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First, a confession. Â Or, more like an obvious statement.
I love covering hockey. Â I love covering it, in all of its forms and states. Â I love writing game recaps and game previews. Â I love writing opinion pieces, and I love talking with those in the hockey business, to pick their brains whenever possible.
Also, one thing most know about me, is that I love the world of radio.
To me, there is nothing better than a day at work when you have the sports radio station on, hours upon hours of good debate, quality guests, and overall exciting programming.
In a perfect world, I’d love to do MLHS radio once a week (if not more) but I know all of us have pretty hectic schedules. Â In my time before I became a writer on this site, I spent most of my time toiling in the minor leagues of sports writing. Â I did a decent job of gaining interviews and access to players. Â I began to develop the practice of recording all interviews I did, for the purpose of later transcribing them.
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.
For Greg McKegg, nothing has necessarily come easy in his hockey career. Â A slow start to his rookie campaign in Erie, followed by a knee injury which threatened the start of his season this past year, McKegg began the year as a winger for the Erie Otters that ISS ranked in the 90′s.
It was something that McKegg couldn’t not think about, no matter how much he tried.
“It’s something you try not to think about too much really, but you can’t help but look. Â It was disappointing to see that for sure, but I think it gives you that edge to work harder and show people that you deserve to be higher up on the list.”
And that is exactly what he did.
Being described by some in the hockey circles as a perennial underdog, McKegg did the only thing he knew how to do. Â Work hard.
It was a quiet Day One at the 2010 NHL Draft for the Maple Leafs, but the team stepped up its game in a big way on Saturday afternoon. The club wheeled and dealed its way into the 2nd round of the draft and through some crafty maneuvering in the later rounds, managed to add seven new players into the organization.
The Leafs were able to significantly upgrade their depth up front, by grabbing six forwards to go with one defenseman. Surprisingly, Leafs’ Swedish scout Thommie Bergman had a big day, selecting three players from the Swedish leagues.
Yesterday was a big day in Leafs Nation. Â And I think I speak for all fans when I say it’s about time. Â While two teams are currently battling for the opportunity to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been forced to sit on the sidelines and watch, bide their time with the other half of the league who wasn’t fortunate enough to make into the NHL’s playoffs.
And while they have kept themselves busy, and Brian Burke has shown a penchant for rarely letting his team slip into the background, a lot of hype has been leading toward this time of year.
Even without a first-or second-round draft pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still making plenty of waves, and it appears Burke is fit to make an impression at the draft, whether he is selecting or not.
Which, although he would never admit it, would be the perfect way to steal the spotlight back from the doom and gloom position of Boston using the Leafs pick to select a potential franchise cornerstone.
Tomas Kaberle, long been rumoured to be on his way out of Toronto, may be inching closer and closer with each passing day. Â As the calendar flipped to June yesterday, and now with the entry draft and free agency now firmly in sight on the horizon, it appears Kaberle’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs is now being measured in days.
It seems the “Kaberle to Columbus for the 4th overall pick” speculation is picking up some steam. Aaron Portzline, the Blue Jackets beat writer for the Columbus DispatchÂ had this to say in his hockey blog this afternoon:
“The rumor percolating in Canada that Toronto will offer defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Blue Jackets for the No. 4 pick appears to be just that — a rumor. But don’t be surprised, we’re told, if Toronto GM Brian Burke makes that offer in the days or hours leading up to the NHL entry draft, set for June 25-26 in Los Angeles. It’s an enticing trade, to be sure, as Kaberle is a very polished and skilled defenseman. But would Howson make that trade? Hard to say. On the surface, it’s a very fair offer, as it immediately fills one of the Blue Jackets’ glaring needs. But look further, and it’s the kind of trade that Howson — and lots of other GMs — would be reluctant to make. Kaberle is signed at $4.25 million — a fair wage — but only for one more season. He’s an unrestricted free agent after the 2010-11 season. It seems unlikely that Howson would give up the No. 4 overall pick for one season of Kaberle.”
Now this is interesting on a number of levels. The first being that this is the first source, and a Columbus one at that, other than Steve Simmons’ speculative article that connects Kaberle to trade talks for the 4th overall pick. However, there is always the possibility that the writer is simply basing these assumptions on the same article we already know about. The second point is that the writer, and I’m assuming he’s a Jackets fan, believes the trade offer to be “very fair” as it “fills one of their glaring needs”. Lastly, Portzline suggests that it’s unlikely Howson would give up such a high draft pick for “one year of Kaberle”, possibly hinting at the fact that Columbus would give it some serious thought if Tomas came with a multi-year contract extension. Food for thought.
According to LA Kings beat writer Rich Hammond, it appears as if Kings winger Alexander Frolov is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. Citing an interview with Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi, Hammond explains that the team is “not optimistic” about their chances of retaining their young sniper. Should the Leafs be interested in his services?
For longtime fans of the NHL, it was nothing new.
An organization set to come in, guns blazing, and attempt to be “competition” for the National Hockey League. Â On the surface, perhaps not a bad idea. Â After all, competition creates creativity. Â Competition brings out the absolute best in everyone.
However, there have been two big attempts by rogue organizations to dethrone the NHL from atop their perch as the number one hockey league.
And just like the WHA years earlier, is it possible that the KHL is going the way of the dodo bird?
Ah, sports media coverage in Toronto. Don’t ever change.
According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, Tomas Kaberle is unhappy with Leafs head coach Ron Wilson. Naturally, this has sparked a flurry of speculation, debate, and blame-placing where – if the player is to be believed – there may be none necessary to begin with.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Katrina Cady of Psycho Lady Hockey about an aspect of the game which receives less recognition than perhaps deserved: the fan experience.
Katrina was gracious enough to agree to share her thoughts with the readers of MLHS on a variety topics, including the culture of hockey in traditional and non-traditional markets, the impact of social media in terms of coverage and fan involvement, and of course, your Toronto Maple Leafs.
It was a dark night on Friday, and I thought I could accurately predict who will win tonight's game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals. What occurred over the course of the night is nothing short of the truth in a world full of lies. Am I lying about that? Read on for the ultimate truth by drinking my honesty serum with your mind gullet.
Jonas Gustavsson.Â Phil Kessel.Â Matt Stajan.Â (Ok that last one was just to mess with you).Â The Leafs continued their point streak and began a hopefully lengthy run of wins with a victory over the visiting Red Wings tonight.Â It was an admirable performance across the board tonight as followers of this Maple Leafs squad hover in a state of trepid excitement.Â One thing we can be sure about is that Gustavsson has given us a level of goaltending not seen in these parts for quite a while.
The Boston Globe reports that restricted free agent winger Phil Kessel will no longer be negotiating with the Boston Bruins and will likely now await either a trade or an offer sheet from a rival club. The writer suggests that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli would likely prefer going through the trade route in order to receive a package of higher value than 3 unproven draft picks as compensation for an offer sheet in the $5 million range. The article also makes an interesting point: despite missing 12 games, Kessel finished tied for 12th in NHL scoring last season and the players above him average $6.5 million in annual salary. Makes you think, doesn’t it.
With that being said, the pressure to make a deal seems to lie on the Bruins because per the CBA rules, if Kessel were to sign an offer sheet before the Bruins can find a suitable trade, they would be forced to either let him go or match and keep him. They cannot simply match an offer sheet and then seek to deal him for a package of higher value than the draft picks during the first year of his new deal. But again, sneaking behind the Bruins GM’s back to ink Kessel to an offer sheet before they have a chance to act may trigger some harsh sentiment and retaliation.
In other news, just a friendly reminder that tonight is the fourth and final game of the Leafs rookie tournament in Kitchener, which kicks off at 7pm ET against the rival Ottawa Senators. Coverage will be aired once again on Rogers TV channels 10 and 60.
With news of the trade to re-acquire Toronto’s 2010 2nd round selection, rumors and speculation of a looming offer sheet have been a hot topic of discussion among Leaf fans and around the NHL. Among the many RFA’s, the three most prominent and likely targets appear to be Boston’s Phil Kessel, Buffalo’s Drew Stafford and New York’s Brandon Dubinsky. Here’s the latest news pertaining to that trio.
Aside from the occasional hardcore junior hockey followers, the majority of NHL fans will track the progress of their team’s top young prospects through highlight clips or boxscores. For the most part, the development and potential NHL impact of a young player then becomes a function of the amount of goals and assists they record at that level. I mean heck, it’s hard for Islanders fans to look at the 356 points that John Tavares has scored over the past 3 seasons in the OHL without getting excited. And rightfully so. All indications are that he’s going to be a very special player for a long, long time.
On the flip side, you’ve also got the purists who value a keen scouting eye to judge traits such as leadership ability, instincts, emotional drive, among other skills that cannot be represented numerically. Back in March, when news spread of Tavares breaking the all-time OHL goal scoring record held by Peter Lee, the first reaction by many was “Who the heck is Peter Lee?” Just some guy who scored 81 goals and 161 points in his last junior season is all… Well, point taken. Stats and numbers don’t mean everything, but the question is: how much DO they mean?
This isn’t exactly the typical blog you’ll find here at MLHS, but I figured it was definitely something worthwhile to share. I recently came across an extremely well written excerpt from the book, The Joy of Sports, by author Michael Novak. While not relating directly to hockey or the Maple Leafs, it is certainly a reflective piece with an interesting philosophical twist that speaks to the needs, desires and hopes of the common sports fan. Â Â
According to Rangers Tribune, Newsday writer Steve Zipay has updated his Twitter account to suggest the Rangers are walking awayÂ from Nik Zherdev, rendering him an unrestricted free agent.
Update: NYR have released a statementÂ confirming the decision.
All that remains to be seen is whether the Leafs are able to convince Zherdev to come to Toronto …
Kicking off the week with another update on a whole lot of nothing around the NHL: The Leafs get ripped in ESPN’s Ultimate Team Standings, P.J. Axelsson signs with Frolunda, CBS Sports assigns offseason grades for the Northeast Division, and Kaberle bought out?
- Update #1: Rumors of a Calgary -Toronto trade involving Anton Stralman.
- Update #2: RDS confirms it. Stralman and Stuart to Calgary for Wayne Primeau.What the heck?
With Files from Gil Brown
Brian Burke doesn’t take credit for the Maple Leafs drafting Luke Schenn 5th overall in 2008, but he’s sure glad they did.Â Under different circumstances, which we’ll get into over a series of posts, Burke’s Ducks would have been in the mix for the Saskatoon native at the 2008 draft.
Fortune shined on the blue and white allowing them to trade up to 5th overall pick.Â There was an associated cost from their original seventh spot, but the end result is a potential future Maple Leafs captain of the Scott Stevens mold.
Unbelievable as it seems; perhaps, even laughable, Schenn, could have been wearing Ducks colors.
The story doesn’t begin in Anaheim, however.Â It starts in Edmonton.
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.