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Person Travel

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    Mats Sundin’s season with the Vancouver Canucks, his chase for the 2009 Stanley Cup that brought him out of pseudo-retirement, and possibly his NHL career, ended tonight with the Canucks’ elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the young Chicago Blackhawks.

    And now the “future of Sundin” questions, and subsequent “will-he-or-won’t-he” Favrian (or is it Favresque?) soap opera will surely begin anew.

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      For the second year in a row, Team Canada fell 2-1 to the Russians in yesterday’s gold medal game at the 2009 World Hockey Championships in Switzerland. Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves and the Russian defense managed for the most part to keep a prolific Canadian offense in check.

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        NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly was on HockeyCentral At Noon today, and among other topics he briefly discussed the possibility of a second NHL team coming to Toronto.

        When asked why Toronto has not been seriously considered to date as a home for another franchise, despite the enormous fan base and subsequent opportunity to succeed financially, Kelly suggested that MLSE was not the source of resistance.

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          From TSN:

          “The Minnesota Wild are building a list of candidates to replace fired general manager Doug Risebrough. Sources tell TSN the Wild have contacted the Toronto Maple Leafs seeking permission to speak with Dave Nonis, the Leafs’ senior vice president of hockey operations.”

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            According to TSN, the Maple Leafs continued their signing spree on Tuesday morning, inking University of Vermont foward Viktor Stalberg to a two-year entry level contract. The 23-year old powerforward could potentially join the Toronto Marlies as early as tomorrow night as they embark on their playoff quest.

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              As the 2008-09 season moves into the stretch drive, it is perhaps time for fans of teams most likely not making the playoffs to take a closer peek at the top prospects entering the draft.

              Based on the Maple Leafs’ current spot in the standings with 13 games to go, it is safe to assume that this team will not finish last overall, and perhaps not even in the bottom five.   A finish anywhere from 23rd to 26th overall (picking 5th to 8th) appears most likely at this point.

              With that in mind, here is a modified version of the International Scouting Services (ISS) mid-season rankings which were released in February.  Modified, in that the list is #3 – 12, as those are most likely the players that the Leafs will be looking at come the first round of the Entry Draft.

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                On a night where we can say the “Sundin Saga” came to its exciting and fitting end, the Leafs played a second straight game where they showed the hard work and energy that was so characteristic of their early-season stretch of hockey. Upon the shootout conclusion of this game, I received three different messages all musing over the same thing: “Whoever scripted this game did it perfectly.”  In the steady, reliable fashion that Leaf fans became accustomed to over thirteen years of service, Mats Sundin skated down the ice and with apparent effortlessness netted the shootout winner for his team.  Except this time, he was doing it for the Vancouver Canucks.

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                  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.

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                    “Oh well, screw it.  It’s time to go on to the next one.”
                    Rinse and repeat Justin, as these words left the Toronto tender’s mouth after getting shelled for six goals in a loss to the Minnesota Wild last week.  One would hazard a guess that the young goalie will need some more of this good humour after seeing a similar fate tonight.  Likely exhausted from the extensive bus ride to Buffalo, the Maple Leafs as a team did very little to support their rookie netminder.

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                      The Maple Leafs have recalled Justin Pogge from the Toronto Marlies for tonight’s game in Buffalo. Toronto looks to rebound from an overtime loss last night at the hands of Bryan McCabe and his Panthers, while the Buffalo Sabres are making a pitch for their fourth straight win at home.

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                        A combination of terrible goaltending and suspect defensive coverage undid the Maple Leafs tonight as they sat on an early 3-0 lead thinking they would ride it to the finish line, failing to take into the account the fact that, with a goaltender that’s seriously struggling between the pipes, leads can disappear on the turn of a dime, let alone over the course of 40 minutes. The end result is one which will please neither side of tanking/playoff spectrum.

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                          Someone recently asked me a trivia question that got me thinking. The question was, “How many major individual awards have been won by Maple Leaf players since the last Stanley Cup win in 1967?”

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                            Ron Wilson will stick with the struggling Vesa Toskala as his slumping Maple Leafs, fresh off two consecutive losses by a collective score of 12-3, look to get off the schneid against Alex Ovechkin’s red-hot Washington Capitals.

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                              Mats – firstly, you’ve made me look like a total sap having torn my heart out when staunchly defending your decision last March. Personally, that makes me more than a little bit pissed off (but I understand, I’ll explain later).

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                                On the topic of spin-o-ramas, here’s a highlight reel play from Leafs’ 6th rounder in 2006 Tyler Ruegsegger during recent collegiate action. [More after the jump, including an update from U of D head coach George Gwozdecky].

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                                  Jeff Carter is quietly making a name for himself around the league; in fact, he’s so quiet that some teams don’t even know it until they play him. His speed and gritty game allows him to stand his guard in front of the net to bang in the garbage goals, and his wrist shot is so powerful that he could zip it past you from the blue line as hard some guys can slap it in this league.

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                                    Months of uncertainty and speculation are likely to come to an end in the next week when Brian Burke and his associates meet with Richard Peddie and the MLSE. The groups have already spoken albeit lawyer to lawyer last weekend to confirm the Anaheim Ducks had signed papers allowing their former GM to talk with other teams and if reports are to be believed, groundwork was laid on the forthcoming negotiations.