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In part three of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at whether Mike Komisarek can rebound from a tumultuous first season in Blue and White.

It’s no secret that Brian Burke likes his hockey teams to be, for the most part, big, nasty, and in your face physical.  He also has a penchant for looking for players from his home country of the United States, but as he said, he would sign players who were from the moon if they could play the game.

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Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager, Brian Burke should have uttered one phrase to explain the situation, one simple little phrase to envelope the reasoning for the Phil Kessel trade;

“Our picks in our vision of where we ended up are overvalued in accordance to the available crop of prospects.”

But in Toronto, to admit that in what’s deemed as a ‘rebuild’ would have been a PR disaster.

Despite popular opinion, he wasn’t wrong.

The world is no longer flat, it’s round .. like a full-cirle

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In part two of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at the Leafs goaltending of the past, and whether this year’s tandem can provide them with healthy, consistent efforts.

The NHL goaltender.

It has been said that there is no more important position in all of pro sports.  And if you believe that, it’s quite easy to see why the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t had much regular season success in the post lockout NHL, and why the post season has eluded them.

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In part one of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at whether the Maple Leafs new captain can return to form.

January 31st will forever be a day that will have historical significance for the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise, and all its fans.  How large of a significance it will have in the grand scheme of things has yet to be determined, but in many ways, it could be argued that it was the day the franchise turned the corner.

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    Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, ridiculed in some circles, heralded in others, after the way the Tomas Kaberle deal went down, has not been hiding in the shadows after his inability, or unwillingness, to trade the Czech born blue liner.  Burke spoke to the media yesterday and made a variety of statements that should peak the interest of Leafs Nation.

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    As you all know, or may not know, Tomas Kaberle will remain a Toronto Maple Leafs. Whether he is still a Maple Leaf beyond this season is another question all together, and likely a long and awfully boring road. Regardless, here is Brian Burke’s statement:

    The hockey club confirms this evening that Tomas Kaberle remains a Leaf. While a number of Clubs made offers to trade for Tomas, none of them reflected Tomas’s value to our team. I understand a period like this is stressful to the player, and we are pleased that there is a resolution, and we can all continue to prepare for the coming season.

    1902

    Brian Burke stated this morning, “if these offers are all we get, he is staying put,” in regards to the Tomas Kaberle trade watch. It has put many fans on their heels as they await a trade, but it should be known that this statement could be nothing more than a trade tactic.

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    The Tomas Kaberle trade watch is now in effect with only 36 hours to go until this situation concludes. The rumor mill is running rampant with some high profile names and some future fan favorites, but let's dive into who is being mentioned as possible blue and white sweater bearers.

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    Brett Lebda

    Brett Lebda

    The newest addition to a strong Leafs blueline

    Brett Lebda has barely registered on the radar for Leafs fans and with good reason. This offseason is yet again centered solely on Tomas Kaberle, while Lebda toils away on the bottom pairing in many fans’ minds. Expectations are understandably low for Lebda, so it now becomes important to gauge proper expectations. All stats not specifically referenced are found on BehindtheNet.ca.

    Lebda primarily played with two people in 2009-10. Those players are Jonathan Ericsson and Brad Stuart (courtesy of DobberHockey.com). Lebda registered the fewest points in the trio at 8, with Ericsson amassing 13 and Stuart putting up 20. Lebda’s -2 rating is by no means a good stat to have, but it is significantly better than Stuart’s -12 and Ericsson’s -15. So in looking at these basic stats, we find that Lebda is average defensively and sub-par offensively. However, do advanced statistics shed any more light on his overall play? Let’s find out.

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      Listen up MLHS readers, here’s your chance to show the rest of the hockey world that this is the best hockey community on the net. Rivalspot, a video game tournament company, will be sponsoring an NHL 10 tournament on either XBOX 360 or PS3 with the winner taking home a brand new copy of the upcoming NHL 11 game. There is NO ENTRY FEE! The current format will be a elimination-style 16 player bracket per tournament with the 1st place finisher taking home the prize.

      The Penguins bloggers from Pensblog and the boys from Pension Plan Puppets will be among the competitors. We’re expecting some intense inter-community rivalry and we’re expecting you guys to come out in droves and support the MLHS name. Our Godfather, Alec Brownscome (gamer tag – pwnikarovsky) and myself (gamer tag- Acekicker777) will be front and centre. Feel free to challenge us anytime if you’re looking for a pre-tournament warmup. I’ll be putting my skills and my *cough 63% win percentage cough* on full display.

      Refer to this post over at PPP for further contest details and registration information:

      What I Need You Guys to Do:

      1. Click the above image to register even though we don’t have a tournament yet. That will let me know if we need to have more than one tournament.
      2. Post in the comments what system you want to play on. I know we have a ton of Xbox 360 users but I don’t know how many people have NHL 10 on the PS3. If there’s interest there will be a PS3 tournament.
      3. Post when would be good for you to play. Not “this Wednesday at 7pm” be more flexible: something like “weeknights” or “weekend afternoons”, etc.
      4. Feel free to give us feedback if you hate promotions and getting free copies of new video games.

      Hockey, free stuff and heated rivalries. Does it get any better?

      [email protected]

      McKeen's Hockey Annual Yearbook

      It’s been quite the time span since my last post here. But as many of you know, I’ve been working on the McKeen’s Hockey Annual Yearbook. That is in addition to the work on the player profiles for the Maple Leafs Annual.

      So to kick things off, and to change the subject from Tomas Kaberle, here are my player predictions for the Maple Leafs this season after the jump.
      (NOTE*** Predictions appearing the McKeen’s Annual Yearbook are decided as a collective from many different sources. These values will unlikely appear as they indicated below in the publication.)

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      *Warning:  More analysis and opinion concerning the Kovalchuk decision. For those who want to talk hockey, as opposed to the now perpetual indiscretions of the league office etc. Alex has a post beneath.

      When Richard Bloch decided to rule in the favour of the NHL in the case of Ilya Kovalchuk and the ridiculous contract, he set in place a new precedent that the league hope will stem the flow of cap-circumventing front loaded contracts. In lieu of a concrete definition, the cover-all bases nature of Bloch’s ruling was expected to draw a line under the types of long, frontloaded contracts the NHL saw as detrimental to the spirit of equality the CBA and its salary cap was supposed to theoretically harbour.

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      In a move that will inevitably add to the frustratingly indecipherable trade rumblings of the last few days, Eric Belanger indicated that he has essentially signed with a team, but is unable to divulge where he will be going.  The article is French, but the English translation of the title (“Eric Belanger signs…but he won’t say where!”) says it all.  The information we can gleam from this is that Belanger can not reveal his new team because they are “working on an exchange that will affect the salary cap”.  Of course, this begs the question: are the Leafs somehow involved?

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      The NHLPA filed a grievance against the NHL for rejecting Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils' mammoth 17 year contract. After an arbitration hearing for both sides, today the ruling was in favor of the NHL, thus making Ilya Kovalchuk a free agent.

      Excerpt from Michael Stephens Added

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      It’s that time of year again. The Canadian World Junior Development Camp for the 2011 tournament in Buffalo is under way, as the Canadians try to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss against D’Amigo and the Americans. Here are some thoughts on the Leafs’ prospects’ chances of making their respective world junior teams:

      - Bradley Ross is the lone Maple Leaf prospect invited to Canada’s Development Camp, but is sitting out the on-ice scrimmages due to a pulled groin. Barring a terrible season, he should have a good chance making the team in order to assume the agitator/pest role vacated by Cormier and Della Rovere. However, he could be facing stiff competition from Cody Eakin, a top scorer in the WHL, who is tearing up the scoresheet at camp so far.

      - Jesse Blacker and Greg McKegg were not invited to camp. Unless he makes significant strides forward defensively, Blacker will likely not have a realistic chance at making the squad after finishing with a team worst -22 rating for Owen Sound last season. As is the case every year, the Canadians will be absolutely loaded with premium offensive talents so McKegg will also have to step his game up to another level and improve his two-way play if he hopes to crack the team’s top six. The odds are certainly stacked against these two because no player not invited to last year’s Development Camp made the eventual final roster.

      - Jerry D’Amigo should have a top six spot all but locked up for the American squad after being one of the program’s best forwards for both gold medal winning U-18 and U-20 teams over the past couple seasons.

      - Swedish stay-at-home defenseman Petter Granberg could have a shot on Sweden’s blueline. He played on last year’s silver medal U-18 team and will be playing full-time in the Swedish Elite League in the fall.

      - Power forward Sondre Olden will be one of the youngest players at the tournament this year, but that was already the case last season.  At 17 years old, he helped the U-20 Norwegian team capture gold in the Division-1 tournament, thus earning a berth in Canada’s group for the 2011 tournament. He has been a huge centerpiece of their national junior teams, having also singlehandedly led the U-18 team to a Division-1 gold medal with 22 points in 5 games last season. Seriously, who wins two gold medals in one year?

      [email protected]

      $12.99, 128 pages, no ads, all Leafs.

      The Maple Street Press Maple Leafs Annual is back for it’s second edition, jam packed with even more Leafs coverage, analysis and inside access than the year before. Preorders will ship on August 17 and include a $5.00 shipping charge. Yes, Kaberle remained a Leaf by the final deadline, because apparently it was just SO out of the way for Burke to deal him at our convenience. It matters not, just read some of these highlights:

      • Detailed player by player scouting information, advanced statistics and innovative statistical graphics for the 2010-11 roster

      • An interview with GM Brian Burke on change and the outlook for 2010-11

      • A look at the controversial legacy of 1960s Leafs head coach Punch Imlach, with reflections from Leaf greats Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, Dick Duff, Larry Hillman & more

      • A position by position look at the 2010-11 Leafs roster

      • The inside scoop on the Leafs’ 2010 off-season additions, organizational philosophy and evaluation with Leafs Vice President of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin

      • A review of the 2010 draft with the perspective of Leafs head scout Dave Morrison

      • Statistical analysis of the importance of first round picks: can the Leafs go their own way?

      • Analysis of the Leafs’ cap situation with looks at the constitution of past Cup winners

      • A Nazem Kadri feature (including thoughts from Morrison and director of player development Jim Hughes) & list of the Leafs’ Top Prospects in Fall 2010 & Darkhorses

      • An interview with potential sixth round steal Jerry D’Amigo

      • An in-depth look at the Marlies’ season that was and will be with thoughts from head coach Dallas Eakins, Poulin, Jay Rosehill and Tim Brent
      • Projections for the Leafs offense and defense
      • An in-depth, goalie-by-goalie scouting evaluation of Leaf netminders (Gustavsson, Giguere, Scrivens, Reimer, Rynnas) with The Goalie Guild’s Justin Goldman
      • Takes on how new media is changing coverage of the team with thoughts from MLSE social media strategist Jonathan Sinden

      Ensure yourself a copy of the Maple Leafs Annual here. Take the jump for a full list of authors – the best of the best from across the Barilkosphere and beyond.

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      According to CBC Sports, the San Jose Sharks are on the verge of signing free agent grinder Jamal Mayers. The Sharks announced on their website their plans for the veteran forward. “Jamal is a fast, physical, team-first player who brings the ingredients we were looking for to this role,” said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson. “He is an extremely fit athlete who can kill penalties and we think he will mesh well with our group of forwards.”

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      A Comparison of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Defensemen

      By: Byron Nelson (aka: DefenseWinsChampionships)

      Bored at work on a Monday afternoon, I found myself wondering which current Maple Leafs’ defenseman had the best season in 2009/2010. While the obvious pick would be a flashy, high point-producing player like Tomas Kaberle or Dion Phaneuf, it seemed as if a greater deal of investigation would be required to come up with an informative answer. Needless to say, investigate is exactly what I did.

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        On Sunday August 29, the Pavilion Ice Arena in Thornhill will host the Hockey 4 Life Tournament in support of Chai Lifeline Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to easing the burden on families whose children are suffering from serious illness.  Last year’s tournament included former Leafs Mike Bullard, Mike Johnson, Gary Leeman, and Ric Nattress.

        If interested in participating in the tournament, you may register as an individual player, register an entire team, sponsor a player or team, or make a general donation to the event. Volunteers are also needed for the tournament.

        About the Charity:
        Chai Lifeline Canada offers “counseling for each member of the family, Big Brothers and Big Sisters who bring an extra measure of adult attention and stability to children’s lives, tutoring for children who must miss school for extended periods of time, family retreats, special sibling programs, information, peer and professional support, and two extraordinary summer camp programs for seriously ill children to help families retain a sense of normalcy and hope while fighting even the most dire pediatric diseases.”

        More Information:
        Tournament Details | Rules & Format | How To Register | Volunteer | Sponsor | Donate

        Hat tip to MLHS reader Charlie for forwarding the event info.