Opinion

Opinion

245

The Leafs are now 11 games away from a potential post season berth, and with Sports Club Stats putting them at 98% odds to make it (as of Friday morning), there is a good chance that one of the organizations most embarrassing streaks is about to be retired. There is one thing that is even more rare in the playoffs than the Leafs and that’s the hired goon. Shocking I know since they are such important parts of the regular season (feel free to assume I rolled my eyes here), but last season’s Stanley Cup Finalists didn’t find it necessary...

1646

Listen, I disagree with Don Cherry a lot. Being European, I take issue with a lot of the stuff he says and does. That being said, the relationship is sometimes quite bi-polar. People always claimed that I'm an old soul. Perhaps in terms of values (I certainly hope it's not my partying skills). Perhaps this is why I believe there's still something to be said about traditional values and characters. Don Cherry is a Canadian icon. He might be an obsolete Canadian icon but sometimes, the positive reasons that made him an icon still shine through, rarely as they may. Don...

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs

420

After a good comeback/confidence-building game against the Tampa Bay Lighting, the Toronto Maple Leafs  have perhaps created more questions than answers. The Penalty Kill keeps improving (now 6th in the East) and, even as a "work in progress" defensively, they can at least score in bunches to get themselves out of trouble. They are starting to show the signs that the elite teams in the league show on a regular basis. While they are probably a couple of roster moves away from being mentioned in the same breath as a Pittsburgh Penguins, the rebuild is starting to see the...

582

I’ve been an advocate of Randy Carlyle hockey since last season, even when the results didn’t immediately improve after he replaced Ron Wilson. It remains to be seen, but I think he’s getting the Leafs to play the game the way it needs to be played to get more out of less and have consistent success in this league. Even if the Leafs are making too many errors in their execution as of late, they have been, overall, a more organized, detail-oriented, physical and hard-working group this season. I liked that Tim Connolly never got a sniff of the lineup...

815

No games for three days makes for very little in Maple Leafs land development. There’s Komisarek’s laughable trade request, there’s Frattin’s potential return to the lineup this week, and there’s still the question of why isn’t Gardiner on the Maple Leafs, but for the most part all of it is nothing more than a waiting game. Instead, I’m going to look at the most basic of stats (goals and assists) and how the first line forwards are doing in those categories. The Numbers 38% - That’s the percentage of game winning goals scored by the first line this season. Kessel...

2132

After 22 games, the one thing Leafs fans can agree on is that Randy Carlyle’s coaching methodology can be frustrating as hell.  Nowhere is this more apparent than the deployment of Mikhail Grabovski. After signing a five-year, 27.5-million dollar contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs last March, it seemed as though the Leafs had shored up a terrific top-six centreman who could be counted on for 50 points a season.  But after 22 games Grabo sits with a modest 10 points (six goals, four assists); good for about 37 points in an 82-game schedule.  Yet under Carlyle he’s developed...

887

The month’s half over, and after Monday’s game, the season is a third over. The Leafs are sitting three games over .500, holding 6th place in the East, and are currently on pace for 58 points (rounded up from 57.6) in a season where many prognosticators have considered 54 the magic number for making the post season. So far, the Leafs are sitting pretty despite now being without Reimer, Gunnarsson, Frattin and Lupul. The Leafs have benefited from a friendly schedule. The average 2011-12 point total of their opposition has be 91, which averages out to facing a bubble team every night....

2321

On Wednesday, Wade Arnott, Phil Kessel’s agent, indicated his client’s apparent desire to spend the rest of career playing hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  This, despite being disappointed in the club’s performance last season (I don’t even want to know what adjective he’d use to describe the two previous seasons in Toronto), and with little guarantee yet that this team is primed for long-term playoff success. We’ll probably never know why the camera-shy Kessel wants to remain in a media-laden Toronto; Arnott seems to suggest it is an admirable inner desire to win in hockey's mecca. Perhaps the better...

902

When the Leafs get a couple of days off, bloggers have a little bit of extra time to take a wider look at things.  I've spent a lot of time this year watching CHL games, pouring over AHL stats and looking at the player development side of hockey.  Unsurprisingly, that has led to a lot of conversations about the draft itself and it was one of these conversations that spurred me to look into some draft outcomes. Over at Blue Chip Prospects, I decided to have a look at whether teams are more successful at drafting forwards or defensemen in...

373

It’s painful for me to admit, but as much I will continue to bitch about how useless Colton Orr, Mike Brown, and (presumably) Frazer McLaren are, they will always have a spot on a Dave Nonis/Randy Carlyle run team. This is clearly an issue that I and many others have a difficult time coming to terms with, but it’s true. An enforcer will be dressed every night, and we’ll all be treated to a sideshow (admittedly an entertaining sideshow most of time) before proceeding to move on with the game, and coming back to terms with the other shortcomings...

1968

At the start of this season, noise was made that the current Leafs roster would be ill-equipped to serve under Randy Carlyle’s tough-nosed, nasty, defense-first style of play.  That there was not enough team truculence to compete. Despite the team placing 3rd in the league in fighting majors with seven, the club has been shorthanded a surprisingly low 23 times (3.29 penalties per game), fifth least in the league thus far.  It’s quite early still, but the disciplined play is a stark change for a team coached by Carlyle.  And that’s all for the better. Some interesting initial penalty killing numbers...

Mike Kostka

1347

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...

329

Brian Burke held his final press conference as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs' organization at noon Saturday, the hosting of which is a bizarre decision at best on the part of his still-employer and, at worst, a welcome dose of some universal justice to the fans who still aren't feeling all that great about this. I sort of eulogized his tenure on Thursday and thought that would be the end of it. Today's session, however, did offer a few salient points worth a brief follow-up. First off, the press conference in and of itself was a surprise. That...

Brian Burke Fired

538

Watch the full press conference after the jump. Part 1 Part 2

700

“He had a good dream. It's the only dream you can have - to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I'm gonna win it for him." - Happy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman I can’t say I am as distraught as some of the other writers on this site about Burke’s departure (I’m not). I will say I’m shocked by the timing. Coming out of a Collective Bargaining Agreement that sees many of Burke’s personal principles put into play league wide, and the amount of cap space he to work with this summer, it...

943

When the NHL finally decided to have a season last week, many Leafs fans knew Brian Burke was on thin ice. There was a large segment of fans who believed Burke had only the upcoming shortened season to turn things around. Arguably, there was an even bigger group of fans who believed Burke had the current season, and then the offseason – where two of his former star players could be available - to turn the Leafs into a contender. No one believed Burke wouldn’t oversee the Leafs starting the season on January 19th. Brian Burke arrived in Toronto full...

1332

This feels like writing a eulogy. I hate it. You win. Let’s start with that concession, up front. A straightforward address to every fan who wanted Burke gone. I anxiously and hopefully await confirmation that this still-vague, as-yet-in-progress, largely-similar-but-supposedly-slightly-new direction will provide the amazing results that you’ve been adamant it hypothetically will. The proverbial sky has fallen in Leafland for the rest of us; those who believed that despite a few missteps (some of which were uncontrollable on the part of any general manager), the Brian Burke era rebuild was progressing at an expected and satisfactory, if disappointingly normal, pace. To me,...

Brian Burke Fired

1119

By Alec Brownscombe & Declan Kerin Shocking, is the only way to put it. No, this wasn’t a move that was waiting in the wings. Last night, Dave Nonis and Brian Burke were taking in a Marlies game expecting to be the assistant GM and President and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively, for the upcoming 2012-13 season. It came as a bombshell to absolutely everybody short of Tom Anselmi and some board members. If that’s not raising red flags in your head already, it should be. The good news is that Burke and Nonis were a two-headed monster. There’s continuity...

968

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. But for a lot of fans there remains a sour taste in their mouths, brought on by just how ridiculous this whole thing was to begin with. Why did this have to drag on and wipe half a season for a deal that many people could see...

Nikolai Kulemin

626

The NHL lockout has ended, rejoice! After a long-fought battle between the players’ union and the NHL owners, fans will finally see a season. It will be a shortened one, sure, but I doubt many care right now. Once again, the Stanley Cup will be raised and to the fans, for now, it’s all that matters. As the season finally nears, there are a few Leafs for whom the resumption of an NHL season is a continuation of 2012-13 campaigns that started abroad. While it does seem like a paradox, quality hockey was indeed played – mostly in the KHL....