After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the new look squad hit the ice Thursday night for their home opener against the arch rival Montreal Canadiens, and with it marked the true dawning of a new age in Leafs Nation.
While it's true the hiring of Ron Wilson and Brian Burke will go down as the day the team began to turn the page on years of management misfortune, and the Dion Phaneuf day could very well end up being the trade that sparks the team forward much like the Doug Gilmour...
It begins tonight - the 2010-2011 Toronto Maple Leafs season. New captain, new faces, new year, clean slate. Hope. The excitement of a new journey.
Whatever level of excitement we the fans have for it, tonight is not a measuring stick. The Habs are somewhat undermanned, with Andrei Markov out of the lineup and Carey Price reportedly feeling under the weather. Moreover, last season's lengthy run in the postseason notwithstanding, I doubt whether anyone standing out of Pierre Gauthier's earshot considers the Habs to be likely to repeat that sort of performance this time 'round....
With the pre-season nearly finished, the Leafs roster is beginning to take shape for 2010-11. Similarly, the Marlies are starting to become more defined as major league cuts are shuffled down to the minor league club. What is not so clearly defined on the Marlies is their goaltending situation. There will be a ton of competition between the four goalies in the Leafs minor pro system to get starts this season and those that do will have to seize the opportunity. Letâ€™s take a look:
Age: 22, Height: 6â€™3â€, Weight: 207lbs.
09-10 Stats: 26GP, 2.25GAA and .925SV% in American Hockey...
For a hockey fan, hope springs eternal in the fall. Summer ends today, my team is back on the ice and I'm absolutely stoked to get my first look at Versteeg in a Leafs' uni; to scope out Jerry D'Amigo and Jussi Rynnas; to leave the failure of last year behind. I am ready to love this team again.
Day Two of on-ice participation is now in the books .. the sessions all had a purpose, as camp not only winds down, but clear decisions need to be made on who will remain with the main roster and who will be going to the Marlies or back to their original junior team.
A breakdown of the drills and more observations from the intra squad game after the jump.
Sunday Training Camp Day 2 practice
Teams A and B practiced with Team A on the main ice. (Breakdown of teams is here.
The drills weren't very different from the previous days, they all...
The Toronto Maple Leafs held their on-ice portion of training camp today. Players have been split into three squads to accommodate the 63 players invited to camp.
Among the contingent of fans outside the ice surface at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence was a throng of media and of course, Leafs staff.
Before discussing what went down today, the Leafs squads are:
Team Armstrong (A)
Team Kennedy (B)
A quick note:
I'll be attending the on-ice portions of training camp on the weekend. I'll do a blog about the day that will be a little different from the traditional coverage. If you want to know what Grabovski said, or how Kaberle felt ... well, there's other outlets for that. Here, I'm hoping to provide a different outlook of the camp that doesn't get touched upon by traditional coverage.
I'm focusing on the drills, player notes, line combinations among other traits. I'll provide a layout of the drills and the such after each day.
I'll also tweet from the drills...
Weâ€™ve taken a look at the front end of the depth on the Marlies. Now itâ€™s time to take a look at the back end. Defense is perhaps the strongest part of this yearâ€™s Marlies squad, mirroring the look of the Leafs in that respect. Letâ€™s take a look:
Bio: Holzer has more than just an awesome name. At age 22, Holzer has just come from an impressive DEL season in Germany, getting 22 points in 52 games. He has a sizable frame at 6â€™3â€ and 205 pounds and is not afraid to lay out a good check...
For the first time in years, the Marlies will be bristling with young talent hoping to make the big club. From top prospect Nazem Kadri to hopeful enforcer Richard Greenop, this Marlies squad should be a team to watch. Letâ€™s take a look at the forward prospects that can be reasonably expected to be on this Marlies team:
Bio: Nazem should be expected to play at least a few games for the Marlies in 2010-11, if not the full season. Regardless, Kadri will need to assume a leadership role on the ice in order to graduate to the...
The speculation after the Matt Lashoff trade a few days back was that it was a precursor to another move for the Leafs. Sure enough, Clarke MacArthur was announced as the newest Maple Leaf. At a cap friendly $1.1 million, MacArthur is being paid like a 3rd liner. Burke has other things in mind, recently stating to the Toronto Star that MacArthur will spend â€œsignificant timeâ€ on the top two lines this coming season. With that in mind, letâ€™s take a look at the kind of role we can expect from MacArthur. All stats not specifically referenced are borrowed...
In the final part of his 12 Burning Questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the Maple Leafs chances of getting back to postseason hockey this year.
May 4th, 2004.
Both teams, tired and weary from what had already been a long, arduous road, a journey that had left both teams battered and bruised. Â The teams went back and forth, showing tremendous heart and determination, showing what it takes to win hockey games at this time of year.
Up the ice they went, rewarded with a good scoring chance, but stopped by a goaltender who was up to the task. Â Then...
In part 11 of his 12 Burning Questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at one of the hottest topics in Leafs Nation today: just how long of a leash does Ron Wilson have?
In the summer of 2008, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the midst of a major overhaul. Â Much maligned general manager John Ferguson, Jr. had been relieved of his duties with the organization, and as nice a man as JFJ was when I met him at the Leafs rookie and orientation camp a year prior, there is no solid argument that can be made for him...
In part ten of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the importance of a good early start, and if the Leafs can avoid another disastrous start.
There really isn't any other way to put it. Â No matter how you slice it, no matter how you try to spin it, or how you try to put a sugar coating on it, the cold hard fact still shines through.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were not a very good team last year.
Although their stats, and their general play, improved dramatically following the late January trades that saw them overturn...
In part nine of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at the Maple Leafs special teams, and why it must improve in order for the team to have success.
When it came to doing this 12 burning questions series, I discovered a lot of things about the Leafs, and how I will be looking for different things this year. Â And even though I already knew the fact, it was all the more confirmed to me that there really are no definitive answers to these burning questions, at least not in August anyway.
However, as we reach part nine of...
In part eight of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the past year that has been for Tomas Kaberle, and whether he can put it all behind him and play at the top of his game.
Yes, I know. Â Yet another article dissecting the recent events that have surrounded Tomas Kaberle. Â I will pause briefly and let everyone get out that large groan now.
There, now that's out of the way.
Easily the longest serving member of the Toronto Maple Leafs on this current incarnation of the team, Tomas Kaberle has more or less seen it all...
In part seven of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at how the new faces will fit in with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Brian Burke has always argued the fact that July 1st is his draft, the time where he does his best work in bringing in key pieces that will push his team to that next level. Â While he isn't inept on the draft floor, it isn't his strength. Â To his credit, it's something he doesn't necessarily hide either.
And while this summer's free agent frenzy is more calm than in the previous years, there is...
In part six of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at Leafs sniper Phil Kessel, and whether he can hit the 40 goal plateau.
While January 31st 2010 will go down as a day Leafs fans will never forget as the Leafs acquired Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, Fredrik Sjostrom, and J.S. Giguere in the span of about two hours, the date of September 18th, 2009 will also be remembered, yet highly debated, and much scrutinized.
It was on that day in September, following a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, that Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke got...
In part five of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at Toronto young guns, and whether or not they can continue their consistent contributions.
A team's fortunes can be decided on the shoulders of their young players, be it their rookies or their sophomores. Â There are plenty of examples of young players who can help their club catch lightning in the bottle, and help them surpass the expectations set earlier in the offseason by the majority of pundits.
Of course for every example of that, there are also counter examples of teams who perhaps relied too heavily...
In part four of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth examines whether Nazem Kadri will crack this lineup, and where he fits in with the team if and when he does.
In the summer of 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans were still finding out first hand what type of brash, confident attitude Brian Burke was going to be bringing to the team.
On the night of the opening round of the 2009 NHL entry draft, we were treated to a birds eye view, courtesy of TSN television microphones, exactly the type of persona Brian Burke would be...
In part three of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at whether Mike Komisarek can rebound from a tumultuous first season in Blue and White.
It's no secret that Brian Burke likes his hockey teams to be, for the most part, big, nasty, and in your face physical. Â He also has a penchant for looking for players from his home country of the United States, but as he said, he would sign players who were from the moon if they could play the game.
Last summer, Burke's first free agency period with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it seemed all...