Sep 30, 2009

Bankruptcy court rejects Coyotes bids, but holds out hope for NHL

After months of back-and-forth disputes over who would ultimately obtain control of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise, Judge Redfield T. Baum turned down both bids by the National Hockey League and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie on Wednesday.

"In hockey parlance, the court is passing the puck to the NHL, who can decide to take another shot at the sale net or it can pass off the puck," Judge Baum wrote on Wednesday.

Balsillie said he would not appeal the decision. In a statement, Balsillie said, "nobody can deny that we are now a big step closer to having a seventh NHL team in Canada. It doesn't matter who owns that team. When that day comes, I will be the first in line to buy a ticket to the home opener.

Garry Bettman and Jim Balsillie
Garry Bettman and Jim Balsillie

"I want to take this opportunity to thank my family for all their love and support. I also want to thank the more than 200,000 fans who supported the bid online and the countless others who contacted me personally to show their support. This bid always was about the game we all love," said Balsillie.

Judge Baum threw out the $242.5 million (US) bid by Balsillie, saying it could not work because he could not properly satisfy the NHL's rights regarding relocation. "In the final analysis, the court cannot find or conclude that the interests of the NHL can be adequately protected if the Coyotes are moved to Hamilton without first having a final decision regarding the claimed rights of the NHL and the claims of the debtors and (Balsillie)," he ruled.

The Ten Leafs Jersey Commandments

I came up with this idea while listening to 550AM buffalo Sports Radio. They were talking about ways people ruin jerseys. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of commandments one must follow in order to properly don the Blue and White, while watching the greatest franchise in Hockey history.

1) Though shalt not wear the Jersey of a player who has left the leafs, and currently plays for another team

2) Any Jersey, too short to hang beyond the belt buckle must never be worn by a male sports-fan

3) All half-home/half-away Jerseys should be burned on-sight

4) Jerseys with custom names must not be worn with the following numbers: 67, 1, 4, 7, 9, 10, 13, 17, 21, 27, 93, 99

5) Though shalt not get a Jersey made with the name of a player who has spent less than one season with the leafs, with the exception of rookies and tough-guys.

6) Though shalt never wear a paper bag over one's head while wearing a leafs jersey

7) Whilst wearing a leafs Jersey though shalt always ridicule any vicinity fans who wear opposing teams paraphernalia

8) Beer and condiments spilled on a jersey should not be cleaned until after the game (Dab, don't rub & Dry Clean only)

9) Whilst wearing a Leafs Jersey, and 50 mission cap by the Tragically Hip is played, though shalt jump up and dance

10) Though shalt not wear Thy Leafs Jersey to a game in which the Leafs are not participating. The only exceptions to this rule being in attendance of a Marlie's & Reading Royals games... and the occasional Ottawa Senators game

Mats Sundin retires after nearly 20 seasons in NHL

STOCKHOLM — Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin is retiring from hockey after nearly two decades in the NHL.

"It was a tough decision," Sundin told reporters at a news conference at Stockholm's Grand Hotel on Wednesday. "It's sad to tell you today that my career as a pro hockey player is over."

The 38-year-old Swede, who said he reached the decision this fall, played for the Vancouver Canucks last season after spending most of his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He spent 13 seasons with Toronto, becoming the longest serving European captain in NHL history, and he gave special thanks to the Maple Leafs organization.

"Toronto is and will always be my second home," Sundin said.

Short Sundin Tribute:


Ron Wilson a Liar?

Hello and welcome Maple Leaf Nation.

As this is my initial blog here for, I may as well come right out of the gate, so to speak, with "the gloves off!"

Is head coach, Ron Wilson, a liar?

I'm not talking about the white lies and "spin" that is generally told to the media to keep them happy, all the while keeping what belongs "in house," exactly there. What I am referring to is what Mr. Wilson told one of his players, in particular, Nazem Kadri.

At the beginning of training camp, we were told that Nazem, among other new-comers, would have a chance to earn a roster spot. Going a step further, Wilson added, "that if Kadri is one of our top 6 forwards, we will keep him."

I want to caution right now, that this is not about where Kadri belongs or what is best for his development necessarily. This is about a coach and an organization's word.

As camp progressed and the kids play continued to stand out, prompting many pundits to laud Kadri as not only one of the top 6 Leaf forwards, but the best forward, Wilson's tune began to change.

All of a sudden Wilson was warning the media to curb their enthusiasm. Why coach? Well for one thing, the coach told the media, "he might be the most skilled guy we have, but you don't see how many pull-ups and push-ups he does?" In his best, "Dancing with the Stars" foxtrot, the coach began his backpeddle.

I have to wonder aloud how many pull-ups the great one(Gretzky/99) could do the season he scored 212 points? Good thing they didn't ask him to "drop, and give me 20," after each goal he scored, or else it wouldn't count. He was sort of a boney, stick figure back then, wasn't he? Heck, I'm not sure he could give us 20 now, pull-ups and push-ups combined; but I regress.

So let me make sure I understand this correctly coach? You said aloud, that if Nazem Kadri is one of your best 6 you'll keep him. Then you called him, "maybe our best." Then you told me he doesn't do a lot of pull ups? Am I following? By the way coach, didn't you test his strength at the combine? Aren't push-ups and pull-ups part of that weekend's testing? Just curious.

So it begs the question coach. If you knew he was too weak to make the team then, why would you tell us, not to mention Nazem, a month or so after the combine, that he had a chance to make the big club?

Or is this the prevailing wisdom at MLSE? That we'll teach this youngster a lesson in how we operate around here, even if he doesn't need one? After all, you did say, concerning Kadri's possible demotion at the time, "to give him an appreciation of the NHL and what it is to play for the Maple he never takes it for granted!"

Yeah, that little bugga Kadri...with an attitude like his, he's sure to learn his lesson now!

To Nazem's utmost credit, he departed with class and dignity, if not totally dissapointed. He said all the right things...and what could he say? The Leaf brass showed him, who's boss!

Nazem Kadri will be great no matter where he goes, and who he plays for. And it's ok coach not to tell the truth to the media and the fans. But please don't ever lie to Nazem again.

One thing's for sure...Nazem Kadri will never again take for granted, the truth. Not in this league and not in this organization.

Perhaps that will be the best lesson served for this young pro going forward in this National League.

Sep 28, 2009

Being in the shadow of a Monster.

Being in the shadow of a Monster.

With the exhibition games coming to a close you have to wonder how the young kids and veterans alike feel right now. Guys Like Kadri returning to the Junior team in London, Hanson, Frogren to the Marlies and even Andy Rogers who I thought played well being released, to mention a few.

I guess the real young kids/draft picks know that on a club whose roster has reasonably strong NHL’ers signed to contracts their days are numbered. They would basically have to walk on water to make the line-up. But there are exceptions, I really like the fact that Viktor Stalberg is sticking around for a longer look, it’s been a real long time since the Toronto Maple Leafs have had a player with his speed and goal scoring ability and hockey smarts coming up the ranks. As a matter of fact I can’t really think of one.

Now my main concern is the goaltending. Vesa Toskala’s save percentage of .891 and a GAA of 3.26 in the 2008/09 season did not exactly shine. The explanation for his poor performance was due to a groin injury; OK I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. Now that he has had the surgery and has “fully recovered” over the summer I now expected big things from him, this was his time to shine and take the team to another level with a much improved defence. But his light has been dimmed by a poor performance in the prelims by letting in some pretty soft goals. He didn’t exactly shine. Is he just an average goalie that has reached his potential? I would have to say yes at this point, he hasn’t shown that he will ever be any better than he is right now, shame really.

In comes Jonas (The Monster) Gustavsson he’s young, big and fast, he’s been described as the best goalie outside the NHL, and even though he had a setback with minor heart surgery he has shown why he is considered “the best.” He’s played 60 minutes of scoreless hockey and made a fantastic save on a two on nothing bringing the crowd at the ACC to their feet in a standing ovation. Although we’ve only watched him on the international scene and just glimpses of him in practice and NHL game time, he looks like he has the potential to be a young Patrick Roy.

I’m sure Toskala see’s him a real threat to his #1 spot, and a real confidence killer, he really is standing in the shadow of a monster.

Sep 27, 2009

Got 'im, got 'im, need 'im, got 'im.

I recall being a kid in the late 70's and early 80's and the familiar refrain on the school yard at recess was "got 'im, got 'im, need 'im, got 'im". It didn't matter if they were hockey cards, baseball cards or McDonald's stickers we were trying to complete our collection and have fun doing it.

I still have all my doubles and triples piled up, wrapped in an elastic and stored in an old shoebox. The time spent in my backpack going to and from school showing up on the slightly worn edges of the cards. But that's what you get when you take your trading cards with you to try to make your collection bigger. A game we called "flipsies" was the big draw. We'd have four of us standing around and we'd draw straws to see who drops first and what order we'd continue in, then the first card would drop. Standing straight up and arm dropped to waist height we'd flip a card and let it fall to the ground. This sequence would continue on through the order. When you flipped, any cards you landed on we're claimed as your own. If you "needed 'im" then that card was shuffled quickly to the bottom of your own pile while you continued to toss your doubles. I'm not sure kids even know how to play that game today, and I will also admit that I have no clue what the hell a pokemon is!

As the collectors took control of the collector card market I found myself avoiding taking my quarters and dollar bills to the corner store for my packs of cards and pink, stale gum sticks. Instead, I found my way to flea markets and collector stores where I could forgo the inevitable doubles and stale gum and just buy the entire collection, shrink wrapped and elegantly boxed in an O'Pee Chee or UpperDeck boxset. The times were a changing. I bought plastic binders to preserve the cards and plastic holders to forever enshrine my prized cards. One was a Mario Lemieux rookie card, and another was a Mats Sundin rookie card. Looking at Mats in a Quebec Nordiques sweater was quite nostalgic.

As I got older and older and moved from my parents home, to my college apartment, to my own apartment shared with my girlfriend, back to my parents home, to our own purchased home and then to another new home. I have seemly lost my complete boxed sets and plastic binder sheets. But the other day I stumbled across an old shoe box that had managed to survive all the moves. As I took the top off to see what was inside, the smell of stale, pink gum was still inside. After all the moves, my collection of doubles and triples, piled up and wrapped in an elastic and still stored in an old shoe box is perhaps the last remaining trinket of a completely different era of collector cards.

I hope I never have to write this again

I hope I never have to write this again because I'm looking at the 2009/10 version of the Toronto Maple Leafs as a step away from the dark side and heading towards the light.

Playoffs without Toronto don't seem very much like playoffs to me. We are in the Hockey Mecca of the world in a market that lives, eats and breaths everything that is Maple Leafs.

I find that watching TV just isn’t the same without my remote clicker looking for a Leafs game at this time of the year. It’s the absence of the Maple Leafs that’s really playing with my playoff emotions. I feel I have been let down or even robbed of the opportunity to be part of a hockey season where skilled players are displaying their very best skills. Being on the outside looking in and getting used to life without hockey is a very disappointing place to be, but once “again” that’s exactly where we stand as Leaf fans.

Living with mediocrity, and expressions like “almost”, “maybe next year” “we were so close” "must win game" and so on, has become part of our everyday sports vocabulary. The mediocre performance of the Leafs has robbed fans of their sports emotions in so many ways. I know that many non-Leaf-fans will say “Well, what did you expect from a middle-of-the-road team, the Stanley Cup?"

As a long standing Leafs fan (almost 50 years now) my answer would be a resounding “YES!”

Every time my Leafs take the ice I expect a win.
Every time my Leafs complete a regular season, I expect to make the playoffs.
Every time my Leafs make the playoffs I expect a Stanley cup.

After all that is purpose of icing a team in the NHL last time I checked.

The last few years were below middle-of-the-road performances by the Leafs and has finally sunk in that that team (as many, many others of the past) were going no where, and fast. The next 2 or 3 years will be the "tell" because I’m absolutely sick and tired of being robbed every year.

The Leafs (MLSE) stole my unbridled optimism and robbed me of the regular season passion of looking forward to each game. I feel robbed of the excitement and thrill of making the playoffs that give me those opening round anxieties every sports fan so looks forward to. They stole away from me the great hockey conviction that any team can win just by making it into to the playoffs. They stole my hopes and dreams of the Stanley Cup coming home. (And make no mistake, Toronto is its home)

Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, gave the obligatory yet fragile and pathetic apology, printed in the Toronto Sun and sent out to every “Leaf Insiders” email box, which really showed how low the objectives and expectations of this hockey team have become. The apology (if you can call it that) they gave on missing the playoffs went like this:

"We share your disappointment," --- "However, we accomplished much along the way that puts us in a great position moving forward to pick up those few points in the standings needed to reach that next level."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! I wanted to scream… this is yet another unconvincing rationalization for optimism. The goal, it seems, is to obtain a few extra points to make the playoffs. AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE? I thought the goal is to win a cup. Yes you do have to make the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup, but that statement sounds like the goal in Leaf Land is to make the first round for next year. I guess that would increase the coffers to an acceptable level after a years play.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs miss the playoffs it can't be good for hockey in general, especially when Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary are out with Vancouver and Ottawa the only Canadian representatives. Numbers don’t lie and the biggest draw in hockey is The Leafs. How can I get passionate about watching the hated Ottawa Senators, yes I used the word hate, we all have to hate somebody in sports, or the Vancouver Canucks which I never see. I couldn’t even find it in my heart to really cheer for Gary Roberts, who was one of my favorite players as a Leaf; after all he is a Penguin now. Well on second thought, I guess it would have been nice to see him lift the cup… but that’s another story.

So the passion for hockey is gone once again, taken away from me, simply robbed, I watch as a casual observer now. The passion is gone. It's not the same when there are no horns honking, no flags on cars, no TSN, SportsNet, or The Score, analyzing every play, sports radio discussion are a thing of the past.

Hockey life has once again been put to bed, in hibernation, for yet another long hot summer in Leafsville.

But hey, there’s always next/this year!


Questions that have to be answered.

I really like the play of Stalberg, (who’s quickly turning into my favorite Leaf) along with Bozak, Kadri, Rosehill, Hanson, and Macdonald.

Here are my questions.

Should these guys be sent down with the way they’ve been playing?

Is there any hope for one of them or any combination of these guys staying as a complete (scoring) three man line? The Leafs haven't had any scoring power of note in their second and third lines in a very long time

Was this all for show and these very talented kids never had a chance from the start?

It's seems that all teams display their young talent at this time but only a rare few actually make the jump to the big club. Toronto seems to be in the enviable position of having at least three talented players who could make up an entire second or third line of rookies that seem to play with that very illusive thing called chemistry.

Here are the stats to prove my point:

2009/10 Preseason
No. Player Pos GP G A PTS +/- S S%
45 Viktor Stahlberg LW 6 4 2 6 2 17 23.5
43 Nazem Kadri C 6 3 2 5 6 10 30.0
42 Tyler Bozak C 5 1 3 4 3 10 10.0
39 John Mitchell C 5 2 2 4 0 9 22.2
20 Christian Hanson C 6 1 2 3 0 10 10.0

Does a veteran get to play just because he’s a veteran?

I'll take youth any day in a situation like this.

What would you do If you were Ron Wilson?

Sep 26, 2009

It's Hockey Season

As the NHL gets ready to drop the puck on its 2009/2010 season, most of the leagues young fans have already been skating themselves for several weeks.

Living in Canada kids are usually raised on the ice in the wintertime. The level of hockey they play is widely varied too depending on where you live. I grew up just outside of Peterborough, Ontario. I played my entire minor hockey experience in a very small market ... I believe it was classed as a DD centre for our playing circuit. Unlike in AAA centres with Rep teams and some paid coaches, our coaches were more than likely your buddy's Dad and he did it as a volunteer because he enjoyed spending time with the kids. The assistant coach could just as easily have been your own mother. Having her on the bench with you was certainly less embarrassing than having her in the stands screaming and waving an old cow bell.

This for most kids is growing up in Canada. How far you go is usually up to how far your parents are willing to send you. For the affluent parent, money is no object and they will pay to have you play on the best teams, with the best coaches. (usually in the several thousand dollar range) This type of team instills certain values into the player. Most Rep teams I've seen or have had friends or now their kids, playing on have a dress code and rules of conduct. Structure within the team is good and helps with any child's development.

The other end of the spectrum is the lowly teams that I played on as a child. It wasn't that my parents didn't want to see me try to pursue hockey, but with 2 brothers it sort of ruled it out when we all played. Some nights we'd be heading off in 3 different directions for games and for that I must really thank my parents for that experience. Of note, 3 different directions usually means one of us was bumming a ride from a buddy's Dad to get to the game.

When I was younger I could play pretty decently (now, not so much) and have played against players that have gone on to OHL careers and NHL drafts. None have played in the NHL and instead toiled in the minors or the Euro leagues. But I can still say that I played against them way back when. I play the game of hockey for fun. As I approach the age of 40, I'm well beyond the highly competitive aspect of the game. In my 20's and early 30's I played in leagues where the tempo was quick and some players actually believed they were playing for the Stanley Cup. Still others it would seem, believed that some scout was going to happen to be in the rink at 11:00pm in Timbuktue, Ontario and suddenly see him as an undrafted prospect. For myself, that level of competition was getting old, as was I. Having to get up the next morning to go to work left me getting frustrated at the guy that liked to slash me in the back of the legs or crosscheck me in the face because I wore a cage to protect my eyes and face. It didn't make any sense since we all paid to play and the only one making any money was the 2 referees who were trying to make it through the game without having to blow a whistle..

For the last 4 years I've simply been playing for fun 1 to 3 times per week. We have a referee who we pay in beer and we don't keep score. At least on the scoreboard anyway. The game ends when the Zamboni driver tells you to get the hell off the ice.

That for me is the game of hockey at it's best, played for fun. For all the kids hitting the ice this season, let the dreams begin!

Sep 25, 2009

Tape or Plastic

The ACC is primed and ready to handle passionate fans that are eagerly awaiting the opening of the main gates. The smell of pop corn, hamburgers and hot dogs fills the halls as they hit the turnstiles.

This is going to be another great season of hope.

After all, Stanley is up for grabs once again. Anyone who has the heart, talent, and determination to take the silver “grail” of hockey, can.

Throughout the league this summer, Board of Directors and Presidents have looked to their GM’s for troop selection. GM’s have hired a coaching staff they feel will get the most out of their prized players. Coaches ponder over who will provide the much needed leadership and strategic advantage in a new and speedy NHL. Will it be a youthful rookie or the established but aging veteran that usually delivers?

These older more experienced players walk slowly but proudly to the dressing room on game day, the enthusiastic rookies rush in like puppies with a fetch ball in anticipation of hitting the big time.

Cameras are rolling, commentators are commenting, life is good in a hockey mad city of blue and white.

When you look around you see that the locker rooms are overflowing with hockey “amour” just waiting for action in the frozen arena. Stick blades are curved, taped and ready to go, skates have been sharpened and the equipment is as clean and fresh smelling as it will every be.

The one thing that catches the observant eye is a little piece of white tape over the rookies’ heads clearly defining their space in that room. Their name is prominently displayed there for all to see. Yes, these rookies have made it to the big leagues, for now anyway. There’s the proof their name is directly over their heads, a life long dream has come to fruition. They finally have the chance at the brass ring. Yet each one of these rookies recognizes one fact, that the tape can just as easily be removed in the same manner it was applied. Just peel it back and you’re gone, maybe never to be seen again.

In striking contrast, the veteran’s names have permanent name tags above their heads. Why? Because they are the force behind their team, year in and year out there is no need to change their name tags, they have earned that right of permanence.

But have they in today’s NHL?

Should a player be paid in excess of 5 to 7 million dollars just on veteranship alone? Shouldn’t daily performance be what counts to determine your length of stay with any club? What do you do when there are numerous rookies that may fit the bill of talent and in some cases leadership if given a chance? Coaches think, “Can I send a player down to the minors that makes millions to give some snot nosed kid a chance?” The answer is yes they can, but at a very high risk of losing that player to another team, if he doesn’t clear waivers. Why can’t a veteran (if willing) play for any amount he wishes in order to make room for the new blood coming up the ranks? These are all questions that should be addressed before the next CBA.

Training camp is a place for the players to display their wares, be it good or bad. If good the player should be given a place on the club. If bad the player should be sent to the minors to re-evaluate his conditioning, talent, heart or commitment to the club and winning. Money should not be part of this equation; ever. Too many young players are left to rot in the minors because a veteran that makes piles of money cannot, or will not go down because of contract clauses and CBA rules. This is a real shame and dishonor to the front line players of the past who gave it their all and left everything they had on the ice for “the love of the game” not the size of their bank accounts. .

Some players in the past have been so proud to wear that jersey that it brought tears to their eyes, saying: “The proudest moment of my life was when I put on my Leafs jersey”. Keep in mind that big money to the players was very scarce in the early NHL. It’s only been the last ten to twenty years that players have amassed fortunes playing this beloved game of ours. So when a player said it was the “proudest moment of my life” you know it came from the heart and not because of the pocket book.

Most will agree that the NHL is a far better league today then it was in days past. It’s a much stronger viable business as proved by the 04/05 lockout where the loyal fans base came back in droves, seemingly willing to stick with their NHL team of choice no matter what. This fact goes beyond question in Toronto. In the entire world there are maybe one or two other sports conglomerates that rival MLSE and the Leafs; Manchester United and The New York Yankees.

Big time bucks govern sports not only from a managerial perspective but from a players view also. At times it seems that when a player reaches the pinnacle of his career, he signs the big bucks contract, and then decides to turtle and simply collect a paycheck. This has to stop and stop fast. I know in the real world contract or not if you don’t perform you’re out on your fanny. Maybe this should be the case in sports also, especially in Toronto in my view.

Training camp should be a place where you either make the team by your production and effort or leave because of your lack of it. Veterans should keep this in mind when the pull that Maple Leafs Jersey over their heads. Your permanent status can be very easily changed to your name being put on tape.

Youth, energy, speed, and talent seem to be the winning formula in the NHL today. As a Leaf fan I am tired of waiting for a cup. If you’re going to build, build now, even if it means putting all the pups out there.. 40 very long years in obscurity at times, is long enough. There should be no room at the top for players that mail it in on certain nights. The days of veteran players willing to come to Toronto because they want to retire in the “Mecca” of hockey are over and should never ever return again.

Comments are welcome as always.

Sep 23, 2009

Toronto Maple Leafs Fans --- LOSERS?

The definition for the word “fan” is an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.: Some Synonyms for fan are supporter, enthusiast, partisan, booster, and addict.

Leaf fans have been called numerous things in the past including, rowdy, stupid, and unknowledgeable to mention a few. But in light of the definition mentioned, the one title associated with Toronto Maple Leafs fans I’ll never understand is when we are called “losers”.

A “true” fan will support his or her team through thick and thin, otherwise you can’t really call yourself a fan by definition. Yes, over the past 4 decades+, the Toronto Maple Leafs have given their fans roller coaster rides that would make the best theme parks in the world envious. Even a dog, “mans best friend,” would be envious of the loyalty Leaf fans demonstrate for their team.

We may not like the organization, we may not like management, we my not like the coaching staff and we may not like the players; but we do love the Blue and White Maple Leaf crested jersey. Once it’s on any player we’ll support it under any criticism that is heaped upon it. Should a fan be considered a loser because of this?

Part of being a “true” fan is the fact that you are willing to ride out the highs and lows with your team of choice regardless of what the win/lose column says. Leaf fans, or any other dedicated sports fans, (Cubs fans for example), that are willing to “stick it out,” epitomize the true definition of sports fans and what they are willing to tolerate for the love of their team. Should they be considered losers because of the dedication?

Leaf fans, it can be argued, are their own worst enemy. Their blind support for the Leafs has meant that MLSE and previous owners have had no real incentive to improve the team for 40+ years. And it can be also argued that we are loyal to a fault that borders on stupidity? Or are we just the best fans in the world?

No matter how we support, season’s tickets, buying the gear, watching the tube or starting a boycott site; every fan draws a line in the sand and all lines should be considered valid. Sooner or later the sand shifts, new lines are drawn, and every dog has it’s day. Some dogs just have to wait a little longer than others. But our day is getting closer and closer.

Thoughts/comments are always welcome.

My Thoughts On The 09/10 Leafs

Toronto this year seems to be heading in the direction of the light.... finally!!!

For years pervious Leafs teams have been missing something that is now a glaring fact, they have “young” speed and skill. This will help immensely on the forecheck, defence and in their transition game, another aspect of the game that Toronto was in dire need of improvement.

Toronto’s up front lineup is still lacking that killer point getter, they player that can change a game on his own, but that may come in time. The probability/possibility of adding a player like Phil Kessel to the team would be a huge boost. He could play on the top line and let Grabovski drop down to the 2nd line centre position, which would really help to fill out the Leafs offense.

Our problem right now is Toronto has an overload of 2nd/3rd line players under contract. Because of this competing with the Rangers, Pittsburgh, Washington or Philadelphia will be a challenge but at least competitive. The missing link is a true sniper on this roster. On the horizon is a trickle of new blood that one day might fill that role with players like Bozak and Stalberg (a JFjr. acquisition by the way), Kadri and others.

I’d really like to see Toronto leave Viktor Stalberg on this team because of his lightning speed... I feel he really should take the place of someone like Christian Hanson. Nazem Kadri has looked good so far in training camp and in fact wouldn’t look out of place on this team either.

I can actually see Stajan, Stempniak and White become trade bait to clear room for Kadri and/or Stalberg, I think this would be a good idea and give Stajan and Stempniak a new lease on their careers with another team. This would also keep the “new blood” flowing in Toronto .

Toronto’s defence is far more solid than some may think. Van Ryn had a rough season last year with multiple injuries, but looks fully healed and ready to get on track once again. The addition of Beauchemin, Exelby, Komisarek and the ever steady Kaberle and young Schenn things are solid on D. Ian White is a very versatile player that took regular shifts as a forward. This makes him a compelling case to be part of a trade deal to bolster the front of Toronto’s lineup. He is in fact rumoured to be part of the package for Phil Kessel.

A healthy Vesa Toskala will be the Leafs starter coming into this season but Jonas Gustavsson will be challenging him all year long, so Vesa has to keep on his toes and steal some games or he’ll be sitting on the bench for 30-40 games this year.

We might not be contending for the cup just this year, but we will be one of the 5 or 6 team’s competing fiercely for that final 8 spot. Now if a guy like Kessel comes on board we could move that position up one or two.

All and all; I think we do have much to be excited about this year unlike any other year, and it’s about time to.

Thoughts/comments are always welcome.
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