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Natural Disaster

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When Brian Burke added Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin to an established Leafs cast of Luke Schenn, Tomas Kaberle, Ian White and Jeff Finger it looked to all that the Toronto GM had built himself an enviable problem. A premium blueline, arguably one of the finest in the Eastern Conference, that also came with a premium price tag.

Of course, what began an enviable problem on paper quickly devolved into an actual problem when the new additions failed to mesh into a cohesive unit with defensive and special team frailties more apparent than those of an comparatively budget offense.

288

For Greg McKegg, nothing has necessarily come easy in his hockey career.  A slow start to his rookie campaign in Erie, followed by a knee injury which threatened the start of his season this past year, McKegg began the year as a winger for the Erie Otters that ISS ranked in the 90′s.

It was something that McKegg couldn’t not think about, no matter how much he tried.

“It’s something you try not to think about too much really, but you can’t help but look.  It was disappointing to see that for sure, but I think it gives you that edge to work harder and show people that you deserve to be higher up on the list.”

And that is exactly what he did.

Being described by some in the hockey circles as a perennial underdog, McKegg did the only thing he knew how to do.  Work hard.

    85

    Next up: Fredrik Sjostrom, profiled by SkinnyFish:
    The Summary: Brought over from the Calgary Flames alongside Dion Phaneuf, Shoe Storm was initially overlooked in that deal as Phaneuf was the big name coming back. However it quickly became apparent that Sjobacca was just the man to fix the atrocious Maple Leafs’ penalty kill, something that he’s become one of the league’s best at.

    Read more here.

    The Discussion:

    Where do you see Schlitzstrom fitting in to the overall scheme of things for next season? Does he play low minutes on the 4th line and PK, or does he continue to play on the 3rd like he did this past season? After this year, do you think he should resigned for the 2011-12 season? Do you have any other awesome nicknames for him?

    Audience Participation:

    Rate Sjostrom’s performance last season on a scale of 1-10 relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.

      6

      The Chicago Blackhawks are just 60 minutes away from drinking out of Lord Stanley, and it will be present at tonight’s game at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Should the Blackhawks win, it will be their first championship in 49 years.

      “It has been flashing in my head since Game 1 of the playoffs,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “Every time you win one game, it feels like you’re going all the way to the Cup. I’ve always said when you lose a game it feels like your season is going to be over. It just has been such a crazy ride.”

      126

      According to TSN, it’s looking like the 2010 free agent class could get a boost this summer when Hurricanes’ winger Ray Whitney hits the market on July 1st. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford is less than optimistic about his chances at re-signing the talented playmaker:

      “I think it will be difficult with where he will be at, contract-wise. I expect him to go into July. It appears that’s the way it’s going to go.”

      Could Whitney provide an interesting fit for the Maple Leafs?

      83

      Red Wings forward Jason Williams surprises my aunt at our charity golf tournament

      It was something that was unbelievable, but at the same time, somewhat not surprising, given the type of people they are.

      As many of you may-or may not-know, I am a committee member for a charity golf tournament held each summer in Strathroy, Ontario in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  Last year we raised $5,000 in our first year of the tournament, and yesterday, June 5th, was the second annual event.

      Eight months of hard planning, a delicate high wire act of balancing teams, sponsors, donations, and other variables that you undoubtedly run into along the way, and it was all coming together on this day.

      And everything was aligning itself to be a special day.

      The tournament is played in memory of my uncle, Shawn Wade, who passed away a few years ago as a result of complications of a stroke.  Among the many ways you could describe him, all of them positive, he was also a huge hockey fan.  Having played competitively when he was younger, my uncle attached himself to the Detroit Red Wings, amazed by Gordie Howe and his skill and dogged determination.

      He followed the Red Wings throughout his whole life, and when he met and eventually married my aunt, Mary, the two took great pride and enjoyment in frequenting “The Joe” and cheering on the famed Winged Wheel.  And cheer they did.

      They attended games live, and lived and breathed Wings hockey throughout their time together.  A past time of faith which was rewarded to the tune of a few Stanley Cups along the way.

      With the tournament about two weeks away, we had an idea, which in hindsight looked completely out to lunch.

        105

        The year was 2005.  George W. Bush was still in office (yes, somehow Americans voted for him, twice), Hurricane Katrina was doing catastrophic damage to New Orleans, and the vatican was naming a new pope after the passing of John Paul II.

        In the sports world, the New England Patrios would win yet another Super Bowl, this time against the Eagles, the Washington Nationals would begin operation as Major League Baseball’s newest team, Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap at the Indy 500, and the Chicago White Sox ended a lengthy championship drought, winning the world series in four straight over the Houston Astros.

        Oh, and there was this one other thing too.  NO HOCKEY.

        Embattled in a bitter labour dispute, the NHL shut down operations for an entire year in search of cost certainty, something they would eventually get, although the opinion on whether the design is flawed or not is still out to be deliberated.

        For fans of the NHL, the June 2005 entry draft was more than just a weekend in June in which young players would be drafted, making their way into the beginning of their National Hockey League careers.  It was a new beginning for the world of the NHL.  A new season was about to kick off in earnest.

          191

          Pension Plan Puppets’ Chemmy has the details on why turn-coating for the Habs for the sake of returning the Cup to Canada is staggeringly ludicrous. Here’s why, if you must cheer for someone (a better alternative: perusing Down Goes Brown‘s youtube Wendel collection for your spring-time fix), the Hawks are your safest bandwagon to board while maintaining some sense of pride and loyalty:

          73

          Whichever way you cut it, the Leafs endured a torrid season that no statistical tinkering can mend. Regardless, if there is one thing most opposing NHL fans can agree on it’s the increasing need for an overhaul in the leagues points’ structure and the farcical awarding of points in the overall standings.

          Where once every game had two points at stake, either by means of two for the win or split after an OT tie, the inclusion of an extra point for teams losing in OT or, more prevalently, after the shootout, has spawned an lopsided points structure that favours teams and coaches who adopt an cautious approach toward the end of regulation time that is the polar opposite of what was originally intended.

            8

            The Playoffs are about to start and what better time than now for the CFB predictions. We highlight every series with individual writers giving their own opinion on why or how a particular team can win the series. This is the Round 1 Predictions for the Western Conference.

            141

            As you are no doubt well aware, the NHL draft lottery will be held tonight in New York to determine the order of the 14 non-playoff teams heading into the June 25-26 draft in Los Angeles. You can catch coverage of the lottery at 8pm on TSN.

            Update
            And the winner is … Edmonton.  Leafs fans, prepare yourselves to endure “Kessel Trade” debates for the better part of the next decade.

              15

              It’s that time of year again.  The most wonderful time of the year.  No, not Christmas, and no, you won’t see any of those silly Staples commercials.

              It’s time for the NHL playoffs.

              The annual spring tournament that features some of the most exciting hockey of the season.  It’s  triple overtime games that rage on long into the night, games so long that you’ll hope you saved some sick days.  It’s players skating through pain, all for the common goal of lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup.

              And the great fans of the NHL, well they have the best seat in the house.

              Around this time of year, especially the first round, marriages are postponed.  Assignments are left on desks unfinished.  Scheduled are cleared, or built around.  Kiss your wife or girlfriend, and tell her you’ll see her in a few months, a better person than when you last saw her.

                28

                The Maple Leafs have signed prospect Philippe Paradis, a 2009 1st round pick (27th) who as you may recall was acquired earlier this season from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for 2006 1st round pick Jiri Tlusty (13th).

                Paradis’ Junior team, the Shawinigan Cataractes, were recently eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs. The Leafs elected to get Paradis signed immediately following his team’s elimination so he can be sent to the AHL Toronto Marlies to gain some professional-level experience.

                  118

                  Submitted by Michael Stephens (a.k.a.  Baumgartner)

                  Apparently Sidney Crosby still lives with Mario Lemieux. Anyone else find that weird? Dude, you’re almost 23. You’ve got a Stanley cup ring, an Olympic gold medal, an 8.7 million dollar per year salary (to say nothing of the endorsements). Damn man, move out already. But I digress…

                    878

                    Tonight, the Buds and Habs are set to battle it out and put their win streaks on the line. The Leafs are 5-1-0 in their last 6 outings, while the Canadiens are riding an impressive 6 game string of victories. With Toronto now over 0.500 at home (15-14-5), they are looking to play the role of heartbreakers this season, and what better way to continue doing so then by throwing a big fat L at Montreal tonight?

                      167

                      The Carolina Hurricanes are closing in on a deal with the San Jose Sharks for Niclas Wallin, while Leafs fans were begging it was Rickard. Kovalchuk turns down $101M, while the Rangers pull out of the sweepstakes due to the asking price. Find out what the Thrashers wanted in return. Also, Dion Phaneuf has his own plan for the remainder of the Leafs regular season.

                        162

                        It was the same old story for the Maple Leafs last night. Another bad start, another power-play goal against, another game where they outshot the opposition badly, another good effort, but another loss. The Leafs dropped their fourth in a row, 4-2 to the last-place Carolina Hurricanes.

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                          Just wanted to share a fantastic bit of work done by Nights, one of our many enthusiastic and intelligent readers, who evaluated how the NHL landscape would look without the first 8 games of the season during which the Maple Leafs struggled mightily. Great work!

                            64

                            Friday night saw a host of impressive performances from a few Maple Leaf prospects; among them is QMJHL power forward Joel Champagne of the PEI Rockets who turned in a ridiculous 7 point performance. Nazem Kadri also chipped a pretty shorthanded goal and 2 assists for London. Meanwhile, Phillipe Paradis was held scoreless in his debut performance as a Leaf prospect.