NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Benoit Pouliot #67 of the New York Rangers checks David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It’s not time to sound the alarm, but the sense of urgency is heightened across Toronto.
The Leafs are still firmly in a playoff spot and, other than Detroit (who has three games in hand on the Leafs, but are also missing Zetterberg and, for the moment, Datsyuk), the 4+ point gap the Leafs have on everyone else is a much tougher hill to climb than it looks because of the “three point era” in the NHL. It’s extremely tough to make up ground at this stage of the season in this day and age.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston is reporting that the Winter Classic is going to come across the border to Toronto in 2017.
The planned location for it would be BMO field, with extensive renovations to outdoor facility taking place. MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke has been in talks with Municipal, Provincial and Federal Officials to make this happen and they all appear on board.
This dovetails nicely into the Maple Leafs 100th anniversary season.
The cost for expanding the woefully small stadium, would be twice it’s $60,000,000 initial build price, said Leiweke.
“It’s big money, huge money,” Said Lewieke
“It fits a lot of needs,” he said. “It renovates it for TFC, it certainly renovates it for the Pan Am Games, it renovates it for rugby. The Grey Cup would be phenomenal in an outdoor setting in Toronto on the lake, but (the Winter Classic is) clearly one of the things we put on the wishlist.”
“The city, the province and the feds have all told us it’s important to them from an economic stimulus standpoint because we see what it’s doing to the economy in Detroit now – imagine what would happen in Toronto.”
Thanks to Vintage Leaf Memories’ Michael Langlois for stopping by to share some memories ahead of tomorrow’s Alumni games, set to be played in Comerica Park at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
When Alec Brownscombe asked me if I was interested in developing a piece for MLHS about the Winter Classic Legends games, my first thought was: who is on the roster? Will I enjoy writing about these guys?
There isn’t much I can add to the powerplay analysis that wasn’t in the write up by JP Nikota describing the Leafs use of the 1-3-1. They adopted this system in 2012-13 while more teams have incorporated the formation throughout the NHL.
McKenzie:If you’ve been hearing a lot of Vernon Fiddler trade rumours it’s because two weeks ago he went to the Dallas Stars and said he wants more ice time and wants a bigger role, and if he can’t get it with Dallas than let it be somewhere else. He’s on an expiring contract at $1.8 million and an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. There is interest in him from other teams but the Stars are wining and things are going well, so they’re not going to give him away. Keep an eye on this one.
Dreger: The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of those teams that have had discussions with Dallas about Fiddler. Toronto’s a little bit concerned about his age and the money, but the Leafs are looking for something. They’ve also had discussions on potentially trading John-Michael Liles to the Carolina Hurricanes but nothing imminent there.
When John Michael Liles is in the minors, the Leafs are pinged for 2,950,000 on the cap. If the Leafs were to deal Liles and retain half of his salary (maximum amount), they would be on the hook for 1,937,000. That doesn’t make sense to do over the length of the deal, but something like a million might. The maximum number of retained salaries is three per team, so this would put the Leafs at the max if it were to transpire. One stumbling block here is that Carolina has no more cap space than the Leafs.
Toronto bounced back from a defeat in Columbus last night in a big way with a win against the Penguins. The Leafs found their physical game and put forth a strong effort across the board on their way to a 4-1 victory.
Toronto Maple Leafs’ win, a 6-5 victory in OT, marks best start
for the franchise in 20 years (1993-1994 Toronto Maple Leafs).
Randy Carlyle and Dallas Eakins are probably going to want to forget this game; it was poorly played with more turnovers than we’ve seen in a while, complete 5-man defensive breakdowns, poor goaltending, no hitting, no commitment and/or sacrifice in the way of blocking shots or being hard on the puck.
Welcome to the Battle of Ontario edition of our Rookie Tournament coverage.
As we all know, Ottawa sucks and while I have no idea who will dress for the Baby Leafs tonight at this point, I can’t imagine that we’ll have any problem walking all over them; their parents probably won’t even watch out of shame and embarrassment.
The Leafs have won both of their games in the tourney so far and the players who you’d expect to standout have done just that. Brad Ross, Morgan Rielly, Stuart Percy, Petter Granberg, and Josh Leivo (before his injury) have all been great and Zach Yuen turned a few heads in last night’s game.
It will be interesting to see who gets into the lineup today — you’d have to think that management is hoping to get a long look at some of these prospects against like-aged players before NHL camps start.
So with Rielly, Leivo, MacWilliam, McKegg, and Sparks all sitting this game out and Finn leaving mysteriously after a period of play, you might have guessed that this would be a tough one for the Leafs rookies but you’d be wrong.
Stuart Percy was the best player on the ice, and Brad Ross was the best forward for either team pacing the Leafs to a 4-3 shootout win over a Penguins team with no competent forwards.
Zachary Yuen was probably the game’s biggest surprise. He had a solid game in every respect and almost certainly opened some eyes with his performance tonight; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dressed again tomorrow for the team to get a better look.
The game itself was a back and forth affair, starting with a bang in the first (Pitt goal, 2 fights, Tor goal) and ending with a fizzle (shootouts are kinda lame).
Toronto’s first goal was scored by Matt Rupert on the PP. With Biggs providing the traffic in front, a rebound from a point shot found its way to Rupert’s stick and he punched it in.
The second goal was scored by Fabrice Herzog after some nice retrieval work by Ross and Verhaeghe and a pretty sweet behind the back pass from Ross. Herzog was given too much time in front and he took advantage of it.
Toronto’s third goal was a nice little passing play between Andrew Crescenzi and Jamie Devane in transition with Crescenzi potting the goal on a first touch shot, over the goalie’s shoulder.
Shootout goals were scored by Ross and Percy — the Leafs’ two best players tonight.
With that, the Leafs move to 2-0 on the tournament and will play against Ottawa’s rookies tomorrow night. Hopefully we’ll get to see some more of Leivo and Rielly, and with any luck whatever took Finn out of tonight’s game isn’t anything serious.
With Brian Burke back in the news, it’s fitting that his greatest contribution to the Maple Leafs – a rebuilt farm system — take center stage in the days leading up to actual meaningful hockey. The Baby Leafs have a gold-plated defense group and a forward contingent that breaks down fairly nicely into scoring lines and checking lines; the lines should pretty much roll themselves.
With players like Morgan Rielly trying to make an impact prior to the start of Leafs camp, and guys like Leivo, Biggs, and Percy looking to solidify key roles with the Marlies, the stakes are a lot higher for these kids than they may seem to fans on the surface. These aren’t your typical pre-season games and they’ll provide a great glimpse at what the future has in store for the big club.
The Leafs’ rookies took the tournament opener as a result of their energy, skill, and goaltending. They outpaced a Chicago group that was forced to rely more on physicality to gain ground. They caught the Leafs temporarily, but in the end Toronto came away with a win they probably deserved as Morgan Rielly and Tyler Biggs converted in the shootout to secure a 3-2 Leaf victory.
The Maple Leafs’ annual Rookie Tournament is upon us. Toronto hosts Chicago Jr. tonight at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. Toronto Maple Leafs new and ‘not-so-old’ will have a chance to display their talents for the Maple Leafs Brass in what should be an entertaining tilt of careful pre-pre-season stepping and spirited verbal jousting.
For all your basic rookie tournament info needs, the Leafs’ official website pretty much has you covered. View the roster and schedule breakdown. Read the primer for tonight’s game, which includes broadcast details. Or watch an interview with Marlies coach Steve Spott in which he talks about the weekend’s promise and touches on a few key roster points.
But most importantly, join the party at MLHS and follow @TOTruculent as I live-Twitter tonight’s action! Embedded below, for your non-having-to-switch-tabs pleasure.
I’ll be covering the action from the press box in London. Check back here for updates throughout the night, and a post-game recap. Unless things go really poorly right at the end, in which case I’ll be locked in a dark room, fighting off a wave of painful flashbacks to May 13th.
The Leafs outshot the Blackhawks 14-6 in the first period, despite a healthy amount of play taking place in the Leafs’ end in the early going. Early standouts included – as expected – Morgan Rielly, who at any given moment seems like he could do something dangerous. Rielly took two early wrist shots, one from the point and one from the half boards, that both found the net in dangerous ways.
Josh Leivo also made an impact. From creating offense out of situations you wouldn’t normally consider opportunities to using his teammates well, he impressed from the get go and was rewarded with a power play goal. Leivo doesn’t immediately strike you the way his 6’2 frame would suggest, but he uses the size well. Keep an eye on him this fall.
So far, the Leafs’ rookies are by far the better team. Outpacing, outshooting, out puck-moving, out-hockeying. Chicago seemed to land a few more memorable hits, though. Here’s hoping for a truculent second frame.
Marked difference from the first frame. Chicago closed the shot gap, but the Leafs continued a high effort across the board and played pretty solidly for a young team thrown together in recent weeks. A few standouts emerged beyond the first period crowd, providing a great look at some other Leaf prospects.
Tyler Biggs might be one of the more interesting young Leafs. We’re all aware of his purported skating limitations, but on first glance, he’s added speed since my last viewing. In close, the mobility still seems like an issue – but that’s one of the hardest elements of proper skating technique to develop. Nevertheless, he brings a 100% effort level on every shift and gets his job done by making the right play. Gritty. As I mentioned on Twitter and am happy to stand by thus far – from the press box, he looks like David Clarkson in a different jersey.
With all the focus on the Bernier/Reimer debate heading into next season, not much has been made recently of the Leafs’ net depth behind the top two. Garret Sparks has turned in an impressive night so far, stopping several shots through traffic and snagging at least one high, hard snapper with the glove hand impressively enough to make Francois Allaire wonder, “You can do that?”
Also, have I mentioned the power play pairing that is Rielly and Finn? The power play pairing that is Rielly and Finn.
After a comeback by the young Hawks, the Leafs eked it out in a shootout to win 3-2, with Rielly and Biggs coming through in the skills comp for the jr. Leafs. Thus concludes the third period recap, which was truncated in favour of running downstairs for the postgame scrums.
The Leafs’ rookies took the tournament opener as a result of their energy, skill, and goaltending. They outpaced a Chicago group that was forced to rely more on physicality to gain ground. They caught the Leafs temporarily, but in the end Toronto came away with a win they probably deserved.
Check the period summaries above for a few observations on the standouts (Rielly, Leivo, Sparks) and watch the Game in Six below. Notable highlights from Steve Spott’s postgame scrum:
-On the mobility and skill of his young defensive corps: “Wow.”
-Spott was impressed by the team’s ability to come together quickly and
-He was also enthusiastic about Sparks’ performance, only calling out the first goal as one Garrett might potentially want another shot at.
-Spott confirmed Leivo missed the third period due to a chest contusion suffered when he took a hit earlier in the game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Monday the schedule for the 2013 Rookie Tournament in London, Ontario. This year, Maple Leafs’ prospects will compete in three games at Budweiser Gardens beginning Thursday, September 5 versus rookie teams from the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks.
“The Maple Leafs are thrilled to return to a great hockey city like London for the annual Rookie Tournament,” said Leafs Senior Vice-President and General Manager David Nonis. “It’s a great opportunity for us to evaluate the players in our system against their peers from other NHL clubs.”
Tickets for the 2013 Rookie Tournament officially go on sale Saturday, June 8 at 10 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Budweiser Gardens Box Office, by phone at (866) 455-2849 or online at www.budweisergardens.com. Ticket prices for the evening games are Adults – $19.25 and Students/Seniors/Kids – $14.25. Prices for the afternoon games are Adults – $16.75 and Students/Seniors/Kids – $11.75. Additionally this year, Full Day Passes will also be offered at $26.00 for Adults and $21.00 for Students/Seniors/Kids.
Toronto, Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Chicago’s 2013 Rookie Tournament rosters will be announced at a later date.
2013 Rookie Tournament Schedule
DATE TIME EVENT LOCATION
Thur. Sept. 5 2:00 PM Pitt vs. Ott Budweiser Gardens
7:00 PM Chi vs. Tor Budweiser Gardens
Fri. Sept. 6 T.B.A. Practice Budweiser Gardens
Sat. Sept. 7 2:00 PM Ott vs. Chi Budweiser Gardens
7:00 PM Tor vs. Pitt Budweiser Gardens
Sun. Sept. 8 2:00 PM Chi vs. Pitt Budweiser Gardens
7:00 PM Tor vs. Ott Budweiser Gardens
The Jonathan Bernier to Toronto speculation was ongoing all week, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when the Leafs acquired him yesterday. What was surprising, considering teams that are in much worse shape in net like the Flyers and Islanders were in on the bidding, is that one of those teams didn’t offer big value for a goalie so many are apparently high on.
Ultimately, it seems the Leafs were able to offer a package that matched up well with the Kings’ needs. The Leafs gave Los Angeles a good backup goalie and top nine forward who combine to cost them a million bucks (since the Leafs are retaining salary), along with a second round pick. That’s solid value for a guy who requested a trade on a team that’s tight against the cap.
Let’s start this off with a bold proclamation:
Dion Phaneuf’s 2013 campaign was his best season in the NHL to date.
I really believe that. Phaneuf has rounded into the complete, 1A defenseman that Brian Burke and Dave Nonis envisioned when they swindled the Calgary Flames into one of the most lopsided trades in recent NHL history.
I really wanted to write a wrap up notebook, but I wasn’t going to subject myself to watching that game again, nor do I particularly want to write about it. I mean, the only time I watched that Bergeron game winner was live and that’s how it is going to remain, so I wouldn’t be much of a source for insight or analysis.
It really was a great year for the Leafs, though. At the beginning of the season I didn’t think they would make the playoffs, and at the beginning of the first round I wasn’t sure they would make it much of a series. They proved me wrong both times. They proved a lot of people wrong.
In order for the Leafs to get better, though, they’ll need to have a strong offseason and smooth out some of their rough edges.
Just a little over 24 hours since the Game 7 letdown, it’s become clear to me I am way too emotionally involved with a damn hockey team; so much so that I start to wonder about myself for being this brutally devastated over a game. But I want to say that Leafs Nation is a special, special thing. I enjoy the fans of this team almost as much as I enjoy the team itself. That’s a weird statement to make, but for those that don’t live here or haven’t experienced playoffs in Toronto, it’s a beautiful, crazy thing. Just as the weather seems to turn a corner, sun dresses are dawned, beers consumed on patios, car stereos are cranked a little louder (mandatory windows down) and Leaf flags start appearing everywhere you look.
With their backs against the wall, the Maple Leafs will look to force a seventh game by winning at home for the first time this postseason.
Toronto will undoubtedly play with the desperation they showed for most of Friday night. The difference tonight will be that the Bruins are also starting to feel the pressure. Boston will be throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the Leafs and James Reimer in an effort to close out this series. With the continuing struggles of Seguin and Marchand, the offensive load will likely be carried by the Krejci line.
At the other end of the ice, two feisty Leafs centers in Mikhail Grabovski and Nazem Kadri earnestly want to make a contribution of their own to their team’s success. With the way Grabovski has elevated his game in these playoffs, it should only be a matter of time before the Belorussian finds his name on the scoresheet.