During an appearance on London radio's â€œThe Hookâ€ with Norman James last Friday, our conversation at one point took an interesting turn toward the notion of player personality, and how it affects fan perception and the manner in which fans relate to the players.
It's an interesting subject â€“ the trichotomy of fan/player/team identity, and not one the majority of fans spend much time pondering. What is it, beyond star power, that draws fans to feel they have formed certain bonds with specific players they have never met? What is it that keeps others at arms' length? Is it the nature of the players themselves, is it our own as fans, or is it perhaps both?
There has been a certain degree of consternation among Maple Leafs fans of late regarding the number of SPCs (Standard Player Contracts) the team has on the books. Many have expressed concerns that the Maple Leafs are near the league maximum, and fear the situation could adversely affect the team's efforts to continue to re-tool the club into a playoff contender.
A quick glance at the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), however, tells us the situation is not so dire as some would have us believe. The reason? A seldom-discussed clause, unofficially dubbed the "Slide Rule".
Phil Kessel, in his short tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs, has displayed an offensive acumen unparalleled by his teammates. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason the Leafs embody mediocrity.
The trio of collegiate hockey players are no doubtÂ anxiously awaiting their fate with the Buds. And with the regular season set to debut on October 1st, they will be informed soon.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are now riding a three-game winning streak after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime on Saturday night by a score of 5-4.
Yes, it's pre-season, but who cares? It's hockey, and we're winning. Enough said.
With under two weeks until the pre-season debuts, many fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to ponder which players will make the cut come opening night against the Montreal Canadiens. Players like Jiri Tlusty, Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson, Nazim Kadri and others will be competing for employment at the National Hockey League level. However, the rigors of the NHL regular season far exceeds that of the pre-season, and as a result many players have failed to maintain their newfound success.
Since taking over the reigns of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke identified several glaring weaknesses in his team.Â In several press conferences, he clearly and succinctly described these weaknesses and his intention and plans to amend his product.Â Being one of the more active General Managers, commencing with the NCAA free agent period right through til today, Mr Burke has lived up to the expectations most Leaf fans would have.Â Commencing with the signings of Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson, followed up with deadline trades to acquire draft picks, drafting London Knights sensation Nazim Kadri, signing key UFA's specifically addressing his teams needs and the signing of top European goalie Jonas Gustuvvson led to renewed optimism amongst Leaf supporters - not of an imminent Stanley Cup victory, but, rather of a renewed direction and focus, once again bringing hope of a contending Leafs team being iced in the not too distant future.
July 1st is tomorrow, folks. Where has the time gone? Not complaining, though, I couldn't be happier as I prepare to bask in the excitement of the Free Agency Frenzy. Oh, and it's also Canada Day, too.
Brian Burke, after failing to make his mark at the NHL Entry Draft, will presumably have big plans for tomorrow. He loves the limelight, after all, so it wouldn't surprise me if he tries to steal the show. On the other hand, signing a variety of second-tier Unrestricted Free Agents would also be considered a successful, albeit conservative, approach.
So I ask you, what's your UFA wish list? If you were Burke, who would you target?