On Sunday I shared with you most of the highlights from Brian Burkeâ€™s appearance at an executive breakfast.Â Due to time constraints and formatting issues (and word count.Â Thatâ€™s Petrielliâ€™s bit), I had to omit an excellent story that Burke told about an altercation between the Fire Department of Vancouver and former Canucks tough guy Donald Brashear near the end of his tenure there. Â With the movies like Goon and Slap Shot portraying hockey players are lug nuts who can barely function in normal society, Burke related a story that in no way dispels this motif.
As a caveat to both the readers and potential claimants in a libel suit, I cannot certify the veracity of this particular story.Â I got the sense that Brian Burke is close to his Irish roots in that heâ€™s an admitted lapsed Catholic and that the point of a story isnâ€™t the facts, itâ€™s the story.Â My family can relate.Â But this was a tale that Burke told the assembled group last Wednesday, and Iâ€™d feel derelict in my duty not to pass it along.Â Burke re-enacted two scenes, playing out both parts, from a phone call with the Fire Chief of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and an in-person meeting with Donald Brashear.
This past Wednesday I had the great good fortune to see the guest speaker, Toronto Maple Leafs President and GM Brian Burke, at the Scotiabank Â® Presidentâ€™s Breakfast.Â In no way should I have been in attendance at this swanky affair used to reward lucrative business clients and senior management, but my branch manager is an avid hockey fan and when a favoured client had to pull out, I was a last minute substitution.Â As we stand on the eve of the trade deadline with the Leafs in a tailspin, Iâ€™d like to share with you some of the highlights from Burkeâ€™s speech and Q&A session held in the opulent Ratcliffe Room on the 63rd floor of Scotia Plaza.
As a brief primer, I must report that Brian Burke is a terrific raconteur who speaks confidently and lucidly at all times; but when given a chance exhibits a tremendous, ribald sense of humour.Â His bravado and bluntness quickly came to light as he approached the podium.Â With a cup of coffee and some prepared notes in hand, I expected him to begin formally with pleasantries and platitudes for his sponsor.Â Instead, raucous laughter met his opening line regarding the Leafs OT loss to the New Jersey Devils the night previous, â€œSo that goal was horseshit!â€
For fans expecting GM Brian Burke to make a big splash next Monday, prepare to be disappointed. Â After acquiring Joffrey Lupul a month ahead of D Day in 2011, Burke equated the deadline frenzy to ethnic party favours, â€œitâ€™s almost like a party with a piÃ±ata, everyoneâ€™s going for one player and everyoneâ€™s swinging at it.â€Â These are not the words of a man willing make a knee jerk trade just to appease his Twitter feed.
Below are the trades the Leafs have made on the past three trade deadline days.Â Aside from showcasing just how far the team has come, it speaks volumes that the best player Brian Burke has acquired for the Leafs at the deadline is Olaf Kolzig (about ten years past prime).
Mats Sundin, perhaps the most hotly debated Leaf of all time (sorry, Phil), is in town.Â His number is being honoured this Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens, and the recluse-in-retirement has come back to Toronto for the festivities.
Maybe the best Leaf of the past two decades, he was an affable if reserved player both on and off the ice.Â He was no flash in the pan; he became the leading Leaf scorer through 13 seasons of determined consistency.Â Known for foppish locks, McDonaldâ€™s commercials, and breaking hearts, Mats' mere presence always caused a stir.Â And on Saturday heâ€™ll be in the ACC, just a stoneâ€™s throw from the Hockey Hall of Fame.Â Heâ€™s eligible this coming fall, and it begs the question: Is Mats Sundin a first ballot hall of famer?Â [more…]
Having collected 9 of a possible 10 points in their last 5 games, and coming off back to back shut outs by James Reimer, the Toronto Maple Leafs look to move into 7th place in the East as they take on the surging Edmonton Oilers tonight at the ACC.
God damn! It was a night of many happy returns, as the Toronto Leafs held on for a tough 1 â€“ 0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.Â After clutching defeat from the jaws of victory last night the Leafs returned to the ACC, where theyâ€™ve been good this year, and managed to play an effective defensive game.Â James Reimer recorded his second shut out of the season in his first game since January 17th, overshadowing the welcomed return of John-Michael Liles and Colby Armstrong.
Someone's going to be handing out tardy slips, and some notable names are missing around the NHL.Â So join us for the Wednesday Mashup and take a look at the presence ofÂ absence in the league this week.
Alexander Ovechkin, freshly suspended, will not be taking part in the Some Stars Game this weekend.Â Ovechkin not wanting to play due to the suspension is specious reasoning, no two ways about it.Â His inclusion to the festivities this year was on previous history and name, not merit.Â Heâ€™s one of the games poster boys, someone who generates revenue at these events.Â In what amounts to a flash bulb hyped game of shinny, Ovechkin could have put a little shine on his image.Â He could stand to put in some face time. [more…]
Tyler Bozak's back and hopefullyÂ Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul tooÂ as the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators tonight.Â . James Reimer will also make his first start since December 31st and Jay Rosehill will trade his suit for a jersey for the first time since December 19th.
This is the fourth of 6 meetings between the bitter rivals, with the Senators leading the season series 2 - 1. Sitting in 9th place, one point out of 8th, the Leafs can ill afford to lose in this key 4 point game.
A key to tonight's game will be how the Leafs manage to reign-in a surprising Senators team that has gone 8-1-1 in their last ten and have skyrocketed up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
Working in the Leafs favour tonight is that the Sens lost in a stinker against the Winnepeg Jets less than 24 hours ago and figure to be gassed compared to a rested Leafs squad.Â Working against the Leafs is the fact that Craig Anderson, the player I opined to be the single most important factor to a successful Senators club earlier this season, has been just great of late, receiving first star of the week honours for his tremendous showing after a horrible start to the season. [more…]
Fourth timeâ€™s a charm for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012 with a 2 â€“ 0 win over the Buffalo Sabres.Â The Monster stood tall again tonight and the club remains undefeated in what is clearly a sign of end times.Â Neither Lupul nor Kessel tallied a point tonight, because who needs them when the USSR is back to its scoring ways.
On the Toronto Maple Leafs, no player has the combination of tenacity and skill that Mikhail Grabovski plays with each and every night.Â First labeled as a peripheral playmaking center, Grabovskiâ€™s game has evolved to the point where heâ€™s as competent finishing plays as he is setting them up, all while playing with zeal unmatched in the blue and white.Â But moving forward is he what the Toronto Maple Leafs need to be a playoff team in the near future?
On pace for his 3rd 20 goal season since being acquired in 2008 from the Montreal Canadiens, Grabovski has been a human highlight reel on some pretty bad Toronto teams.Â Last season he reached personal heights in goals, assists and points and was 1/3rd of the only reason to watch the Leafs during the 2010 â€“ 2011 season.Â Formerly viewed as a petulant, enigmatic â€˜me-first playerâ€™, heâ€™s matured in hog town and has been rewarded with alternate captaincy.Â Heâ€™s become one of my favourite players.Â If salary cap is any indicator of point production, heâ€™s been a veritable bargain making $2.9 million these past three years.Â A lot to like about the guy. [more…]
Getting out of a snowy Toronto did little to improve their playoff forecast as your Toronto Maple Leafs lost 5 â€“ 3 to the Florida Panthers.Â For the first time in the past 4 games, the Leafs outshot their competition and set the pace of play for long stretches of the game.Â Yet for the second time this season, the Florida Panthers prevailed, riding timely scoring and inept Leafs specialty teams to victory.Â Letâ€™s recap a hard luck loss by the Leafs.
When Colby Armstrong looks back on his career in Toronto, thereâ€™s a good chance heâ€™ll remark that is was a pain.Â How else can one describe the rash of injuries that has befallen the rugged right winger since coming to Toronto?Â Since signing a 3 year, $9 Million dollar contract in the summer of 2010, he has skated in 59 games while heâ€™s sat in the press box with casts, bandages and eye patches for a total of 56 games.Â So lets take a quick look at the trials and tribulations of the oft falling Leaf.
Prior to his tenure in Toronto, Armstrong was considered something of a durable player, whose low mark in terms of games played was 72 split between Pittsburgh and Atlanta during the 2007 â€“ 2008 season.Â Yet he missed 32 games last season with a broken finger, an eye injury and a broken foot.Â This season, he missed 23 games with a high ankle sprain, and after only 3 games back in the line up, suffered both a broken toe and a concussion on Saturday night. The concussion puts Colby amongst the growing list (now more than two dozen strong) of NHL regulars feeling the effects of head trauma. [more…]