The Maple Leafs’ annual Rookie Tournament is upon us. Toronto hosts Chicago Jr. tonight at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. Toronto Maple Leafs new and ‘not-so-old’ will have a chance to display their talents for the Maple Leafs Brass in what should be an entertaining tilt of careful pre-pre-season stepping and spirited verbal jousting.
For all your basic rookie tournament info needs, the Leafs’ official website pretty much has you covered. View the roster and schedule breakdown. Read the primer for tonight’s game, which includes broadcast details. Or watch an interview with Marlies coach Steve Spott in which he talks about the weekend’s promise and touches on a few key roster points.
But most importantly, join the party at MLHS and follow @TOTruculent as I live-Twitter tonight’s action! Embedded below, for your non-having-to-switch-tabs pleasure.
I’ll be covering the action from the press box in London. Check back here for updates throughout the night, and a post-game recap. Unless things go really poorly right at the end, in which case I’ll be locked in a dark room, fighting off a wave of painful flashbacks to May 13th.
The Leafs outshot the Blackhawks 14-6 in the first period, despite a healthy amount of play taking place in the Leafs’ end in the early going. Early standouts included – as expected – Morgan Rielly, who at any given moment seems like he could do something dangerous. Rielly took two early wrist shots, one from the point and one from the half boards, that both found the net in dangerous ways.
Josh Leivo also made an impact. From creating offense out of situations you wouldn’t normally consider opportunities to using his teammates well, he impressed from the get go and was rewarded with a power play goal. Leivo doesn’t immediately strike you the way his 6’2 frame would suggest, but he uses the size well. Keep an eye on him this fall.
So far, the Leafs’ rookies are by far the better team. Outpacing, outshooting, out puck-moving, out-hockeying. Chicago seemed to land a few more memorable hits, though. Here’s hoping for a truculent second frame.
Marked difference from the first frame. Chicago closed the shot gap, but the Leafs continued a high effort across the board and played pretty solidly for a young team thrown together in recent weeks. A few standouts emerged beyond the first period crowd, providing a great look at some other Leaf prospects.
Tyler Biggs might be one of the more interesting young Leafs. We’re all aware of his purported skating limitations, but on first glance, he’s added speed since my last viewing. In close, the mobility still seems like an issue – but that’s one of the hardest elements of proper skating technique to develop. Nevertheless, he brings a 100% effort level on every shift and gets his job done by making the right play. Gritty. As I mentioned on Twitter and am happy to stand by thus far – from the press box, he looks like David Clarkson in a different jersey.
With all the focus on the Bernier/Reimer debate heading into next season, not much has been made recently of the Leafs’ net depth behind the top two. Garret Sparks has turned in an impressive night so far, stopping several shots through traffic and snagging at least one high, hard snapper with the glove hand impressively enough to make Francois Allaire wonder, “You can do that?”
Also, have I mentioned the power play pairing that is Rielly and Finn? The power play pairing that is Rielly and Finn.
After a comeback by the young Hawks, the Leafs eked it out in a shootout to win 3-2, with Rielly and Biggs coming through in the skills comp for the jr. Leafs. Thus concludes the third period recap, which was truncated in favour of running downstairs for the postgame scrums.
The Leafs’ rookies took the tournament opener as a result of their energy, skill, and goaltending. They outpaced a Chicago group that was forced to rely more on physicality to gain ground. They caught the Leafs temporarily, but in the end Toronto came away with a win they probably deserved.
Check the period summaries above for a few observations on the standouts (Rielly, Leivo, Sparks) and watch the Game in Six below. Notable highlights from Steve Spott’s postgame scrum:
-On the mobility and skill of his young defensive corps: “Wow.”
-Spott was impressed by the team’s ability to come together quickly and
-He was also enthusiastic about Sparks’ performance, only calling out the first goal as one Garrett might potentially want another shot at.
-Spott confirmed Leivo missed the third period due to a chest contusion suffered when he took a hit earlier in the game.
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.
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.
â€˜Twas the night before the slowest news day of the NHL season! This means one thing:Â youâ€™ve got nothing better to do than read this extra special, ridiculously long Christmas post from MLHS and The Toronto Truculent.
Gary Bettman spoke with the Winnipeg Free Press’ Gary Lawless this past Sunday and delivered a fairly comprehensive interview about several major aspects of the continuing NHL lockout. Disappointingly: ego, greed, and stubborn posturing were not directly addressed.
It seems safe to say that the NHL lockoutâ€™s PR battle is being won by no one. Efforts from both the NHL and NHLPA sides of the table lie in smoking ruin. In the eyes of many fans, pretty much everyone involved has been fundamentally smeared for their incapability to resolve the situation with anything approaching common sense, while the senseless waste of days ticking away destroys the hypothetical revenues they claim to be fighting over.
But it seems, in secret, their efforts to resurrect their embattled public image may be changing. We (MLHS/The Toronto Truculentâ€™s Matt Mistele and special guest writer, Michael Stephens!) can reveal a new issue of Confidential detailing the negotiating committeeâ€™s latest attempt to save their reputations.
After reading this hilarious exchange between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady before their matchup on Sunday, I did a little poking around and came across Nazem Kadri’s Facebook timeline. The results were outstanding…
Brian Burke is not a superhero. He doesn’t have magical powers that allow him to move faster than everyone else. He cannot use pure energy to forge amazing things out of nothing. He’s a normal man trying to do a well-intentioned job – one for which he is eminently qualified – by using the significant earthly resources at his disposal to sort out justice in an incredibly dark, cynical, and complex environment. He’s trying to build future positives from the smoldering pile of ash that was past tragedy.
Friends, we are gathered here today to honour the man and the legacy that is Jeff Finger. Itâ€™s hard to believe itâ€™s been four years next Saturday, but Jeff Fingerâ€™s contract is finally coming to a close. It might have been easy to forget this momentous occasion, but luckily about three and half years ago I put a reminder in my Outlook calendar so I couldnâ€™t let this day pass without celebrating it.
Way back in the summer of 2008, Jeff Finger joined the Leafs on the strength of a breakout season with the Colorado Avalanche. A season that saw him average over 19 minutes of ice time, and as Cliff Fletcher said play over 23 minutes down the stretch (in fact he did this once in his final 10 regular season games.) Jeff Fingerâ€™s breakout season would also see him pinball between 19-24 minutes of ice time, and more often than not be a healthy scratch in the Avs two playoff rounds. Four of the five games he dressed for were losses.
RealSports view from "what looks like VIP from downstairs", but is actually "just more tables."
RealSports view from "what looks like VIP from downstairs", but is actually "just more tables."
Donâ€™t think for a second that just because the Leafs arenâ€™t in the playoffs, they arenâ€™t paying attention to the matchups. Many indicated during their end-of-year interviews that they would follow with great interest and, as it turns out, they have. MLSE has apparently embraced the idea, hosting VIP-only potluck parties at Real Sports Bar and Grill in downtown Toronto so the team can watch the games together, build some off-ice chemistry, and prepare for the experience if it ever â€“ somehow – happens to them.
As luck would have it, weâ€™re able to offer you an exclusive glimpse into one of these events. Donâ€™t ask us how. Weâ€™re not even really sure how these happen.
For those that have or haven’t been following Youtube user Jeremy Larter‘s Leafs Beefs video series (archive here), there were seven new ones posted today to laugh at. The pair’s rants do a hilarious job summing up the emotions of Leafs Nation with a drunk Prince Edward Islander spin. Enjoy:
Warning: not safe for work or the easily offended.
A disappointing reality of which most viewers arenâ€™t aware, modern â€œrealityâ€ television is â€“ in fact â€“ fairly scripted. â€œSoft scriptingâ€ is the technique a showâ€™s producers use to vaguely outline what should happen to the showâ€™s participants, and oftentimes, they will implore those contestants to perform as requested. Documentaries are no different, typically outlined based on extensive research and footage collection and them assembled to form a coherent, calculated point.
Since the February announcement that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will compete in the January 2012 Winter Classic, many have assumed â€“ correctly â€“ that HBO will film and broadcast their next season of 24/7 focussed on the two teams. What many readers wonâ€™t have realized is that HBOâ€™s award-winning writing teams have been working on scripting the show secretly since the announcement in preparation for the expected deal.
"No, Mr. Burke. I expect you to die trying while I COMPLAIN!"
Februaryâ€™s losses devastated the 2011-12 Toronto Maple Leafs! The NHLâ€™s most arrogant coach ever couldnâ€™t save the flailing squadron from amateur mistakes â€“ and was fired for it! The softest forward corps in the league is totally un-truculent! Jim and Gus couldnâ€™t do their jobs if they went out pregame and found a 600-page guide entitled â€œHow To Tendâ€ sitting in goal!
This team is junk, top to bottom! Fire Burke! Rebuild the rebuild! This is a SimCity nuclear meltdown, hail on summer corn crops, â€œI can see Russia from my houseâ€-sized DISASTER!
I thought this was worth sharing for those that missed Slapper_Mike‘s post in last night’s post-game thread. Chin up, Leafs Nation.
I have gone through the 5 stages of grief with this Leafs team. It all started with the 3-2 loss to the Sens in January, and the subsequent 3-1 loss on HNIC to the Habs. Then, the 5-0 loss to the Habs a couple of weeks ago on HNIC. And then the Nash rumours, the February swoon, and the uneventful trade deadline…
Slapper_Mike’s Five Stages of Grief:
DENIAL – No, we are better than this. This is not happening to us! The refs have it in for us. If only he had not hit that post. Their goalie was lucky. Wait until MacArthur gets healthy. And Armstrong. Once Reimer rounds into form, we’ll be playoff-bound for sure.
A few months ago, Brian Burke joined Twitter. He caved to fan and peer pressure, selected a username that will become instantly obsolete if he ever leaves MLSE for different employment, and took up social media residence on the popular frontier that has all but eliminated the need for news tickers and TSN alerts.
He could have quit there. But Burke, a master of rhetoric and image control, took it a step further and offered fans a one-hour window in which they could submit questions that he would attempt to answer directly over the coming weeks (and, one has to assume, months). To this point, heâ€™s been surprisingly thorough in responding to a massive amount of Twinquiries.
Or, “How I learned to stop worrying and love MLHS titles that are way too long.”
Every so often, an opinion thoroughly disguised as a mainstream news article presents itself – one that is so ridiculous, so utterly without basis, that the most appropriate response is to simply ignore it. In these situations, we are encouraged not to â€œsink to that levelâ€ by dignifying the position with a response. You know, to rise above – behave with a level of superior maturity. This is not one of those times.
The Toronto Maple Leafs enjoyed a relatively injury-free training camp heading into the 2010-2011 season. Apparently, karmaâ€™s been waiting twelve months to deliver a shattering right cross of vengeance. Weâ€™ve poured over the countless Tweets, articles, and even contacted some unofficial sources to assemble the most comprehensive online report to date of the Leafsâ€™ current injury situation.
Brace yourself. Itâ€™s worse than any of us could have imagined.
UPDATE (11:32pm) – Of course, 11 hours after I posted this, Drew Doughty has signed in LA. Early indications put the deal at 8 years for $7 million per. So, the obvious lesson for both sides: procrastinate something as far as you possibly can, because when you do it, the timing will be hilariously perfect.
While enjoying patios and beer league baseball shenanigans this summer, Leaf Nation couldnâ€™t help but keep one anxious ear primed for any news â€“ or explanation â€“ surrounding the lack of a Luke Schenn signing well into September. Now, late into training camp, fans of the Los Angeles Kings wait with the same baited breath for their own RFA superstar Drew Doughtyâ€™s new deal. To call both situations peculiar, given the playersâ€™ individual importance to their respective teams, would not be an overstatement. Is there some connection between these prolonged negotiations?
Might Donald E. Meehan – founding partner of Newport Sports Management and agent to both players â€“ be that common denominator?
Anyone with eyes, or access to a radio station, has a fairly good idea by now that Brian Burkeâ€™s a busy man. Between lending his presence to charitable causes, managing his NHL team, or working the phones to improve the mediocrity quality of said team, he never seems to slow down.
The man deserves a break.
But of course, those whoâ€™ve balanced a similar workload in their life know wickedly effective time management skills are critical for success in such circumstances. So much so, in Burkeâ€™s case, that he extends those practices to his time off. Thatâ€™s right. In order to maximize the relaxation the way he maximizes the trade returns on MLSEâ€™s on-ice refuseLebda, Brianâ€™s generated a checklist to help him organize his summer vacation. His duties and time off overlap incredibly, leaving him with little choice. The Toronto Truculent has, of course, obtained a copy.
A few items have evidently been highlighted by his personal assistants to indicate high priority, or already completed. Itâ€™s late July, after all.