Sunday, May 24, 2015
Authors Posts by Matt Mistele

Matt Mistele

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Director of Player Personnel, Rick DudleyApologies up front. The squishy memory bank/pun-generator between my ears thought I was referencing this guy with the mashup’s headline when I’m actually, apparently, referencing this guy. Whatever. It works too well to change it.

Wednesday saw Marc Bergevin hired as the Montreal Canadiens’ new General Manager, cementing a significant piece of the new front office that will be tasked with fixing that nightmare organization. Further changes are likely imminent, with Bergevin’s first major personnel decision having already happened in the reassignment of Randy Cunnyworth to the role of an assistant coach. One has to think a new, hypothetical head coach would presumably want to select his own hypothetical staff: Might Cunnyworth’s reassignment may one of gratitude for the now-former interim coach, a reward for steadfastly accepting a post which carried far more public scorn in its short term than was probably necessary?

Toronto fans, though, should be more concerned with Bergevin’s focus on the higher floors of his new front office – if he’s truly hoping to add the Maple Leafs’ current fifth string GM Director of Player Personnel and former Thrashers’ GM, Rick Dudley. (Links after the jump).

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RealSports view from
RealSports view from "what looks like VIP from downstairs", but is actually "just more tables."

RealSports view from "what looks like VIP from downstairs", but is actually "just more tables."
RealSports view from "what looks like VIP from downstairs", but is actually "just more tables."

Don’t think for a second that just because the Leafs aren’t in the playoffs, they aren’t paying attention to the matchups. Many indicated during their end-of-year interviews that they would follow with great interest and, as it turns out, they have. MLSE has apparently embraced the idea, hosting VIP-only potluck parties at Real Sports Bar and Grill in downtown Toronto so the team can watch the games together, build some off-ice chemistry, and prepare for the experience if it ever – somehow – happens to them.

As luck would have it, we’re able to offer you an exclusive glimpse into one of these events. Don’t ask us how. We’re not even really sure how these happen.

Welcome to the Leafs’ Playoff Potluck Party.

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Never knew that if you type ":L", the emoticon is apparently this face.

Never knew that if you type ":L", the emoticon displayed is this face.

It’s a slow NHL news Wednesday when we dedicate a second consecutive mashup to discussing the Canucks’ star for sale franchise goaltender available goaltender.

You can at least partly thank James Duthie’s epic tweet from late Wednesday night: “Sources say Roberto Luongo will submit a short list of teams he’d waive his no-trade to go to next week. Toronto will be on it.”

That will surely quiet the discussion.

I’m not going to debate the merits of the player, the drawbacks of the contract, or the likelihood of Luongo’s possible destinations – that’s all been done, even by our own Ryan Fancey, who debated himself thoroughly on the topic yesterday and reached pretty much the same conclusion I do: “I can’t pick a side. I just want the Leafs to get him and their goaltending to not be hilarious next season.” Amen, friend.

I’ll go a different route. Let’s talk about no-trade-clauses. (Links after the jump).

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Ken Holland and Brian Burke announce the 2013 Winter Classic.
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

A disappointing reality of which most viewers aren’t aware, modern “reality” television is – in fact – fairly scripted. “Soft scripting” is the technique a show’s producers use to vaguely outline what should happen to the show’s participants, and oftentimes, they will implore those contestants to perform as requested. Documentaries are no different, typically outlined based on extensive research and footage collection and them assembled to form a coherent, calculated point.

Since the February announcement that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will compete in the January 2012 Winter Classic, many have assumed – correctly – that HBO will film and broadcast their next season of 24/7 focussed on the two teams. What many readers won’t have realized is that HBO’s award-winning writing teams have been working on scripting the show secretly since the announcement in preparation for the expected deal.

"No, Mr. Burke. I expect you to die trying while I COMPLAIN!"
"No, Mr. Burke. I expect you to die trying while I COMPLAIN!"

February’s losses devastated the 2011-12 Toronto Maple Leafs! The NHL’s most arrogant coach ever couldn’t save the flailing squadron from amateur mistakes – and was fired for it! The softest forward corps in the league is totally un-truculent! Jim and Gus couldn’t do their jobs if they went out pregame and found a 600-page guide entitled “How To Tend” sitting in goal!

This team is junk, top to bottom! Fire Burke! Rebuild the rebuild! This is a SimCity nuclear meltdown, hail on summer corn crops, “I can see Russia from my house”-sized DISASTER!

Hyperbole’s way too easy, people.

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Photo: Toronto Star

Photo: The Star

A few months ago, Brian Burke joined Twitter. He caved to fan and peer pressure, selected a username that will become instantly obsolete if he ever leaves MLSE for different employment, and took up social media residence on the popular frontier that has all but eliminated the need for news tickers and TSN alerts.

He could have quit there. But Burke, a master of rhetoric and image control, took it a step further and offered fans a one-hour window in which they could submit questions that he would attempt to answer directly over the coming weeks (and, one has to assume, months). To this point, he’s been surprisingly thorough in responding to a massive amount of Twinquiries.

You could see it, feel it – even hear it. It was the complete overtime game-winning-goal experience, and in the playoffs, no less. Their first round opponent was the Ottawa Senators. It was here, in this newfound playoff rivalry, that the Battle of Ontario was truly born. And by the searing power of our Captain’s blade, it roared off to a memorable start.

Game 1. The Senators were second seed in the standings and the apparent favourites, but the Leafs – on the back of their oft-underappreciated gem of a leader – fought out a tight 0-0 tie into overtime. Steve Thomas executed a fairly textbook give-and-go at the Ottawa blueline. As he dished the puck to his Swedish linemate and dashed toward the net, Thomas couldn’t see Sundin step forward and take what has to be one of the most interesting shots I’ve ever seen…

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It’s a Friday night, and the Leafs are playing! Capital!

I’m not actually sure which usage (“capital” or “capitol”) is correct there. Is anyone? People apparently used to say that as an exclamation of being pleased with something. And by “used to say that”, I actually mean that Pete Campbell may have said it once on Mad Men (so I assume it’s true). And since Mad Men features a lot of people wearing suits, I consider that vague connection a decent enough excuse to use an oddly-Presidential Photoshop for the GDT. Definitely not just because it’s funny, or the first one that comes up in our media library when you search for ‘Ovechkin’.

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photo: kulas korner

photo: kuklas korner

Or, “How I learned to stop worrying and love MLHS titles that are way too long.”

Every so often, an opinion thoroughly disguised as a mainstream news article presents itself – one that is so ridiculous, so utterly without basis, that the most appropriate response is to simply ignore it. In these situations, we are encouraged not to “sink to that level” by dignifying the position with a response. You know, to rise above – behave with a level of superior maturity. This is not one of those times.

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Photo: Abelimages/Getty Images North America

The Toronto Maple Leafs currently sit with an NHL-fifth-best average of 3.09 goals scored per game. Yes, fifth. The same Toronto Maple Leafs who have been desperately chasing a star forward via trade in order to upgrade what’s perceived as a lacking, ever-so-slightly-impotent offense, are – by statistics – one of the National Hockey League’s highest scoring groups.

Your guess is as good as mine.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs enjoyed a relatively injury-free training camp heading into the 2010-2011 season. Apparently, karma’s been waiting twelve months to deliver a shattering right cross of vengeance. We’ve poured over the countless Tweets, articles, and even contacted some unofficial sources to assemble the most comprehensive online report to date of the Leafs’ current injury situation.

Brace yourself. It’s worse than any of us could have imagined.

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UPDATE (11:32pm) – Of course, 11 hours after I posted this, Drew Doughty has signed in LA. Early indications put the deal at 8 years for $7 million per. So, the obvious lesson for both sides: procrastinate something as far as you possibly can, because when you do it, the timing will be hilariously perfect.

While enjoying patios and beer league baseball shenanigans this summer, Leaf Nation couldn’t help but keep one anxious ear primed for any news – or explanation – surrounding the lack of a Luke Schenn signing well into September. Now, late into training camp, fans of the Los Angeles Kings wait with the same baited breath for their own RFA superstar Drew Doughty’s new deal. To call both situations peculiar, given the players’ individual importance to their respective teams, would not be an overstatement. Is there some connection between these prolonged negotiations?

Might Donald E. Meehan – founding partner of Newport Sports Management and agent to both players – be that common denominator?

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Anyone with eyes, or access to a radio station, has a fairly good idea by now that Brian Burke’s a busy man. Between lending his presence to charitable causes, managing his NHL team, or working the phones to improve the mediocrity quality of said team, he never seems to slow down.

The man deserves a break.

But of course, those who’ve balanced a similar workload in their life know wickedly effective time management skills are critical for success in such circumstances. So much so, in Burke’s case, that he extends those practices to his time off. That’s right. In order to maximize the relaxation the way he maximizes the trade returns on MLSE’s on-ice refuseLebda, Brian’s generated a checklist to help him organize his summer vacation. His duties and time off overlap incredibly, leaving him with little choice. The Toronto Truculent has, of course, obtained a copy.

A few items have evidently been highlighted by his personal assistants to indicate high priority, or already completed. It’s late July, after all.

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Rumours. Dirty, dirty rumours. © Google Images

With the explosion of social media and online quasi-reporting, inventing chasing down NHL rumours has evolved into a full time job. Even more difficult is the fans’ arduous task of tracking these updates. The vast majority of our message boardianisms are no longer devoted to even discussing the game on the ice itself but, rather, to the potential movement of contracts behind the scenes.

We curse them for their inaccuracy, mock them for their inventiveness, and lament their lack of effort to incorporate any grammar whatsoever into 140 characters or less. Despite this, the rumour business is booming. We all get terribly excited for any new nugget of information, however blatantly false, that these sources provide.

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Probability dictates that, barring a planetary or economic catastrophe of crippling scale, the Toronto Maple Leafs will win another Stanley Cup. At worst, they’ll be defeated in a gut wrenching final paralleling their Canadian, specifically British Columbian buddies of last evening. (Fun fact, to distract from that frustrating reminder of it: The province’s name was chosen specifically by Queen Victoria in 1858, mainly in reference to the then-British local territory drained by the Columbia river1 – in fact having nothing to do, as I had assumed, with being a tea-swilling version of its Latin American counterpart).

If the fervour, emotion, and insanity with which the city of Vancouver reacted to last night’s outcome can be considered a molehill, the passion for hockey in the Greater Toronto Area would undoubtedly be its mountain. Vancouver’s a city placated with success in sport, having hosted a wondrously successful Olympics last year and serving as the focal point for intense national pride as Canada again proved that, as a nation, we’re pretty much still awesome at that sport we’re clearly always awesome at.

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Please welcome Matt Mistele of Toronto Truculent to the MLHS Blogging team. A really funny guy with sublime writing talent and hockey knowledge, we’re thrilled to have him.

Let’s begin this ‘Confidential!’ piece with an outright disclaimer:

Kerry Fraser seems like a nice guy. A few epically blown calls aside, he’s apparently well-liked by the players both personally and professionally – voted the most consistent NHL referee by the players in a poll that happened in December 2005, according to this. The successes and unique accomplishments of this man’s career vastly outweigh the failures on paper.