Opinion

Opinion

559

It seems frustration with penalty kill ineptitude has reached a boiling point in Leafland. After conceding at least one PK goal in six straight on their way out of a playoff spot for the first time this season, Phaneuf and Cronin have been heard arguing over the specifics of shot blocking, David Steckel has been swearing again, and Wilson says the PK units are dreading their own demise pretty much the moment they step on the ice. My thinking in regards to solving this (quite literally) season-dissolving issue is to go a little more drastic. Why hasn't a totally new...

247

Among all the things Brian Burke said in his mission statement when he was first named General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, there was one thing that really made fans shake their head in agreement - "we want to justify the price of the ticket." As the Leafs have continuously gotten better, perhaps fans think Burke's staff has met that guideline. I'd disagree. As the new owners of the Leafs were announced, there was no mention of winning the Stanley Cup, and there was also no mention of improving the ACC game experience. It's pretty ironic that Bell and...

536

Anyone surprised the Leafs got lit up by the Nucks last night? Well, you shouldn't be. Vancouver's 5-3 victory was just the latest in a long line of high scoring Leaf losses against competent offensive teams. On Friday, Buffalo, 13th in the league in goals per game, beat the Leafs 5-4. Vancouver (4th) then scores five the next night. Philadelphia (1st) put in four in an October 24th 4-2 loss. Boston (2nd) popped 4, 6, 7, and 6 goals respectively in their four beatdowns on the Leafs this season. Ottawa (8th) has scored a combined 13 goals in their three...

175

Imagine if you will, being a free agent and having teams covet you; imagine Brian Burke wanting to sign you. Imagine scoring your first goal in the ACC  putting the puck through the legs of a Flyer defenseman and burying it top shelf with Phil Kessel providing the assist. Must be hard to be Tyler Bozak, right? It was much harder than even he knew at the time. Bozak was “forced” to play No1 center position in only his second NHL season and that’s a lot to ask from a guy not named Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. There is no denying the...

Milan Lucic avoided supplementary discipline for his questionable collision with Ryan Miller

390

In the wake of the recent collision between Bruins' winger Milan Lucic and Sabres' goaltender Ryan Miller, in which Lucic escaped a suspension while Miller remains out with a concussion, many among the Maple Leafs' fanbase were quick to recall the October 22nd collision between Canadiens' winger Brian Gionta and Leafs' goaltender James Reimer. Although the temptation to directly compare the two incidents is understandable (player colliding with goaltender attempting to make a play, goaltender sustains a head injury, player is not suspended), they are in fact two quite different incidents subject to different sets of rules. Through the course of...

721

Led by Phil Kessel and Ben Scrivens, another good "part game" from the Maple Leafs proved enough to escape St. Louis with the two points and put the Buds into a tie with Pittsburgh for second overall in the league standings, and first in the East. That really is something, as outside of their win against Pittsburgh, we're still awaiting that ever elusive convincing, 60-minute performance. Nevertheless, the Leafs sit 10-5-1. Let's talk about how they got here; it certainly is an interesting story. First, the good: the Leafs have scored 2.94 goals per game, good for ninth in the...

773

As things stand right now, Joffrey Lupul is turning out to be quite a coup by our general manager. Personally, this writer was always convinced that Lupul was more than just a throw in or a salary dump in the supposed "Gardiner-Beauchemin" deal. At the time of the deal I compared him to an expensive used car that came with a ton of cool additional features (Gardiner). If the car performed as expected, nobody would knock the car, regardless of the money it cost to buy it or the miles it had already logged. It would only get better...

613

Andy Arias, better known as @rallycap_andy in the Twitter-verse, is a self-proclaimed "mahoosive sports tweeter and jersey enthusiast/snob." He agreed to share some tips with the MLHS community on the fine art of spotting authentic jerseys versus knock-offs when considering a purchase. First and foremost let me say this: I understand. Buying a jersey isn't cheap and if there is the possibility to save a few bucks of course you're going to take it. A quick check online at the Maple Leafs Shop and you'll find out that a replica jersey with your favourite player's name on...

629

The Toronto Maple Leafs met their first serious opponent this season, facing the defending champions, the Boston Bruins, last night at TD Garden. It was a wake-up call for the Leafs, who have mostly faced non-playoff teams as opponents and have received out worldly performances from Phil Kessel to save the game for them, game-after-game. Toronto has had glaring issues with their specialty teams, and even their 5-on-5 play, that has to be raising big concern for the players and coaches involved despite a 4-1-1 start. Facing the Boston Bruins brought this team back to earth and revealed a number of...

463

As you might have heard, Cody Franson made a really messy debut with the Toronto media today. Here are my two cents on the matter. Before you start reading, this is part of what was said: “I don’t want to be a guy that misses games,” says Franson, who is in the final season of his contract. “I’m supposed to be coming into my own. This was supposed to be my breakout year. That’s what I was working towards this summer. I was getting myself into shape to play bigger minutes and a bigger role. I prepared myself for that. For...

584

On the first day of a new season, the only real question on the minds of Leafs fans is: Will the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs in 2011-12? After a franchise record six consecutive seasons without playoff hockey in the city of Toronto, the startling reality is that there is no guarantee it won't be seven consecutive seasons without playoff hockey. Brian Burke is entering his third full campaign as the General Manager, and while making substantial improvements in several areas of the organization, improvement at the NHL level has been slow. Brian Burke is an extremely smart man,...

224

This summer was very bleak and devastatingly unkind to hockey. Wade Belak, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien all lost their lives on dark summer days. An entire KHL hockey team perished in one single moment. We keep talking about racism, headshots, homophobic slurs and concussion effects. While they are all worthy topics and certainly merit their place in hockey discussions around the globe, right now, at the beginning of a new season, I feel it’s best to focus on the positive things surrounding our great game. A new season always brings fresh optimism about your team’s chances. It’s like a drug to...

432

I am a big believer of creating teams by having the players grow up together. It's exactly what we have here. Our core is extremely young and everybody is developing, maturing together. It creates a bond which cannot be duplicated otherwise. Psychologists will tell you that having players (young men) go through stuff together in roughly the same period of their lives has an unparalleled bonding effect. Teams that are put together in that manner are almost always successful. And those that are the exception to that rule certainly can’t be blamed for their lack of team spirit or “togetherness”....

423

Part 1: Goalies | Part 2: Defence | Part 3: Bottom 6 The Leafs' top-six forwards of 2010-11 were a mix of pleasant surprises and bitter disappointments. Most notable among the surprises was the emergence of a not-so-second line consisting of Grabovski, Kulemin, and MacArthur. This line produced at a clip well above last year’s expectations and will now be expected to repeat that success in 2011-12. The team’s best line in 2010-11 almost certainly will be held together, barring a complete collapse, and should see much stronger support from other forward lines, and the defence core, in terms...

406

Part 1: Goaltending | Part 2: Defence The Leafs are expecting to see some major improvements in their bottom six forwards over last year’s starting roster. Last year’s group failed to consistently provide any of the criteria intrinsic to bottom-six role players. Improvements to this group, as energy providers, momentum shifters, penalty killers and a source of secondary scoring, is key to the Leafs’ playoff hopes in 2011-12. Though the PK made strides in front of Reimer in late season 2010-11, the third and fourth lines were very often limited to a defensive role that saw them on their heels most nights,...

318

I'll start off by saying that the NHL is, in my book, the greatest of all the sports leagues in the world. But hockey is also the greatest game. Lately, that’s exactly why I'm having a really tough time accepting or justifying the NHL’s debate about letting NHL player participate in the next winter Olympics in Sochi, 2014. I’m really not sure why the debate even exists. Is it a really sneaky revenge aimed at the IIHF because of all the accusations about the NHL, CHL, OHL development programs stealing Europe’s best and brightest prospects and making them a part...

272

An annual tradition, here's the scoring predictions for the 2011-12 version of the Toronto Maple Leafs. I won't get too much into player specifics since my scouting reports are in the Maple Leafs Annual with further expansion in the McKeen's Yearbook to be released soon. Some minor commentary on Kulemin winning the scoring title. When coming up with predictions, the hold of the top spot was so delicate any slump/streak could cost some player the scoring crown. If it wasn't Kulemin, it could be Grabovski coming off a breakout campaign (and entering a contract year) or Kessel for a third straight...

295

There probably isn't a coach in the NHL on a shorter leash going into the 2011-12 season than the Leafs' own Ron Wilson. Without a contract extension, and entering the final season of his existing deal, the bench boss is fully aware that if he fails to deliver results early on, he's done. It's really as simple as that. In the past we've often questioned whether Wilson would survive a brutal losing skid here or there (or everywhere.) Many of us have discussed - at length - the possibility of Burke exploring other options in the offseason. But none of this has ever come to...

What, Me Worry?

183

Two and half weeks have passed since the July 1st free agent frenzy, and many in Leafs Nation continue to ponder the unsigned status of Maple Leafs' defenseman Luke Schenn.  With GM Brian Burke currently taking a well-deserved vacation, odds are it may be a while yet before pen is put to paper on a new deal for one of the franchise's cornerstone players. Were Schenn the only prominent restricted free agent remaining unsigned, his status as such would be apt cause for concern. However, Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos, and the Los Angeles Kings' superstar-to-be Drew Doughty also...

205

In a lacklustre free agent market where a James Wisniewski can get $33 million dollars, it can sometimes be advantageous to be extremely deliberate when it comes to throwing around the dollars.  The only truly worthwhile UFA offensive option was of course Christian Hanson Brad Richards but looking back it almost appears obvious why the Toronto Maple Leafs were among the “final four” teams in the ‘B-Rich’ derby - to drive up the price for the New York Rangers. Brian Burke in particular has taken a bit of heat for not being physically present during the “pitch” for Brad Richards. ...