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Darcy Tucker has officially called it a career. “After spending the whole summer anticipating I would play, it got to a point where I knew it was time.”
“I just knew, during workouts I didn’t have that same feeling,” Tucker told TSN, “and I needed to be fair with my family.”
The year was 2005. Â 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. Â 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. Â It was a new beginning for the world of the NHL. Â A new season was about to kick off in earnest.
In the second installment of the Prospect Season In Review, we will take a look at a couple of Maple Leafs prospects who have proven a positive product of the John Ferguson Jr / Cliff Fletcher draft era.
Profiles in this segment include German DEL winger Jerome Flaake and defender Korbinian Holzer, as well as a prospect closer to home: Windsor Spitfires winger Dale Mitchell.
Leafs prospect, Mikhail Stefanovich was quoted in an interview on the internet site of Belarussian newspaper, ‘Sports Panorma’ about his relationship with Patrick Roy, the Canadian lifestyle contrast and commentary on the people of Quebec City … the article also mentions his favorite NHL team, which isn’t the Maple Leafs.
For longtime fans of the NHL, it was nothing new.
An organization set to come in, guns blazing, and attempt to be “competition” for the National Hockey League. Â On the surface, perhaps not a bad idea. Â After all, competition creates creativity. Â Competition brings out the absolute best in everyone.
However, there have been two big attempts by rogue organizations to dethrone the NHL from atop their perch as the number one hockey league.
And just like the WHA years earlier, is it possible that the KHL is going the way of the dodo bird?
Canadians vs. Americans. Patrick Kane vs. Jonathan Toews. Ryan Miller vs. Martin Brodeur. The battle of North America. A game that will have the highest total viewers than any other game for probably years to come. If you are unable to watch this game at home, we have you covered on TheScore with the mobile liveblog. This is your pre-game predictions. Post your thoughts on what team will win, the final score, and the player who will prove most effective in the game.
Earlier today on a certain Toronto radio show, a grim portrait of Jonas Gustavsson’s future was painted, citing the 32 games he has appeared in so far in his career – most of those starts behind a lacklustre team – as evidence that he may never develop into the sort of goaltender the Leafs envisioned when signing him out of the Swedish Elite League.
The crux of the argument was that 32 games should be enough for Gustavsson to have shown some ability to adapt to goaltending coach Francois Allaire’s techniques, and that at 25 years of age it may be too late for him to make the necessary adjustments for NHL success.
Given the early-season struggles of incumbent starting netminder Vesa Toskala, speculation is mounting that Jonas Gustavsson could receive his first NHL start as early as Tuesday night when the Leafs face their Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators.
Early speculation is Toskala may not be all the way back, mentally or physically, from the groin and hip surgeries he endured last season. While it is obviously far too early to annoint Gustavsson the starter for the rest of the season (he has yet to play a full game in the NHL), it is not unreasonable to expect that in the wake of Toskala’s struggles he could receive an extended look, in the form of more early-season starts than were initially planned.
A couple of deals went down today, involving some players you might be familiar with:
The Leafs improved their preaseason win total to six tonight at the ACC.Â These are the final chances for some of the young hopefuls, and they are not going to go away easily.Â Strong nights from Jonas Gustavsson and Viktor Stalberg were the headlines of this matchup.Â Even the defense corps has a rookieÂ strutting his stuffÂ as Ron Wilson deemed Carl Gunnarsson their “best defenseman tonight”.
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.
- Leafs Nation Live has a nice little interview with the Leafs’ 2nd round selection this past June, Jesse Blacker of the Windsor Spitfires, talking about what it meant for the Toronto native to get drafted by the team he followed as a kid.
- Former Leaf forward John Pohl has found his way back to North America, inking a contract with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.
- Last but not least, the fans’ petition for the return of the old school Maple Leafs logo has officially reached the mainstream media, making an appearance in today’s Toronto Star, and even drawing the attention of Hall of Famer Red Kelly. A big pat on the back for Patrick Clayton and the rest of the supporters for making the effort to initiate change. Check out their website or their facebook page to learn more about their cause.
Kicking off the week with another update on a whole lot of nothing around the NHL: The Leafs get ripped in ESPN’s Ultimate Team Standings, P.J. Axelsson signs with Frolunda, CBS Sports assigns offseason grades for the Northeast Division, and Kaberle bought out?
- Update #1: Rumors of a Calgary -Toronto trade involving Anton Stralman.
- Update #2: RDS confirms it. Stralman and Stuart to Calgary for Wayne Primeau.What the heck?
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.
It wasn’t long ago when Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund, and Brendan Morrison were the talk of the league. They were arguably the best line in hockey during the 2002-03 season as the trio not only set career highs, but collectively posted 119 goals and 133 assists for 252 points. Not bad for one line. But since the lockout and the Steve Moore incident, every single one of their careers began to go downhill with a heap of steam.
Although it has been widely reported that Farjestads BK forward Rickard Wallin is considering leaving Sweden to return to the NHL, and that the team interested in bringing him back to North America is the Toronto Maple Leafs, there is no definite timetable on when he might sign.
One would assume a decision is likely to happen within the next week.Â Â Wallin’s four year contract with Farjestads includes a clause which allows him to sign with an NHL team, but that clause is only in effect until July 15th.
Weight: 183 lbs
For much of the year, scouts from NHL clubs and private scouting agencies scour the globe for the next generational talent, the next franchise player, and the next late round steal. On Draft weekend, a year’s hard work is condensed into a single list of names, a few of whom teams hope will become the future building blocks for their franchise. In Part Three of the ’09 Draft Preview, the readers of MLHS are in for a special treat, as I recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of E.J. Mcguire, the Director of the NHL’s Central Scouting Services and perhaps the most well-recognized face of the scouting world, about the upcoming June Draft.
According to their website, the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed recent draftees Mikhail Stefanovich, Carl Gunnarsson and Juraj Mikus to entry-level contracts. As General Manager Brian Burke continues the process of evaluating the Maple Leafs farm system, he has identified a trio of players with a chance of becoming part of the long-term picture in Toronto.
Hockey’s Future, the renowned hockey prospects website, announced their Spring Organizational Rankings today and the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves in the bottom tier of the league at #23. The ranking is based on an assessment of a team’s farm system, which takes into account the amount of star power and depth that is likely to be produced. For a team in “rebuilding” mode, that’s not a flattering number to see.
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