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Category: Toronto-Maple-Leafs

Faith In Toronto’s Core

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

Kyle Dubas knows words alone won’t heal the rift created between the Maple Leafs and their fans by the fourth and most recent playoff pooch.

But until that bridge is spanned — if it happens before he’s turfed— his unwavering faith in his Core Four players and the roster as a whole have at least resonated in the room.

“It starts at the top,” William Nylander said on Wednesday’s first day of training camp, which began with another vote of confidence by the general manager in his stars. “Him leading the way is big for the four of us. Showing he has belief is huge and helps us not be worried about other things.”

Mitch Marner said he and the boss had a few mutually beneficial summer pep talks. Yet a 2021 campaign that saw Marner named an NHL first team all-star, Auston Matthews win the Rocket Richard Trophy, Nylander lead the team in playoff scoring, and captain John Tavares maintain a point-a-game pace still didn’t get them over the first-round hump.

“I believe in the group — deeply,” Dubas repeated at the Ford Centre podium. “I know it’s easy to say at the beginning when everyone’s optimistic. But true belief gets tested when it’s a little hard, when you struggle, you fall, pick yourself up and move on.

“More important (than meeting with him) is the discussions they’ve had together. I’ve seen massive maturity from all of them, That’s how I feel, that they will win, especially coming off the (setbacks) in the past.”

continued

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Another Shot For Josh Ho-Sang

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

...the magical mystery tour that has been Ho-Sang’s professional hockey career begins anew on Thursday, as the Maple Leafs open training camp for real on ice. He has no contract with the Leafs. He is guaranteed nothing but a tryout. This could be the last stop for a 25-year-old who seems to have everything but a job.

There has never been much doubt about Ho-Sang’s talent.

“You can’t teach what he has,” a former coach said. “It’s ridiculous how much talent he has. It’s wild, really. Hopefully, this time he gets it right. This time he figures it out.

“Honest, it has forever puzzled me just as it has puzzled others how this kid hasn’t made it big.”

There has always been a group pulling for Ho-Sang to find his way, not just to make the NHL but to make it big. There was no bigger cheerleader than his former agent, Ian Pulver. But those who have had him — in junior, in the minor leagues — still wonder what wasn’t gone right.

“I used to tell my players, getting the first contract is easy,” said Bob Boughner, the San Jose Sharks coach who had Ho-Sang for parts of three OHL seasons in Windsor. “Getting the second one is hard.”

Ho-Sang has yet to establish exactly who he is, and what he could be as an NHL player.

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Morning Line- Auston Matthews

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One-On-One With Brendan Shanahan

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

He understands the market and the fan base. And he can’t wait to see what comes next.

“I’ve felt pressure from Day 1 on the job,” Shanahan said in a lengthy, wide-ranging interview in his Bay Street office. “I welcome pressure.

“There’s never been a time in any job I’ve ever had where I didn’t feel pressure. I’m attracted to jobs with pressure. I don’t think I’d like to have a job without pressure and urgency. You can look back now, three-four years ago, when we were building things up, you felt that urgency every day. I still feel it. It’s part of the job.”...

“We haven’t gotten over the hump and we understand that,” said Shanahan. “And I sympathize with our fans. For the last year and a half, you go into an arena and there are no fans, no positive feedback from people attending games, it’s an empty feeling. You can feed off that sometimes. We only get our feedback through media and social media. And that can be damaging.

“This is our world. If you want to talk about the Leafs or politics or cooking or gardening or anything, you’re not getting a balanced conversation. It’s difficult not to walk away and feel bad (after that). I think our players are hopeful and optimistic that we will have our fans back. I think everybody feels, whether you’re a player or a fan or an owner or you work in management, it’s something you need right now. The way we’re getting our information, there is just not enough one-on-one contact since the pandemic.

“The feeling the fans have exists within our players and our dressing room. There is an anger, even at themselves, and anger might be the wrong word, but there is a sort of determination to get the job done. That’s what I feel heading into camp.”

much more

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Buffalo Sabres And Toronto Maple Leafs Will Play An Outdoor Game In Hamilton

NEW YORK (Sept. 16, 2021) – The 2022 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ will feature the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres on March 13, 2022, at Tim Hortons Field, in Hamilton, Ont., home of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the National Hockey League (NHL®) announced today. The game will be broadcast on TNT, Sportsnet, via stream on SN NOW, NHL Live and TVA Sports at 3 p.m. ET.

Continue Reading »

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Questions For The Toronto Maple Leafs And Vegas Golden Knights

from Mike Zeisberger of NHL.com,

Has the goaltending been upgraded?

Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek will be tasked with helping the Maple Leafs go on a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after Frederik Andersen signed a two-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on July 29. Andersen won 149 games over five seasons with Toronto, but the Maple Leafs did not win a playoff series. Campbell was 17-3-2 with a 2.15 goals-against average and .921 save percentage for the Maple Leafs last season and set an NHL record with 11 wins to start the season. Mrazek signed a three-year contract as an unrestricted free agent July 28 after being limited to 12 starts with the Hurricanes last season because of a thumb injury. The 29-year-old was 6-2-3 with a 2.06 GAA, a .923 save percentage and three shutouts.

4 more questions...

from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of NHL.com,

Can they continue to evolve their game for the playoffs?

The Dallas Stars defeated the Golden Knights in the 2020 Western Conference Final by taking away the middle of the ice and getting great goaltending. Afterward, Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said players needed to add layers to their games.

The Golden Knights faced two teams in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs that used the same formula the Stars did: the Minnesota Wild and Montreal Canadiens. They defeated the Wild in seven games in the Stanley Cup First Round, and DeBoer said, "We found a way this year where a year ago I'm not confident we would have."

But after defeating the Colorado Avalanche in the second round, they lost to the Canadiens in six games in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Too often, they got frustrated by Montreal's defensive structure, turned over the puck and fed its quick-strike offense. Vegas' top scorers struggled to produce at even strength and on the power play, which went 0-for-15 in the series.

more questions

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  Tags: vegas+golden+knights

Can The Toronto Maple Leafs Afford Morgan Rielly?

from Chris Johnston at the Toronto Star,

As the summer sped by without meaningful negotiations on a Morgan Rielly contract extension, his case for a major payday only grew stronger.

These last few weeks saw an undeniable shift upwards in the market for defencemen who eat big minutes and drive offence. And the shift may have created a divide between the Maple Leafs and their longest-tenured player that will ultimately prove too wide to bridge.

Shared history and sentiment aside, where exactly is the wiggle room here?

This is the most important contract of Rielly’s career. And in a flat-cap NHL environment general manager Kyle Dubas must weigh the merits of any significant salary commitment against what he’d need to cut away from the organization’s base in order to accommodate it.

That explains in part why there’ve only been a couple of surface-level conversations between Rielly’s camp and Leafs management to this point. The CBA has permitted them to sign a deal that would take effect in July 2022 for more than six weeks now, and during that period the marketplace has evolved.

continued

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Real Reality

from Justin Bourne of Sportsnet,

Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the subject of an upcoming docuseries -- an “All or Nothing” show put together by Amazon, but having seen All or Nothing’s in the past (I watched the one on Man City), it’s safe to say the camera will be aimed away from internal strife. If I had to guess, there’s little chance you'll finish watching that upcoming documentary and feel like there were massive internal failings despite their results. (I’m guessing the team itself was guaranteed final approval before it goes to air.)...

The NHL has a culture that leads to the burying of some of the best internal storylines because it’s a sin to admit you care about your own career, for some reason. I think with enough access, enough interviews, and perhaps that translator, we can get to some great stories.

At the end of the day professional sports are about entertainment -- it’s the world's best form of reality TV -- and embracing another angle of that can only be good for fan engagement, and in turn, the health of the league as a whole.

much more

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Video- Auston Matthews Is A Highlight Machine

His top plays from the past NHL season.

 

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Waiting On Mitch Marner

from Damien Cox at the Toronto Star,

If all goes according to the NHL’s plan to get back to normal, Marner will have 82 games to get through before the real opportunity to prove himself comes in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, assuming the Leafs get there again. It’s going to be a long wait.

That’s what happens when you go 18 games in the playoffs without a goal. It’s also what happens when you carry a $10.9-million (U.S.) annual cap hit. Of late, new contracts, and cheaper ones, signed by players like Brayden Point, Sean Couturier and Andrei Svechnikov, have given more ammunition to those who would argue Marner not only disappears in the playoffs, but that he’s overpaid, to boot.

So that’s the environment one of hockey’s best right wingers will confront this fall, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how he responds to it. He might take the predictable approach, say things like “I only care about what the guys in the room think” and keep the media and public at a distance.

Or, he might open up, talk about what he’s done during the off-season to raise his game and engage with the media more than he has in the past. That approach might win him more public support, but not if he fails to play at the high level that made him the NHL’s fourth-leading scorer last season. You don’t want to be the chatty type who can’t produce.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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