kessel Fighting
VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 2: Alexandre Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks and Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs drop their gloves to fight during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on November 2, 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Maple Leafs look to end embarrassing losing streak vs. Vancouver Canucks

After a Sunshine State road trip, the Toronto Maple Leafs are back at home after playing their worst game of the year (Panthers), followed by one of their better games of the year (Lightning).

The Maple Leafs (7-2-1) are the second-hottest team in the league over the past 10 games, while the struggling Vancouver Canucks (3-7-0) have the 3rd worst record over the same time frame. Vancouver has been outscored 23-10 while losing six games in regulation, good for the club’s longest slide since dropping eight in a row from Jan. 9-31, 2009. The Canucks haven’t lost 7 in a row since the 1998-1999 season. Vancouver looks from the outside in on the playoffs picture, presently sitting in 9th place and in a dog fight to make the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Such is the case with a team that has seen their aging core falter and contending window slammed firmly on their fingers, as Mike Gillis and company look to see where it all went wrong; their retool-on-the-fly blowing up in his face, with no end in sight.

After playing a lacklustre game against the Florida Panthers, the Maple Leafs rebounded by playing a great game against the Tampa Bay Lightning—a team directly in front of them in the standings and made the 4pt game a crucial win when the Leafs needed it most. After the 2 horse race at the top of the East (Pittsburgh, Boston), it is a very tight with 4 teams (Lightning, Habs, Leafs, Rangers) within 2pts of each other.

Maple Leafs vs Canucks

2003-04 season:Mon Nov 24 2003 at TorToronto 2, Vancouver 1
2005-06 season:Tue Jan 10 2006 at VanVancouver 4, Toronto 3
2006-07 season:Sat Jan 13 2007 at TorVancouver 6, Toronto 1
2008-09 season:Sat Nov 15 2008 at VanVancouver 4, Toronto 2
2008-09 season:Sat Feb 21 2009 at TorVancouver 3, Toronto 2 (SO)
2009-10 season:Sat Oct 24 2009 at VanVancouver 3, Toronto 1
2009-10 season:Sat Jan 30 2010 at TorVancouver 5, Toronto 3
2010-11 season:Sat Nov 13 2010 at TorVancouver 5, Toronto 3
2010-11 season:Sat Dec 18 2010 at VanVancouver 4, Toronto 1
2011-12 season:Sat Dec 17 2011 at TorVancouver 5, Toronto 3
2011-12 season:Sat Feb 18 2012 at VanVancouver 6, Toronto 2
2013-14 season:Sat Nov 2 2013 at VanVancouver 4, Toronto 0

Wins: 53
Losses: 64
Ties: 22
OTLosses: 0
SOLosses: 1
Goals for Toronto: 465
Goals against Toronto: 485