It was no less than two months ago that I was pondering this same question, that of captaincy, and examining the same factors. Thinking of all the tangibles â€“ speed, talent and scoring â€“ along with attributes that are harder to judge â€“ the ability to command the respect of the team, lead with strength of character and handle the Toronto media through success and failure. The lone difference is that last time, it was the Leafs.
The big club’s off until a Friday night date with the struggling Hurricanes, so let’s take this opportunity to review the progress of several Maple Leafs’ prospects across various levels and highlight upon the season’s surprises and disappointments thus far. The verdict: fairly encouraging results early on across the board.
While the Leafs made the decision not to renew Marlies coach Greg Gilbert, some of the players are truly on the ball.
JUSTIN POGGE (# 29) â€“ G
Birthdate: April 22, 1986
Hometown: Fort McMurray, Alberta
Breaking News from NHL.com:
Toronto acquires LW Ryan Hamilton from Minnesota in exchange for LW Robbie Earl.
This is pretty much a lateral move in terms of both teams exchanging a pair of underachieving 23 year old left wingers with the hope that a change in scenery would do them both some good.
Mark Bell’s career in Toronto seems to be all but over. The 28-year old from Ontario joined the Leafs along with Vesa Toskala at last year’s draft shrouded under the cloud of an impending DUI sentence. With that cleared up this past summer, many Leaf fans hoped for a revival of the Mark Bell that scored 25 goals in Chicago during the 2005-2006 season. However, it was quite evident that Bell never managed to put it together in training camp or in the exhibition games that the Leafs played.
The Leafs waive, demote and start rumors.
A momentum swing in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins can be largely attributed to a couple of in-game changes orchestrated by bench-boss Ron Wilson.
The starting first line of Mikhail Grabovski, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky proved ineffectual in the first frame and rookie Nik Kulemin wasn’t clicking with line-mates Nik Hagman and Alex Steen. The team failed to generate anything in the way of offense until late in the third, when Wilson’s ad hoc lines began to fire, mounting a near come-back with two goals in quick succession.
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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 42â€ 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 27â€ tube-style in the master bedroom as the second and third periods unfolded.
It certainly seemed like a new era tonight in the ACC as a much more motivated and industrious Leafs team took to the ice and out-played the Buffalo Sabres in a 7-4 win for the new-look Blue and White.
Neither team could honestly say they put forth the best they could offer, but that’s the nature of these early pre-season games. It still can be said that there were some promising signs from a Leafs stand-point.