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In part 11 of his 12 Burning Questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at one of the hottest topics in Leafs Nation today: just how long of a leash does Ron Wilson have?
In the summer of 2008, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the midst of a major overhaul. Â Much maligned general manager John Ferguson, Jr. had been relieved of his duties with the organization, and as nice a man as JFJ was when I met him at the Leafs rookie and orientation camp a year prior, there is no solid argument that can be made for him as a good GM.
Ferguson Jr, to his credit, can take solace in the fact that a few of his draft picks are now cracking the Leafs as legitimate players, Kulemin and Gunnarsson among them, although even that fact can be debated Â - how much was scouting and how much was general managing?
In a word, John Ferguson Jr. left the Toronto Maple Leafs in shambles, and some of the moves he made, continually sacrificing youth for a quick fix solution (or at least something he thought was a quick fix) have very well set the Maple Leafs back at least an additional few years in the rebuilding process.
He looks much better in this uniform
He looks much better in this uniform
No Leafs fan wants to be reminded of that most hated of Finnish goaltenders, Vesa Toskala. He was ushered into the organization as the next great goalie that would surely be the one to finally right this sinking ship. As any fan will tell you, this has been a disaster. In the nature of looking back at previous Leafs from yesteryear, Iâ€™m going to show you just how bad Toskala truly was. All stats not specifically referenced are borrowed from BehindtheNet.ca.
Weâ€™ll start by taking a look at Toskalaâ€™s season in 09-10. Toskala ended his tenure with Toronto with a record of 7-12-3, appearing in 26 games. His save percentage was a ghastly .874 and his GAA was a monumental 3.66. You donâ€™t need to follow hockey closely at all to glance at these stats and understand why they are so bad. This was a far cry from his stats in 07-08, where he had a .904 save percentage and a 2.74 GAA. Even his rather subpar 08-09 season was better, when he had an .891 save percentage and a 3.26 GAA. Could the Leafs being in second last place in the league have something to do with his decreased stats?
In part ten of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the importance of a good early start, and if the Leafs can avoid another disastrous start.
There really isn’t any other way to put it. Â No matter how you slice it, no matter how you try to spin it, or how you try to put a sugar coating on it, the cold hard fact still shines through.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were not a very good team last year.
Although their stats, and their general play, improved dramatically following the late January trades that saw them overturn nearly half their lineup, the fact remains that the 2009-2010 edition of the Maple Leafs fought inconsistency, as well as young inexperience that had them struggling most of the year.
But it could be argued that never were they worse, than in the first month of the season.
In part nine of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at the Maple Leafs special teams, and why it must improve in order for the team to have success.
When it came to doing this 12 burning questions series, I discovered a lot of things about the Leafs, and how I will be looking for different things this year. Â And even though I already knew the fact, it was all the more confirmed to me that there really are no definitive answers to these burning questions, at least not in August anyway.
However, as we reach part nine of the series, I can confidently say that I can, for the first time this series, give a more defined answer.
And here you thought a magazine couldn't have add-on features.
Midway through the month of July, I had the privilege of chatting with Dave Poulin, Vice President of Hockey Operations with the Toronto Maple Leafs, for an article appearing in Maple Leafs Annual.
Having a professional background in publishing, I was not the least surprised that limitations on available space, plus design and layout constraints, resulted in the necessity to crop certain parts of the interview.
With the Annual due to hit stores next week, I thought I’d share a few of the “lost excerpts” from the cutting room floor in which Poulin offers his thoughts on the progress of the Toronto Marlies, as well as the emergence of the NCAA as a growing prospect pipeline.
Think of it as the equivalent of a “DVD extra” to your copy of MLA.
In part five of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at Toronto young guns, and whether or not they can continue their consistent contributions.
A team’s fortunes can be decided on the shoulders of their young players, be it their rookies or their sophomores. Â There are plenty of examples of young players who can help their club catch lightning in the bottle, and help them surpass the expectations set earlier in the offseason by the majority of pundits.
Of course for every example of that, there are also counter examples of teams who perhaps relied too heavily on rookies, or second year players, to help pace the offense, only to have things not go according to plans.
In part four of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth examines whether Nazem Kadri will crack this lineup, and where he fits in with the team if and when he does.
In the summer of 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans were still finding out first hand what type of brash, confident attitude Brian Burke was going to be bringing to the team.
I was recently invited to a Canadian Tire press conference announcing their new five-year partnership with the NHL to become the League’s Official Sporting Goods Retailer of the NHL in Canada. While I was unable to attend the event, which included a one-on-one interview with Olympic Gold Medalist and Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Toews, the promotion company generously offered a media release for the site.
The Toronto Maple Leafs 2010 rookie tournament is coming to London, Ontario and Maple Leafs Hot Stove is pleased to announce that we will have exclusive, unprecedented coverage of the event!
Just confirmed earlier tonight, I will be in attendance at the John Labatt Centre for the duration of the tournament, providing up to date news from the rookie tournament for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as the other competing teams (Pittsburgh, Ottawa, and Chicago.)
As part of our exclusive coverage, I am pleased to announce that we will have game day previews, game day recaps, live blogs, live tweeting, as well as exclusive interviews with some of the Leafs biggest rookies and prospects.
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;
â€œOur picks in our vision of where we ended up are overvalued in accordance to the available crop of prospects.â€
But in Toronto, to admit that in whatâ€™s deemed as a â€˜rebuildâ€™ would have been a PR disaster.
Despite popular opinion, he wasnâ€™t wrong.
The world is no longer flat, itâ€™s round .. like a full-cirle
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. Â 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.
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. Â 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.
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. Â Burke spoke to the media yesterday and made a variety of statements that should peak the interest of Leafs Nation.
In case you missed it, here are some of the key points from Burke’s interview on the Fan590 this morning:
- There have been some legitimate offers made on Tomas Kaberle, though he expects that the quality will continue to increase as the deadline approaches
- The team continues to look for a top six winger with some size and scoring ability
- Offers have been primarily “future-oriented”, which would include a quality young player and a high draft pick. He would prefer to receive a package that would help the club more right now, but these offers are serious enough that he may re-evaluate his position and consider accepting one
- The team is not looking to acquire a big centre. Although they are small down the middle, the priority remains a big, scoring winger.
- Nazem Kadri has done everything the club has asked him to do and looked “fantastic” at the prospect camp last month. He is stronger in the upper body and is more explosive.
- They are pleased to have signed Jerry D’Amigo to a pro contract, but were not a factor in his decision to leave RPI. He made that decision on his own and will now battle it out for a spot on the opening night roster. Burke characterizes D’Amigo’s progress over the past season as “meteoric”.
- He believes that the arbitrator made the right decision in siding with the NHL on the Kovalchuk saga. The Maple Leafs have not and will not take part in these mega long-term contracts that tail off drastically at the end.
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.)
*Warning:Â More analysis and opinionÂ 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 Blochâ€™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.
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. Â The article is French, but the English translation of the title (“Eric Belanger signs…but he won’t say where!”) says it all. Â 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”. Â Of course, this begs the question: are the Leafs somehow involved?
Now that the NHL has won the arbitration award based on “salary cap circumvention” with the Kovalchuk situation, they are ready to tackle the rest of the league. A year (and perhaps in a few occasions more than a year) ago, specific contracts were approved by the league and now the league has decided to reevaluate those contracts to determine if they too circumvent the salary cap.
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
Â As the systemic dismantling of this summerâ€™s Stanley Cup champions continues in earnest, league watchers are crying foul. Where detractors of the current, hard revenue based cap once denounced the communistic, unilateral sharing of league revenue as the prime illustration of illogic in the CBA (alongside the long-long term contract loopholes), Mondayâ€™s exit of Antti Niemi from the Chicago Blackhawks has helped turn the club into the latest martyrâ€™s of the cap.
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