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The Maple Leafs finished as the league’s worst defensive team last season, giving up an astounding 286 goals, which works out to about 3.5 goals against a game. As such, much of the team’s summer remodeling took place on the blueline, which saw the departure of Kubina and the additions of shutdown defensemenÂ Beauchemin and Komisarek. With nearly $20M dollars committed per season through 2011 to the group of Kaberle, Komisarek, Beauchemin, Schenn and Finger, and Tomas being the only player above the age of 30, it appears on paper at least, that this will be the core of the defense for the foreseeable future. If that’s the case, how do they stack up against the rest of the league?
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 â€œnewâ€ NHL dictum and refused to be culled from the game.
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.
It wasn’t long ago when Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund, and Brendan Morrison were the talk of the league. They were arguably the best line in hockey during the 2002-03 season as the trio not only set career highs, but collectively posted 119 goals and 133 assists for 252 points. Not bad for one line. But since the lockout and the Steve Moore incident, every single one of their careers began to go downhill with a heap of steam.
The interview between league Commissioner, Gary Bettman, on Toronto radio station, FAN590 segment “The Game Plan” featuring Doug Maclean and Jack Armstrong, was a first hand look at the battle the relocation to Hamilton has become. Stating that after Jim Balsillie’s attempts at hijacking the Nashville Predators to Hamilton, the commish indicated he sat down with the billionaire outlining what it would take to become an NHL owner.
While the majority of Leafs fans wrote the team off in the summer, it wasnâ€™t until the New Year that the teams first true season of rebuilding began the inevitable grind into early year golf tournaments.
For a full team-by-team breakdown of all playoffs clubs, sure bets and sleeper picks for your playoff pools, visit the McKeen’s Playoff Preview where the factors below have been outlined and pointed out in a team-by-team write up.
So you’re Brian Burke and it’s July 1st.
Who do you go after? And what is the contract you offer?
With Files from Gil Brown
The current point system is most equitable for playoff races in January and individual franchise marketing, beginning as early as midseason.
Part of the logic behind Detroit Red Wing’s GM Ken Holland’s proposal, shot down in GM meetings in Naples, Florida in March, to change the season ending tie-breaking measures from Wins, to Regulation Wins is incentive for teams to get the job done in 60-minutes.
It’s about motivation, from puck drop in October through to April. But the current point system has greater connotations for marketing games, ticket sales and shaping the playoff race, the biggest issues for owners.
Remember the way back in the day when the “Can’t Beat Cujo” signs filled the ACC on those passionate, rambunctious (always wanted to use this word) Saturday nights? Well tonight, we got a brief glimpse of the glory days as Joseph turned in a magnificient performance down the stretch to steal a point away from Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
â€œThe Day after Yesterdayâ€ (the prequel to â€œDay after Tomorrowâ€). These two things have a lot in common. Millions of people watched it all unfold, hoping the guy in the lead role could do the impossible and save the day (it didnâ€™t happen, the world still froze over and the Leafs still donâ€™t have a second 1st round pick). There was a serious injury that needed medical aid (Toskalaâ€™s hip/groin, and Laura Chapmanâ€™s blood poisoning). And everyone was running around frantically once they found out about the strange phenomenon (Guy 1: â€œHey look, a giant tsunami!â€ Guy 2: â€œWho cares, Andy Wozniewski was traded!â€ Guy 1: â€œYou’re right! That’s far more bizarre.â€)
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).
Delving deeper into the hockey world, interacting with players, coaches and organizational personnel, Iâ€™ve learned a big lesson.
Weâ€™re dealing with people.
Guess what; fans are people, too.
I know, youâ€™re worried about value for Vesa Toskala and Tomas Kaberle. Well, donâ€™t. Their recent performance(s) are killing their market value, right?
No. Market forces and low-ball offers may hinder dealing them now, but as the trade deadline approaches, true value is more likely for the Buds. And thatâ€™s good, because both players are underperforming.
Being in full evaluation/negotiation mode in fantasy leagues, posturing for position and propping up a sagging roster, it got me to thinking about reality-based trade evaluation, and how appraisals are distorted by current production .. or lack thereof.
Ron Wilson will stick with the struggling Vesa Toskala as his slumping Maple Leafs, fresh off two consecutive losses by a collective score of 12-3, look to get off the schneid against Alex Ovechkin’s red-hot Washington Capitals.
Coming off the heels of two lopsided losses, the Maple Leafs are headed back home, where they will face the offensive firepower of the Washington Capitals.
Just under a week ago, Burke requested and received permission to speak with the Ducksâ€™ front office advisor Dave Nonis. Wednesday, the Leafs formally presented Nonis with an offer to join the franchise under the same position as he held under Brian in Vancouver.
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