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The two greatest military tacticians of the past 5000 years – Sun Tzu and Sgt. Slaughter – both spoke on the value of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your enemies in the field.  To effectively assess the situational realities of the Toronto Maple Leafs it pays to look at the status of their direct competition within the Northeast division.  Playing 24 games against teams from their own division, pride, points and position are all on the line.  While by no means comprehensive (as yet), take a gander at the past 3 weeks of moves.

The Canadians, Senators, Bruins and Sabres all earned playoff positions last season.  A successful, playoff calibre Leafs squad must commit themselves to dominating these frequent opponents as more than a quarter of the season will be played against them.

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Brian Burke has done an outstanding job of refacing the Leafs organization in a very short period of time.  I for one am predicting a very surprising season from the Leafs as early as next year or the year after, once again propelling them into the playoffs and a very respectable playoff drive.  The cumulative effort of acquiring several players and prospects that are “NHL ready” is absolutely and positively an impressive feat.  Acquiring a player with the pedigree of Dion Phaneuf for almost zero significant cost was sheer brilliance.  His relentless pursuit of, and ultimate acquisitions of players like Bozak, Hanson and Gustavsson inspire the type of confidence and hope that has been lacking in this city and in this franchise for almost a decade.

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    I can hear the brassy intro in my head. Bah-bah bah bah Bah bah buh-buh-buh, and then the hook. “It’s the final countdown” rings in my ears.

    Here we are with the 2008-09 NHL season fast approaching and the 1986 hit by the hair band Europe comes into my head.

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      I sat down to watch the first period just before the remote was ripped from my hands by my girlfriend, who basically took the 42” plasma hostage for the premier of Dancing With The Stars. I think I just threw up in my mouth.

      So, I saw the first period in relatively high definition before watching sporadically on the 27” tube-style in the master bedroom as the second and third periods unfolded.