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Not a whole lot of news coming out of the NHL ranks these last few days, as the few free agents still available are playing the waiting game (kind of surprising to note that Alex Tanguay’s still out there). As we try to make it through the last work day before the weekend, let’s touch upon more trade speculation out of Chicago, Leaf prospect Mikhail Stefanovich, early playoff predictions and the Leafs’ second annual Coca Cola Fans First Game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have released their complete regular season schedule for the upcoming 2009-2010 NHL season.
The Leafs will open the season at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, October 1st, followed by a date with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at the Verizon Center.
Also of note, the team will play 4 Sunday games this season, which will include a pair of 5pm starts in Long Island and Pittsburgh. Their longest homestand will span 3 games, on 5 separate occasions throughout the season. The longest road trip of the year will encompass a pair of 5 gamers, in late October and mid-January. The late October trip should serve as an important benchmark for the young squad early into the season, as they will play all 5 games within 7 days, travelling out west to Vancouver, down south to face Anaheim and Dallas, and then back up to the northeast for games against Buffalo and Montreal. The Leafs will close out the regular season on Saturday, April 10th in Montreal.
Picking up on the “defenseman for a forward” trade offer that Burke received the other day, ESPN’s Al Cimaglia speculated on a possible fit with the Chicago Blackhawks. After accomodating the acquisition of Hossa and the significant raises to Versteeg, Bolland and Barker, the Hawks find themselves pressed right up against the cap and still requiring a tough, stay at home defender. With Burke having up to six NHL defensive defensemen on his roster right now, Cimaglia suggested the newly acquired Garnet Exelby as a possible fit since he’s young, cheap and would fit the mold of what GM Dave Tallon is looking for to round out his defense core.
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.
With just over a week to go until free agency, a certain Maple Leaf RFA by the name of Mikhail Grabovski is drawing some interesting attention from the management. The 25 year old who cost the Leafs a 2nd and a prospect last summer is seeking a contract of 3 to 5 years at $3.5M to $4M per season. This is essentially a breakdown of what he offers. Please leave a comment with your perspective of his demand after reading his specs and other information.
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?
Rewind a year to Ottawa, when interim GM Cliff Fletcher was preparing to make his last great splash. Trading up to secure hard hitting blueliner Luke Schenn, a player unto which the Leafs hoped to bank their revival, set in motion a summer of upheaval paving the way for Brian Burke to step in mid-season. For many the draft of 2008 marked an era of realization, that change was required and perhaps finally the Leafs were going to commit to a full scale rebuild based on the youth model in Pittsburgh.
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€¦
While the majority of Leafs fans wrote the team off in the summer, it wasnâ€™t until the New Year that the teams first true season of rebuilding began the inevitable grind into early year golf tournaments.
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.
So you’re Brian Burke and it’s July 1st.
Who do you go after? And what is the contract you offer?
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?
The American Hockey League has released the 2008-09 Clear Day Period lists for each of its 29 member clubs.
In the first column of this two-part series, we took a quick look at Leaf prospect Jiri Tlusty’sÂ breakout campaign in the American Hockey League this season.Â Entering a season whereÂ expectations were tempered and hope and patience were preached, we’ve beenÂ privy toÂ a few oustanding seasons by Leaf youngsters across all levels of junior, minor, and collegiate hockey. Today, the spotlight’s onÂ Mikhail Stefanovich of the Quebec Remparts.
A rather solid home game by the Leafs saw them come out on the short side of the stick in extra time (yet again), but a fair share of positives came out of tonight’s matchup.Â Justin Pogge played a very solid game in net for the Blue and White, and really needs to continue seeing time like this for anyone to get a fair idea of how he will perform in the NHL.Â Moreover, most of the Leafs were buzzing all night long, and this game really could have gone either way.
I can’t provide anything more than rumours and speculation at this point, but there appears to be a story of considerable magnitude brewing tonight concerning several Montreal Canadiens players. Earlier tonight, RDS, the main television station for the Habs reported that there would be a “huge bomb” dropped on the city of Montreal tomorrow.
Update: Sportsnet will have the entire breaking story starting at midnight.
According to TSN, the Montreal Canadiens have made the first move of the much anticipated trade deadline frenzy. Bob Gainey has acquired defenseman Mathieu Schneider from the Atlanta Trashers in exchange for 2nd and 3rd round picks.
Update: TSN is now reporting that the 2nd round pick is in 2009, while the 3rd round pick is in 2010. There is also a conditional pick heading back Montreal’s way.
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.
The league has announced a 3 game suspension for Maple Leafs rookie Mikhail Grabovski after the â€œabuse of an officialâ€ during last nightâ€™s loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The game got heated, and former Canadien, Grabovski, tried to go after the encouraging Sergei Kostitsyn, but were both held by the officials â€“ Grabovski was pinned to the ice. The â€œinterventionâ€ (which no one ever likes) caused both to become quite upset and, ultimately, Grabovski got up off the ice, used some choice words (which are assumed to have translated into English as â€œI donâ€™t like your faceâ€) then bumped into the official who pinned him and used the same words on the linesman. Near the end of Grabovskiâ€™s speech, he kicked ice at the official (oooo) and skated off the ice giving the audience a double peace-sign â€“ very political.
Slow starts off the hop have been endemic for the Leafs this season, but tonight went above and beyond a poor start as the listlessness didn’t seem to wear off until the second intermission. A woeful first two periods killed the Leafs, but they can take some solace in a much-improved third period of play that made the score-line respectable. Additionally, Bryan McCabe played a role in both the Leafs’ goals and Jason Blake recorded the team’s first shortie in over a year. So it wasn’t all bad.
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