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Opinion

Opinion

229

In case you haven't noticed, there is a lockout going on. As the league continued to chop of more bits from the 2012-13 NHL season the fans are getting increasingly frustrated. During work stoppage, those frustrated people tend to talk about various things. One of those things is pending expansion. As Ken Campbell wrote in the latest edition of the Hockey News, the league has gone 12 years without expanding, making it the longest expansion drought since it grew to 12 teams. Sure enough, there are plenty of reasons in favor of not expanding. The league needs to control its...

Nikolai Kulemin

96

Nikolai Kulemin, 2011-12: 70 games, 7 goals, 21 assists – 28 points. Numbers far below his NHL caliber. "If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” - Marcus Garvey Lockout. KHL, Metallurg Magnitogorsk with Evgeni Malkin. Nikolai Kulemin, 2012-13: 17 games, 6 goals, 5 assists – 11 points. Average ice time: 18:37. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been one to look on the bright side of things. The aforementioned trio (“Magnitka”, Malkin and lockout) could turn out to be very bright for Kulemin’s future. Besides goals, confidence is the main thing that Nikolai...

261

So this week is do or die time for the 82 game season. Odds are we will see one last save face meeting between the league and PA and the result will be somewhat similar to what we’ve seen so far. At this point neither side has been able to get past posturing and resentment. While I don’t doubt that the current proposals aren’t too far off of what will ultimately be the final deal, neither side is ready to make additional concessions. For the NHLPA, there is a need to move to past the fact that this is the second...

174

"In communications, familiarity breeds apathy." - William Bernbach This isn't strictly speaking 'communications,' but Bernbach's quote certainly applies to the 2012-2013 (God, I hope it doesn't end up being known as that) NHL lockout. Bernbach himself had nothing to do with hockey. He was sort of a real-life Don Draper. But the apathy variable is one we're all starting to feel and, more importantly, acknowledge (in some cases, rather phenomenally). The familiarity is one with meaningless posturing, empty negotiation rhetoric, and unnecessary work stoppages. Same old from the same old. Put simply, there comes a point where even the most passionate...

312

Recently Joffrey Lupul wrote an opinion piece over at AskMen.ca. And while I am disappointed I visited a site that looks to be a front for rohyphol sales, I was interested in hearing what Lupul had to say. That led to disappointment number two. Joffrey Lupul isn’t interested in sharing his opinion so much as reciting the PA’s main talking points. Despite trying to make a point to the contrary, Lupul seemed to be making a plea to the fans: “Let's get this straight: This is not a PR piece.” Followed shortly by: “When I look at that, the first thing I...

322

Being branded or labeled is a common phenomenon in sports, especially when it comes to athletes. Most of the time, these two words have a negative connotation. Most of the time, it’s not a good thing. Most often, this type of behavior has a negative effect on players themselves but it does have an impact on the team and people running it. Think about it, you have a player who can have such a good credibility with his coach and the rest of the staff that they simply choose to ignore some of his bad performances. In this instance, eyes...

202

Heading into a season with the potential for a lockout, it seems like mock trade proposals and mock line combinations are less relevant than ever before. We’re about 10 months away from the draft so doing a mock draft seems pointless as well, especially since most people can only identify a handful of 2013 prospects. What I propose we focus our energy on is Mock Collective Bargaining Agreements! Fun! It pains me to link to Michael Grange, as he co-wrote Leafs Abomination, but the fact of the matter is he seems to have the best grasp on what is happening...

343

It's the beginning of August, 2012. I’m at sitting home, at my desk, thinking about what my next piece is going to be about. Little ideas surface, but nothing quite worthy of putting on paper. The Leafs. What is the state of Leafs Nation? Where are our expectations at? Unlike seasons past, I find it difficult to answer that question. Hope, it’s always there, but this year it doesn’t seem worthy enough of a true, better yet – honest, Leafs related story. Is it the lack of moves by our opinionated, strong willed and loud, be it eloquently so, general manager?...

252

Over the past week I have been hard at work on a piece that examines what needs to be done to transform the Leafs into team with the potential to seriously contend and have prolonged success. While that won’t be available to read for a little while, it did get me thinking about the impact of the coaching change from Ron Wilson to Randy Carlyle. Wilson had much more a free-wheeling, push the puck forward approach, and while he attempted to promote himself as a coach with a 200 foot coaching style, there seemed to be a consistent lack of...

550

At this point we are two weeks past the opening of NHL Free Agency, three weeks from the draft, and five weeks from when the Stanley Cup was won. In contrast we are about 12 weeks away from the start of the regular season, assuming it opens on time. For the record, I’m optimistic it will. There is still an awful lot of off-season to go. With that in mind it begs the question, “How come we expect the Leafs to be fixed by now?” Recognizing that player movements start shortly after the Cup Finals end, we’ve given Brian Burke...

2285

“We need a number one center.” - Every Leafs Fan While it may not be seen as the organizations top priority, it is safe to assume that most people who have followed the Leafs in the post-Sundin era have been left wanting in this area. Personally I’d prioritize goaltending, followed by a top four defenseman, but there’s no denying that first center is a glam position and it’s more fun to talk about the guys who score goals than the guys who prevent them. That’s not to say that Grabovski hasn’t been a revelation, and certainly he can be considered a top...

Chuck Fletcher

1812

Fan sentiment is a strange thing. Not that I'd claim to know much about the NBA, but I seem to remember the response to Lebron James and his free agent cronies deciding to play together in Miami being... decidedly negative. Two short years later, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter - by far and away the best two NHL free agents available this summer - colluded ever so slightly to sign matching (cute!) contracts with their hometown Minnesota Wild for 13 (ha, wink!) years' worth of probable playoff contention. It's almost poetic. (Links after the jump) Seriously. Upset as I am...

548

A fairly big portion of Leafs Nation is freaking out about Burke doing “nothing” in free agency. First of all, this is an insult to Jay McClement and Mike Kostka because I don’t think they consider themselves – nothing. Then there’s the notion that we should have overspent on players like Brandon Prust, Jordin Tootoo etc. because nothing will solve our team needs more than overpaid fourth liners. Leafs’ biggest needs are goaltending and top six talent (preferably size and skill at the C position) so naturally they fit the bill. The amount of sheer irrationality is staggering. I want to...

216

"(We) keep the puck out of our end zone and play in their end zone, in laymen's terms, that's the best way we try to help him. We're going to block shots, we're going to defend the proper way, but that's the best way we can help him." That was John Tortorella speaking about how the Rangers would attempt to help out goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who was keeping them afloat, during the playoffs. It wasn't the first time he made a comment regarding puck possession and driving play in to the opposing team's zone. I must have heard...

1381

With their first pick of Day 2, the Maple Leafs quickly snap up one of the top leftover talents in defenseman Matthew Finn. The 6'0 Guelph Storm blueliner shares many similarities to the Leafs' 2011 first round pick Stuart Percy as another complete package on the back end. During his rookie season in the OHL, Finn struggled at times with inconsistency and was criticized for his conditioning level. He responded in a big way the following summer with a tremendous work ethic and headed into last season in excellent shape. On the ice, he's a reliable defender with a solid...

1816

So here we are... Draft week. Five days away from our reward for being fans of what can only be considered a pretty crappy hockey team. Of course this is also a pretty stressful time. The main reason being that, no matter what he does over the course of the next few days, Burke is essentially going to be considered wrong. Not by all fans and pundits, but no matter what the decision is, it’s a guaranteed lock that majority of people watching the Leafs will label him as wrong. He now has left the “In Burke We Trust”...

1435

If you watched the Nicklas Lidstrom retirement press conference, which I’m sure some of you did, you undoubtedly saw the passion of Mike Ilitch Sr., who almost cried when talking about the departure of one of the best hockey players the world had ever seen. You undoubtedly bore witness to the quality of player/management personnel relationships that exist in such a world class organization. I’ll be the first one to admit it. A part of me, the general hockey loving part, is a Red Wings fan. By that I don’t mean I support the team as a jersey-wearing fan or...

386

There are two distinct stories on the surface of the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals. The Los Angeles Kings play the role of a team built for a Cup run. Deep down the middle, boasting a solid leadership group led by a hard hitting captain Dustin Brown and a veteran presence of Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi (who won the Cup with the Penguins not so long ago). Then there’s their scoring depth, their stars’ willingness to accept lesser roles (Richards, Carter) and great goaltending provided by Jonathan Quick. Then there are the New Jersey Devils. No matter how you decided...

694

"Championship is the goal. Not to get in the 8th spot and get your ass kicked." - Leafs GM Brian Burke You've probably seen this quote before, because it's been repeated by Toronto media and sports fans alike throughout the NHL playoffs. Now the LA Kings are in the Western Conference Finals and even though the Leafs haven't played hockey in a month, many are back to pointing their finger at Burke and saying "Don't want to finish eighth and get your ass kicked, huh!?" The difference between the Kings and the Leafs? One team was thought of as a Cup contender before...

183

When Brian Burke officially came to Toronto he told everyone exactly how he wanted the Toronto Maple Leafs to play hockey. He wants his team to be tough, physical, entertaining and to fit into a top six/bottom six scheme. Fans of the Leafs were giddy after his opening press conference. This team would no longer be soft. This team would no longer be pushed around. Fast forward three and a half years later and they are arguably softer. So what's happened? This vision Brian Burke had for this team has not come to fruition at all. Did he abandon the plan? Did...