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There is little doubt among observers that the Leafs will attempt to make some moves at the trade deadline a month from now, and with the team’s leadership meeting in Florida to plot strategy, many feel there could be a shakeup coming prior to the annual auction at the end of February.
The question is, what sort of a shakeup will GM Brian Burke be able to pull off? With the team in a rut, and several core players not playing up to expectation, can the Leafs be realistically expected to put together a major deal which could turn the franchise around?
Guess who leads the Leafs in scoring? Some guy named Clarke. No, not that one.
The Maple Leafs have reached the halfway point of the season on a tear, winning five of six games to kick off 2011 in style.
Despite the hot streak the team remains mired in 12th place in the Eastern conference, a full 11 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. While much can happen over the second half of the season, it is safe to say the Maple Leafs have not — as a collective unit — approached pre-season expectations.
The question is, which players are on pace to equal — or exceeded — pre-season expectations, and which players are not?
Claus Andersen/Getty Images
Rightly or wrongly, the big minute logging shutdown defenceman can be a thankless job in the world of hockey and the reason is simple. When you’re doing your job right, it doesn’t usually look like much. When you make a mistake, the puck often ends up in the back of the net. People usually take more notice of the latter.
Francois Beauchemin is perhaps exhibit A in this regard. “Getting Beauch’d” has become somewhat of a catchphrase (at least in my residence) for Leafs fans when #22 is on the ice and the puck ends up in the back of the net, usually as a result of one of his team-leading 53 giveaways. Few would argue Beauchemin has been guilty of more than a few glaring defensive miscues this season, perhaps above and beyond what can be expected of a major minute logging defenceman.
It’s certainly early but a week into the New Year the Maple Leafs have kept their scoring resolutions, popping 21 goals over the four contests since the calendar changed. Tonight’s 9-3 win in Atlanta saw multi point nights from the following:
Grabovski – 2G, 1A
MacArthur – 2G, 1A
Versteeg – 1G, 2A
Kulemin – 2G, 1A
Kaberle – 4A
Armstrong – 1G, 1A
Notes after the jump.
Quick note: Complications resulting from increased university work, my job and sickness have combined to prevent me from doing any articles recently. The good news is I should have that stuff figured out, so expect some larger team articles soon.
Brett Lebda came into Toronto with a lot of praise from current Leafs VP of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin. The praise came from a familiar place; Poulin was the head coach for the University of Notre Dame for 10 years, where he initially scouted and recruited Lebda for their program. Lebda later chose Detroit as his destination for pro hockey, staying in their system for seven years, of which five were spent with the Red Wings themselves. He lived under the shadow and tutelage of great defensemen such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Mathieu Schneider and Chris Chelios.
Photo credit: Reuters
31 games and a 12-15-4 record into the season, the struggling Maple Leafs find themselves the subject of several hotly-contested debates over many facets of the club. Is this the real Phil Kessel? Gustavsson or Giguere? And what of Ron Wilson?
My own responses to each of these questions are posted after the jump, and as always I invite you to share yours in the comments below.
(Toronto â€“ Gus Katsaros) I tried to put together something that leads to the state of the Leafs, but it gets pretty intense and too much for a single blog so Iâ€™ve broken it down in two. Before we move forward we should acknowledge what is happening with the current club and I do that with just some observations.
Iâ€™ve broken down what I feel are some of the more important points of the Leafs forwards and defensemen while not being entirely thorough, leaving something for future blogs. Iâ€™ll follow this up on Friday tying in the coaching, the Burke regime and vision of the team in the future.
Many of our writers here at Maple Leafs Hot Stove have twitter accounts, but until now we did not have a master account for the site. We have launched the official MLHS twitter account @LeafsHotStove and to help it get off the ground we are offering you the chance to win a $200 StubHub gift certificate to attend a Leafs game of your choice.
Here’s how you enter into the draw: follow LeafsHotStove on twitter and post your twitter username in the comments section of this blog. The lucky winner will be drawn and announced Christmas eve, in keeping with the gift giving season and as a token of appreciation for your support. Do not forget to both follow us on twitter and post your twitter account username in this blog’s comments section. Good luck to all.
The LeafsHotStove twitter account will be used to interact with fans, report bits and pieces of news, link to articles, as well as provide occasional insider info as it comes to me.
The potential sports story of the decade for the city of Toronto, and more specifically, fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs is unfolding right before our eyes. Â The legitimacy of the potential sale of MLSE to Rogers should not be easily dismissed. Â The rumoured sale simply makes sense for all parties involved. Â The recent announcement of the pending retirement of MLSE CEO Richard Peddie now starts to bring the picture into focus and adds significant legitimacy to the Toronto Star report of MLSE share sales from the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP) to Rogers Inc. Â The fact that the Richard Peddie retirement was announced just before this story broke, absolutely stinks of premeditated public transition planning. Â Personally, I must admit, I knew there was much more to the Mr. Peddie pending retirement announcement, but, I simply had no idea how deep this rabbit hole would go. Â Speculation and associated questions today, from all corners of the sports and business communities is running rampant. Â Why would the OTPP sell off their stake in this cash cow? Â What Return on Investment can Rogers Inc garner on a $1.3B purchase of an asset generating an approximate $160M in profit each year, especially considering that the real estate assets are thought to be excluded from the deal?
Forgive Leafs fans for being a little cautious with their optimism these days as it relates to net gains between the pipes for the organization. Â After all, still fresh in the minds of those in Leafs Nation is the not too long ago time when the Maple Leafs boasted both Justin Pogge and Tuukka Rask in their goaltending stable, two goalies who were at the time highly touted following junior campaigns.
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During the doom and gloom of a lengthy losing streak it can be easy to focus only on the negative aspects of a hockey team and I have noticed my last few pieces have done just that.Â Today I thought I would take a look at some of the positive and promising assets the Toronto Maple Leafs currently possess as opposed to what they ultimately lack.
Although they are much maligned and even despised by some the ownership of the Toronto Maple Leafs has never been a serious impediment to the success of the team, contrary to popular belief.Â Sure MLSE values a profit as most corporations do and yes they charge an arm and a leg for even a lousy ticket, but the fact is the market for all things Leafs is extremely strong.Â With the current supply and demand the way it is the pricing issue will not go away or change, ever.
Claus Andersen/Getty Images
It is a popular war cry teams will make when in the midst of an unlikely or unexpected championship run.Â But what exactly is needed to make a championship contending hockey club and just how far are the Maple Leafs from truly becoming one?Â I thought I would attempt to answer that very question while trying to look at how a successful championship contending hockey team is currently composed and then comparing it to the Leafs situation and roster makeup.
Syl Apps was the face of the Maple Leafs during the franchise's greatest era.
On this Remembrance Day, 2010, I’d thought it would be fitting to take a look back at the Toronto Maple Leafs during the years of the Second World War.
Having been on the losing side of the Stanley Cup Finals for three consecutive years (Chicago, Boston, New York) to close out the 1930s, the Leafs remained on the verge of becoming a championship team. Unfortunately, pending greatness would instead be put on hold as the roster would be decimated while players answered their country’s call to duty in the early 1940s.
The following is a quick synopsis of the Maple Leafs’ successes and struggles during the war years, and the glory that would ultimately follow.
On Tuesday it was announced Ryan Hamilton will miss 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. And so it startsâ€¦ again.
Devastated by injuries and call-ups last season, the Marlies failed to make the playoffs for only the second time since the AHL club returned to Toronto. 425 man games lost. That equates to a 5.3 players sitting out each and every game of a 80 game season – so let’s say, five and a backup goaltender.
Already this season the Marlies have seen talented forwards Christian Hanson and Luca Caputi get the call up to the show, as well as physical defenceman Korbinian Holzer. Ryan Hamilton joins Simon Gysbers and Danny Richmond in the press box, all suffering from separate ailments. All this is on top of Jay Rosehill, Alex Foster and James Reimer who had already spent time on the day-to-day list.
With the typical (and expected) â€œFire Ron Wilsonâ€ sentiment being thrown around after another tough loss (now five in a row) I thought I would enter the fray and share my opinion on the matter.Â It is often easy to blame the coach and the old adage â€œitâ€™s easier to fire one coach than 20 playersâ€ has certainly been applied in the NHL over the past 25 years but in the case of the Maple Leafs, is the coach really to blame?
I had written a story in the preseason that one of the potential problems I saw going into this year was the chance that Brian Burkeâ€™s general strategy really wouldnâ€™t mesh well with the roster given to Ron Wilson.Â The whole top-six and bottom-six forward approach is fine in theory when you have Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Marcus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and a prime Todd Bertuzzi at your disposal â€“ or Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne etc.
Relief, thatâ€™s the feeling I get when watching our young and improving defenseman Luke Schenn night in and night out this season.Â Oh admit it you were a touch worried as I was that Schenn might not ever reach this day but I think we can all just say it and say it with pride, Luke Schenn is a stud.Â Although heÂ was neverÂ really that bad for most of last seasonÂ the fact is Schenn was unfairly judged (as a 20 year old defenseman in his second season) by most Leafs fans.Â
Nothing gets Leafs Nation into a frenzy quicker than some good old fashioned trade rumours and with the recent news breaking that Brian Burke is “open for business” it was obviously going to makeÂ headlines.Â Bob McKenzie was told by his sources that theÂ Leafs had an offer on the table involving two bottom six forwards coming to Toronto for one of our current NHL bottom six forwards and an AHL player.Â Burke basically inferred the offer was half way decent so it likely would have solidified our bottom six forward lines slightly, but nothing to really get worked up about.
There has been extensive and rampant debate, spanning almost two full seasons, on the value of one Mikhail Grabovski.Â I personally have had more than a few pleasant debates in the comments section of MLHS specifically regarding this player and his skill sets.Â Oddly enough, even now, when his contributions border on the insanely obvious, Grabovski’s name is often overlooked when discussing the reasons for the Leafs early success.Â I know and understand that many on this site, including the more prominent bloggers, are not fans of Mr Grabovski’s game.Â I am here to ask you all to take another look.
Okay, so it took a while to get to the post game wrap up ’round here.Â What can I tell you, I was waylaid by ecstasy (NOT the pharmaceutical kind); and that sort of joy has been in kind of short supply for Leaf fans since the lockout.Â Aside from the 4-3 Leaf OT Victory, I was enjoying (via the wonders of the PVR) the Ticats’ triumphant 30-3 curbstomping of the Argonauts to formally clinch a playoff berth.Â I can tell you from personal experience as a Leafs fan for more than 35 years and a Ticats fan since the days of Jason Maas, there haven’t been a lot of nights like that in recent days.Â Good times.
Here’s how the Leafs game went as I saw it (note: this is an impressionist recap, not an excursion into hyper-reality. If you want that, wait for James Cameron’s next 3-D extravaganza):
Week one of the Toronto Maple Leafs schedule is in the books, and while it only featured two games, there is plenty to talk about as far as the season goes. Â The Maple Leafs are off to a 2-0 start, having won their second game of the season nearly one month ahead of the time they got win two last season.
Through week one of the season, here are the Maple Leafs player power rankings, as seen by me.
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