Phew. Finally a chance to catch our breath after what was perhaps the best 2nd round of playoff hockey ever played. We were treated to three 7 game series, 9 overtime periods, and an epic showdown between the league’s premier young rivals, Crosby and Ovechkin. Perhaps overshadowed by all the intensity and exciting finishes, is a fairly simple underlying theme: Youth.
Excitement abounds these days in the streets of Toronto, as a long-overdue rebuilding effort for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the prospect of a revitalized franchise, moves into high gear.
Arguably the last successful revitalization of the Maple Leafs franchise occurred in the early 1990s, when in the span of three seasons the Leafs went from basement-dwellers to Stanley Cup contenders.Â Although many are quick to credit then-GM Cliff Fletcher’s 1992 mega-deal with the Calgary Flames as the key turning point for the franchise, the groundwork for the franchise’s rapid acceleration from pretender to contender actually began much earlier … in the 1989-90 season, to be exact.
Any hopes of Toronto spoiling Montreal’s playoff run were officially put to bed on Saturday night, as the Canadiens, for one night at least, managed to resemble last season’s squad.
Leaf Nation had hoped their previous victory would be the final nail in the coffin for the Habs; instead, that loss seems to have been the catalyst that broke the Habs (who have gone 5-0-1 since) out of their slumber.Â Â Could this get any worse for Leaf fans?
As the Trade Deadline approaches, speculation will continue to grow over which Maple Leaf players may be moving on to new NHL destinations.
The following is my own personal estimation of the likelihood of regular roster players actually getting dealt, based upon contract status, playoff/stretch drive impact potential, comments from players/coaches/management, and of course the metaphorical smoke & fire (the amount of repetition in the rumour mills).Â Â To quote the great Chazz Palminteri, “a rumour’s not a rumour that doesn’t die”.
It is a number that all Leafs fans hold in such high regard. Â It means so much to so many.
Hereâ€™s a look back at all the exciting events that happened in tonightâ€™s game:
Now on to the post-game reaction.
“Oh well, screw it.Â It’s time to go on to the next one.”
Rinse and repeat Justin, as these words left the Toronto tender’s mouth after getting shelled for six goals in a loss to the Minnesota Wild last week.Â One would hazard a guess that the young goalie will need some more of this good humour after seeing a similar fate tonight.Â Likely exhausted from the extensive bus ride to Buffalo, the Maple Leafs as a team did very little to support their rookie netminder.
The Maple Leafs have recalled Justin Pogge from the Toronto Marlies for tonightâ€™s game in Buffalo. Toronto looks to rebound from an overtime loss last night at the hands of Bryan McCabe and his Panthers, while the Buffalo Sabres are making a pitch for their fourth straight win at home.
Delving deeper into the hockey world, interacting with players, coaches and organizational personnel, Iâ€™ve learned a big lesson.
Weâ€™re dealing with people.
Guess what; fans are people, too.
Just six months ago many a grapevine was carrying rumor of NHL expansion while I lamented the integrity of a revenue bound salary cap. Even into the new season few had foreseen the sheer gravity of the global economic downturn and its impact on jobs, housing, businesses and every facet of life down to sport. Now as international markets stutter into a depression that many an analyst believe could change the face of modern capitalism forever, the NHL seems to remain steadfast in addressing itâ€™s minor successes as opposed to itâ€™s crippling and potentially devastating financial model.
Jiri Tlusty will return to the Leafs’ line-up for Thursday night’s game against Buffalo to fill the void left by an injured Jeremy Williams. The timeline on Williams’ shoulder injury isn’t yet known. Meanwhile, Luke Schenn has returned to full contact practising and appears to be less than a week away from returning to action.
image via maple leafs.com
The Maple Leafs look to extend their two game winning streak Tuesday night as they entertain the New Jersey Devils sans Martin Brodeur. Rookie Jeremy Williams looks to continue a streak of his own having scored in each of his first two appearances this season.
After enjoying his much-deserved holiday, Cliff Fletcher will sit down with Brian Burke in early January to structure his new role within the organization as per the man himself. It is expected he’ll assume a role in the senior adviser capacity.
Sorry for the delay guys.Â We greatly appreciate the flood of great questions and comments, and are sorry to say we couldn’t get to them all. We’ve all been pretty busy lately for a variety of reasons, so without any further ado, let’s get started on the 1st ever Maple Leafs HotStove Hockey Panel Discussion.
Forming our panel for this session is Alec Brownscombe of Hockeybuzz and MLHS godfather, Gus Katsaros of Mckeen’s and MLHS fantasy expert, and myself, Alex Tran, an MLHS blogger.