Nikolai Kulemin isnâ€™t exactly what youâ€™d call a prototypical Russian born player. Iâ€™m never the one to succumb to lowly stereotypes but you have to admit that certain countries have a history of developing certain types of players and that solid two way, versatile forwards are few and far between in the more recent history of Russian hockey.
Back on December 1st 2010, the Toronto Star broke a story which, if accurate, was poised to change the sporting and business landscape in this city and country forever. It would also represent the largest sporting transaction in Canadian history and will likely represent the most significant indication of the inevitable merging of the telecommunications, media and internet industries of our generation. This transaction will play a huge and direct role in transforming the way business in these sectors is done moving forward in this country. Â The story literally broke out of thin air. Â The concept that the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP) would be selling out of their cash cow that is MLSE was nothing more than a fantasy which most Leaf fans would not allow themselves to even consider as a possibility. Now, several months later, and despite repeated denials by everyone involved including the OTPP, MLSE, Rogers, etc., the matter has gone purposefully and strategically public and what was once only a whisper and a rumour has now become a verified fact. The OTPP are mercifully on their way out and will be selling off their ownership stake (66%) of the MLSE sporting empire.
DIGR: Defense-Independent Goalie Rating
Goaltenders are generally analyzed and rated using save percentage as a key indicator of performance.Â One of the common issues that crops up when using save percentage as an analytic metric is comparing one goaltender against another. Varying degrees of the quality of defense from team-to-team, and the distribution of shots faced by each goaltender, create a large margin of error for goaltender-to-goaltender comparisons.
Michael E. Shuckers, of St. Lawrence University and Statistical Sports Consulting, has done some fascinating research into ways in which these issues can be resolved so that save percentage can be a more effective comparative statistic.Â What he devised, and subsequently presented at the conference, was the concept of DIGR (Defense-Independent Goalie Rating).
What man that sees the ever whirling wheel
Of Change, the which all mortal things doth sway,
But that thereby doth find, and plainly feel,
How Mutability in them doth play
Her cruel sports, to many men's decay?
-Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen
Change surrounds us.Â So powerful and pervasive a part of nature is it that the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus saw in it the unity of all things.Â Change played such a central role in the Ephesian philosopher's beliefs that he became famous (among philosophy geeks, anyway) for his pronouncement that because everywhere things are always becoming, always in flux, a man cannot step in the same river twice.Â Heraclitus insisted that our eyes and ears were "evil witnesses" that deceived us, making humans perceive certain things (like mountains or rivers) as static or permanent when in reality, there is only an endless succession of transitory moments.
In the aftermath of yesterday's trade with the Anaheim Ducks, in which Joffrey Lupul joined the Toronto Maple Leafs, many fans expressed concern over two years' contract term at a somewhat high dollar figure for what was perceived to be declining production.
Although it is very easy to get caught up in the base stat lines (goals, assists, points), what might be surprising to some is Lupul's rate of production has actually remained fairly consistent during the past three seasons prior to 2010-11. Despite last season and the start of his current season being cut short due to back surgery and a subsequent blood infection, a quick look at his per-game statistics reveal few recent changes in the winger's season-to-season productivity.
Just finished watching the Brian Burke press conference on my PVR (damn our angry Irish overlord for choosing afternoon drive time to play Meet the Press on this one).Â First, a few of the press conference highlights that I noted.Â Following that, I'll share my (hurried) analysis.
- The basic structure of the deal (which had previously been widely reported - what an afternoon on Twitter) was confirmed, Beauchemin to Anaheim for RW Joffrey Lupul, D Jake Gardiner and a conditional draft pick;
- Burke pointed out that Gardiner had played for Wisconsin as a true freshman, and noted "that's hard".Â Gardiner's schooling will not be disrupted by the Leafs until (at the very earliest) the end of the season;
The frustration was evident in Phil Kessel's tone as he answered a stream of media questions regarding his latest goal-scoring slump, now at ten games. Or perhaps, more accurately, his tone was one of resignation.
Sighing often, Kessel repeated the words "I don't know" on multiple occasions in response to inquiries as to why he has been so snake-bitten, and what he feels can be done to re-discover his scoring touch. This was clearly a player at his wit's end, a player who seemed to be completely out of answers as to why the puck won't go in despite numerous scoring chances of late.
It was almost enough to make one feel sympathetic toward his plight; to make one feel as though he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, a victim of perpetual misfortune who was giving his all and unjustly coming up short.
A little over halfway through the season, it's time to tear our eyes away from the bottom of the NHL standings for a second and see how the future of the Maple Leafs are doing. Notable breakout players include Owen Sound's puckmoving defenseman Jesse Blacker and NCAA goal scoring machine Matt Frattin out of the University of North Dakota. Below is a brief overview of some of the Maple Leafs' biggest movers, either up or down, the organizational depth chart. [more…]
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?
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?
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. [more…]
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. [more…]