During an appearance on London radio's â€œThe Hookâ€ with Norman James last Friday, our conversation at one point took an interesting turn toward the notion of player personality, and how it affects fan perception and the manner in which fans relate to the players.
It's an interesting subject â€“ the trichotomy of fan/player/team identity, and not one the majority of fans spend much time pondering. What is it, beyond star power, that draws fans to feel they have formed certain bonds with specific players they have never met? What is it that keeps others at arms' length? Is it the nature of the players themselves, is it our own as fans, or is it perhaps both?
When Brian Burke added Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin to an established Leafs cast of Luke Schenn, Tomas Kaberle, Ian White and Jeff Finger it looked to all that the Toronto GM had built himself an enviable problem. A premium blueline, arguably one of the finest in the Eastern Conference, that also came with a premium price tag.
Of course, what began an enviable problem on paper quickly devolved into an actual problem when the new additions failed to mesh into a cohesive unit with defensive and special team frailties more apparent than those of an comparatively budget offense.
It's been a hot topic, and a touchy one at that for the better part of almost a year, since the day the trade was consummated. Â The Toronto Maple Leafs, toward the end of the pre-season, announced that they had traded two firsts and a second round pick to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Phil Kessel, a young American born sniper who the B's were having issues resigning.
It was a steep price to pay, but you have to give to receive, and in Kessel the Leafs got a bona fide goal scorer who looks like he could be a perennial 30 goal scorer (more on that later.)
And yet some people have cast Kessel to fail, no matter what impact he has on the Leafs, attaching him forever to the trade that brought him here.
This past week, Bill Watters took that to the extreme, and took a piece of integrity written journalism and turned into something sensational and downright wrong, all in the name of making Phil Kessel look as bad as possible because he doesn't agree with the trade.
In continuing with our preparation for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, which takes place June 25th - 26th at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, today's draft primer will profile right winger Brett Bulmer from the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Bulmer is quickly climbing up draftboards across the NHL after coming out of nowhere to have a very productive season out west. The intriguing combination of skating ability, size and offensive upside could see him go pretty high on draft day. [more…]
A month into the offseason, one thing can be said for sure about the steps the Toronto Maple Leafs have taken toward rebuilding the team:Â credit Brian Burke with having a plan, and sticking to it.
The beginnings of that plan are clearly reflected in the sweeping changes to the goaltending and defence corps this summer, as well as a noticeable infusion of truculence.
Newest goaltending consultant to the Leafs, Francois Allaire, father of the modern butterfly with exceptional credentials including working with Patrick Roy, Brian Hayward, as well as the guy who morphed Guy Hebert into an All Star in 1997 and J.S. Giguere. Most recently he worked with Ducks back up-turned-starter, Jonas Hiller to backstop the Ducks to a seven-game Round 2 of the 2008-09, Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Fine credentials indeed, but what can he do with the batch of Leafs goaltenders?
Last night, in another rare occurrence, Philadelphia Phantoms tough guy, Garrett Klotz, fought the Manchester Monarchâ€™s enforcer, Kevin Westgarth, on the drop of the opening faceoff. It began at center ice, but after a few punches back and forth in an even affair, it shifted towards the Monarchâ€™s bench. It was then that Westgarth landed some heavy rights, including a few uppercuts, and Klotz went down. He immediately began convulsing and medical staff rushed over to aid the 20 year old.
There are precious few nicknames in sports anymore. At least, few that are creative.
No legendary names are tied to players anymore, no Rocket, no Boom-Boom, no Grapes.
And yet the nicknames add so much character to our heroes on the ice.