Home 2011-12 Season

Thanks to Vintage Leaf Memories’ Michael Langlois for stopping by to share some memories ahead of tomorrow’s Alumni games, set to be played in Comerica Park at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

When Alec Brownscombe asked me if I was interested in developing a piece for MLHS about the Winter Classic Legends games, my first thought was: who is on the roster? Will I enjoy writing about these guys?

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Earlier this month, Maple Leafs Hot Stove was asked to contribute to Puck Daddy’s National Hockey League of Nation Series. With the help of Michael Langlois from Vintage Leaf Memories, we identified who we felt was the best ever Leaf player to represent each of the major nationalities in the league:  Canada, USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and The Rest of The World. The results are after the jump. Note that the vast majority of Leaf greats could not be acknowledged in this list as we could pick only one Canadian. It would’ve been nice to pick two Swedes, too.

There’s still no movement on either Nazem Kadri or Cody Franson, and training camp is still about a month away, so it’s time for another clip show!

The spin-o-rama has become a hallmark move in the NHL, even if it’s not without controversy.  Here’s the 5 best in blue in white at twisting and turning heads.

 

5. Nazem Kadri is really, really, really skilled.  Like damn skilled.

We’ll start of this clip show with a real beauty of a goal by Kadri during the 2011-2012 season.  Kadri passes off to Joffrey Lupul in the left wing corner and sneaks through to the top of the crease.  Lupul’s shot shanks off the Wild defender.  Kadri, reading the ricochet, pivots on his right skate and bats the puck out of the air on his backhand to give the Leafs a 1 – 0 lead.  Just incredible hand-eye coordination on this play, and totally worth a new contract… Dave.

4. Jason Blake… backhand

Jason Blake.  Remember him? Seriously, do you? Do you remember when the Leafs made THAT free agent winger mistake in 2007? Anyway, I’m not saying you have to like the guy, but this is a pretty sweet shootout goal nonetheless.  Blake carries the puck out to the right wing before taking a more direct line towards New Jersey netminder Scott Clemmensen.

Then, as if unbound by the laws of physics, Blake stops on a dime dead centre at the top of the crease and spins counter clockwise, backhanding in this beauty. Perhaps the most amazing part of this goal is seeing how tremendously underprepared Clemmensen was on that move.  He’s like two feet out of the net and a foot off the ice.

3. James van Riemsdyk scores the first Leaf playoff game winner in nine years

May 4, 2013 was a special day to me for several reasons, and this was one of them.  James van Riemsdyk cruises towards the net, slows and turns to receive a Mikhail Grabovski pass.  He takes Grabovski’s pass with both feet firmly planted in the crease, standing almost on top of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.  After trying to tap the puck in between his legs, he swings on his right foot and puts the puck to his forehand, barely sneaking the puck past Rask’s outstretched right leg before tumbling to the ice.

He probably would have scored higher on this list were it not for the dismount, but this was probably the most exhilarating goal of the 2013 season for me.

2. Mikhail Grabovski… forehand

Another shootout goal, but boy this one is a beauty by Mikhail Grabovski.  Grabovski, like Blake, cuts wide to the right wing as he prepares his attempt on Ty Conklin.  But Grabovski chose to attack at an even wide angle, getting as far over to the hash marks before veering towards the net.  He spins in a counter clockwise direction as he cuts to the left in front of the net, waits out a sprawling Conklin, and lightly flicks the puck into the top half of the net.

This goal is so incredibly because Grabo had the time, space and ability to complete the 360 THEN score.  Absolutely masterful move and it would be the winner if it weren’t for…

1. Killer with the OT dagger in the Gardens

Clearly anyone can score on a spin-o-rama in front of the net.  A real winner does it behind the net.  An even real-er winner does it in a playoff game.  And Doug Gilmour does all of that in double overtime.

Seeing Blake and Grabovski’s spin-o-rama goals in the shootouts, you think to yourself about the focus and timing required to make that play.  Everything has to be moving in just about perfect order in perfect time on this risky play.  What makes Gilmour’s so incredible is that he held the puck behind the Blues net for a full five seconds before making this dastardly move.

As Gilmour starts to move, the Blues left defenseman first breaks to intercept him.  Then Gilmour cuts the other way, forcing the defenseman and the Blues net minder Curtis Joseph to cover the far post.  Gilmour completes the pirouette, skates up and shovels the backhand just inside the near post to give the Leafs the victory.  Just incredible.

LINKS:

In case you missed it, Anthony had a great chat with Leafs scout Garth Malarchuk.

PPP Fanpost with the most! Not Norm Ullman has a terrific piece on the acquisition of Paul Ranger.

Cam Charron was a stat laden piece on quantifying Dion Phaneuf’s ice time and usage in a Leaf uniform.

Gabriel Landeskog re-signs in Colorado for 7 years, $39-million ($5.57-million AAV).

Justin Bourne’s Backhand Shelf Podcast on Alfredsson, the Devils money woes, and crimelords’ cup rings.

 

 

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So this week, I was going through another one of @MLHS_Mike’s fantastic write-ups and it brought back memories from my early 20s. Mind you, I’m not that old yet, but I’m getting there.

I used to be a cook. I got to meet a lot of people in my line of work. Hockey players, baseball players, celebrities, and even a girlfriend I was with for most of my early 20s. But the memory I think fondly back on the most as a cook was meeting the 1993 Toronto Maple Leafs team.

From Conn Smythe’s likely-apocryphal quote, “If you can’t beat ‘em in the alley, you can’t beat ‘em on the ice” to Brian Burke’s tears for Colton Orr, the Toronto Maple Leafs have always encouraged fighting.  There’s not much to report on in Leaf land right now, and instead of lamenting unsigned RFAs and the cap woes, let’s take a look at some of oddest fights in Leaf history.

The combatants are unusual, the results often surprising, and most of them leave one thinking fighting has no place in hockey (especially if you can’t fight).  But they’re all still pretty hilarious, and ought to be remembered fondly by all Leafs fans.

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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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Anže lifts!

You often dream about things, things that are so far beyond your reach that you have a problem of thinking about them being more than just dreams. I am a hockey fan from Croatia, who wanted to write about the game and therefore, my biggest dreams consisted of being around the game with people who care about it as much as me. Be it writing, seeing things live, or learning the game.

Of course, the biggest dream in a hockey fan’s life is seeing the Holy Grail of hockey, the Stanley Cup. When Anže Kopitar won the Cup with the LA Kings, I knew that the opportunity for seeing it live could present itself and when the Kings’ ace announced that the Cup was coming to his native Slovenia I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t afford to miss.

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Cody Franson and James Reimer gave two of the more interesting interviews on locker clean out day. Watch them below. Additional interviews with Joey Crabb, Luke Schenn, Clarke MacArthur, Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and Tyler Bozak can be found here. Tomorrow Burke will hold the state-of-the-Leafs address we have all been waiting for, the first time the Leafs GM has addressed the media since the Wilson firing in early March.

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Photo: John Ulan/Canadian Press

For the early part of the season, when the Leafs were still planted in the playoff picture and the Oilers began to return to their rightful place at the bottom of the standings, there was plenty of debate over which team was truly on the right track to winning (seriously) again. Two popular Canadian clubs, two large fan-bases, and perhaps two of the most meticulous groups of bloggers and internet-y fans in the hockey world.

The answer seemed pretty simple: give me the Leafs and their upswing (or so it seemed) with Burke over that joker Tambellini any day of the week. Tambellini is perhaps the biggest disaster to ever happen to the Oilers, and despite his stable of top picks, he’s done ultimately nothing of his own accord to help that team. Burke, I guess, is helping the Leafs or something.

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While Brian Burke deserves much of the blame for the recent woes of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s also fair to point out that he didn’t exactly inherit a powerhouse.  The Leafs roster was in terrible shape when the big Irishman accepted the unsavory role of Maple Leafs president and general manager.

Unfair expectations were placed on this current regime and miracles were expected overnight as he was quickly dubbed the ‘saviour of the franchise’.  Unfortunately, in the new cap-era NHL, a quick fix is nearly impossible and instead patience, money management and shrewd decision making is even more imperative.

Is the “Fire Burkie” rhetoric that has been spewed from Leafs Nation coast-to-coast justified?

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Being a Leafs fan is never easy (being a fan born in the early 80s is even worse). Oh, we have had a few shining moments over the past 25 years or so, but for the most part it has been pain, ridicule, frustration and heartbreak.  Even with the spotty track record over the last four decades Leafs Nation continues to grow and grow around Canada, the United States and even the across the globe (thanks to Mislav!).

Having the biggest fan base in hockey is a blessing and a curse. With the great support also comes at times an unappeasable group of fans.  Most wanted Ron Wilson fired for not getting enough out of the team, now that he is gone it has turned into Brian Burke’s fault for not getting enough talent on the team.

In short, Leafs fans are hard to please.

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How many different ways can you skin a cat?

Rather, how many different ways can you look at the Mikhail Grabovski extension?

“How is he making more money than Phil Kessel?”

(At the time Phil Kessel signed his deal he was an RFA, not a UFA, and he was making a higher percentage of the salary cap than Grabovski currently is).

“Blame the Oilers and Hurricanes for the money they gave Hemsky and Ruutu.”

“He would have got more on the open market.”

“Grabovski’s never even recorded 60 points.”

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A worn-down looking Brian Burke explained what was obviously a personally excruciating decision to fire long time friend Ron Wilson and bring in Randy Carlyle. Some notes after the video.

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Brian Burke Fired

A quiet deadline day has come and gone for Brian Burke and his staff. There was no move for goaltending, toughness up front, or Rick Nash today. Brian Burke’s words in a Sportsnet interview early in the proceedings, where he seemed to show a oddly renewed sense of faith and confidence in James Reimer, were a good indication of things to come. It seemed to be a reflection of the temperature in trade negotiations; there wasn’t much to his liking out there at a price he was willing to pay.

The Leafs did make a move for the future, flipping a piece of their defensive depth in Keith Aulie for young forward Carter Ashton, a 29th overall selection in 2009.

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Trade Deadline Day is finally upon us, and here at Hot Stove we’ve got things covered. Today we’ll run a live blog that I’ll be updating with any new trades that happen to go down. All across the country there will be eyes glued to networks and websites like TSN, Sportsnet, and the Score for a full 7 hours of coverage — it isn’t easy sitting around slamming coffee and eating like a pig all day, but I’ll have to make the necessary sacrifices.

Just a quick tip before things get rolling:  Today may be a good day for you to get a Twitter account if you haven’t already. Oh, and have your bingo cards ready.

Once the first trades start to happen, they will show up here, so hit refresh once in a while.

1:22 – Nabokov mulling over a contract. Not expected to be moved regardless. Lebrun says Montoya is being shopped by the Islanders.

12:55 – Nick Schultz dealt from the Wild to the Oilers for Tom Gilbert. Trade count: three.

12:45 – Commodore traded to Tampa for a conditional 7th round pick (who cares). Total trade count so far; two. McKenzie had this to say: “Popular theory: DAL is holding up a lot of teams. Many in on Steve Ott and not looking elsewhere until that’s resolved.”

12:40 – Burke tells TSN and Sportsnet that deadline could very well pass without a move from the Leafs. Ferraro and McGuire on TSN point to Burke’s ability to manipulate the market a little with these types of comments – both believe the Leafs get something done before the deadline.

12:08 – Aaron Portzline in Columbus reports that the Jackets have had up to 15 offers on a number of players. Kypreos confirms Clitsome claimed by the Jets.

11:50 – Ryan Rishaug of TSN had this to say: “Sense out of one NHL war room is the Nash situation is causing a massive holdup in other deals. If that drops, dam breaks?”

11:20 – Burke tells Sportsnet that he doesn’t expect to address the goaltending situation today.

11:15 – Tony Ambrogio at Sportsnet reports that Burke turned down an offer for Reimer

11:09 – Dreger reports that another NHL GM has said that Grabovski is in play. Bruins are in on Oduya in Winnipeg, and Jones in Colorado.

11:05 – Looks like the Red Wings are trying to add Paul Gaustad

10:55 – Kypreos reports that Nash will not waive his NTC to go to the Predators. The Habs get a 2nd round pick for Kostitsyn, and cancel the 5th round conditional pick from the Gill trade.

10:23 – Kostitsyn to Nashville is done – RDS reporting. The Predators are rumored to have an offer in for Nash as well.

10:15 – Sportsnet reports that the Leafs have made an offer for Nash that includes Joffrey Lupul. McKenzie from TSN says there’s a strong rumor about Andrei Kostitsyn going to Nashville.

10:00 – This was pointed out by Dreger earlier on air; the Sharks apparently offered up Niemi to the Flyers for Van Riemsdyk. Turned down.

9:30 – Dreger and company at TSN mention Jason Garrison and P.A. Parenteau as players that could be on the move – not sure either would garner any interest from the Leafs. Ryan White’s name out there too. I like him.