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Tomas Kaberle


    The Maple Leafs are creative. You have to hand it to them for finding new ways to lose games all the time. In the home opener against Montreal, it was sloppy turnovers and poor special teams leading to a blown late third period lead. On Saturday night, they decided to pack it away early against the Caps before going on a late run at the end to make the score more respectable. Tonight, it was a listless effort physically and emotionally, creating virtually nothing in the way of offense and falling victim to a pair of strange plays.


      Despite eight new faces in tonight’s season opening lineup against the Montreal Canadiens, many of the recurring themes of futility from last year were evident again in the 4-3 overtime loss. Poor defensive zone coverage, poor penalty killing, questionable moments in the net, and the snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory late in the game. Despite the disappointing loss, there were a few bright spots: namely the play of the top line led by Matt Stajan and Viktor Stalberg.


        Per Kevin McGran at the Toronto Star:

        On a day a former Maple Leafs captain formally announced his retirement, coach Ron Wilson said the team would again start the season captainless.

        Newcomers Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin however will join Tomas Kaberle as three alternate captains.

        McGran notes that Wilson suggested the captaincy issue would be revisited in roughly a month’s time from now, at which point the coach will consider whether one of his three assistants should be given the role or whether the team should remain captainless for another season.

        Read the full article from The Star


          The Maple Leafs continued their shaping of the NHL roster with another four cuts on Sunday. Top prospect Nazem Kadri will be going back to the OHL’s London Knights, Jonas Frogren and Christian Hanson will report to the Toronto Marlies, and Andy Rogers has been released. By my count, that leaves 30 players left (including Kessel who will be placed on the long-term injured reserve), meaning there will be another 6 cuts in the near future.


            The infamous Brian Burke “stamp” that has become his signature since his times in Hartford, Vancouver and Anaheim arrived in Toronto yesterday in the form of Phil Kessel and at the expense of the club’s next two first round draft picks and this year’s second round pick. Any time a general manager moves not one but two first round draft picks, it constitutes a major future-shaping decision and one that will ultimately play a major part in defining the legacy of his regime. Yesterday we were reaffirmed of one increasingly apparent fact about Brian Burke’s rebuild – it’s not your traditional model. We’ve seen over the course of the last three months – from June to September – Burke aggressively pursue all available avenues to try to position his club as a contender in the short and long term. Certainly, the 2009-10 campaign just got a whole lot more interesting.


              The Maple Leafs began on-ice workouts today at their new practice facility, the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence.

              I’ve been given credentials and was on site for the first day and will be attending all three days of on ice practice.

              The following are a series of notes from Day 1 …


                Amid speculation that Brian Burke is positioning himself to extend an offer sheet – perhaps to long-rumoured target, 22-year-old winger Phil Kessel – after swapping picks to recover the Leafs’ 2010 second round pick in a deal that would seemingly make little sense otherwise, there is another possibility to consider in regards to trade negotiations.


                  Leafs-related news has slowed to a crawl during the final weeks of the offseason, and this year’s summer movie scene has been rather unspectacular.   I propose a cure for both maladies:  a hockey movie to fill the void of a puck-deprived offseason, complete with all the excitement of a sports flick and all the truculence of an action blockbuster.

                  And so, without further ado, here is the game-day casting call for your 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs.

                  A tip o’ the hat to Don over at Mondesi’s House for the inspiration.


                    Today was the deadline for Tomas Kaberle’s NTC lift, and he is still a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. While some fans were demanding for an immediate rebuild with some youth in return for a trade for Kaberle, others notice how strong the current Leafs defense core has the potential to be and are curious to see how Kaberle can perform with a physical presence around him. Brian Burke is among those who are interested. “I look forth to seeing what Tomas can do with a little more size and toughness around him when he’s not picking his teeth out of the glass all night.”


                      As promised it has been a summer of comprehensive retooling both on the grind lines and perhaps more pertinently on the blueline. With Brian Burke hitting the fast forward on the once anticipated rebuild, the Leafs have become a tougher proposition with a prospects chart expected to feed into that ethos for years to come. Meanwhile, the defensive corps has become deeper and more pugnacious than any Leafs setup in the past decade… at least from a utilitarian standpoint.


                        It’s been the story of the summer in Toronto, the one that just will not go away.  

                        What will the Maple Leafs do with Tomas Kaberle?   Will they trade him this offseason?  Will they keep him hoping his play on an improved team will up the demand for him?   Or will they keep him with the intention of building around him?


                          Since taking over the reigns of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke identified several glaring weaknesses in his team.  In several press conferences, he clearly and succinctly described these weaknesses and his intention and plans to amend his product.  Being one of the more active General Managers, commencing with the NCAA free agent period right through til today, Mr Burke has lived up to the expectations most Leaf fans would have.  Commencing with the signings of Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson, followed up with deadline trades to acquire draft picks, drafting London Knights sensation Nazim Kadri, signing key UFA’s specifically addressing his teams needs and the signing of top European goalie Jonas Gustuvvson led to renewed optimism amongst Leaf supporters – not of an imminent Stanley Cup victory, but, rather of a renewed direction and focus, once again bringing hope of a contending Leafs team being iced in the not too distant future.


                            Although the season prior to lockout would prove the Maple Leafs last playoff foray in half a decade, neither year that straddled the infamous labor disputes would be remembered with any particular fondness. Ushering in the reign of John Ferguson Jr., 2003-04 became, in hindsight, a defining landmark in an era of decline when overblown hype would manifest a country club malaise. Regardless, those lockout sandwiching years can also be remembered, at least in a very in a small way, for the gracing of the Toronto blue line by a cult stay at home defenseman who defied the “new” NHL dictum and refused to be culled from the game.


                              A variety of discussion points to kick off the weekend including the imminent departure of Justin Pogge and the Marlies goaltending situation going into next season. Is it finally James Reimer’s time to shine? Also, a quick look at the latest flurry of moves made by the Boston Bruins, and how that may affect a potential Leaf trade for the still unsigned Phil Kessel.


                                Brian Burke was on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a variety of Leaf topics. An audio link to the interview can be found on the FAN 590′s website here. Although none of the news was of the earth-shattering variety, there were a couple interesting tidbits dropped as it pertains to the Leafs’ plans over the next few weeks and going into the regular season.


                                  The Toronto Sun is reporting that Brian Burke is back from his fishing trip, and that the action is supposed to pick up over the next little while. Some quick hits:

                                  - Brian Burke confirms that the team will not be pursuing free agent Dominic Moore

                                  - The signing of Rickard Wallin will serve as Moore’s replacement

                                  - Just a reminder: Tomas Kaberle’s no-trade clause kicks back in after August 15th


                                    Let’s fight off the Monday blahs with a quick look at what’s happening around the NHL. A quick update on various issues that may impact the Maple Leafs, such as the Phil Kessel contract negotiations, the Patrick Sharp and Brad Richards trade rumors, and what the signing of Wade Dubielewicz may mean to the goaltending situation in Minnesota.


                                      Coming into this offseason, GM Brian Burke promised to drastically overhaul the Maple Leafs roster, and he knew that the primary asset at his disposal was cap space: lots and lots of it. After handing out long-term contracts to Orr,  Beauchemin, and Komisarek, he’s got a little under $3 million left to play with in order to add an impact top six forward. In an attempt to minimize the amount of outgoing “talent” via trade, it’s no secret that he’s been trying to corner GM’s of teams that are pressed right up against the cap.


                                        The Toronto Maple Leafs have released their complete regular season schedule for the upcoming 2009-2010 NHL season.

                                        The Leafs will open the season at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, October 1st, followed by a date with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at the Verizon Center.

                                        Also of note, the team will play 4 Sunday games this season, which will include a pair of 5pm starts in Long Island and Pittsburgh. Their longest homestand will span 3 games, on 5 separate occasions throughout the season. The longest road trip of the year will encompass a pair of 5 gamers, in late October and mid-January. The late October trip should serve as an important benchmark for the young squad early into the season, as they will play all 5 games within 7 days, travelling out west to Vancouver, down south to face Anaheim and Dallas, and then back up to the northeast for games against Buffalo and Montreal. The Leafs will close out the regular season on Saturday, April 10th in Montreal.


                                          Leafs Nation can breathe a sigh of relief.  The long wait for Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson’s decision is over.  Reports indicate that the tender has finally chosen the Toronto Maple Leafs after a long wooing process from a number of interested teams.

                                          The contract is a one year deal totaling $900,000.  Many expect Gustavsson to be brought in as Vesa Toskala’s backup and be a constant source of competition for our Finnish goaltender.  Of course, there is the possibility that “the best goaltender outside of the NHL” exceeds expectations and steals the number one spot.