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Beginning with Howard Berger’s bittersweet commentary on our little corner of the web and and piquing tonight with a grade A case of trolling from a user that’s been taken care of, let me make a quick note about moderation.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that our willingness to allow for freewheeling and largely unrestricted conversation gives MLHS commenters a privilege, not a right. Unfortunately, in a few instances I’m beginning to see this being taken advantage of.
Being intentionally vulgar is not theÂ way to stick it to Howard Berger. We are getting noticed not only for the efforts and insights the blogging team brings to the table but for the breadth of Leafs knowledge among our users, backed by a strong sense of community. Pension Plan Puppets‘ sports bar analogy was a good one and I similarly am not going to nitpick at every curse word – if this is how a poster opts to express himself and it’s within reasonable limits, I’m not going to ask anybody to change the manner or mood in which they want to communicate their thoughts. Unfiltered dialogue helps create the virtual club house I spoke about striving for in an interview last summer, where fans can relax and chat with a passionate crew who have something informed to say about their favourite sport and team.Â What is absolutely unacceptable is personal attacks, allowing of course for some friendly banter about Jordan’s grammar.
AfterÂ months of political manoeuvring and speculation… and pending ratification, Donald Fehr appears primed to formally take office as the Executive Director of the NHLPA with the Ilya Kovalchuk saga providing an appropriate backdrop. Despite having earlier dismissed himself as a candidate for the role, the former MLBPA hardliner is now expected to spearhead the players union through the next series of collective bargaining negotiations in 2012.
Either a spectre to be feared, or a challenge to be relished for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, one wonders if the league office wishes it had treated the ailing NHLPA with kid gloves following the late, late night coup that saw former figurehead Paul Kelly overthrown in August 2009.
The speculation after the Matt Lashoff trade a few days back was that it was a precursor to another move for the Leafs. Sure enough, Clarke MacArthur was announced as the newest Maple Leaf. At a cap friendly $1.1 million, MacArthur is being paid like a 3rd liner. Burke has other things in mind, recently stating to the Toronto Star that MacArthur will spend â€œsignificant timeâ€ on the top two lines this coming season. With that in mind, letâ€™s take a look at the kind of role we can expect from MacArthur. All stats not specifically referenced are borrowed from BehindtheNet.ca.
The newest member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Clarke MacArthur, took time today to speak with Greg Brady. Â Below is the recap.
–MacArthur said the last few days were pretty hectic, but he was relieved to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs and will be coming into town next week. Â He also stated later in the interview that he and his wife will immediately begin the process of looking for permanent residence in the city’s downtown area.
–He admitted that there were three others teams interested in his services, but thought Toronto represented the best opportunity, and also the best fit with the look of the team.
While there did turn out to be three signings from Burke and co. this off-season, it looks as though only one turned out predictable. The other two were a surprise signing in Brett Lebda (props to “Foliage,” the only user to see this one coming, albeit at a predicted 1 year, 0.75 million, hmmm) and the inking of Clarke MacArthur, who was at the time of the contest not a UFA as he didn’t enter the market until the ridiculous arbitration ruling in late July. Perhaps it was a poorly designed contest given the weak UFA crop. Or maybe too many of you wasted a guess on Ilya Kovalchuk.
Either way, outside of Foliage’s Lebda pick, the Colby Armstrong signing was the only correct prediction throughout the contest thread, with 76 participants getting the name right and 13 estimating the salary and term for the full 4 points. Here are those 13 again:
According to LeafsTV, the Maple Leafs have signed unrestricted free agent forward Clark MacArthur to a 1-year contract worth $1.1 million. MacArthur has been a relatively productive second/third line “tweener”Â over the past couple seasons, posting 17 and 16 goal seasons. The Sabres dealt the diminutive winger to the Thrashers at the trade deadline, but Atlanta decided to walk away from Clark’s $2.4 million arbitration award, thus enabling the 25 year old to become an unrestricted free agent. Seems like a nice, low-risk move though it could mean a roster spot being taken away from a younger player.
In the final part of his 12 Burning Questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the Maple Leafs chances of getting back to postseason hockey this year.
May 4th, 2004.
Both teams, tired and weary from what had already been a long, arduous road, a journey that had left both teams battered and bruised. Â The teams went back and forth, showing tremendous heart and determination, showing what it takes to win hockey games at this time of year.
Up the ice they went, rewarded with a good scoring chance, but stopped by a goaltender who was up to the task. Â Then down the ice the other way, another good chance, this time for the other team. Â The goalie in this net, equally up to the task of making the save and preserving life, for at least another moment.
Quickly, and in a whirlwind of emotion, it was over.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning have made some minor league moves this afternoon, with the Leafs sending Marliesâ€™ forwards Alex Berry and Stefano Giliati in exchange for minor league defenseman Matt Lashoff.
In Lashoff, the Leafs are getting a young, depth guy who will likely play out the year for the Marlies.Â A former 1st round Bruins draft pick, Lashoff has some size and offensive skill, but couldnâ€™t translate his ability beyond the AHL level for any extended period of time.Â In 63 NHL games between Boston and Tampa, heâ€™s tallied 1 goal and 14 assists and is a career -15.Â Still young at 23, heâ€™ll have stiff competition for a spot on the Marlies blue line and a chance at a fresh start after showing promise in both Norfolk and Providence.
The Leafs lose two foot soldiers on the forward ranks in Berry and Giliati.Â Meat and potatoes type of players with little NHL upside, they will be missed for the leadership and experience.Â However, the move offers more opportunities for up and coming forward prospects such as Jerry Dâ€™Amigo, Marcel Mueller and Brayden Irwin.
In part 11 of his 12 Burning Questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at one of the hottest topics in Leafs Nation today: just how long of a leash does Ron Wilson have?
In the summer of 2008, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the midst of a major overhaul. Â Much maligned general manager John Ferguson, Jr. had been relieved of his duties with the organization, and as nice a man as JFJ was when I met him at the Leafs rookie and orientation camp a year prior, there is no solid argument that can be made for him as a good GM.
Ferguson Jr, to his credit, can take solace in the fact that a few of his draft picks are now cracking the Leafs as legitimate players, Kulemin and Gunnarsson among them, although even that fact can be debated Â - how much was scouting and how much was general managing?
In a word, John Ferguson Jr. left the Toronto Maple Leafs in shambles, and some of the moves he made, continually sacrificing youth for a quick fix solution (or at least something he thought was a quick fix) have very well set the Maple Leafs back at least an additional few years in the rebuilding process.
He looks much better in this uniform
He looks much better in this uniform
No Leafs fan wants to be reminded of that most hated of Finnish goaltenders, Vesa Toskala. He was ushered into the organization as the next great goalie that would surely be the one to finally right this sinking ship. As any fan will tell you, this has been a disaster. In the nature of looking back at previous Leafs from yesteryear, Iâ€™m going to show you just how bad Toskala truly was. All stats not specifically referenced are borrowed from BehindtheNet.ca.
Weâ€™ll start by taking a look at Toskalaâ€™s season in 09-10. Toskala ended his tenure with Toronto with a record of 7-12-3, appearing in 26 games. His save percentage was a ghastly .874 and his GAA was a monumental 3.66. You donâ€™t need to follow hockey closely at all to glance at these stats and understand why they are so bad. This was a far cry from his stats in 07-08, where he had a .904 save percentage and a 2.74 GAA. Even his rather subpar 08-09 season was better, when he had an .891 save percentage and a 3.26 GAA. Could the Leafs being in second last place in the league have something to do with his decreased stats?
In part ten of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the importance of a good early start, and if the Leafs can avoid another disastrous start.
There really isn’t any other way to put it. Â No matter how you slice it, no matter how you try to spin it, or how you try to put a sugar coating on it, the cold hard fact still shines through.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were not a very good team last year.
Although their stats, and their general play, improved dramatically following the late January trades that saw them overturn nearly half their lineup, the fact remains that the 2009-2010 edition of the Maple Leafs fought inconsistency, as well as young inexperience that had them struggling most of the year.
But it could be argued that never were they worse, than in the first month of the season.
Even before the clock struck midnight, it had become apparent Tomas Kaberle would remain a Leaf headed into 2010-11. Indeed TSN ended the wait at 11.57pm, officially announcing that all trade negotiations had come to an impasse after a morbid day of Tweets, updates and rumours boiled down to the status quo. Almost three years of trade speculation seemed to be distilled into a cathartic melting pot of emotion. For many this was the trade that would define the Leafs future and after all the hyperbole, one leaked offer from San Jose; Joslin and a first round draft pick, seemed to set an ominous tone for a day that ended in nought.
In part nine of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at the Maple Leafs special teams, and why it must improve in order for the team to have success.
When it came to doing this 12 burning questions series, I discovered a lot of things about the Leafs, and how I will be looking for different things this year. Â And even though I already knew the fact, it was all the more confirmed to me that there really are no definitive answers to these burning questions, at least not in August anyway.
However, as we reach part nine of the series, I can confidently say that I can, for the first time this series, give a more defined answer.
And here you thought a magazine couldn't have add-on features.
Midway through the month of July, I had the privilege of chatting with Dave Poulin, Vice President of Hockey Operations with the Toronto Maple Leafs, for an article appearing in Maple Leafs Annual.
Having a professional background in publishing, I was not the least surprised that limitations on available space, plus design and layout constraints, resulted in the necessity to crop certain parts of the interview.
With the Annual due to hit stores next week, I thought I’d share a few of the “lost excerpts” from the cutting room floor in which Poulin offers his thoughts on the progress of the Toronto Marlies, as well as the emergence of the NCAA as a growing prospect pipeline.
Think of it as the equivalent of a “DVD extra” to your copy of MLA.
In part eight of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the past year that has been for Tomas Kaberle, and whether he can put it all behind him and play at the top of his game.
Yes, I know. Â Yet another article dissecting the recent events that have surrounded Tomas Kaberle. Â I will pause briefly and let everyone get out that large groan now.
There, now that’s out of the way.
Easily the longest serving member of the Toronto Maple Leafs on this current incarnation of the team, Tomas Kaberle has more or less seen it all in Toronto. Â Over the past eight years he has seen highs and lows, heroes and heartbreak, and has been entrenched as a constant on the Leafs blueline.
It’s time for another MLHS FanPost, DefenceWinsChampionships stops in again and this time takes a closer look at the stats of Maple Leafs defender Luke Schenn, and how those stats stand up beside comparable players.
A True Schenn-derella Story
By Byron Nelson (aka: DefenceWinsChampionships)
Anyone that remembers my last fan post: â€œA Comparison of the Toronto Maple Leafsâ€™ Defensemenâ€, will already be well-aware of my love of statistics. In that specific piece of writing, I took a look at the 2009/10 season stats for each current member of the Toronto Maple Leafsâ€™ defensive corps. I then used the information I had gathered to make a comparison between them. What was a surprise to many, was the amazing amount of success young blue-liner Luke Schenn seemed to have, finishing in 1st place in the statistical comparison, despite supposedly suffering from the dreaded â€œsophomore slumpâ€ during the season. As a result of this, I decided to do a follow-up fan post on Schenn, this time comparing him to some of the NHLâ€™s elite defensive defensemen.
In part seven of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at how the new faces will fit in with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Brian Burke has always argued the fact that July 1st is his draft, the time where he does his best work in bringing in key pieces that will push his team to that next level. Â While he isn’t inept on the draft floor, it isn’t his strength. Â To his credit, it’s something he doesn’t necessarily hide either.
And while this summer’s free agent frenzy is more calm than in the previous years, there is no doubt that through free agency, and the days leading up to it, that Burke took steps towards continuing to shape this team in his vision. Â The moves have been made, and barring any sort of changes, this may well be the team we see enter training camp in under a month. Â With that in mind, it’s time for Leafs Nation to ask, exactly how will the new faces fit into place in Toronto?
In part six of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at Leafs sniper Phil Kessel, and whether he can hit the 40 goal plateau.
While January 31st 2010 will go down as a day Leafs fans will never forget as the Leafs acquired Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, Fredrik Sjostrom, and J.S. Giguere in the span of about two hours, the date of September 18th, 2009 will also be remembered, yet highly debated, and much scrutinized.
It was on that day in September, following a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, that Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke got his man. Â After lots of rumours throughout the year, including one that involved Tomas Kaberle going the other way, Burke signed off on a deal with the Boston Bruins that landed him American born sniper Phil Kessel.
In part five of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at Toronto young guns, and whether or not they can continue their consistent contributions.
A team’s fortunes can be decided on the shoulders of their young players, be it their rookies or their sophomores. Â There are plenty of examples of young players who can help their club catch lightning in the bottle, and help them surpass the expectations set earlier in the offseason by the majority of pundits.
Of course for every example of that, there are also counter examples of teams who perhaps relied too heavily on rookies, or second year players, to help pace the offense, only to have things not go according to plans.
So it ends, so it continues.Â Tomas Kaberleâ€™s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs did not indeed come to an end this summer.Â In an earlier post, I had established a mostly forgotten pool asking the faithful readers to put on their brian burke mask and pretend to be a GM.Â Yup, I sure am a trailblazerâ€¦suggesting people use the comments section of this site to postulate trade proposals.Â Where do I come up with such creative ideas?
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