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First, a confession. Â Or, more like an obvious statement.
I love covering hockey. Â I love covering it, in all of its forms and states. Â I love writing game recaps and game previews. Â I love writing opinion pieces, and I love talking with those in the hockey business, to pick their brains whenever possible.
Also, one thing most know about me, is that I love the world of radio.
To me, there is nothing better than a day at work when you have the sports radio station on, hours upon hours of good debate, quality guests, and overall exciting programming.
In a perfect world, I’d love to do MLHS radio once a week (if not more) but I know all of us have pretty hectic schedules. Â In my time before I became a writer on this site, I spent most of my time toiling in the minor leagues of sports writing. Â I did a decent job of gaining interviews and access to players. Â I began to develop the practice of recording all interviews I did, for the purpose of later transcribing them.
The Toronto Maple Leafs visit the St. Louis Blues tonight, in the Leafs’ final game prior to the NHL’s Olympic break.
The Leafs are coming off a narrow loss to the West-leading San Jose Sharks, a game which left the team with much to feel good about. Â Tonight, the team will look to resolve their road woes and enter the break on a high note, by capitalizing on what has been an inconsistent and underachieving Blues squad.
Part 3: 20 Years of Maple Misery
From Gord Stellick to Cliff Fletcher Version 2.0
Itâ€™s been over 40 years since the Leafs won the cup and while others make fun of the fans for continuing to cheer, here is an overview of why you shouldnâ€™t make fun, but feel bad for themâ€¦
In a season where everyone either predicted or was warned the Leafs would place bottom 5 in the East, Iâ€™m a little surprised the team was booed by the clubâ€™s faithful fans in a tilt with the Nashville Predators.
Random thoughts and opinions from (roughly) the halfway point of the season:
* Glad to see the mustache is back in style.Â Â In fact, when I was younger I grew a goatee just because everyone else was doing the ‘stache.Â Then the ’93 Canadiens all grew goatees during their Cup run, and it became a social mainstay.Â Â Yes, folks, it’s true: my hatred of the Habs has nothing to do with the Leafs, and everything to do with facial hair.
I know, youâ€™re worried about value for Vesa Toskala and Tomas Kaberle. Well, donâ€™t. Their recent performance(s) are killing their market value, right?
No. Market forces and low-ball offers may hinder dealing them now, but as the trade deadline approaches, true value is more likely for the Buds. And thatâ€™s good, because both players are underperforming.
Being in full evaluation/negotiation mode in fantasy leagues, posturing for position and propping up a sagging roster, it got me to thinking about reality-based trade evaluation, and how appraisals are distorted by current production .. or lack thereof.
ANTON STRALMAN (# 36)
Birthdate:Â August 1st, 1986
(for all you stargazers out there, that makes him a Leo).
Hometown:Â Tibro, Sweden
Random thoughts, 23 games in:
Matt Stajan is the leading scorer on the Leafs. Let me repeat that: Matt Stajan is the leading scorer on the Leafs, and is on pace for close to 70 points this season. One of the great unheralded results of a rebuilding project is the chance to see former role players excel in new roles, and Stajan has certainly proved that he is more than simply an effective checker and penalty-killer.
An ailing crop of defenders, a change of scenery, and a night off.
In case you missed it:
“The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t waiting for Brian Burke to come in and start making moves, as the club traded defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Alex Steen to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak on Monday.”
Lee Stempniak appears to be another high-cost, low-profile acquisition for Trader Cliff, who has developed a penchant for paying whatever-it-takes to land players that he feels are underrated and on the brink of a breakout.
Almost as impressive as the third period display by the Maple Leafs last night was their ability to storm out of the gate again this afternoon in their second game in less than 24 hours. After a vibrant first frame in which the Leafs should have scored more, the Leafs sat 1-0 up entering the second period of play.
In the ultimate act of callousness by league schedulers, the Maple Leafs will open their regular season account inside the Joe Louis Arena, where they will endure the pre-game banner raising ceremony for the Stanley Cup winning Detroit Red Wings.
The Leafs are looking to put up a strong performance after back to back stable appearances against the defending champs. With a similar roster, it will be interesting to see how Toskala fairs in net behind the crop.
Coughing up the lead late two games in a row is obviously a bit disconcerting considering the history of this team in that respect. But this pre-season is about shaking lingering habits from the former era and, as PPP points out, this is the perfect opportunity for Ron Wilson to kick some of these tendencies. That’s not to mention the fact that tonight’s collapse was largely the result of some rookie mistakes on the part of John Mitchell and Justin Pogge, who played great games otherwise.
>>>DISCUSS IT HERE
Itâ€™s time to take a closer look at the Maple Leafs roster for the upcoming season. As much as some of the younger players have performed well this pre-season, there seems to be too many one way contracts with a death grip on much of the opening night roster.
A momentum swing in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins can be largely attributed to a couple of in-game changes orchestrated by bench-boss Ron Wilson.
The starting first line of Mikhail Grabovski, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky proved ineffectual in the first frame and rookie Nik Kulemin wasn’t clicking with line-mates Nik Hagman and Alex Steen. The team failed to generate anything in the way of offense until late in the third, when Wilson’s ad hoc lines began to fire, mounting a near come-back with two goals in quick succession.
>>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS
I’m approaching the upcoming campaign with a win-win mentality.
Should the Maple Leafs dwell in the bottom five as virtually assured by Toronto media types, the opportunity to import a premier prospect to join Luke Schenn atop the prospect ranks will obviously be a major boost to a re-tooling club in the midst of its youth movement.