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Romanian language

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Alex and I will once again continue the Young Guns prospect draft. We are drafting:

6 9 forwards, 4 defensemen, 1 goaltender
Total of 22 young players with a birthday year no later than 1986 (24 yrs old max)
Contract status and/or cap hit will not be taken into account

The draft will take place live in the comments section for all readers to follow, so be sure to come out and provide your two cents as it happens. More details after the jump.

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As much as I tried to just sit back and enjoy the game as a fan last night, I couldn’t help but take a few notes (this might have been because we ended up sitting among the scouts). So without further ado, here are a few additional observations from last night’s tournament opener to supplement Derek Harmsworth’s excellent coverage.

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Finally, the moment a lot of us have been waiting for is upon us.  The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Tuesday afternoon the full roster of players who will represent the blue and white at the 2010 rookie tournament, taking place this weekend in London, Ontario.  The event runs from September 11th to the 14th at the John Labatt Centre, and remember Maple Leafs Hot Stove will have wall-to-wall coverage and unprecedented access.

A tap of the pads to Gus Katsaros for providing me the email.

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First, a confession.  Or, more like an obvious statement.

I love covering hockey.  I love covering it, in all of its forms and states.  I love writing game recaps and game previews.  I love writing opinion pieces, and I love talking with those in the hockey business, to pick their brains whenever possible.

Also, one thing most know about me, is that I love the world of radio.

To me, there is nothing better than a day at work when you have the sports radio station on, hours upon hours of good debate, quality guests, and overall exciting programming.

In a perfect world, I’d love to do MLHS radio once a week (if not more) but I know all of us have pretty hectic schedules.  In my time before I became a writer on this site, I spent most of my time toiling in the minor leagues of sports writing.  I did a decent job of gaining interviews and access to players.  I began to develop the practice of recording all interviews I did, for the purpose of later transcribing them.

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So it ends, so it continues.  Tomas Kaberle’s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs did not indeed come to an end this summer.  In an earlier post, I had established a mostly forgotten pool asking the faithful readers to put on their brian burke mask and pretend to be a GM.  Yup, I sure am a trailblazer…suggesting people use the comments section of this site to postulate trade proposals.  Where do I come up with such creative ideas?

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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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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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A former Leaf is about to sign with Los Angeles, as Alexei Ponikarovsky has agreed to join the Kings (although a deal has not yet been signed).  This ends some speculation that “Poni” would have to take his games overseas, as this summers UFA market has seen a lot of viable NHL players still without a job.  Ponikarovsky was shipped to the Penguins by Toronto at this year’s trade deadline, bringing back Luca Caputi in what was a very fair exchange of players.  However, Pittsburgh was expecting the Ukrainian to contribute at the level that saw him pour out 61 points for the Leafs in 2008-2009.  With a disappointing 9 points down the stretch for the recent champs and an awful showing in the playoffs, teams weren’t exactly lining up to sign the 30-year old.

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The book has (finally) closed on the Ilya Kovalchuk saga, as the Russian winger elected to remain with the New Jersey Devils.  This ends weeks of mind-numbing speculation and rumour-rehashing, including a recent explosion of news in the hockey world that had all signs pointing towards Los Angeles.  Thus, while there will be some surprise that Kovalchuk did not head down south, the overwhelming feeling amongst hockey fans today will be relief.  A side-effect of Kovalchuk’s prolonged decision-making has been the absolute cessation of any other hockey activity.  The dam should finally burst as the remaining free agents and possible trades will now be explored further by the league’s general managers.

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Okay, so my math may be a little off.  It’s Canada Day weekend, there shouldn’t be any arithmetic.  Unless, of course, you are an NHL general manager, than you better hope you have your math hat on.  A quick note to say I hope our fellow Canadian readers, as well as our loyal readers situated the south had an enjoyable holiday weekend.

Now, let’s divulge into what has so far been a somewhat reserved free agency period, One timer style.

–The big news coming out of free agency this hour is this report out of the L.A. Times that indicate the Los Angeles Kings are quite far apart on signing Ilya Kovalchuk. While they may not be out of the running entirely, Helene Elliott suggests the prospects are quite dim.  So where does Kovalchuk go?  The Islanders reportedly seem to be the only team willing to offer him the term he is looking for (rumoured to be 10 million for at least 10 years) but are there other suitors?  What about New Jersey?  Toronto?  One would think that although Burke would love to pull off the major move of free agency, the reasons Kings GM Dean Lombardi is balking about bringing in Kovy (term) is likely the same reasons Burkie has reservations.

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Red Wings forward Jason Williams surprises my aunt at our charity golf tournament

It was something that was unbelievable, but at the same time, somewhat not surprising, given the type of people they are.

As many of you may-or may not-know, I am a committee member for a charity golf tournament held each summer in Strathroy, Ontario in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  Last year we raised $5,000 in our first year of the tournament, and yesterday, June 5th, was the second annual event.

Eight months of hard planning, a delicate high wire act of balancing teams, sponsors, donations, and other variables that you undoubtedly run into along the way, and it was all coming together on this day.

And everything was aligning itself to be a special day.

The tournament is played in memory of my uncle, Shawn Wade, who passed away a few years ago as a result of complications of a stroke.  Among the many ways you could describe him, all of them positive, he was also a huge hockey fan.  Having played competitively when he was younger, my uncle attached himself to the Detroit Red Wings, amazed by Gordie Howe and his skill and dogged determination.

He followed the Red Wings throughout his whole life, and when he met and eventually married my aunt, Mary, the two took great pride and enjoyment in frequenting “The Joe” and cheering on the famed Winged Wheel.  And cheer they did.

They attended games live, and lived and breathed Wings hockey throughout their time together.  A past time of faith which was rewarded to the tune of a few Stanley Cups along the way.

With the tournament about two weeks away, we had an idea, which in hindsight looked completely out to lunch.

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I know, I know, when last we met, I promised you that the next installment in these studies in positivity would focus on Nikolai Kulemin.

Well, I lied.  Sue me.  Instead of discussing an individual player, I’m going to make some more general team-wide observations.  Don’t like it?  Line up at window 106 between the hours of 1 and 1:05 p.m., fill out the forms in triplicate, be sure to bring your receipt and three forms of photo I.D. and  the counter staff will be happy to refund in full the money you paid for these charming and entertaining visits to my mind.  Really, though, following Bruce Boudreau’s logic concerning the Ovechkin hit on Brian Campbell (and the obvious liability of the end boards and equally obvious innocence of Ovie), it’s not my fault that I broke my promise to you;  it’s your fault for reading that promise in the first place.

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    We have all had a few days to digest Sunday’s trades, but there is still a well of untapped implications.  Here’s a closer look at the forwards involved: both the outgoing Leafs and our lone newcomer.  Be sure to check out Garrett’s excellent pre-game analysis here before tonight’s tilt with the New Jersey Devils.

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      In the wake of Sunday’s blockbuster trades, one cannot help but wonder what’s next for the Toronto Maple Leafs? Who’s next to go? Who stays?

      In any case, I think that it’s pretty safe to say that this season is a write-off. We’re not making any moves to make a run at the playoffs this season. So, let’s look forward and take a look at what the Maple Leafs should look like next season.

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        Alec has asked me to add my two cents hereabouts from time to time, and I’ve agreed to do so with some trepidation.  For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Junior, from Heroes in Rehab: the blog.  I don’t want to step on the toes of any of the other contributors on the site, so I want to contribute something a little different from the others.  What follows is, at it turns out, a bit of a (lengthy, sorry about that) manifesto for what I hope to produce in the coming weeks for you all.  Some of it’s even about hockey and the Leafs!  I don’t really see my self as the Stuart Smalley of Leafs Nation, and the affirmations I offer will be far from daily, but…well, just read, won’t you?

        stuart_smalley

        We're Good Enough, We're Smart Enough and Gosh Darn it People Like Us.

        One lousy heart-stopping, craptastic win-that-almost-wasn’t against the Thrashers Predators (update: oops, thanks Nights, I’m an idiot.  Stupid interchangeable southeastern teams!).  One crummy “W” from a five game road trip through the Southeast, the division where NHL hockey goes to die.  The Maple Leafs can’t be happy with the way that worked out.  When the trip began ten days ago, it seemed obvious that the Leafs were expecting to get pasted by Ovechkin and the Caps (first clue: starting Vesa Toskala); after getting the better of Bruce Boudreau’s squad a couple of times earlier this year, it was essentially a foregone conclusion that the Blue & White would have the least amount of fun in a DC amphitheatre since Abraham Lincoln, and that’s exactly how it worked out.  But they had to be hoping for more out of matches against Dixie’s puck-playing tomato cans: Nashville, Atlanta, Tampa and Florida.

        Of course we know now that it didn’t work out that way.  Much to the chagrin of the local populace, Ron Wilson, Brian Burke and the team have arrived home with only two points to declare at Customs.  As far as road trip expectations go, this is the equivalent of a “buddies road trip to Vegas” turning into “an insurance seminar in Peoria.”

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          Submit your GFWE predictions here.

          It’s no secret that the Leafs’ biggest disappointment amid a conference-second-worst 15-20-9 first half of the schedule is a total lack of progress in the area of goals against and special teams, where Brian Burke focused much of his off-season efforts.

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            Over dinner the other night, a friend asked what it is that made me decide to start writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs, and why it is that the blogs in general tend to be quite positive in their coverage of the team, in the context of the negative attitude of certain members of the professional media toward the team they are paid to cover.

            It was a good question, one I had never really thought to ask.

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              Toskala, YouTube star, put us all in a pretty bad mood last night.  We’ll see what Gustavsson and co. can do against the Bruins!

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                Ilya Bryzgalov and the Phoenix Coyotes roll into the ACC tonight looking to break Toronto’s winning streak.  Expect this to be a tight-checking, low-scoring affair.  Then again, we all know how the Leafs rarely do what is expected.

                *EDIT: Tough loss, but updated standings for GFWE are now included in this post!*

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                  After an abysmal start at home, the Leafs look to string together four wins in a row at the ACC for the first time in almost two years.  The “Battle of Ontario” has been poignantly lacking its once-trademark intensity the last few seasons, but the introduction of new snipers Phil Kessel, Milan Michalek and Alex Kovalev give this matchup a whole new look.  With a win tonight, Toronto could potentially move into a multi-team tie for 9th place in the Eastern Conference.