Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Authors Posts by Matt Mistele

Matt Mistele

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Photo: Toronto Star

An energetic second contest for the Maple Leafs saw a lot of players on the 2014 Rookie Camp roster take a step beyond Saturday’s initial impression – even despite the notable names (Nylander, Leivo) not playing.

The group came out hungry, played hard, and displayed a consistent all-around “team game” that was encouraging to see from a squad of individuals largely thrown together for the purposes of individual evaluation. A night that should definitely have some positives taken away from it – despite the outcome.

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HBO 24/7 Maple Leafs-Red Wings
Photo: HuffingtonPost.com

What we consider to be “reality” television is far less real than you might think. Events depicted as authentic human drama are often at least partially scripted, with larger narratives and plotlines frequently influenced by hidden teams of experienced writers and producers. Rare is the day that the tribe actually does the speaking.

Gripping and authentic as it may seem, HBO’s 24/7 series is no different. The purported documentary is designed to provide a look behind the scenes at hockey players fighting their way through early-season challenges on the road to the famed Winter Classic. A series of storylines are portrayed around that journey, to ramp up the drama and tone down the mundane doldrums of the NHL lifestyle.

HOCKEY.

The Maple Leafs’ annual Rookie Tournament is upon us. Toronto hosts Chicago Jr. tonight at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. Toronto Maple Leafs new and ‘not-so-old’ will have a chance to display their talents for the Maple Leafs Brass in what should be an entertaining tilt of careful pre-pre-season stepping and spirited verbal jousting.

For all your basic rookie tournament info needs, the Leafs’ official website pretty much has you covered. View the roster and schedule breakdown. Read the primer for tonight’s game, which includes broadcast details. Or watch an interview with Marlies coach Steve Spott in which he talks about the weekend’s promise and touches on a few key roster points.

But most importantly, join the party at MLHS and follow @TOTruculent as I live-Twitter tonight’s action! Embedded below, for your non-having-to-switch-tabs pleasure.

I’ll be covering the action from the press box in London. Check back here for updates throughout the night, and a post-game recap. Unless things go really poorly right at the end, in which case I’ll be locked in a dark room, fighting off a wave of painful flashbacks to May 13th.

Projected Lines vs. Chicago
Starting lineup vs. Chicago  
FORWARDS
Josh LeivoCarter VerhaegheBrad Ross
Connor BrownGreg McKegg (C)David Broll
Sam CarrickFrederik GauthierRyan Rupert
Tyler BiggsAndrew CrescenziJamie Devane
DEFENCE
Matt FinnMorgan Rielly
Petter GranbergStuart Percy
Andrew MacWilliamKevin Raine
STARTING GOALTENDER
Garret Sparks

Live Updates:


Period #1

The Leafs outshot the Blackhawks 14-6 in the first period, despite a healthy amount of play taking place in the Leafs’ end in the early going. Early standouts included – as expected – Morgan Rielly, who at any given moment seems like he could do something dangerous. Rielly took two early wrist shots, one from the point and one from the half boards, that both found the net in dangerous ways.

Josh Leivo also made an impact. From creating offense out of situations you wouldn’t normally consider opportunities to using his teammates well, he impressed from the get go and was rewarded with a power play goal. Leivo doesn’t immediately strike you the way his 6’2 frame would suggest, but he uses the size well. Keep an eye on him this fall.

So far, the Leafs’ rookies are by far the better team. Outpacing, outshooting, out puck-moving, out-hockeying. Chicago seemed to land a few more memorable hits, though. Here’s hoping for a truculent second frame.

1-0 Leafs.

Period #2

Marked difference from the first frame. Chicago closed the shot gap, but the Leafs continued a high effort across the board and played pretty solidly for a young team thrown together in recent weeks. A few standouts emerged beyond the first period crowd, providing a great look at some other Leaf prospects.

Tyler Biggs might be one of the more interesting young Leafs. We’re all aware of his purported skating limitations, but on first glance, he’s added speed since my last viewing. In close, the mobility still seems like an issue – but that’s one of the hardest elements of proper skating technique to develop. Nevertheless, he brings a 100% effort level on every shift and gets his job done by making the right play. Gritty. As I mentioned on Twitter and am happy to stand by thus far – from the press box, he looks like David Clarkson in a different jersey.

With all the focus on the Bernier/Reimer debate heading into next season, not much has been made recently of the Leafs’ net depth behind the top two. Garret Sparks has turned in an impressive night so far, stopping several shots through traffic and snagging at least one high, hard snapper with the glove hand impressively enough to make Francois Allaire wonder, “You can do that?”

Also, have I mentioned the power play pairing that is Rielly and Finn? The power play pairing that is Rielly and Finn.

2-0 Leafs.

Period #3

After a comeback by the young Hawks, the Leafs eked it out in a shootout to win 3-2, with Rielly and Biggs coming through in the skills comp for the jr. Leafs. Thus concludes the third period recap, which was truncated in favour of running downstairs for the postgame scrums.

Wrapup

The Leafs’ rookies took the tournament opener as a result of their energy, skill, and goaltending. They outpaced a Chicago group that was forced to rely more on physicality to gain ground. They caught the Leafs temporarily, but in the end Toronto came away with a win they probably deserved.

Check the period summaries above for a few observations on the standouts (Rielly, Leivo, Sparks) and watch the Game in Six below. Notable highlights from Steve Spott’s postgame scrum:

-On the mobility and skill of his young defensive corps: “Wow.”
-Spott was impressed by the team’s ability to come together quickly and
-He was also enthusiastic about Sparks’ performance, only calling out the first goal as one Garrett might potentially want another shot at.
-Spott confirmed Leivo missed the third period due to a chest contusion suffered when he took a hit earlier in the game.

Game in Six

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It’s been awhile. How do these work again?

Seriously. Despite Tweeting up a storm during the playoffs, I haven’t written anything since January. Call it a combination of hell the lockout sucking the passion out of me and Burke’s firing amounting to a platinum-knuckled gut punch at the time. But new posts are coming, and I need your help!

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Randy Carlyle
Photo: Cp24

Gregg Scott, Ryan Hamilton, Mike Mottau, and Keith Aucoin were placed on waivers Wednesday as Randy Carlyle, Dave Nonis, and the Toronto Maple Leafs begin the hilariously rapid expedited process of trimming the roster from 31 players in camp to 23 for Saturday’s season opener. My understanding is that rosters need to be finalized by 3pm Friday afternoon, which means any additional cuts will actually have to be sent down/placed on waivers Thursday to get the roster set on time.

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Brian Burke held his final press conference as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ organization at noon Saturday, the hosting of which is a bizarre decision at best on the part of his still-employer and, at worst, a welcome dose of some universal justice to the fans who still aren’t feeling all that great about this. I sort of eulogized his tenure on Thursday and thought that would be the end of it. Today’s session, however, did offer a few salient points worth a brief follow-up.

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This feels like writing a eulogy. I hate it.

You win. Let’s start with that concession, up front. A straightforward address to every fan who wanted Burke gone. I anxiously and hopefully await confirmation that this still-vague, as-yet-in-progress, largely-similar-but-supposedly-slightly-new direction will provide the amazing results that you’ve been adamant it hypothetically will.

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Bill Daly did a few interviews Wednesday, including one with HNIC Radio. And he said some stuff that everyone’s takling about, including TSN, which is where I pulled the following quote from. Because, y’know, transcribing it myself would take an extra twenty seconds of effort that I just can’t muster right now. Mainly due to spite laziness.

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Go Jays. Is it April yet?

Ugh. Watching this lockout trudge along through a seemingly insane number of days of “still happening” may have literally ripped all the ability to feel optimism out of my mind. LOUD: “THEY’RE MEETING TODAY!” Quieter: “They met.” Really quiet: “…it did not go well.” That’s every day of an NHL fans’ life right now. Well, not every day. Just the days the two sides decide to spend uselessly in the same building.

The sad fact is, this Wednesday shouldn’t have been useless. The PA seemingly made very real concessions in what was considered a constructive proposal. The league met this with a mild dose of acknowledgement and a major dose of continued posturing. (SPOILER ALERT, JULY SELVES: They really are as stubbornly greedy as we were afraid they’d be).

Gary claims the league’s best offer is on the table and they literally can’t move (“Come to our negotiating point, aka our demands, or no hockey. That’s not a greedy hardline position, right?”). Fehr said much the same, describing the NHL’s response as, “Thanks [for the proposal], but [to end this] you have to agree with what we say.” At the same time, if Gary‘s really a truth-teller, the NHLPA have been real foot-dragging lazies when it comes to submitting comprehensive proposals in a timely fashion. It’s just become so easy to hate everyone involved. But then a player goes crazy on Twitter, and we think – ah, well. At least there’s some entertainment happening.

Gary Bettman is not the villain. Bill Daly is not the villain. The villain in this scenario is a collective. The owners, the league, the lawyers, the NHL’s negotiating team. They, together, have incited this lockout (regardless of how many times they say they didn’t) in the name of good business. They claim to want a system that allows for fair competition while ensuring the “longterm health” of the sport.

They had one. Was the league itself in major financial jeopardy before this started? No. They’re not saving the league. They’re trying to optimize it, in their favour. It’s an attempt to possibly scrape a new layer of icing off the revenue cake for themselves that they wouldn’t have had so much as a whiff of under the old agreement. “Good business“.

Good business would be resolving this amicably with no loss of revenue for anyone and no loss of value for the sport. This is no longer good business. They claim it has to happen. The “short term consequences outweigh the longterm ones” as Gary might put it. I’d love to know what they see that the rest of us don’t. The best possible PR statement the NHL could issue right now would be a candid assessment of why the changes they’ve requested actually need to be made. Have we seen one?

I think my Mashup tone has gone from apathy to spiteful. This could get really interesting by January.

It’s Thursday. Here are some links.

-Mirtle breaks down the numbers in the PA’s latest offer.

-More Mirtle. Expect the next rhetorical war to be between the league’s threatening of a canceled season and the PA’s threatening of decertification.

-Per Kyle Cicerella, Nazem Kadri is awesome again.

-Players did not react well to Wednesday’s developments via social media. Jeff O’Neill Whoever hacked Jeff O’Neill’s account took it…pretty far.

-Here’s the main TSN article on Wednesday’s session. Pertinent quotes as such. During his press scrum video, Gary laments that Fehr talked to the press at midday while the NHL was reviewing the PA offer. Called it not very “constructive.” Let me say that again. While talking about the lockout in a press scrum, Gary lamented that people talk about the lockout in press scrums.

-Via TLN, can Stuart Percy make the WJHC roster?

 

 

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That horsecrap title’s a reference to the first computer game I ever owned, Silent Steel. It was terrible, and I was enthralled by it. Dubbed an “interactive movie”, it was literally a Choose Your Own Adventure that used filmed segments instead of a cheap little paperback book to tell its story and have you make decisions which guided the plot. The Wikipedia entry literally describes it as “an unorthodox submarine simulator computer game.” What’s an orthodox submarine simulator computer game?

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The easiest Morning Mashups to write are the ones where there’s nothing to talk about. The toughest Morning Mashups to write are the ones where there’s nothing to talk about.

I’m literally writing this as Wednesday’s CBA meetings are ending (according to the Dan Rosen Tweet that just rolled in). They will meet again tomorrow, it’s been confirmed, and likely with the same modus operandi of not talking to anyone when they’re over. I guess we’re supposed to be impressed by this.

Really?

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It seems safe to say that the NHL lockout’s PR battle is being won by no one. Efforts from both the NHL and NHLPA sides of the table lie in smoking ruin. In the eyes of many fans, pretty much everyone involved has been fundamentally smeared for their incapability to resolve the situation with anything approaching common sense, while the senseless waste of days ticking away destroys the hypothetical revenues they claim to be fighting over.

But it seems, in secret, their efforts to resurrect their embattled public image may be changing. We (MLHS/The Toronto Truculent’s Matt Mistele and special guest writer, Michael Stephens!) can reveal a new issue of Confidential detailing the negotiating committee’s latest attempt to save their reputations.

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Remember when Nazem Kadri showed up to the Marlies’ training camp negligibly fatter than he probably should have been all fat and ugly and gross and out-of-shape? Well, Dallas Eakins threw a big, cheesy CTRL-Z on that situation Wednesday. Apparently Kadri’s re-committed himself to hardcore fitness in the last few weeks. (While some simmer in silence, wondering what the hell he paid Gary Roberts for).

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The CBA winds are a swirlin’. With the NHL publicly releasing its latest proposal (awesome!) Wednesday, there’s an intense mix of new information and analysis swirling in the twister of negotiation rhetoric. Getting too specific into an analysis of the main points would, frankly, be sort of a waste.

The NHL’s proposal is the first they’ve made that isn’t totally crazy, but that doesn’t mean it will get a deal done. Breaking down the specifics seems kinda pointless, considering many of those specifics will undoubtedly change. I’ll hold off getting to detailed for now.

“In communications, familiarity breeds apathy.” – William Bernbach

This isn’t strictly speaking ‘communications,’ but Bernbach’s quote certainly applies to the 2012-2013 (God, I hope it doesn’t end up being known as that) NHL lockout. Bernbach himself had nothing to do with hockey. He was sort of a real-life Don Draper. But the apathy variable is one we’re all starting to feel and, more importantly, acknowledge (in some cases, rather phenomenally). The familiarity is one with meaningless posturing, empty negotiation rhetoric, and unnecessary work stoppages.

Same old from the same old. Put simply, there comes a point where even the most passionate of us simply stop caring.