Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin McGran of the Breakaway Blog at the Toronto Star,
... But all of the storylines connect at Carlyle.
He wasn't fired at season's end when the team collapsed.
Some believe it was the way they played -- with fire most of the time -- that cost them a playoff spot. Continually outshot. Continually out-possessed, in the new parlance of analytics. Carlyle's teams -- even in Anaheim are horrible at possession games.
Some believe it was simply a matter of goaltending, that if Jonathan Bernier didn't get hurt against the Los Angeles Kings, the Leafs would have sailed into the playoffs, and nobody would have lost their jobs.
Now is Carlyle's chance to prove himself, and do so under less than ideal conditions.
For one thing, it seems evident there'll be more -- oh, what's the word? advice? instruction? meddling? -- from above.
The front office looks like it's going to active, with assistant GM Kyle Dubas communicating the ideas from the team's analytics department. That means Carlyle is going to hear from Dubas about line changes, line combinations and who'd play best with Phil Kessel.
"We're comfortable with the character of the group -with the group coming back and the players that we added. If we had questions about their character they would've been gone in the summer."
-Dave Nonis, GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. More on the Leafs from TSN.
“There are players we have in our organization today whose numbers are off-the-chart good, and whose character is just terrible,” Leiweke told a group of business students at Ryerson University, just ahead of Leafs training camp. "I don't care how good your numbers are if you have bad character you are doomed for failure."
Now Bob McKenzie addressed the issue, via Hope_Smoke tweets (make sure to check out more in his recent timeline),
McKenzie "For a guy who has one foot out the door already, that's like throwing a molotov cocktail back into the building"
McKenzie "The two biggest insults you can give a hockey player is calling them a choker or say they have character issues"
McKenzie "f I was running MLSE I'd want a full explanation from Leiweke, & a tape of the interview
from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,
“We’ve gone from very little analytical information to we have two guys we just hired that are considered two of the smartest analytical guys in the game of hockey today,” Leiweke said, likely referencing Dubas and Metcalfe, an engineer who built wildly popular analytics hub extraskater.com.
“Including one that owned his own website that every general manager used and we bought the website. When he came, that website came with us and we took it down. We don’t want anyone else seeing it. It’s called a monopoly. It’s good.”
Leiweke also made the point that the Leafs will continue to pursue “character” as well as players with good analytics, noting that “there are players we have in our organization today whose numbers are off the chart good and whose character is just terrible. I don’t care how good your numbers are, if you have bad character, you are doomed for failure.
“We are very convinced analytics make us smarter,” he added. “We are very convinced that analytics will reduce our mistakes. We are convinced that analytics at the end of the day will be key to getting this team back on track. But that said they will never ever replace our ability to determine one’s character and passion for the game of hockey. You have to be good at both, not just one.”
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
When the Toronto Maple Leafs make their way out West in March and play the Vancouver Canucks, the game is scheduled for 4 p.m. locally as usual, but that should change.
And for very good reason. While the following is a small, perhaps even niggling thing to some degree, it’s important.
Over the past few years, that game has always been at that time, but now things are different. Before this season, those Saturday television rights were owned by CBC, and as an independent party to the game and contractor with the league, the network was given the right to ask Vancouver to move the game from the traditional 7 p.m. start on a Saturday night to 4 p.m. to increase the audience in the East.
Why the Canucks ever agreed to it in the first place is a mystery, but it’s almost certainly been put into in the contract at some point.
But now Rogers owns those rights, and for those who may not have noticed, Rogers is also part-owner of the Leafs. If the game were allowed to go ahead at 4 p.m., which always takes the home-team Canucks out of their usual routine and is certainly an advantage for the visiting team, it would mean that the owners of the Leafs were able to demand that Vancouver change the start time to the advantage of their team. It gives them an unfair competitive advantage.
This is a clear conflict of interest which the league should not let stand.
from Mike Johnston of Sportsnet,
It’s no secret David Booth struggled during his time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Much of that can be attributed to various injuries—Booth missed a total of 68 regular-season games in less than three seasons with the Canucks after being acquired from the Florida Panthers in 2011—but being on a Western Conference schedule also had its drawbacks.
The Detroit native thinks playing in the Eastern Conference again will benefit his game.
“It really is tough [playing in the West], and for me personally the amount of rest I get is the most important thing for the way I feel, the amount of energy I have,” Booth told The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday. “Travel kind of wears you out. Those are things every team has to deal with. I just think some guys adjust to it differently, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m excited to be in Toronto and to be in the East. Hopefully [travel fatigue] doesn’t play such a big role as it did in Vancouver.”
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
As the NHL expanded toward 30 teams and the Cup race intensified, so the masthead of assistant coaches and managers increased. Now they’re often referred to as associate coaches with more say in team strategy and dressing room climate than ever before. The AGMs, meanwhile, juggle everything from contracts, cap management, scouting, trades, free agents, farm teams and media.
Which leads to Brendan Shanahan’s hiring blitz of support staff with the Leafs. Rather than swing the wrecking ball completely through the Bay St. hockey office, the new president supervised a surgical strike. He lopped off both of GM Dave Nonis’ wingers, Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin, in favour of youth and numbers. Enter 28-year-old Kyle Dubas, a proponent of analytics as part of his player-evaluation duties, and long-time NHL central registrar Brandon Pridham, 40, who will handle cap and contracts.
Behind the bench, Randy Carlyle’s long-serving lieutenant, Dave Farrish, was let go, along with Ron Wilson holdovers Greg Cronin and Scott Gordon. Steve Spott was promoted after his first-year success with the farm team, joined by Peter Horachek, whose career climb in the minors included a recent mop-up role as head coach of Florida.
It’s certainly unusual that Shanahan took the lead in changing what is usually the province of a GM or coach. Yet few will argue if it sets the Leafs back on a contender’s course the next couple of years.
Three weeks after Ted Kennedy was named the inaugural member of the Toronto Maple Leafs' new Legends Row, longtime captain Darryl Sittler and legendary goaltender Johnny Bower became the latest players on display outside Air Canada Center.
All three were honored with statues designed by noted sculptor Erik Blome. Kennedy was announced as the first former Maple Leaf to be honored in the display on Aug. 14. As part of the Leafs Nation Fan Fest activities taking place during the weekend, Sittler and Bower were added to the latest tribute to the franchise's long history.
"My favorite thing about this initiative, this way to honor our past Maple Leafs, is the fact that it is in fact Legends Row. It is not an individual," Toronto president Brendan Shanahan said. "When you talk to a lot of players that are going to be bestowed this great honor, I think they're excited by the fact that they're going to be surrounded by teammates. This is a team game and they're going to be surrounded by teammates."
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
The Maple Leafs will add two more player statues to Legends Row on Saturday, working towards a total of nine to mark the club’s centennial in 2017.
One more space on the granite players bench will be kept open, in the hope someone emerges from the 21st century to warrant selection. The only possible candidate on the horizon has not yet seen the new monument, but if he keeps scoring at his current pace, Phil Kessel might one day make the sculptor’s cut.
With 156 goals in 41/2 years, he’s more than halfway to breaking into the top five in club history. And he’s just 26, with an eight-year contract still in its infancy.
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.
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