Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Authors Posts by Ryan Fancey

Ryan Fancey

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With the playoffs set to get going tonight, and the Leafs vs. Bruins on tap for Wednesday, I figure that this is a good time to take a quick pause and look back at the regular season that was.

I’m sure that after the playoffs are over we’ll take another look back and evaluate things on a bigger scale, but for now I just want to reflect on some games that I feel produced some key moments for the team, and just as importantly, the fans.

The drought is over.

I don’t need to say much more than that.

It’s been a pretty awful nine years, but considering that we’ll be tuning in to CBC for a Leafs playoff game next week, I think it’s time to look back and exorcise some of the 2004-2012 Leafs’ demons that we’ve hopefully talked about for the last time. Well, at least without crying our eyes out.

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After doing a great job of gathering up points over the past couple of weeks and pushing themselves well in to the playoff picture, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the Leafs hold off on any trades going in to the deadline this Wednesday. But despite the amount of success the team has enjoyed this season, there are some glaring weak areas that could be addressed, and players may become available that could help Nonis bring this club to a higher level.

We’ve seen the Calgary Flames finally give in to a rebuild in the past week with the departure of Jarome Iginla, and the Buffalo Sabres have been known to be in fire sale mode for a little while now. As Wednesday approaches, other teams will have to make a decision on which direction they’re headed, and potentially start putting bodies on planes as well.

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With the NHL lockout behind us and anticipation building ahead of a season that will start next week, a lot of the discussion surrounding the league has started to focus on actual hockey again. Not the business of hockey, but lineups, coaches, potential roster movement, the salary cap, and so on. It’s great.

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(Image: Canadian Press)

There isn’t a lot to talk about this morning, as things on the NHL front have gone pretty silent. Other than that we’re (for the most part) looking forward to the World Junior Championships next week to get a look at some Leafs’ prospects on the international stage.

There’s also, you know, the chance to cheer on a hockey team, which will be a nice experience as well. Though I’m not sure I even remember how to do it.

The schedule for this year’s tournament is pretty awful for us watching in Canada. Morgan Rielly and the rest of our national club will play their first three games at 4:30am Eastern, so unless you have PVR (or live in the Atlantic Ocean, like I do), you may as well just forgo sleep, pour another nog and rum, and stay up for some hockey.

The commercial TSN has running for this thing is “Wake up early, stay up late.” Which camp do you fall in to?

Oh, and I did manage to collect a few links this morning, so enjoy.

Marlies shut out Griffins (The Star)

Canada heading to WJC for ‘one reason’ (The Sun)

Still trying to understand Brian Burke (VLM)

NHL vs. NHLPA I (mc79hockey)

Best of the Nation (The Nation)

NHL lawsuit assigned to former federal prosecutor (Puck Daddy)

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Despite this being “the most important week of negotiations”, there’s been basically nothing in terms of CBA/lockout news since last Thursday. It’s nothing to panic about; after reading the solid material Mirtle at the Globe and mc79 have pumped out over the past few days, I’m pretty confident that we’ll see a resolution to this whole thing soon. But until we do, let’s enjoy the news and notes from other leagues, as well as a few history lessons and another look at how the Leafs may fare when this lockout ends.

Kyle the Reporter has some notes about the Marlies this week in his regular hot and cold article.

Michael at Vintage Leaf Memories asks “What’s your first ever true “blue and white” Leafs’ memory?”

According to the Gazette, Leafs fans have voted Bower the best goalie in team history.

Cam at The Leafs Nation discusses whether the team is well-positioned for the new NHL when this lockout ends.

Blue Chip Prospects takes a closer look at Captain Dion.

And lastly, Clarke MacArthur will join a team in 2nd Bundesliga of Germany.

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The NHL and PA will get together again today. Nothing will come of it, we’ll complain about it on the internet, and there still won’t be NHL hockey. At first I would’ve said “there still won’t be hockey” but I’ve joined the folks who are pushing for other leagues to get attention. The NHL is the best hockey league on this planet, but it isn’t the only one.

There isn’t much to talk about that hasn’t already been covered in the past couple days regarding the Leafs. But there are some good hockey links available this morning so take a look.

The OHL is looking to cut down on fighting, the NHL wants to identify divers around the league, and it seems like folks are really starting to embrace the upcoming hockey season one way or another. One league or another, I should say.

Ovechkin won’t rule out staying in Russia (CBC)

A ‘Grabovski to the KHL’ update (TLN)

Oh for three (TLN)

Percy relaunches with Steelheads (The Star)

Franson hopes lockout doesn’t erase chance to make amends (Canoe)

Biggs excited to get everything going (The Star)

A VLM reader with a touching memory of meeting Sittler (VLM)

Grabovski frustrated by the lockout (The Sun)

Kesler singled out as diver in NHL’s crackdown on embellishment (Puck Daddy)

Leafs to play in Stirling-Rawdon in 2013 (CityNews)

CSB releases September prospect ratings (TSN)

Western Conference rivalries shaping up ahead of OHL season kick-off (Kyle the Reporter)

Everyone saw this one coming from a mile away, but we’ll take hockey news where we can get it: Nik Kulemin is officially heading to the KHL to join Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

Kulemin has played 142 games with the club in the past, from 2005 to 2008 before joining the Leafs’ organization.

There’s been some discussion over the possibility that, should the lockout drag on for months, Kulemin may not bother returning to the Leafs, though they’d badly need him. Obviously we’re far from that now, but it’s something to keep in mind considering he is playing in his hometown.

Regardless, a positive to take from this is that a young Leafs player will keep his skates on the ice against good competition and will move the puck with some good linemates. That may not be the case for all locked out NHL’ers this winter.

There are even rumblings that Sidney Crosby’s reps have contacted Metallurg as well.

Updated: Francois Allaire is out as the Leafs’ goaltending coach.

A few links for your Monday morning after the jump;

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    Hockey is in the air. Players around the NHL have finally started to take to the ice for scrimmages and practices, despite the whole lockout thing.

    There isn’t anything to report on the CBA front, but hopefully with the sense that hockey should be around the corner, the folks in charge can buckle down and get something set up. Though it isn’t necessarily about hammering out a deal over the course of many hours, as Clarke MacArthur mentioned yesterday:

    “It just shows there’s still some work to be done,” said MacArthur. “Maybe instead of going at it every day, it’s better to take some time. And think things over, and reassess.”

    With talks stalled, maybe MacArthur is right and when the NHL and PA get back to it, they can do so with more reasonable proposals.

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    Another round of CBA talks, and another week void of good NHL news in terms of trades, signings, or anything of the sort.

    We’re now stuck in this empty space where it’s tough to speculate on the upcoming season because we’re unsure as to whether there will be one.

    That didn’t stop The Hockey News from rolling out their annual NHL Standings prediction piece, where the Leafs were slotted 12th in the East. Fair.

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    With NHLPA representatives set to make their counter-proposal to the NHL today, a lot of talk in the last 24 hours has centered around the possibility of a luxury tax system. Apparently it’s something that is right up Donald Fehr’s alley, as it’s been said he’ll try as hard as possible to get away from the hard cap system the league currently operates under.

    For those who are a little unfamiliar with it, a luxury tax system is simply where a tax threshold is implemented (instead of the hard cap), and when a team spends over that line, they start paying cents on the dollar to the league. It may be included in revenue sharing, it may not. In the MLB, only a handful of teams clear the threshold, and I suspect the NHL would likely be the same way.

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    "Yeah? Check this out"

    Get ready to hear about nothing but Shea Weber for the next six days. And rightfully so. After inking what will be the biggest contract for a defenceman in league history on an offer sheet with Philadelphia, Weber’s The Man in the hockey world right now.

    Apparently this whole thing developed after a few attempts at a trade for Weber, in which the Flyers eventually said “enough of that, here’s a spaceship full of money.”

    Now David Poile has to make a decision on whether he wants to basically flatten his team or match the offer. We wanted hockey news, Paul Holmgren delivered, again.

    Does this relate to the Leafs? Some fans raised the question about whether Toronto should have been in on Weber as well. As much as the Leafs could use extra help on the blueline, I guess they didn’t see it as enough of a priority to go and spend $110 million and four first round picks on. I’m indifferent.

    This does relate to the Leafs in that a team in the East potentially becomes more dangerous, while the landscape in the West, and particularly the Central, has changed quite dramatically in the last little while. Did I have the Leafs passing the Flyers in the standings this coming season? No. But you still don’t want to see elite players jumping in to your conference.

    It’s a monstrous move that’s given us a lot to talk about until this comes to some sort of resolution. And after the fact, it could pave the way for other big transactions to take place. Hopefully there’s some more shuffling soon before I lose my mind thinking about what the Leafs are going to do to fix their own mess.

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    (Getty Images)

    It’s Friday, and I have hockey links.

    There hasn’t been a lot of news since the Parise & Suter signings, but there’s been some discussion surrounding James van Riemsdyk over the past day or so. Carlyle mentioned he could try him at center, and heads exploded.

    Much ado about nothing (Hope in the Big Smoke)

    16 players elect salary arbitration (NHLPA)

    The new reality of overpaid defencemen (The Leafs Nation)

    Leafs’ Rielly turning heads (The Sun)

    JvR the centre of attention (The Sun)

    Leafs seeing double with Rupert twins (The Star)

    GMs don’t fear forty like they once did (Puck Daddy)

    Marleau for the Leafs? (VLM)

    Have another link? Toss it in the comments section below.

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    Though we’ve endured a pretty boring free agency period so far, it looks like we may still be treated to some substantial roster movement in the next few weeks. Some have said that once the big pieces like Parise and Suter are locked up, we could see the trade market spike, but for now we’re in a dead zone. Because of this, as Leafs fans, it’s hard not to feel as if we’re looking at opening night’s roster. Not the case.

    In Burke’s interview with Bob McCown on The FAN, posted by our own Declan Kerin, the Leafs’ GM was asked if this roster, for the most part, is the one that he’ll go to battle with in October. Burke said the possibility of that is remote, and he still has a lot of work to do. He seems focused on addressing the situation at center, but whether the goaltending gets sorted out is obviously in the air. Either way, I think we could be looking at another top six shakeup up front.

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    Photo: Canadian Press

    The Maple Leafs announced the details of this year’s prospect camp this afternoon. Here’s some information regarding on-ice sessions in Toronto, followed by the entire list of attending prospects after the jump.

    The camp will include on-ice practice sessions at MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence and seminars on conditioning, media awareness, personal development and nutrition. The camp will open with on-ice workouts on Monday at 10:00 a.m. The week will be highlighted with three intra-squad games which will take place from Tuesday-to-Thursday. The tentative on-ice schedule for the camp is as follows:

    – Monday, July 2: 10:00 a.m. – On-ice testing (MasterCard Centre)

    – Tuesday, July 3: 10:00 a.m. – Intra-squad Game (MasterCard Centre)

    – Wednesday, July 4: 1:45 p.m. – Intra-Squad Game (MasterCard Centre)

    – Thursday, July 5: 10:00 a.m. – Intra-Squad Game (MasterCard Centre)

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    Photo: QMI

    “(We) keep the puck out of our end zone and play in their end zone, in laymen’s terms, that’s the best way we try to help him. We’re going to block shots, we’re going to defend the proper way, but that’s the best way we can help him.”

    That was John Tortorella speaking about how the Rangers would attempt to help out goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who was keeping them afloat, during the playoffs.

    It wasn’t the first time he made a comment regarding puck possession and driving play in to the opposing team’s zone. I must have heard him talk about it a million times during the 24/7 television series leading up to the Winter Classic. His team wasn’t good enough to actually do it, but the idea is right on.

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    Photo: Postmedia Province

    During TSN’s regular “Insider Trading” segment last night, McKenzie, LeBrun and Dreger each had an opportunity to drop some information on us regarding Roberto Luongo and the Leafs. McKenzie also had a chance to clear the bogus rumors of Brian Burke being fired in the next little while, and not surprisingly, the site that started the rumor took it down immediately afterward. Anything to get page hits for a couple days I suppose.

    It’s no secret that teams have begun kicking tires on Luongo, and two of the most noted on Insider Trading were the Panthers and the Leafs. Florida was a name many threw out there when the Luongo rumors first started, but that quickly turned into just the Leafs and Tampa Bay due to their insane need for goaltending.

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    Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    With four teams left and the NHL playoffs set to wind down, news and trade rumors should pick up as we get closer to the draft. “Wind down” is perhaps the wrong way to say it, but with fewer games happening (we’ll soon be at one every two nights) there’s a lot more time to speculate and gear up for an eventful summer.

    The word out of Pittsburgh has been centered around Jordan Staal for a few weeks now, and since the team was eliminated there have been questions, ranging from reasonable to… er, unreasonable (Malkin trade anyone?) popping up quite regularly.

    The Staal situation isn’t new. Folks have been talking about his place with the Penguins — behind Malkin and Crosby — since he’s been with the team. The idea is that he’s essentially being held back from thriving with another club. And for us Leafs fans, desperate to see an elite center in blue and white, we’re quite familiar with the name.