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Philadelphia Flyers

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    The reputable Eklund is reporting with an always reliable “e4″ rating that the Maple Leafs are closing in on a deal with the Vancouver Canucks that will involve Nikolai Antropov heading west in exchange for a first round pick and a prospect. To no one’s surprise, Brian Burke and Mike Gillis have been carrying out negotiations for some time now, primarily on the subjects of Antropov and Tomas Kaberle. A deal is not as imminent as Eklund’s reporting, but there appears to be deal potential in Vancouver and potentially of the blockbuster variety.

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      Last night, in another rare occurrence, Philadelphia Phantoms tough guy, Garrett Klotz, fought the Manchester Monarch’s enforcer, Kevin Westgarth, on the drop of the opening faceoff. It began at center ice, but after a few punches back and forth in an even affair, it shifted towards the Monarch’s bench. It was then that Westgarth landed some heavy rights, including a few uppercuts, and Klotz went down. He immediately began convulsing and medical staff rushed over to aid the 20 year old.

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        So the Maple Leafs extend their tank-friendly stretch of non-success with a convincing 4-1 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, marking their seventh loss in their last nine games. As I snicker while watching Mats Sundin look equal parts lazy, fat and slow (yeah, he scored an empty net chance, so what), here are a few thoughts about tonight’s pedestrian performance from the Blue and White:

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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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            image via maple leafs.com

            The Maple Leafs look to extend their two game winning streak Tuesday night as they entertain the New Jersey Devils sans Martin Brodeur. Rookie Jeremy Williams looks to continue a streak of his own having scored in each of his first two appearances this season.

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              Brian Burke’s exact intentions with the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the source of much speculation likely until after the Christmas season, but there may just be one tweak made in shorter order: locating a genuine heavyweight pugilist as a bottom six “hardhat” in his roster.

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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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                  >>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS

                  There’s a little bit of the irony in the title because in fact, Christopher Didomenico has rarely been in the spotlight at all during his hockey career. He is the definition of an underdog, and a testament to what hard work and perserverance can lead to.

                  As a young Toronto native, he was passed over by the OHL draft, after playing just 4 games in 2 seasons with the North York Rangers of the OPJHL. So, he managed to hook onto a tryout with the Saint John’s Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, made the team, and has blossomed into a great young player since.

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                    >>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS

                    With Cliff Fletcher sticking around for the upcoming season, the Maple Leafs have gone forward in hiring new staff since the start of the off-season. It seems the philosophy among many franchises around the league is to create positions to fill with excellent hockey minds in order to improve their own hockey growth and knowledge above the ice surface. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has finally joined in on that idea by adding Al Coates as the Director of Player Personnel, Jeff Jackson as the assistant GM and Director of Hockey Operations in 2006 who focuses primarily on collective bargaining duties and contract negotiations, and an overhaul of the coaching staff other than Keith Acton, who has found a way to stay within the organization after stints under head coaches Paul Maurice and Pat Quinn.