Monday, May 25, 2015
Authors Posts by Mislav Jantoljak

Mislav Jantoljak

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Hi there, I'm Mislav, a hockey writer from Croatia. My weird hockey journey includes the Maple Leafs Hot Stove, covering the Kontinental Hockey League as a Managing Editor at KHL.hr and doing a piece for the Hockey News that one time. This is me on hockey and stuff in between. Enjoy your stay!

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Photo: CBC.ca

Tonight, the Leafs are Florida bound. This will be the fourth and final game between these two teams. Roster wise, you can argue there isn’t much distinction between the quality of the two teams and yet they find themselves in drastically different situations.

The Panthers are looking for a chance to stay in the driver seat of the Southeast Division while our boys are just… playing out the year. The playoffs are still a mathematical possibility but we can all agree that most of us are already looking at that high pick. As for the players, it’s a battle for jobs under the new coach and a chance to make a fresh start (here’s looking at you Mike Komisarek).

Boxscore | Ice Time | Recap

The fourth and final meeting between these two teams featured some good news and some really bad news. The good news is one for the entire hockey world to enjoy – Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact and could return as soon as next week. The bad, is really bad for all of us Leaf fans. Joffrey Lupul will most likely miss the rest of the season with a separated shoulder. Carter Ashton made his Leafs debut. On to the points and probably, a considerably high draft pick.

Boxscore | Ice Time | Recap

Good news, Grabo is a Leaf for five more years! Bad news, Grabo’s cap hit isn’t nearly what we expected and it’s not a discount, not by any means. We all know it wasn’t the deal we had in mind but for now I’ll just be happy we have him signed. More than what he’s worth or at a discounted price, there’s no arguing the fact that Grabo offers a lot to this team. Oh, there was a game tonight too, more on that shortly.

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Photo Credit: lightning.nhl.com

Toronto Maple Leafs have sent defenseman Keith Aulie to the Tampa Bay Lightning in return for Norfolk Admirals forward Carter Ashton. Ashton, a former first round pick (29th overall in 2009), has 18 goals and 35 points in 59 games in his first AHL season.

A “hockey trade” here as the Leafs took a piece from their defensive depth and added a good, somewhat raw prospect who has a big body and power forward potential. Tampa Bay makes their second addition to their sorely lacking defensive depth.

Boxscore | Ice Time | Recap

The ACC welcomed the Caps in a major points battle, but more importantly – our organization honored the 1962 Stanley Cup winning team which featured such gems as Tim Horton, “Red” Kelly, George Armstrong, Johnny Bower, Dave Keon, Frank “Big M” Mahovlich (proud to say he is a Croat) etc. They say history is the best teacher and we can all learn a thing or two from those guys. I’m proud to be able to celebrate a vital period in our team’s history.

Boxscore | Ice Time | Recap | Sundin Ceremony

On a special special night, where every player in a Leafs jersey wore No. 13 in warm-ups, Mats Sundin was once again welcomed home as a Leaf. Many consider him a hero and that’s the way it should be. He definitely earned his place in the rafters of the ACC because, in addition to the sublime talent and franchise record setting numbers, he had an undying loyalty and desire to win. Unfortunately, a beautiful speech and ceremony gave way to an absolute shitting of the bed by the current Leafs.

Photo: Jan Dusing

Since I didn’t have a chance to watch many Leaf games in Crotia prior to 2004 (ones I caught were on satellite TV on a German program called DSF and tapes I got from virtually everywhere – that’s how I got to see Gilmour and Clark), I took every opportunity to watch Leaf players play international hockey. Occasionally, our national television took pity on us hockey fans and gave us World Championship games, like the quarterfinal in 2003, which featured Sweden and Finland in Helsinki’s Hartwall Areena.

As you are well aware, Sweden and Finland are big hockey rivals. To add to the flavour, the 2003 World Championships were held in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere, all Finnish cities. Coming in you already knew it was going to be a really emotional game. It turned out to be one of the most memorable moments I’ve ever witnessed in hockey.

Box Score | Ice Time | Recap

The Leafs decided they wanted to celebrate Grabovski’s birthday by looking (for the most part) like the Oilers of old. Grabo was Mark Messier and Phil Kessel played the role of the Great One. But as the time was ticking down, we saw the lesson of old creeping its ugly head once more.  You don’t let such an experienced team back in a hockey game. One goal, one mistake is enough to change momentum.