Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
In addition to the trade speculation, adÂ nauseamÂ analysis of what could happen is the natural side effect when the trade deadline nears. Itâ€™s never a matter of hearing of a certain rumor, then waiting to see how everything unfolds. In fact, during this silly part of the season we usually analyze a trades that never comes to fruition more than those that actually become reality. Thatâ€™s the beauty of the deadline. We can analyze and discuss all we want because the speculation and rumors are endless.
Time to touch on the recent swirl of Rick Nash speculation. First, a little background according to what Iâ€™ve heard and read â€“ Nash had supposedly become available in Columbus in late-January. All still speculation, general manager Scott Howson eventually broke the ice, stating that heâ€™s â€˜listeningâ€™. Going in accordance with immediate speculation, Toronto was reportedly interested, and now we have numerous, probably unnecessary analyses of a possible move here.
Junior wraps up the MLHS ‘Memories of Mats’ series:
On June 28th of 1994, Cliff Fletcher, the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, traded Wendel Clark, Sylvain Lefebvre, Landon Wilson and a first round draft choice to the Quebec Nordiques for Mats Sundin, Garth Butcher, Todd Warriner and a 1st round draft choice.
I resolved that day to hate that bastard Sundin forever.
I was 27 years old and had been a Leaf fan all my life.Â I can remember the Dave Keon posters my Dad hung for me on my bedroom wall, around about the time I was starting kindergarten; inspiration for a smallish six year old wondering whether a little guy could play hockey against bigger opponents.Â When I got a bit older, and Keon had been lost to the WHA, Darryl Sittler was the Leaf player I focussed on, curly hair flying as he racked up his ten point night, suiting up with the game’s best on Team Canada – and beating the Czechs in the Canada Cup.Â I liked those players well enough, but my admiration for them couldn’t hold a candle to the way I felt about Wendel Clark.
You could see it, feel it â€“ 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 Captainâ€™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 â€“ on the back of their oft-underappreciated gem of a leader â€“ 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 couldnâ€™t see Sundin step forward and take what has to be one of the most interesting shots Iâ€™ve ever seenâ€¦
With 987 points in 981 games as a member of the Maple Leafs, Mats Sundin created his fair share of memories for Toronto fans. While most can recall where they were when he achieved many of the moments of greatness which will long live in the lore of Leafs’ history, few can recall either his first goal or first assist in a Toronto uniform.
At the NHL draft in 1994, Cliff Fletcher shocked the Leafs’ fanbase with a blockbuster deal that sent fan favorite Wendel Clark, stalwart blueliner Sylvain Lefebvre, prospect Landon Wilson and the Leafs’ 1st round pick to Quebec for the then-23 year old Sundin, veteran defender Garth Butcher and the Nordiques’ 1st round pick.Â The Leafs subsequently dealt the Nordiques’ pick, along with winger Rob Pearson, to Washington for veteran centre Mike Ridley and the Capitals’ 1st round pick.
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 â€“ thatâ€™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 Helsinkiâ€™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 Iâ€™ve ever witnessed in hockey.
Photo: The Star
Mats announced that he would be exercising his no trade clause on February 25, 2008. Â It may not be a popularly shared sentiment at this time, but this decision should be considered one of the Swede’s great moments as a Maple Leaf. Of course, it almost certainly won’t be remembered as such, as it is one of the few contentious things Sundin did in his career in Toronto (perhaps the only contentious thing, aside from his January 2004 attempt to use a broken stick as a discus-like instrument of Swedish wrath and frustration).
Sundin made a difficult choice knowing that many would not understand it. Painfully aware that in a city like Toronto, many would also lash out at him for it. Â But as he said yesterday, loyalty was both his biggest strength and his biggest weakness. Â The Swedish centerman was loyal to a fault, literally.
Photo: Graig Abel/Getty Images
What more can possibly be said about the way Mats got his 500th career goal? Slapper from the blue line? Check. Top corner snipe? Check. Third goal of the game, shorthanded, in overtime no less? You bet. In one of the biggest games of his career, Sundin performed with style. On a fairly disastrous 2006-07 Leafs squad, Sundin remained the sole bright spot of an aging core.
The game was a high scoring affair. As has so often been the case in Leafs games, defence was nowhere to be seen. Toronto would dominate most of the first, seeing vast stretches of time in the offensive zone on the cycle. Running into some penalty trouble, Calgary suffered the first goal against on a Tucker tally. Picking up a secondary assist on the goal was none other than Sundin. Not merely content with helping someone score, Sundin added his first goal of the night 7 minutes later. Sneaking into open ice near the side boards, Mats fired home a wrister as Calgary was caught sleeping. Number 498.
I am a young Maple Leafs fan, even around these parts. Not many know this, but I was born in 1995, and a Leaf fan from birth. Naturally, I donâ€™t remember the hard-fought series against the Sabres in the spring of 1997, and Iâ€™ve only seen video of Sundinâ€™s overtime winner against the then-powerhouse Senators in 2001. A year later though, I can say I truly started to bleed blue and white.
Only 7 years old at the time, I was slowly learning what it meant to be a Toronto Maple Leafs fan from my father â€“ whoâ€™d been one (and still is) for over 30 years. I received my first Leafs jersey that year, the same white home sweater Sundin scored in against the Hurricanes in that bittersweet game six. I remember gathering around the television in the comfort of my own home for game one â€“ like we had for every playoff game that year â€“ with my father and I on one couch and my mother â€“ the farthest thing from a Leafsâ€™ fan â€“ sitting opposite from us.
It was a brilliant moment of catharsis that just seemed to sweep away the bitterness of the previous year.
Imagine yourself in Sundin’s place leading up to this moment. For twelve seasons, you had brought a level of commitment and excellence that undboubtedly would have placed you among the most distinguished hockey players in the history of a storied Original Six franchise. You had given your heart and your career to a management team that had failed to pay you back in turn. Even still, your teammates and most of all, the wonderful city of Toronto had been behind you all the way. Then all of a sudden, things changed. You were now a trade chip, being publicly ushered out the door. A sacrifice for the long-term betterment of the franchise. Somehow, your reluctance to play anywhere other than where your heart truly belonged had earned you criticism and scorn from the same media and fans that once praised your dedication to the city. It was painful.
Photo: Slam! Sports
In the buildup to the Sundin’s banner-raising ceremony tomorrow night at the ACC,Â the MLHS bloggers will each be sharing their most memorable Sundin moment. Dan Santos is up first with his reflections on Sundin’s six point night:
When reminiscing about my favourite Mats Sundin moments, the two I instantly remember are his 1-0 overtime winner against Ottawa and his late goal to tie Game 6 against the Hurricanes. However, another game is just as memorable to me because I was lucky enough to be in attendance. I am talking about Mats Sundin’s 6-point night against the Florida Panthers.
April 11, 2006. The Toronto Maple Leafs are desperately fighting for their playoff lives. A late-season surge, led by Jean-Sebastien Aubin of all people, has given the Leafs a glimmer of hope with just a handful of games left.
Entering this hockey season, the idea of talking about James Reimer as a backup plan by January would have seemed odd. The only way I could have thought up such a scenario would’ve been to include the Leafs signing or trading for a veteran netminder to settle things down.Â It didn’t happen, and the team is tied for a playoff spot regardless due to some timely performances by Jonas Gustavsson to kick off 2012.
The Leafs have the luxury (I guess) of not being constrained by a large goalie contract. There’s no trueÂ ”number one.”
When teams throw around huge cash to goaltenders, it goes without saying that there’s risk involved. By paying Ryan Miller or Ilya Bryzgalov upwards of 5-6 million per season, the Sabres and Flyers, respectively, are basically sayingÂ ”that’s our guy.” And in the case of both, this season has been a lot of wasted money.
I planned on writing about the Liles extension as a preamble into answering these questions, but once I began writing it I realized that it was a blog all on its own. With that said, I’ll be posting an in depth blog soon looking solely at the Liles signing and just exactly what it means.
I narrowed down the questions a little this time around due to the feedback. Hope you enjoy it and as shown, I do read through those comments and take what you guys into consideration, so always feel free to chime in.
The Toronto Maple Leafs battled the NY Islanders in what wasnâ€™t a must win game, but rather a smart game to win. January was starting to look very bleak and the boys managed to turn that around. But to fully turn it around we need a win tomorrow night. Round 2 next.
Photo: NATIONAL POST STAFF PHOTO
Photo: Tyler Anderson/Postmedia News
Love or hate him, Prime Time Sport’s Bob McCown knows how to press Burke’s buttons. The Leafs GM was at his acerbic, candid best in a Fan590 interview earlier this evening, participating in some playful banter with McCown and co-host Damien Cox while tackling a number of Leaf topics in a fascinating interview. Burke touches on the status of some of his front office staff, trade talks, the Sports Illustrated players poll that voted Phaneuf the league’s most overrated player for the second season running, his “rats” comment, Ovechkin/Kessel and the All Star Game, and much more. As always, Burke makes the half hour race by:
Probably not much more than some fun speculation here, but it seems the internet is heating up some trade talks, and the Leafs are in the middle of it. Again.
From the Philly Daily News:
Flyers director of player developmentÂ Don Luce was spotted for the third time in as many weeks at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for the Maple Leafsâ€™ contest against Buffalo.
Luceâ€™s consistent presence in Toronto fuels trade speculation between the Flyers and Leafs. The NHL trade deadline is just 47 days away…
“I do try to get my lineup set well in advance of the deadline,” Burke told ESPN.com on Friday. “Iâ€™ve never been a deadline guy. So January is when I try to make a splash. We are listening to a lot right now, and there is a good chance something will happen …â€
While I don’t doubt the Leafs and Flyers are chatting, I’m not sure how you could pinpoint Luke Schenn as the player that’s targeted (which the article goes on to do.)
It’s well known that Burke and Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren are buddies, and Burke’s son is employed by the Flyers as well. The connection is there.
Is there enough to get a deal done? If Burke really wants to stay away from the deadline, it looks like we’ll find out soon.
Just when I had envisioned the Bruins, Leafs, Sabres and Canadiens making the playoffs every year forever and ever, the NHLPA goes ahead and stops realignment. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Realignment, not happening, or at least it seems that way for now.
From the White Towel (Province Sports):
The National Hockey League Playersâ€™ Association has blocked the #NHLâ€™s proposed #realignment plan for the 2012-13 season
This, of course, means the Jets will remain in the Southeast, while the Florida teams won’t make the jump to join the Northeast clubs. It’s been reported that the League had imposed a deadline for the PA to approve realignment, they didn’t, and here we are.
There’s your late Friday night hockey news.
(Photo Credit: CP/John Woods)
After doing battle for the third time this season on Wednesday night, the Leafs and Jets split from their marriage in the standings once again and Toronto climbed back into a playoff spot. The Jets on the other hand, saw their goal differential slip to -11 on the season after the 4-0 loss, they still sit in tenth.
If we know anything, it’s that January through February is an important stretch of the NHL season. Go figure, it’s the meatiest part of the schedule really, outside of the hilarious All-Star Game. You need only to look at these two clubs to understand why.
Last year around this time, the Leafs and Thrashers (I think that’s what they were called) started to turn the wheels, heading in opposite directions.
While this trade has likely no bearing on anything ever, the Leafs have dealt Luca Caputi to the Anaheim Ducks (surprise, surprise) for left winger Nicolas Deschamps. Both are minor leaguers and should remain as such.
From James Mirtle:
Leafs acquire Nicolas Deschamps from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Luca Caputi. Also recall Holzer.
The plus-side for the Leafs in this deal is that they replace Caputi with a player two years younger in Deschamps – born in 1990 and selected #35 overall in the 2008 draft. The Leafs seem to be getting the prospect with higher upside but neither have lived up to the potential their drafting clubs saw in them.
Deschamps had 46 points in 80 games for the Syracuse Crunch last season, while this year he’s a been a bit slower, notching only seven in 31 games played.
Courtesy of the National Post
Courtesy of the National Post
The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone through a rollercoaster almost halfway into the 2011-12 season. Though December’s tough scheduled slowed them some, the team is still on pace for 95 points and a playoff berth for the first time since before the NHL lockout. The question then becomes whether the Leafs’ play is sustainable, with the best avenue to find out being a statistical overview. Today we’re going to dig into some of the good, bad and ugly aspects statistically to the Leafs thus far. Unless otherwise stated, all stats are at even strength.
"It's made from aluminum. Very high strength-to-weight ratio."
In honour of Festivus, it is time to lay some overly harsh criticism on the beloved Maple Leafs with the Airing of Grievances. “I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re gonna hear about it!”
Kessel – 20 goals?! Not good enough! We didn’t trade our 2 first-rounders and a second away for someone who’sÂ tied for the NHL-lead in goals!
Bozak – Leave Kate Upton alone, she’s mine!
Liles – Keep your head up, you old bag!
Grabovski – What’s wrong with you? I can’t believe you named your kid Jaegar in honour of Mick Jagger. AC/DC was way better at SARS fest!
Kulemin – You haven’t scored a goal (that wasn’t a penalty shot) in 27 games. Figure it out!
Schenn – 56 blocked shots?! It would be over 60 if you’d quit deflecting them into your own net!
Gardiner – No more sitting out games to watch Justin Bieber MuchMusic specials!
Franson – You better not be a Santa Clause parade kind-of-guy too!
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