Toronto will be without Clarke McArthur as they visit the Buffalo Sabres. The injury to his pinky finger won’t sideline him for long but it does leave the Leafs’ LW depth, already missing Lupul, looking thin for tonight.
The Sabres, like the Leafs, are not exactly hot. They have lost three straight and Thomas Vanek was sidelined by a strained muscle in Sunday’s 3-2 loss in Washington. The left winger had been on the ice for all 11 of his team’s goals prior to that contest, scoring three and assisting on six – one versus the Maple Leafs.
One of the more positive stories in Leafland a week ago was Mike Kostka earning a spot on the Leafs blue line coming out of camp. The 27-year-old career AHLer made his NHL debut in Montreal and was able to pick up his first point. He didn’t look horribly out of place against a horrible team. It also probably didn’t hurt to have a guy who has been playing all season, eating 20 minutes a night, in the first couple of shakedown games.
Kostka certainly seemed like a reliable option that would slowly slide down the depth chart as Carlyle had a better chance to assess his regulars. To date (albeit it’s been five games) that hasn’t happened. Kostka played 22:59 minutes against Montreal, and that ice time has climbed up to over 31 minutes against New York on Saturday night (he was also minus -4). He’s currently 10th in the league in Average Time on Ice per game, ahead of recent Norris Trophy winners Zdeno Chara and Erik Karlsson.
Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs put on a classically Toronto Maple Leaf performance, falling 7-4 to the New York Islanders. It got ugly late, as an out of synch, laboured Leaf club seemed to erode in the final 40 minutes. It was an all-too-familiar sight to behold. And it has, perhaps unduly, substantially darkened the opinions of the team.
So what can be made of Leaf’s four game season? Here are a couple quick thoughts on the manic life of a rebuilding club.
The dark cloud hanging over an otherwise exciting 5-2 win in Pittsburgh last night was the injury to Joffrey Lupul. “Right on time,” say the haters, as rest of us shake our heads and chalk another one up to the Luck of the Leafs. Dave Nonis and Lupul agree to terms on a five-year contractual commitment, both talk at length about how the player’s injury history is behind him, he takes a puck to the forearm off a slapshot by his own teammate two games later and the x-ray reveals a fracture. It’s a freak injury in no way related to any injury prior, but alas it’s another truncated season for Lupul for health reasons. One imagines he will lose at least 30 games of the 48-game season.
The Leafs are in Pittsburgh tonight for what should be their stiffest test of the young season. The Leafs have won just once in their last five visits to the Consol Energy Centre. A frontrunner in the East, Pittsburgh has Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang all healthy and in the lineup to start the season and are currently 2-0-0 with nine goals scored.
Crosby and Malkin have averaged over two points per game against the Leafs at home, and it goes without saying that facing a team with Crosby leading one line (alongside Kunitz and Dupuis) and Malkin with James Neal on another is the definition of matchup hell, especially for a traveling coach with the last change. Even without Crosby for significant durations of the schedule, the Penguins were the winningest home team in the East last season with 29 victories at the Consol. It will be interesting to watch Mike Kostka play big-time minutes against two of the best in the game tonight in just his third NHL outing.
You’d think we were still waiting for the season to start with number of contract posts that have gone up in the past 24 hours. I think the Lupul trade has been analyzed very well by a number of Leafs bloggers (here’s Alec’s take from yesterday), but the fact that this has been discussed so much will not prevent me from weighing in on why I partially like this signing, but ultimately still conclude that it was a bad idea. I think this deal if managed properly could actually benefit the Leafs, and I’ll toss in my $.02 on that as well.
There’s no better way to kick off a Leafs season than to beat the Canadiens in their own rink, inspiring some hilarious yet predictable non-blowout booing from the fans and some verbal pleas to the front office to strike a deal with their unsigned RFA.
The Toronto Maple Leafs lost the services of forward Keith Aucoin on Thursday, when he was picked up by the New York Islanders off of waivers. Jokingly mourned about online, Aucoin’s departure comes less than six months after then-GM Brian Burke signed the veteran to bolster the AHL Marlies. His acquisition by the Islanders marks the Leafs first loss to the roster due to waiver eligibility, but it probably won’t be the last.
Indeed, both the Leafs and the Marlies seem poised to lose some assets, all because timing is everything. And because the Lockout has far reaching effects that we’re still learning about.
Gregg Scott, Ryan Hamilton, Mike Mottau, and Keith Aucoin were placed on waivers Wednesday as Randy Carlyle, Dave Nonis, and the Toronto Maple Leafs begin the hilariously rapid expedited process of trimming the roster from 31 players in camp to 23 for Saturday’s season opener. My understanding is that rosters need to be finalized by 3pm Friday afternoon, which means any additional cuts will actually have to be sent down/placed on waivers Thursday to get the roster set on time.
It was a bit of an eventful weekend with the CBA Memo of Understanding signed, Burke getting off his parting shots, Nonis making his big splash with the signing of Mike Mottau, and we finally have a schedule for the season (Full Schedule can be found here.)
It’s more or less official: Leafs vs. Habs on Hockey Night in Canada next Saturday, January 19 to kick off the 2012-13 season. Months-long delay aside, exactly what you expected and exactly how you want it.
I used up all my lockout glee in yesterday’s post (feel free to read it here) so here’s a collection of links around the interwebs covering the one on and only topic that matters today, the return of the NHL.
First off, let us all bow our heads and remember Bill Daly this morning, who died on a hill December 27th, 2012, fighting valiantly for the five-year contract limit.
So, the league budged a little on the contract limit (5 to 6 years for UFA signings) and salary variance (5 to 10%) components of their Thursday offer that was revealed yesterday, while leaving the makewhole payment where it was at $300 million.
Bill Daly did a few interviews Wednesday, including one with HNIC Radio. And he said some stuff that everyone’s takling about, including TSN, which is where I pulled the following quote from. Because, y’know, transcribing it myself would take an extra twenty seconds of effort that I just can’t muster right now. Mainly due to spite laziness.
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.
Long since dead and buried is any hockey fan holding their breath after every sign of optimism throughout the last 12 weeks of off-and-on negotiations. Cautious optimism isn’t a new development, but it’s up to you to determine if it has a different feel to it this time around. One of the Fehrs and Bill Daly standing side by side talking progress certainly is a first.
Rather than more pointless lockout talk, I thought Iâ€™d look back at the Friday Night game between the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Edmonton Oil Kings.
There are a few things that stood out and are worth pointing out about Riellyâ€™s performance last Friday.
The first forty minutes were some of the most conservative Iâ€™ve seen Rielly play. He was reluctant to pinch or join rushes, and was constantly looking out for Oil Kings sneaking through the neutral zone. Of course I wouldnâ€™t say this is a bad trait, but this isnâ€™t the true selling point of what Rielly brings to the table either. If Friday night was your first look at Rielly, Iâ€™d say you didnâ€™t see what he truly brings to the table.
Ugh. Watching this lockout trudge along through a seemingly insane number of days of “still happening” may have literally ripped all the ability to feel optimism out of my mind. LOUD: “THEY’RE MEETING TODAY!” Quieter: “They met.” Really quiet: “…it did not go well.” That’s every day of an NHL fans’ life right now. Well, not every day. Just the days the two sides decide to spend uselessly in the same building.
The sad fact is, this Wednesday shouldn’t have been useless. The PA seemingly made very real concessions in what was considered a constructive proposal. The league met this with a mild dose of acknowledgement and a major dose of continued posturing. (SPOILER ALERT, JULY SELVES: They reallyÂ are as stubbornly greedy as we were afraid they’d be).
Gary claims the league’s best offer is on the table and they literally can’t move (“Come to our negotiating point, aka our demands, or no hockey. That’s not a greedy hardline position, right?”). Fehr said much the same, describing the NHL’s response as, “Thanks [for the proposal], but [to end this] you have to agree with what we say.” At the same time, if Gary‘s really a truth-teller, the NHLPA have been real foot-dragging lazies when it comes to submitting comprehensive proposals in a timely fashion. It’s just become so easy to hate everyone involved. But then a player goes crazy on Twitter, and we think – ah, well. At least there’s some entertainment happening.
Gary Bettman is not the villain. Bill Daly is not the villain. The villain in this scenario is a collective. The owners, the league, the lawyers, the NHL’s negotiating team. They, together, have incited this lockout (regardless of how many times they say they didn’t) in the name of good business. They claim to want a system that allows for fair competition while ensuring the “longterm health” of the sport.
They had one. Was the league itself in major financial jeopardy before this started? No. They’re not saving the league. They’re trying to optimize it, in their favour. It’s an attempt to possibly scrape a new layer of icing off the revenue cake for themselves that they wouldn’t have had so much as a whiff of under the old agreement. “Good business“.
Good business would be resolving this amicably with no loss of revenue for anyone and no loss of value for the sport. This is no longer good business. They claim it has to happen. The “short term consequences outweigh the longterm ones” as Gary might put it. I’d love to know what they see that the rest of us don’t. The best possible PR statement the NHL could issue right now would be a candid assessment of why the changes they’ve requested actually need to be made. Have we seen one?
I think my Mashup tone has gone from apathy to spiteful. This could get really interesting by January.
It’s Thursday. Here are some links.
-Mirtle breaks down the numbers in the PA’s latest offer.
-More Mirtle. Expect the next rhetorical war to be between the league’s threatening of a canceled season and the PA’s threatening of decertification.
-Players did not react well to Wednesday’s developments via social media. Jeff O’Neill Whoever hacked Jeff O’Neill’s account took it…pretty far.
-Here’s the main TSN article on Wednesday’s session. Pertinent quotes as such. During his press scrum video, Gary laments that Fehr talked to the press at midday while the NHL was reviewing the PA offer. Called it not very “constructive.” Let me say that again. While talking about the lockout in a press scrum, Gary lamented that people talk about the lockout in press scrums.