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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.
The Montreal Canadiens have acquired center Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, and Mike Busto from the New York Rangers in exchange for Chris Higgins, Doug Janik, Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko.
Also, reports out of Sweden suggest the Sedin Twins have each signed a 6 year $6M dollar/season contract. It was announced on CBC Radio and discussed on TSN but is considered to be a false report at this time. The Canucks offered them one last offer before going into free agency tomorrow, the Sedins (to the public knowledge) have yet to accept or decline the offer.
Weight: 183 lbs
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?
While the Leafs made the decision not to renew Marlies coach Greg Gilbert, some of the players are truly on the ball.
Maple Leaf forward prospect Christopher Didomenico from the Drummondville Voltigueurs of the QMJHL suffered a broken thigh bone in his left leg and is expected to be out at least 4-6 months after crashing hard into the boards during last night’s playoff game against Shawinigan. Similar to the injury to Minnesota Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster last season, the incident occurred as a result of two players chasing the puck during a potential icing call.
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€¦
For a full team-by-team breakdown of all playoffs clubs, sure bets and sleeper picks for your playoff pools, visit the McKeen’s Playoff Preview where the factors below have been outlined and pointed out in a team-by-team write up.
On a night where the stars were aligned for the first-pick lottery, where a Leafs loss coupled with Phoenix and Los Angeles wins would give the Leafs a chance at the #1 pick overall, a night where Phoenix and LA both did their part … the Maple Leafs took the high road and won the game.
The end result is Toronto finishes with the 7th pick in the draft, entering this week’s lottery draw.
Normally, you would figure that game # 82 on a team’s docket, in a season where that team has been eliminated from playoff contention, would be rather meaningless. Â Normally, you would expect it to be nothing more than perhaps an opportunity to give young players a bit of NHL experience before hitting the greens.
But when is normal ever the norm in Toronto? Â Somehow, tonight’s season-closing game is still meaningful to the final outcome of the Leafs’ season … as are the final games for the LA Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes, which will be played late this afternoon and tonight.
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?
JIMMY HAYES (# 10) â€“ RW
Birthdate: November 21, 1989
Hometown: Dorchester, Massachusetts
Size: 6-5, 210 lbs (team listing)
JUSTIN POGGE (# 29) â€“ G
Birthdate: April 22, 1986
Hometown: Fort McMurray, Alberta
Speculation abounds that the Toronto Maple Leafs are continuing their efforts to re-sign Dominic Moore to a reasonable contract extension.Â Â The talks are expected to continue well into this afternoon and evening.
On the implications of the Leafs’ recent turnaround:
“I’m proud of the guys, they’re working their butts off and that’s important for a lot of reasons; a lot of what we’re trying to build here and reward our fans and our season ticket holders. They’re important wins, and I know people are saying we’re messing up our draft choice but we’ll happily accept that; we’ll take that trade off any time. If I could make a deal – I said this last week, and I’ll say it again today – if I could make a deal today that would put us in the playoffs, I would do it, as long as it was consistent with our long-term strategy. Those type of deals right now are not being presented, so I don’t think it’s going to change our approach.”
During the post-game news conference following the shootout victory over the Rangers, coach Ron Wilson acknowledged that Jeff Finger and John Mitchell, injured during the game, are “99%” unlikely to play against the Islanders on Thursday.
To take their places, Anton Stralman and Tim Stapleton have been recalled.
With the rebuild process in full effect, the Toronto Maple Leafs are exhausting every single possibility when it comes to bringing quality young players into their system. Dave Nonis, senior VP of hockey operations for the Leafs,Â was just on the Bill Watters show earlier this hour and discussed a number of topics pertaining to the Leafs, including the team’s approach to handling its NCAA prospects as well as possible interest in some of the prized college free agents.
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”.
Most recent Leafs trade talk in the mainstream media centers largely around Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle. Just about enough has been mentioned on those fronts; Brian Burke will not compromise in his return demands for either of his coveted blue-liners and it appears that only time will tell. Here are three other interesting to trade or not to trade scenarios:
“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.
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