Friday, May 22, 2015
Authors Posts by Declan Kerin

Declan Kerin

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Maple Leafs are the Richest Hockey Team
Photo: CBC.ca

Forbes released their annual NHL franchise valuations today alongside an article detailing the financials of league’s 30 teams. Unsurprisingly, the Toronto Maple Leafs top the list — by a lot. With the recent sale to Bell/Rogers, the value of the team became more concrete and Forbes has estimated they are worth $250,000,000 more than the next team, The New York Rangers. Simply staggering numbers. The Leafs are the first team to break $1 billion dollars in value.

On the ice, the National Hockey League has never been more competitive than it has been over the course of its of its last collective bargaining agreement that began with the 2005-06 season. A different team has won the Stanley Cup each season, with the champion coming from big markets like Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as small ones such as Pittsburgh and Raleigh. A total of 12 different teams reached the finals during the seven-year CBA.

So why have the owners thus far cancelled 422 regular season games of the 2012-13 season, as well as the All Star Game, insisting on a new CBA that drastically reduces the amount of money (currently 57% of hockey-related revenue) that can be spent on player salaries?

The reason is because on the financial scoreboard, the league’s 30 teams have never been further apart.

Consider the two most recent team sales. In May, Tom Stillman acquired the St. Louis Blues, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, the lease to Scottrade Center, and a piece of the Peabody Opera House for just $130 million. One month later, the NHL approved the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan sale of its controlling interest in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns Toronto’s Maple Leafs (NHL) and Raptors (NBA), and the Air Canada Centre, for an enterprise value of $2.05 billion. We estimate the transaction placed a value of $1 billion on the Maple Leafs.

Our data illustrates the league’s conundrum. Fueled by a 9% increase in overall revenue to $3.4 billion during the 2011-12 season, the average National Hockey League team is now worth $282 million, 18% more than a year ago. The increase in revenue and value speaks to the leagues ability to raise the average ticket price an average of 5% last season, fill its arenas to 95.6% of capacity and renew or secure new sponsorships with Discover, Geico, Honda, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, McDonald’s, Paramount Pictures, Tim Hortons, Verizon and Visa.

But the spread between the rich and poor teams is dramatic. The top five teams–Maple Leafs ($1 billion), New York Rangers ($750 million), Montreal Canadiens ($575 million), Chicago Blackhawks ($350 million) and Boston Bruins ($348 million)–are worth $605 million, on average. The five least valuable–Carolina Hurricanes ($162 million), New York Islanders ($155 million), Columbus Blue Jackets ($145 million), Phoenix Coyotes ($134 million) and St. Louis Blues ($130 million)–are worth just $145 million, on average.

There is also an incredible bifurcation of cash flow. Overall operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) almost doubled during the 2011-12 season, to $250 million. But the sport’s three most profitable teams–Maple Leafs ($81.9 million), Rangers ($74 million), Canadiens ($51.6 million)–accounted for 83% of the league’s income, while 13 of 30 teams lost money, before non-cash expenses and interest payments.

If the salary cap were lowered to, say, 50% of revenue and the subsidies given from high-revenue teams to their low-revenue rivals was increased to $200 million from the current $150 million, which is essentially what where the two sides seem to be headed, small-market team values would get a big boost (as was the case in the NBA when the New Orleans Hornets and Memphis Grizzles sold for $338 million and $330 million, respectively, after the league worked out a new labor pact last year), and the league’s overall profitability would increase. But teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets would still have trouble making money unless they went at least two rounds in the playoffs.

Drew Dorweiler, managing partner of Dartmouth Partners in Montreal, thinks the league needs to move some teams. “The Sunbelt has had plenty of time to prove that the viability doesn’t work.” Dorweiler thinks Quebec, where ground has already been broken for a new arena, will eventually get an NHL team, and he also thinks Portland, where minor league hockey is popular, and Seattle, where the city has approved a new arena, would be better cities to house teams than Arizona, North Carolina and Florida, where NHL teams are losing money.

The success of the Winnipeg Jets buttresses Dorweiler’s case for moving a team to Quebec. Last year, True North Sports & Entertainment bought the Atlanta Thrashers for $170 million (including a $60 million relocation fee paid the the NHL). The team moved to Winnipeg and was renamed the Jets, after the original franchise that moved to Phoenix for the 1996 season. The team lost a pile of money playing in Atlanta but posted an operating income of $13.3 million last season, when they sold out every game at their new arena. We think the Jets are now worth $200 million.

The emboldened excerpt there is shocking even knowing beforehand the growth in revenue was driven by a wealth imbalance. Three teams responsible for 83% of the league’s income.

From Forbes’ Mike Ozanian:

There will always be a huge gap in team values because telecommunications companies like Rogers and Bell Canada can leverage the media rights for the Maple Leafs multiples of what Stillman can command in media fees for the Blues. But a new CBA in the NHL along the lines of what the NBA has, coupled with the relocation of some teams, would shrink the disparity in hockey’s operating income. Hopefully, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA director Donald Fehr stop fighting and start skating toward that goal before the entire season is lost.

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The $1 billion valuation ties Leafs with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and MLBs Boston Red Sox at No. 23 and 24. How a losing team can make this much money is hard to wrap your head around. If that wasn’t bad enough, this was Mike Ozanian’s response to a question about their value if they were to actually become a winning team.

Toronto Maple Leafs Value

$1.5 Billion would put them at about the 6th most valuable sports franchise in the world behind Machester United ($2.33 billion), Real Madrid ($1.88 billion), The New York Yankees ($1.85 billion), The Dallas Cowboys ($1.85 billions), The Washington Red Skins ($1.56 billion) and just ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers ($1.4 billion).

 

 

Mike Ozanian

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Toronto Marlies
Toronto Marlies defeat the Oklahoma City Barons 6-5 in OT

The Toronto Marlies defeated the Oklahoma City Barons 6-5 in what was a wild, high-scoring affair.

Toronto Marlies vs Oklahoma City Baron’s Highlights

Nicolas Deschamps Goal

Kenny Ryan Goal

Greg Scott Goal

Jake Gardiner OT Winner

Mike Zigomanis Goal

Korbinian Holzer’s Huge Hit

Jake Gardiner Interview


For a more detailed account, here is a live blog transcript from the Edmonton Journal.

First Period

9:37 – That didn’t take long. 1-0 Marlies on a soft goal on Roy. The Barons’ defenceman (didn’t see who it was for sure) couldn’t get over to cut off the Marlies’ Will Acton, and he fired a hard shot from the far side of the left wing that squeezed between Roy’s arm and body.

9:39 – No replay on the goal, so I’ll try to go back and look at it at the intermission.

9:45 – Magnus Paajarvi drew a penalty with some good work in the corner, and this first power play shift has been a shooting gallery; no goals yet but Hall and Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins keep getting shots from good areas.

9:47 – No goal on the power play. Nelson went right to the fourth line for the shift after the man advantage ended – with veteran Dane Byers alongside defensive forwards Chris VandeVelde and Tanner House, this seems to be his preferred line for defensive matchups when an opportunity (own zone draws late in the third, after power plays, etc.) arises. They’ve had a strong game so far and do a nice job covering the Kadri line.

9:50 – Hybrid icing call on a long Teubert dump. I really like this rule – it makes the game go by quicker (it eliminates all those long skates back to the red line) and removes those ugly plays where everybody knows one guy will get there first so the other guy just goes for a hard hit on a player in a vulnerable spot. A faster game, less injury risk, and they don’t blow the whistle when the other team can negate the icing. This is an excellent rule change.

9:52 – Marincin takes a nice shot at point blank range off a nice setup by Chris VandeVelde.

9:54 – Magnus Paajarvi generates all sorts of trouble on a 2-on-2 rush, going wide around the Marlies defender and then cutting in; he’s an ice fit with Hartikainen because even though Paajarvi’s initial shot was weak Hartikainen’s presence in the crease made it exponentially more dangerous. Hartikainen with a nice chance off the rebound too, which Rynnas was equal too.

9:54 – Nugent-Hopkins rings a shot off the post.

9:56 – Mark Arcobello bails out Alex Plante. Plante had two strides on the forechecking Marlies forward racing for a loose puck, but got beat; Arcobello came in and turned the 1-on-1 battle into a 2-on-1, which got the puck moving the other way.

9:59 – Entering the offensive zone, Chris VandeVelde flipped the puck high and over to Tanner House. Even though it was a difficult pass to intercept, Nazem Kadri (impressively) batted it out of the air and went the other way. Without missing a beat, VandeVelde wheeled and caught up with him by center ice, pinning him against the boards and preventing a rush the other way. A small play, to be sure, but impressive hand/eye coordination by Kadri and a very nice recovery for VandeVelde.

10:02 – The Marlies’ Aucoin snuck behind the Schultz/Marincin pairing and received a breakout pass, but Schultz wheeled back and cut him off before anything could happen. A good play for Schultz, who I think was the defenceman who misplayed Aucoin on the first goal.

10:03 – Teubert’s stick breaks, and chaos ensues around the crease. It’s now 2-0 Marlies on the play. As with the first goal, I believe I caught what happened but I’ll wait until the end of the period to confirm.

10:04 – A hard shot from the slot off a weird bounce beats Roy cleanly. That will do it for Roy, who had a clear look at the shot and really should have had it. 3-0 Marlies.

10:05 – This is turning into a rout. There was a long shot from the point that Danis kicked out, but the defence failed to adequately cover the crease and a Marlies forward scored from point blank range. 4-0 Marlies.

10:07 – Jake Gardiner rushes in on left wing and Colten Teubert can’t keep up, so he goes for the bear hug. The Marlies head to the power play.

10:08 – That’s it for the first. Now I’ll try and get replays and more detailed descriptions of the scoring plays.

10:09 – Eberle calls the first period “embarrassing,” and says the Barons are “getting beat all over the ice.”

10:15 – Reviewing the 1-0 goal. All three Barons forwards (Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Hall) were trapped deep as the play started back toward the Barons zone; this left Justin Schultz and Martin Marincin facing a 3-on-2 rush. Nugent-Hopkins got back to the zone in time to do something but floated ineffectually rather than picking a check. Schultz cheated to the middle to handle the puck carrier and gave Will Acton lots of room on his side of the ice, and then couldn’t get back in time to prevent a good shot. Roy should have had it – it was a shot from a good area, but it wasn’t especially hard or fast and he had a clear look, but there was lots of blame to go around on the play.

10:20 – Reviewing the 2-0 goal. This was just an ugly, ugly sequence as the Barons’ NHL line was thoroughly outworked for the entire shift leading up to the goal. On the goal itself, Colten Teubert got caught running around a bit, but then took Paul Ranger behind the net, which should have been fine because three Barons – Taylor Fedun, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – were clustered in the crease area versus just two Marlies. Fedun took his man away at the side of the net, but Nugent-Hopkins and Hall watched from the crease area as a totally ignored Nicolas Deschamps took the Ranger pass and scored from right in front of Roy. No chance for the goaltender here; this one is on the forwards (and to a lesser extent Teubert).

10:24 – Reviewing the 3-0 goal. This one is on Curtis Hamilton. Alex Plante lumbered around ineffectively – Mark Arcobello beat him to a loose puck at the back of the net and played it up to Hamilton, who had time to do something with the puck. Instead, Hamilton allowed the puck to be taken off his stick by Kenny Ryan, Plante closed the gap with Ryan too slowly to be able to do anything, and Ryan beat Roy cleanly. Roy had a good look at the shot, but it’s hard to put a lot of blame on him for that one.

10:30 – Reviewing the 4-0 goal. This essentially comes about after Justin Schultz is left in a 2-on-1 situation in front of the crease. Martin Marincin and Chris VandeVelde were both patrolling the area right in front of Yann Danis moments earlier, where they bumped into each other accidentally. Both responded to the bump by moving away from the net and into the slot. Schultz took Joe Colborne right in front of the net (Schultz has shifted to the left side of the net here, though he’s the right side defenceman, because he’s the only guy back for the Barons), but that left Greg Scott alone almost n the blue paint; when the point shot crept through there was nothing anybody could do to stop him. Schultz was tied up with Colborne; both Marincin and VandeVelde had been pulled forward when the puck went to the point. Danis is pretty much blameless on the play, Schultz deserves some fire for committing to Colborne with nobody else around, but Marincin gets most of the blame for leaving his position to wander around aimlessly. The bump with VandeVelde seemed to throw him and VandeVelde is far from perfect here, but Marincin getting sucked into no-man’s land is the biggest problem.

Second Period

10:33 – Nugent-Hopkins stopped on a backhand shot; I still don’t know how that didn’t go in. It was a bit of a sloppy shift for the Oilers line but they created a glorious opportunity off a broken play there.

10:35 – Yann Danis stops Joe Colborne at point blank range; Colborne snuck in behind Plante and Danis was forced to make a great save.

10:36 – Justin Schultz with a nice pokecheck on a Kenny Ryan rush; Ryan fell flat on his backside and the puck went out of danger.

10:38 – Teemu Hartikainen draws a tripping penalty with a partial break where he bulled toward the middle of the ice.

10:40 – A great shot by Schultz leads to a rebound; Jordan Eberle skates in tight with the puck but Rynnas manages to stop him. Once again, the Oklahoma power play looks great but they aren’t quite able to score.

10:46 – 3-on-2 rush for Toronto. Marincin made a great play to knock the puck away, but the trailer picked it up and got a good shot anyway. Marincin didn’t like the way the Marlies rushed the net after Danis made the save, and took a penalty for going after one Marlies forward (didn’t catch the number).

10:48 – The Barons are out shooting Toronto 18-13 heading into this penalty kill.

10:52 – Magnus Paajarvi just playing keep away in a now 4-on-4 situation. Goes for a skate here, a skate there, doesn’t allow the Marlies the puck but doesn’t do much with the possession either.

10:56 – A little bit of revenge for the Barons’ NHL line. A gorgeous passing play on the power play makes it 4-1 Marlies.

10:56 – Hall finished the play off; primary assists go to Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. The nicest goal of the morning.

11:02 – That was a much better second period, although there were some ugly moments. The game is now 4-1 Marlies. Things seem heated between the teams – I’m not sure if it’s a product of the score (guys like Hall are involved in hostilities) or last year’s playoffs.

11:06 – Reviewing the 4-1 goal. Just nice puck movement all the way around; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made the final pass to a streaking Hall in front of the net and Hall just touched the puck home for a goal. Whatever else can be said about the NHL kids in this game, they’ve been superb on the power play.

Third Period

11:23 – Some faceoff statistics, courtesy of the Barons play-by-play crew: Chris VandeVelde has gone 6-for-9, Nugent-Hopkins 4-for-9, Arcobello 9-for-14 and Lander 7-for-11.

11:24 – Tyler Pitlick with a nice rush down the left wing; it was a solid play and he blew by Paul Ranger but he couldn’t quite cut into the middle for a scoring chance. He did manage to draw a penalty, though.

11:26 – A weird start to the power play; the Barons couldn’t gain the zone and seemed out of sync in their own end. Ultimately the puck wobbled into the offensive zone and goaltender Jussi Rynnas came way, way, way out of his net to freeze it.

11:28 – Mark Arcobello with a goal to make it 4-2 with just a second left on the power play. Tyler Pitlick made a nice pass to Martin Marincin on the side boards; Marincin took a hard shot and Arcobello was in place to put the rebound home.

11:29 – Marincin took three shots in maybe thirty seconds to close out the power play there, all of them good shots to take. It will be interesting to see what he can do running the first unit once Schultz is promoted to the NHL.

11:31 – Odd play. Nugent-Hopkins loses the draw (just outside the blue line) cleanly to Acton, who wins it back to the defenceman Mike Kostka, who promptly ices it.

11:32 – The Barons are going on the penalty kill. Taylor Hall got his stick in Joe Colborne’s skates as the latter attempted to exit his own end with the puck, resulting in a tripping minor.

11:34 – 5-2 Marlies. A point shot on the power play was tipped in front of the net; not much else to say about that one.

11:37 – Lander with a quick stick to break up a hard pass. Lander’s line is the only one that hasn’t been scored against today.

11:40 – Hall is frustrated. He tried to split the Paul Ranger/Dylan Yeo pairing and couldn’t quite do it; he ended up on his back. As he got back up he punched at Ranger. No penalty on the play, but the frustration was obvious.

11:42 – Another scrum in front of the net, as the line of Paajarvi, Lander and Hartikainen mix it up yet again. They’ve easily been that Barons’ best even-strength line on the game.

11:43 – Great pass from Nugent-Hopkins to Eberle; Eberle fired the puck quickly and it went off first goaltender Jussi Rynnas and then the crossbar before heading over the glass.

11:48 – The Barons were headed to the power play, and with the goalie pulled for the extra man defenceman Jordan Henry tried to carry the puck into the Marlies zone. As he pulled up to the blue line, Marlies rearguard Korbinian Holzer hammered Henry with a hip check; Henry went down and stayed down for a minute. Predictably a scrum ensued, as Dane Byers went after Holzer immediately. Henry looks okay; it was a big, tough, clean check by Holzer.

11:50 – Barons power play results. It looks like Mike Zigomanis took the initial minor, and that Byers and Mark Fraser will both be penalized. Interestingly Byers is sitting in the box, but it seems that Fraser has been ejected from the game.

11:51 – Byers and Fraser both got roughing minors and 10 minute misconducts.

11:52 – Carter Ashton, killing the penalty, takes a hooking minor. Lengthy 5-on-3 coming up.

11:53 – Eberle robbed at the side of the net by Jussi Rynnas; the 5-on-3 is nearly over.

11:54 – Rynnas tried to head to create a break by asking for water prior to the Marlies’ defensive zone draw; a little transparent perhaps but the sort of thing that needs to be tried.

11:54 – Another 5-on-3. The Marlies take a bench minor; it isn’t clear why but the commentators are guessing that Dallas Eakins is getting it for yapping at the referees. Apparently Eakins has been tossed from the game.

11:55 – It looked like Nugent-Hopkins had just scored; it will probably be reviewed but the referee waved it off immediately.

11:57 – 3:16 left in the game, and the Barons have a two-man advantage for almost a full minute yet. The Nugent-Hopkins shot is till under review; the AHL live feed has yet to supply a replay. The Nugent-Hopkins shot is ruled a goal, making it 5-3 and giving the Barons a 5-on-4 power play.

11:58 – The Nugent-Hopkins goal was a nice shot from the side of the net with the 5-on-3 advantage; it must have just squeaked across the line.

12:00 – The Barons pull their goalie and score on the 6-on-4 advantage. They shave enough time to tie this game. Eberle tallied his seventh of the year with a hard low shot through a crowd.

12:02 – 5-5! With the goalie pulled the Barons score again, with Nugent-Hopkins slapping the puck over the line on a broken play.

12:06 – A deflected shot goes high and catches Paul Ranger, who is lying on the ice and in some difficulty. The score is still 5-5; overtime coming up.

Overtime

12:10 – Back and forth here in the extra frame, but no great chances so far.

12:12 – Shout-out to the Cult of Hockey on the Barons’ official feed. Right now they’re reveling in the fact that colour guy Doug Sauter’s prediction – that Toronto might blow this 4-0 lead – turned out to be true. Absolutely need to enjoy that kind of prediction!

12:13 – Barons on the 4-on-3 penalty kill now. VandeVelde, House and Teubert out for Oklahoma.

12:15 – Danis makes a big save after Colten Teubert failed to clear the puck; finally the penalty killers get a break.

12:16 – Lander gets a quick cameo, and then Nelson goes right back to VandeVelde and House.

12:17 – Jake Gardiner scores moments after the penalty to Alex Plante (hooking) expires; the Marlies walk away with a 6-5 win despite blowing a 5-2 lead in just over three minutes in the third period.

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Rick St.Croix
St. Croix made 48 appearances for the Leafs in the early 80s.

According to a number of tweets, Rick St.Croix has been hired on as the Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltending Coach.

St. Croix spent parts of seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He served as an assistant for the Winnipeg Jets in the late 1980′s and was the Dallas Stars’ goalie coach when they won their Stanley Cup in 1999 with Ed Belfour, and later the goaltending coach for Marty Turco.

Most recently, St. Croix was goaltending coach for the Manitoba Moose and worked with Cory Schneider, Eddie Lack and Eddie Pasquale with great success. He worked with Randy Carlyle in Manitoba.

St. Croix has been running his own popular goaltending school for roughly 20 years.

Justin Goldman of the Goalie Guild answered some questions from Alec about the goaltending coach switch.

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Photo: Reuters

Mike Ulmer sat down with Brian Burke to clear the airwaves regarding some disparaging remarks Francois Allaire about the Toronto Maple Leafs organization upon his exit.

“I regret that I have to deal with this matter publicly but I feel the need to respond. Was there interference from the staff as he said there was? Yes. But it was done reluctantly and it was done to change elements of our goaltending that was sub-par.”

The Leafs GM said Allaire’s comments forced him to step away from his long-standing policy of never criticizing a current or past member of his staff and offered his trademark good wishes and thanks.

Burke, who steadfastly defended Allaire throughout media calls for his ouster, then shredded the job delivered by the most famous goalie coach in the sport.

Allaire’s approach with his goalies, Burke said, hadn’t altered even though rule changes meant his insistence on the butterfly technique wasn’t working.

“The position has evolved in the last three to five years,” Burke said. “Nobody plays the classic stand-up any more either. Everything advances.”

Rules to minimize obstruction and limit goaltending equipment prompted the evolution of hybrid goalies who retain the solid elements of the butterfly by striving to be square to the shooter and rotating with pads down and body erect during scrums. Hybrid goalies usually stay on their feet longer and use their hands to snare pucks rather than chance rebounds. Jonathan Quick of the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and franchise goalies such as the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne are considered hybrid goalies.

Burke said he expected to name a successor within a matter of days.

Certainly, Burke’s goalies have stayed true to the longstanding code of never criticizing coaches.

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Part 2 of Brian Burke’s interview with TVO.

It’s a collective message from prominent NHL players: “If you can play, you can play.” Homophobia has no place in Canada’s game.

The You Can Play project was created to honour the memory of Brendan Burke. His father, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, sits down with Piya Chattopadhyay to tell us how professional sports can move beyond the concept of a “gay athlete,” to simply an “athlete.”

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Brian Burke Fired
Brian Burke Fired

Brian Burke spoke to reporters out East at the P.E.I. Special Olympics Festival Luncheon on Wednesday.

“With the salary cap and the new collective bargaining agreement that’s coming up, I don’t know what our plans are for filling out our roster,” Burke told the large gathering at Credit Union Place.

“Free agency starts on July 1, it’s a really thin group.

“Teams are locking all these quality players up now, so the group that is getting to the market is thin, it’s shallow. There are really two high-end players and that’s about it, (Nashville defenceman) Ryan Suter and (New Jersey forward) Zach Parise.

“I don’t think we are going to be in on either one of them.”

Burke continued:

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Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

According to Darcy Regier, “The NHL Amateur Draft produces, on average, 54 players [who play at least 80 NHL games in their career] a year — 1.8 per team — I think.”

Think about that. Only 54 players per draft play at least 80 NHL games. That means Mike Zigomanis qualifies as one of those “NHLers.”

The draft is a time for many things: hope, optimism, change, but perhaps most importantly (and foolishly) it is a time for false belief. Fans, especially fans of teams who are struggling, look at the draft and expect so much from it. The truth is though, if you draft one really good NHL player, you’ve done well. If you draft two solid NHLers, you’ve done above average. Three? Well, that’s basically a special draft all things considered.

So if you’re apart of the Leafs organization and waking up this week, you have to feel pretty good about a draft that netted you two players that you (and many others) ranked as first rounders, especially when one is a guy you ranked first overall (more on that below).

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James Van Riemsdyk is finally a Toronto Maple Leaf.
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

While I had begun to sour somewhat on Schenn’s potential last season, it was a little odd to wake up this morning and remember #2 was now a member of an organization not named the Toronto Maple Leafs. Schenn was celebrated as the first pillar of the Leafs’ rebuild when Cliff Fletcher drafted him in 2008. Many a fan bought his jersey. Some said we had future captain material in Luke. Few would’ve predicted Schenn would be with a new organization before he turned 23.

I’m not going to call Schenn’s rookie season a mirage, but it was somewhat of a tease. We heard Pierre McGuire call this guy a Human Eraser and we saw it with our own eyes when he stepped onto NHL ice as an 18-year-old and tossed a 245-pound Keith Tkachuk to the ice. What seems to have happened between the Schenn we knew then and the one Burke just traded was a combination of expectations heightening and his development traveling the trajectory of a more normal young defenceman, as opposed to the beyond-his-years beast we came to know him as in junior and very early on in his NHL career.

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“There’s a chance we make a positional pick here but I don’t think so.”

Sounds like Burke will be sticking with the best-athlete available-philosophy and, as reported earlier, the Leafs GM says there’s a “good chance” it’s a defenceman based on his reading of the first four picks. Of course, the reading could be different than what plays out or a trade could impact the order.

Both Burke and Dave Nonis were quite clear about just how little is going on with trade activity at the moment.

After the jump is Dave Nonis’ interview from yesterday and today’s Leafs Nation Google+ live chat with Dallas Eakins. Be sure to look out for MLHS’ own Mislav Jantoljak, who asks Dallas a few questions.

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From Paul Hendrick:

Brian burke tells me that there’s a good chance they’ll pick a defenceman at 5th overall. Little movement possibility as of now.#tmltalk

Meanwhile, an RDS reporter has suggested the Montreal Canadiens may go with Finnish center Teuvo Teräväinen, who has been doing the reverse-Grigorenko in the rankings the past few weeks, with the third overall pick. If true, that would shake up the order of the top 5.

How do you feel about using the fifth on a defenceman (Morgan Rielly), especially if say, Filip Forsberg, is still around?

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Judging by the fact that James Mirtle (@mirtle) is trending in Toronto on twitter, it looks like he may have uncovered a nugget regarding tonight’s heartbreaking overtime loss to Norfolk.

“So that Norfolk overtime goal should not have counted – what a mess this is going to be for the AHL.”

“This particular offside rule is so unique even the Marlies and coach Dallas Eakins didn’t catch it. Quote to come.”

Eakins: “It’s a real interesting one for the referees. The puck comes out, the puck’s rimmed in…”

Eakins: “…there’s a guy that’s offside by about eight to 10 feet, the puck hits the stanchion but now he’s onside, & it goes in your net.”

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The Montreal Canadiens officially announced that Rick Dudley will be joining the organization as Assistant General Manager. Maple Leafs General Manager, Brian Burke, negotiated that Dudley will join the Canadiens after the entry draft (June 22–23, 2012 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA). Upon leaving, Dudley had yet more kind words for the direction in which the Maple Leafs are headed.

Photo Credit: The Star

Photo Credit: The Star

Toronto Marlies 3, Abbotsford Heat 2 – Marlies take series 4-1

Game sheet

The Toronto Marlies continue their playoff march towards the Calder Cup finals after disposing of the Abbotsford Heat in overtime of game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Despite not playing a great game, it was good enough to get them the victory. Abbostford were the more desperate of the two teams and it showed—Toronto was down 2-0 during the first period and being outplayed, for the most part.

In the 2nd and 3rd period, The Marlies slowly started to chip away at Abbotsford, and ultimately, it was a game that came down to special teams. The Marlies league leading penalty kill and improving powerplay were too much to for Abbotsford to handle.