Squeak into the playoffs this year or keep building towards a cup? Â I’ll take build towards a cup, please and thank you. And they’re closer than you think.
He’s certainly able to provide a balanced view after building championship teams twice this decade, with two different clubs (Tampa Bay, 2004 â€“ Chicago, 2009). Here’s his take on the Leafs, after less than one year on the job.
A prÃ©cis of the interview can be taken from two fairly potent statements:
â€œI am one of the people uniquely qualified to comment on it.â€
â€œI think this team becomes an elite team. Simple.â€
Whether thatâ€™s damage control, or whether thatâ€™s his opinion, Iâ€™ll let you be the judge.
The Leafs will be picking first, fifth or sixth in the draft depending on the lottery result tonight. Obviously, the likelihood is that we stay put at fifth (74.7%).There’s a 17.2% chance we fall further back to sixth.
Cross every limb and hope we can overcome 91.8% worth of odds. The lottery airs tonight at 8 p.m. on TSN.
Nazem Kadri and Â Ryan Hamilton have been called up on an emergency call-up, withÂ Matt Frattin and Clarke MacArthur being listed as day-to-day with injuries.
TORONTOÂ â€” The Toronto Maple Leafs called up forwards Nazem Kadri and Ryan Hamilton on Thursday from their minor-league affiliate on an emergency basis.
Matt Frattin and Clarke MacArthur are out for the Leafs with day-to-day injuries. Frattin has a lower-body injury, while MacArthur has an upper-body injury.
The 26-year-old Hamilton is the captain of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies. He’s second in team scoring with 46 points in 65 AHL games.
The Oshawa, Ont., native leads the club with 23 goals and 10 power-play goals and will be making his NHL debut when the Maple Leafs face the Devils in New Jersey on Friday.
Kadri, a 21-year-old from London, Ont., has 13 goals and 19 assists in 42 games in 2011-12 with the Marlies. He has four goals and two assists in 19 games for the Maple Leafs this season.
What more can possibly be said about the way Mats got his 500th career goal? Slapper from the blue line? Check. Top corner snipe? Check. Third goal of the game, shorthanded, in overtime no less? You bet. In one of the biggest games of his career, Sundin performed with style. On a fairly disastrous 2006-07 Leafs squad, Sundin remained the sole bright spot of an aging core.
The game was a high scoring affair. As has so often been the case in Leafs games, defence was nowhere to be seen. Toronto would dominate most of the first, seeing vast stretches of time in the offensive zone on the cycle. Running into some penalty trouble, Calgary suffered the first goal against on a Tucker tally. Picking up a secondary assist on the goal was none other than Sundin. Not merely content with helping someone score, Sundin added his first goal of the night 7 minutes later. Sneaking into open ice near the side boards, Mats fired home a wrister as Calgary was caught sleeping. Number 498.
I am a young Maple Leafs fan, even around these parts. Not many know this, but I was born in 1995, and a Leaf fan from birth. Naturally, I donâ€™t remember the hard-fought series against the Sabres in the spring of 1997, and Iâ€™ve only seen video of Sundinâ€™s overtime winner against the then-powerhouse Senators in 2001. A year later though, I can say I truly started to bleed blue and white.
Only 7 years old at the time, I was slowly learning what it meant to be a Toronto Maple Leafs fan from my father â€“ whoâ€™d been one (and still is) for over 30 years. I received my first Leafs jersey that year, the same white home sweater Sundin scored in against the Hurricanes in that bittersweet game six. I remember gathering around the television in the comfort of my own home for game one â€“ like we had for every playoff game that year â€“ with my father and I on one couch and my mother â€“ the farthest thing from a Leafsâ€™ fan â€“ sitting opposite from us.
In the buildup to the Sundin’s banner-raising ceremony tomorrow night at the ACC,Â the MLHS bloggers will each be sharing their most memorable Sundin moment. Dan Santos is up first with his reflections on Sundin’s six point night:
When reminiscing about my favourite Mats Sundin moments, the two I instantly remember are his 1-0 overtime winner against Ottawa and his late goal to tie Game 6 against the Hurricanes. However, another game is just as memorable to me because I was lucky enough to be in attendance. I am talking about Mats Sundin’s 6-point night against the Florida Panthers.
April 11, 2006. The Toronto Maple Leafs are desperately fighting for their playoff lives. A late-season surge, led by Jean-Sebastien Aubin of all people, has given the Leafs a glimmer of hope with just a handful of games left.
Tuesday was a pretty good day for the Penguins all around. Pittsburgh will try to keep the good times going this evening and extend its eight-game win streak with a home-and-home sweep of the hosting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Yesterday began with the Penguins seeming to have zeroed in on what is exactly wrong with superstar captain Sidney Crosby. The club announced that the former Hart Trophy winner has a soft tissue injury in his neck with no evidence of a past or present neck fracture according to an independent specialist. That ailment could be what is causing the 24-year-old his neurological symptoms, as they are similar to that of a concussion.
Crosby missed 61 straight games after suffering a concussion last January and returned to action in late November for eight games before again getting shut down due to the return of his symptoms. He has missed Pittsburgh’s last 22 games, but found Tuesday’s news to be encouraging.
“I think the biggest thing to take from it is that it’s something I can work on. I can come in and get my neck worked on,” Crosby said. “There’s a pretty big possibility that could be causing some of the issues. So I really hope that’s the case and hope with some treatment that it’ll improve and that’s hopefully the end of it. But I think being able to work on that and not sitting around hoping to get rid of the symptoms, it’s nice to kind of have some information and go with it.”
The rest of the Pittsburgh organization probably agrees and the players on the ice continued to play well without Crosby, posting a 5-4 shootout win over visiting Toronto in last night’s opener of this home-and-home.
The Leafs look forward to getting their power play quarter back tonight with the addition of John-Michael Liles. His ability to move the puck, walk the line and get opposing forwards scrambling gives the Leafs a totally different look on the power play that we have been missing desperately since he went down with a concussion injured.
John Tavares has the last-place New York Islanders surging. He’s also on the verge of the team’s longest scoring streak in 12 years.
The third-year centre will try to lead the Islanders to a season-high fourth straight win when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night to open a home-and-home set.
Tavares has eight goals and 13 assists during a career-high 12-game point streak, while the Islanders (19-21-6) have gone 8-4-0 in those contests. He had just four points over his previous nine games and New York went 2-6-1.
Now Tavares is on the brink of becoming the first Islander to go 13 consecutive games with a point since Mariusz Czerkawski from Jan. 22-Feb. 19, 2000.
Brian Burke’s radio interview on Wednesday seemed to speak volumes about what he was looking for and what he was willing to part with to improve the Leafs. It’s no secret that the main parts of any potential deal with the Flyers, if it were to happen, would be Luke Schenn and the highly skilled and big bodied James van Riemsdyk. The merits of Schenn and his contributions to the Toronto Maple Leafs are great, but if you want a great player, you have to move another one, unless you’re dealing with Darryl Sutter.
What exactly do we get with James van Riemsdyk? Well, Gus Katsaros was kind enough to provide us with the full scouting report on JVR and it is tantalizing to say the least.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and their penalty kill get set to take on the Tampa Bay Lighting tonight. It’s the start of a long January home stand which sees the Leafs try and turn around a slide that has taken them from 6th to 10th in only 3 games. PoorÂ discipline and one of the worst penalty kills the NHL has seen in recent history have lost Toronto 3 games they could ofâ€”and should have won.
Jonas Gustavsson gets the start in goal, and hopes to continue his play that saw him getting in a good groove before he was sat in favour of a struggling James Reimer. He probably should have started in Winnipeg, but curious coaching decisions are curious coaching decisions.
The Tampa Bay Lightning look to rebound from their first home loss in more than a month Tuesday night when they face a Toronto Maple Leafs team that hasn’t scored in its last two visits to the St. Pete Times Forum.
Toronto has been stumbling of late and have be decimated by 7 injuries to their regular line-up. Good news on that frontâ€”James Reimer is expected to return later this week (reported elsewhere, not in that article) and Clarke McArthur is dressed to play against the Lighting.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been red-hot at home this season with a 6-2-0 record and the Leafs have been mediocre on the road with a 5-5-0 and have a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games.
Phil Kessel will look to distance himself from the rest of the pack in the scoring and points race tonight. He has 4 goals, 2 assists in the last 5 games.Â After a slow start (for him), Steve Stamkos has started to find his touch around the net and has 5 points in his last 5 games.
It feels good, doesn’t it? The Toronto Maple Leafs were certainly outplayed by the Columbus Blue Jackets for a good portion of the game and their specialty teams are still holding the team back, but the standings don’t lie – the team is winning consistently at the end of the day. Torontoâ€™s team is a fast, high-powered, offensive juggernaut that has made the NHL stand up and take notice (their 45 goals put them 2nd in the league next to Philly). That isn’t going to go away from what we have seen from them so far in the early season.
Enter: Ben Scrivens
Scrivens has lived up to the promise that the Toronto Maple Leafs front office and coaching staff have seen in him since they picked him up as an undrafted free agent. Scrivens plays a Francois Allaire style that has made his transition from College, to the ECHL, to the AHLâ€”and now the NHL, a natural progression. His style is reminiscent of that of James Reimer; while not having the same size advantage as the other Toronto Maple Leafs goaltenders, Scrivens is positionally sound, economical and has a reasonable amount of athleticism. He played pretty much a perfect game, much more than youâ€™d expect from someone making his first NHL start. Kudos to the coaching staff for starting him in such an enviable position. On the road, against the worst team in the league, after a win. After that, it was all Scrivens.
MAPLE LEAFS (7-2-1)
at SENATORS (6-5-0)
TV: SNET-Ontario, SNET-East, TVA
LAST 10: Toronto 7-2-1, Ottawa 5-5-0
Kessel: 16pts in 12 games versus Senators.
The Battle of Ontario resumes tonight with the second matchup in a six-game series between the two clubs this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs, by many accounts, are the best team in the Eastern Conference right now and it’s not unreasonable to say, possibly the entire league. After convincingly outplaying and beating perennial Stanley Cup contenders, the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3 Saturday night, Toronto’s team looks to be figuring out who they are and how they play. There was a palpable buzz in the City of Toronto after last night’s winâ€”a demonstration that they can run with any team in the league. Toronto is starting to win all types of games, but what they’re showing in a general sense is thatÂ they can force teams to play their fast, chance-for-chance brand of game, one which allows their now-potent offense to make the difference. Also encouraging is Toronto’s ability to quickly bounce back after conceding.
The Toronto Maple Leafs face-off against the New York Rangers in what seems like an impossible home openerâ€”impossible in the sense that we are 3 weeks into the season and all of New York’s games have been on the road thus far. Having started off their season in Europe, New York returns home to their newly renovated arena, the hollowed Madison Square Garden. Their season has started off very poorly, but they had a hard fought win over Winnipeg their last game and are looking to harness some momentum going into their home opener.
New York Rangers 2011/2012 record
Fri Oct 7, 2011, (Stockholm, SE) NYR (2) – LAK (3) OT
Sat Oct 8, 2011 (Stockholm, SE) NYR (1) – ANA (2) SO
Sat Oct 15, 2011 NYR (2) – NYI (4)
Tue Oct 18, 2011 NYR (4) – VAN (0)
Thu Oct 20, 2011 NYR (3) – CGY (2) OT
Sat Oct 22, 2011 NYR (0) – EDM (2)
Mon Oct 24, 2011 NYR (2) – WPG (1)
New York has been leaning on their start goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, and have had a dreadful time trying to generate any offense. At last count, Phil Kessel was only 3 goals behind their entire team in scoring this season. That says a lot about both Kessel’s season and New York’s.
The Toronto Maple Leafs met their first serious opponentÂ this season, facing the defending champions, the Boston Bruins, last night at TD Garden. It was a wake-up call for the Leafs, who have mostly faced non-playoff teams as opponents and have receivedÂ out worldly performances from Phil Kessel to save the game for them, game-after-game. Toronto has had glaring issues with their specialty teams, and even their 5-on-5 play, that has to be raising big concern for the players and coaches involved despite a 4-1-1 start. Facing the Boston Bruins brought this team back to earth and revealed a number of areas in need of work, merely covered up by Phil Kessel’s dominance in the four games preceding last night’s tilt.
It’s not inconceivable that the Leafs would have had a 1-4 or 2-3 record going into the game against Boston if not for their offensive leader’s best streak in a Leafs sweater. This team has not clicked as a unit from game one and it finally caught up with them in the form of anÂ embarrassing 6-2 loss.Â There was very little to like about Toronto’s game and, as has become tradition, Toronto’s stacked defence core largely underperformed.
Two of the youngest teams in the NHL are set to face-off against each other tonight for Toronto’s 2nd last game at home to start the season. Toronto had easily the worst schedule of all the teams: two games, a 7 day break in between and all 5 games to start the season are at home. Very strange to say the least. Road trips are importantâ€”and especially on young teamsâ€”for bonding and getting away from the media and distractions of playing at home. Travelling planes, trains and automobiles, rooming together, eating together all helpsÂ expediteÂ the gelling process.
Colorado are certainly red-hot, as are the Leafs. After getting shutout by the the Detroit Red Wings 3-0, Colorado have been on a small tear to start the season, winning their last 4 games. Their young, talented forwards, lead by Matt Duchene, have started to blossom as a young team and GM Greg Sherman has done aÂ marvelousÂ job of making moves for all the right positions. Semyon Varlamov was the biggest off-seasonÂ acquisitionÂ for the Avalanche and they paid a lofty price for himâ€”a 1st and a 2nd round pick for an unproven goalie. Having said that, he has oodles of natural talent and this could work out wonderfully for them. Adding former Maple Leaf, J.S. GiguereÂ (who gets the start against the buds) as mentor, goalie coach and backup goalie, was a savvy move by Avalanche GM, Greg Sherman. While their forwards look solid, their defence is thin on talent, but they have started to address that with last seasonÂ acquisitionÂ then St. Louis Blue and former 1st overall pick stud defenceman, Erik Johnson. They sent young power forward Chris Stewart back the other way in exchange for what they think will be a franchise defenceman.
Ron Wilson isn’t happy about Cody Franson’s comments this week and has made it known that the defenceman is now under the gun to perform. As I said yesterday morning, it’s a lose-lose situation complaining to the coach and to the media like that. Now, he has to play his way out of his gaff. Another thing working against Franson is that he will be playing on his wrong sideâ€”something he said he is not used to and doesn’t typically fare well at. Pair this with his being teamed up with Mike Komisarek for the first time and they will need to keep their game super simple to see any success.Â This will be small potatoes in a few weeks time, but right nowâ€”with no games in 7 daysâ€”there is little else to talk about. Player/coach friction happens and happens a lot with Ron Wilson.
The one positive to take away from this is that there is a lot of competition from good players trying to make a spot on this team. Having NHL ready defencemen, rather than AHL’ers thrust into a role they are not capable of, bodes well when (not if) one of the defencemen go down with an injury. Franson is teteering on the edge of the depth chart and he’s a established two-year NHLer, not to mention current Marlie Keith Aulie, who didn’t have the best of preseasons but is where he is due to this depth.
“As the pages turn”. It was a lite week for Toronto Maple Leafs News with the Leafs on their unusual 7-day-off cheduling glitch. They made good use of the time and made their way down the highway of heros to Trenton for a fewÂ days of practice, military drills, team building/bonding and gun shooting.
Cody Franson had his first experience in dealing with the Toronto media and set off a small fire when he said he was upset at not playing and that it was not how he had envisioned things panning out playing for the Leafs. Fair enough comments coming from aÂ fiery competitor, but slow news days will get the better of people and this story quickly had legs, with people crying for him to be traded and on the first plane out of here. When you listen to the interview in context, it’s a frustrated player dying to get on the ice after five months out of regular season action. Given Franson found out he was scratched for the opener by watching an online interview, whether or not Ron Wilson has communicated this properly to the player is worthy discussion fodder.