Image c/o J.P. Nikota / PensionPlanPuppets.com
“Being a kid growing up just outside Toronto, you always want to play for your team you watched growing up, and Toronto’s my team.”
It was one of the last things Andrew Engelage said after a lengthy discussion at the Ricoh Coliseum, but it definitely resonated the loudest.
There’s nothing quite like the story of the home-grown athlete. Everyone likes asking Oakville’s John Mitchell what it’s like to put on the Leafs sweater every day, or trying to find some way to relate to Jesse Blacker’s being drafted by his local club. But when adversity is thrown into the mix, when a player has to go through some degree of hardship to make it to not only the level he wants to be, but for the team he wants to play for, that’s when a story becomes a best seller.
In what could yet again prove to be a shrewd, prudent move, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has once again added another name to his front office staff.
Burke and the Maple Leafs announced today that they have brought former Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Claude Loiselle on board. Â Loiselle returns to Toronto, after working in the Leafs front office in the early 1990′s.
According to TSN, he will largely be responsible for contracts and payroll with the club, replacing the departing Jeff Jackson.
In the final game of the rookie tournament, the Leafs’ rookies were beaten soundly — to the tune of 7-1 — by their Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators.
Although I was not able to attend this game in person, fellow Leafs die-harder ‘Bell’ was in attendance for all of the games and has kindly provided some thoughts about the action (or was it inaction?) at the Aud last night, and the tournament as a whole.
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.”
Â via www.remparts.qc.ca
“Jeff Jackson, General Manager of the Toronto Marlies, announced today that the club has signed defenceman Joe Ryan to a professional try-out contract. In keeping with club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Ryan, 21, is in his first professional season with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. In 20 games this season with the Cyclones, heâ€™s collected seven points (one goal, six assists) and 31 penalty minutes. The 6â€™1, 204-pound defenceman ranks second (tie) on the clubâ€™s defence with six assists.”
>>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS
With Cliff Fletcher sticking around for the upcoming season, the Maple Leafs have gone forward in hiring new staff since the start of the off-season. It seems the philosophy among many franchises around the league is to create positions to fill with excellent hockey minds in order to improve their own hockey growth and knowledge above the ice surface. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has finally joined in on that idea by adding Al Coates as the Director of Player Personnel, Jeff Jackson as the assistant GM and Director of Hockey Operations in 2006 who focuses primarily on collective bargaining duties and contract negotiations, and an overhaul of the coaching staff other than Keith Acton, who has found a way to stay within the organization after stints under head coaches Paul Maurice and Pat Quinn.