the Blue and White
A team that Brian Burke envisioned as truculent, belligerent and pugnacious hit the ice last night in a no holds barred match-up. There were five fights by the end of the game; the Leafs winning three of them. Surprisingly, pugilist Colton Orr didnâ€™t drop the gloves once, but he used his body a few times to deliver some big hits. Garnet Exelby, Francois Beauchemin, Phil Oreskovic and a number of others also didnâ€™t shy away from the rough stuff.
I'll be answering a question or two every few days to fill time and space while we wait for the dog days of another playoff-less spring to wane away. It should also give each topic it's due deliberation as opposed to throwing a series of topics at you guys at once. Today's topic: The UFA-eligible Jeremy Williams.
In the first column of this two-part series, we took a quick look at Leaf prospect Jiri Tlusty'sÂ breakout campaign in the American Hockey League this season.Â Entering a season whereÂ expectations were tempered and hope and patience were preached, we've beenÂ privy toÂ a few oustanding seasons by Leaf youngsters across all levels of junior, minor, and collegiate hockey. Today, the spotlight's onÂ Mikhail Stefanovich of the Quebec Remparts. [more…]
On the implications of the Leafs' recent turnaround:
"I'm proud of the guys, they're working their butts off and that's important for a lot of reasons; a lot of what we're trying to build here and reward our fans and our season ticket holders. They're important wins, and I know people are saying we're messing up our draft choice but we'll happily accept that; we'll take that trade off any time. If I could make a deal - I said this last week, and I'll say it again today - if I could make a deal today that would put us in the playoffs, I would do it, as long as it was consistent with our long-term strategy. Those type of deals right now are not being presented, so I don't think it's going to change our approach."
Tomas Kaberle will be traded on March 4th. I guarantee it.
Kaberle, who's donned the Leaf uniform for a decade, would be wise to waive his no-trade clause at the NHL Trade Deadline. This would allow him to control his fate, rather than have Burke decide it for him when his contract nullifies his NTC in the off-season due to the Leafs' failure to make the post-season this year.
A rather solid home game by the Leafs saw them come out on the short side of the stick in extra time (yet again), but a fair share of positives came out of tonight's matchup.Â Justin Pogge played a very solid game in net for the Blue and White, and really needs to continue seeing time like this for anyone to get a fair idea of how he will perform in the NHL.Â Moreover, most of the Leafs were buzzing all night long, and this game really could have gone either way.
Dale Mitchell (#71) - RW
Birthdate: April 9, 1989
Hometown: Mississauga, ON
Staffan Kronwall has been claimed by the Washington Capitals off of re-entry waivers in what appears to be a stroke of respect and altruism by Brian Burke. With the re-entry waiver distinction, Kronwall was pretty much trapped in the minors. Burke's hands were tied in terms of flipping Kronwall for assets as any team acquiring the rearguard would similarly have to pass him through re-entry waivers and would therefore risk sacrificing assets for a player that may be gone the next day (thanks to Spitfire for pointing this out).
* Justin Pogge got his â€œpants pulled downâ€, plain and simple. Considering he was playing his second NHL game, and his teammates were displaying their best Andy Wozniewski impersonations, Iâ€™d say heâ€™s deserving of a mulligan. While a couple of the goals were stoppable, it begs the question if ANY goaltender could of garnered a solid performance with the abysmal performances that were displayed in front of the netminder last night.
Tonight, the Leafs will play the Minnesota Wild. Justin Pogge will be joining the Leafs for the affair and will get his second start this season. Mike Van Ryn, despite feeling well over the last week, has finally been cleared to play for the Blue and White after suffering a mild concussion in mid December.
Ed. Note: Lots of holiday reading going up today for you guys. Merry Christmas.
Here we are the Christmas break, and Iâ€™d like to take the time to look back at what we saw in September, what we expected by Christmas and what we envision for the future of the Blue and White.
The Maple Leafs, now bearers of a winning record at 14-13-6, are looking to continue their offensive onslaught against the league's fifth worst defense as they return home to host the underachieving Dallas Stars.