"(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 him talk about it a million times during the 24/7 television series leading up to the Winter Classic. His team wasn't good enough to actually do it, but the idea is right on.
With their first pick of Day 2, the Maple Leafs quickly snap up one of the top [more…]
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, itâ€™s a guaranteed lock that majority of people watching the Leafs will label him as wrong. He now has left the â€œIn Burke We Trustâ€ stage of his tenure, and now heâ€™s residing in his own personal Kobayashi Maru. [more…]
If you watched the Nicklas Lidstrom retirement press conference, which Iâ€™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.
Iâ€™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 donâ€™t mean I support the team as a jersey-wearing fan or anything like that, but I do have tremendous admiration for how they conduct business, personnel decisions and make hockey men part of their family. In my line of thinking that kind of relationship has a major impact on the continuing excellence of that franchise. [more…]
While I had hoped the Komarov signing would have ended some of this speculation, it still lingers on and Iâ€™m really confused about something that seems to be a regular occurrence on message boards, Twitter, comment sections, etc. It is Torontoâ€™s love fest with the idea of signing George Parros. I honestly canâ€™t wrap my head around this mindset. My best guess is that the argument goes â€œDressing a big tough guy will keep their players from starting shit,â€ right? Or is it the more truthful, â€œWhen my team is losing and spent $200 on tickets I still want to get a show.â€ Does that sound more accurate?
Either way, I have a hard time getting on board with it. Even Jay Rosehill occupying a roster spot seems to irk me, and paying Colton Orr $1,000,000 a season for five minutes a night and an occasional scrap was an absolute waste. We all witnessed firsthand that it accomplished nothing other than one priceless moment where Matt Carkner begged for his life.
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 thereâ€™s their scoring depth, their starsâ€™ 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 to paint the picture looking at the full length of the regular season, the Kings were always in the running for this yearâ€™s Stanley Cup and that percentage didnâ€™t shrink when they traded for Jeff Carter. 8th seed or not, they always had the personnel to make that run. On the other hand, New Jersey took us completely (yes, yes it did) by surprise.
"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 the season started, the other was thought of as a playoff bubble team, at best. I think we all know who each label applies to.
Another difference? The Kings have arguably the best goalie in the world right now on their team. As for the Leafs? Let's just say calling their goalie situation a question mark is being generous at this point.
Goaltending. Now that's a good place to start when it comes to the Leafs, the playoffs and this quote. Because the purppse of this quote constantly being brought up is that Burke should have made trades during the year to make the playoffs, is it not? [more…]
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 he all of a sudden wake up and decide he no longer likes toughness? No. He's just built it - or at least is attempting to - in a way that none of us saw coming. Especially after he essentially started his tenure by trading two first round draft picks and a second for Phil Kessel. [more…]
Brian Burke is mad. Make no mistake about it, heâ€™s mad about missing the playoffs. Despite what is written/said down below, Brian Burke is mad, not elated:
â€œItâ€™s hard to see a positive when you have the finish we had,â€ said Burke. â€œThere are some positives, some building blocks. The pieces you need, the Phil Kessels, the Jake Gardiners, the Dion Phaneufs, the second line. All those things have been put in place. Thatâ€™s what canâ€™t be overlooked as you dissect the season. Even a season thatâ€™s marked by failure, I think weâ€™re going in the right direction. Itâ€™s very hard to see that today.â€
Leafs Nation is the greatest hockey fan base in the world, no two ways about it. But that always comes with a price. Elevated expectations, partially self imposed by the teamâ€™s uplifting performances, are always present. However, unlike seasons past Brian Burke and his (for all intents and purposes) team doesnâ€™t have the luxury of time anymore.
â€œItâ€™s not easy to fix a team thatâ€™s broken. I had no delusions. I watched GMs get up on their first day and say: â€˜Iâ€™ve got a five-year plan.â€™ Theyâ€™re buying five years out of the gate. I donâ€™t respect that. My view is I was hopeful to do it quicker. We havenâ€™t. But I havenâ€™t changed the plan.â€
Faster, quicker, sooner or later, slower, more conservative, it doesnâ€™t really matter at this point, not for Burke. Unlike seasons past (not that he ever did this) we canâ€™t justify the coaching profile and Wilsonâ€™s style of play impacting Burkeâ€™s personnel decisions. After all, he hired Carlyle and, judging by past experience, their marriage is made in a truculent hockey heaven.
Amid all the speculation surrounding Roberto Luongo that's starting to snowball, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks, it seems as though one of the most overlooked parts of it all is the fact that he will have to waive his no-trade clause to where he wants to go.
Luongo stirred up the hockey world quite a bit yesterday by announcing that he would indeed allow the Canucks to trade him if that's what their plan is. But he's under no pressure to take a less-than-good situation at this point, and to think he'll just go anywhere to help the Canucks out is false.
Squeak into the playoffs this year or keep building towards a cup? Â I'll take build towards a cup, please and thank you. And they're closer than you think.
He's certainly able to provide a balanced view after building championship teams twice this decade, with two different clubs (Tampa Bay, 2004 â€“ Chicago, 2009). Here's his take on the Leafs, after less than one year on the job.
- [Audio]:Â http://pmd.fan590.com/audio_on_demand-2/Rick-Dudley-jb-20120323-Interview.mp3
- Note at 4:47, when Jeff Blair snickers at Rick Dudley saying â€œI am sure they will succeed here and I think there are enough pieces in place, that it is not a daunting task.â€Â Right.
A prÃ©cis of the interview can be taken from two fairly potent statements:
â€œI am one of the people uniquely qualified to comment on it.â€
â€œI think this team becomes an elite team. Simple.â€
Whether thatâ€™s damage control, or whether thatâ€™s his opinion, Iâ€™ll let you be the judge. [more…]
Let's face it. We've all knew it at the beginning of the season. The best bet for the Leafs was on us being a bubble team. That doesnâ€™t exactly say â€“ confidence. We knew coming in that we probably needed some things to click for us to make the show and when those things didnâ€™t click Leafs Nation got mad. But, letâ€™s run through that last sentence again. Things needed to click for us to make the postseason. That doesnâ€™t mean things WILL click and we WILL make the postseason.
Fact is, we werenâ€™t a good enough hockey club to make it, because in the end, we didnâ€™t make it. There was a lot of stuff missing so here's my take on what Burke needs to do to make this team a competitive hockey club once again.