Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
If someone wanted to make a quick buck in the lobby of the Maple Leafs hockey office, just peddle T-shirts bearing “Summer 2015: I Survived The Shana-Plan.”
One of the most ambitious and unorthodox remakes of an NHL team’s power and engineering grid is just about complete. The details of who’s in, who’s out and who-does-what might require a couple of extra pages in the annual club guide.
It’s now a 50-plus masthead, including management, coaching, scouting, medical and public relations people. More than 20 of the personnel are new to their jobs, headlined by general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Mike Babcock and staff (including recent hire Jacques Lemaire as special assignment coach), while a few underlings have changed assignments.
On paper, it’s close to, if not the biggest off-ice roster in the league, about double the size of the division rival Ottawa Senators.
Toronto Maple Leafs special assignment coach Jacques Lemaire joins Prime Time Sports to talk about the process of being hired by the Leafs, what exactly at special assignment coach is and the expectations he has this season.
from Angela Colley of Realtor.com,
NHL coach Mike Babcock left the Detroit Red Wings to sign an unprecedented coaching deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs in May. His eight-year, $50 million contract means Babcock is peeling out of the Motor City for good.
And with the first puck drop just a couple of months away, the Stanley Cup–winning coach is selling his home in Northville Township, MI.
Listed for $799,999, the 4,486-square-foot home is situated on a private wooded lot. The home has four bedrooms and plenty of living space.
continued with a few pictures of the house...
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
“Toronto is a city that wants to be noticed,” said Steve Simmons, an esteemed, prolific and sharply opinionated columnist for the Toronto Sun. “We love when America notices us. It just doesn’t happen very often.”
It is happening now. The Blue Jays are the coolest story in sports. They also are building one of the biggest bandwagons in the recent history of Canadian sports.
“Toronto has been the most downtrodden sports town in North America for the past 21 years,” Simmons said. “There was just no hope for any team other than the (Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts), and unfortunately, nobody really cares about the Argos.”
Canada is not a football country. NHL free-agent signings and offseason charity hockey games get more media play than the Argonauts and the CFL....
Until two weeks ago, the biggest summer sports news in Toronto was either a) the sterling performance of Canadian athletes at the Pan American Games, which Toronto hosted; or b) the recruitment of Mike Babcock to coach the Leafs, along with the additions of Lou Lamoriello and Jacques Lemaire to an already bloated front office.
“Leafs training camp would have been the greatest theater you could have imagined,” Simmons aid. “Nothing about the players, mind you, but a lot of people in suits. But if the Blue Jays are in first place in mid-September, Leafs training camp will be the quietest it has been in 20 years.”
from Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press,
He’s only on a one-year contract and there is a new GM and head coach to impress.
But Nazem Kadri has never felt so comfortable as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Now, I’ve got guys who kind of have your back and are willing to go to bat for you,” said the 24-year-old Londoner. “Before, you kind of felt like you were drifting by yourself. But I know Shanny (team president Brendan Shanahan) and Mark (Hunter, the team’s director of player personnel) are behind me 100 per cent. They want to see me succeed and they’re going to give me all the opportunities this year to do it.
“It’s the same with Babs (coach Mike Babcock), too . . . I feel super-motivated and super-excited and ready to translate all my off-ice work onto the ice.”...
Kadri said he is already quite familiar with Babcock’s system and style. In London, Dale Hunter would teach the Knights by using NHL videos, and he highlighted the Detroit Red Wings’ way.
“Babs wants me to be an elite player, he sees that inside of me and that’s all you can ask for in a head coach — to believe in you and show their support,” Kadri said. “What he wants of me, I want, too. It’s not far-fetched (to realize his goal of becoming an all-star and, one day, Canadian Olympian). I know how to handle myself and I’ve gained the experience.”
from Mike Brophy at NHL.com,
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a transition phase, and it is clear there will be no quick fixes after they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons. President Brendan Shanahan and new coach Mike Babcock have preached patience as they take their first steps toward trying to construct a winning team.
With sweeping changes this summer, including a trade that sent forward Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2015-16 Maple Leafs will bear little resemblance to recent editions. Considering they've made the playoffs once since 2004, it's a welcomed fresh start.
Here are four reasons for optimism:
Babcock is behind the bench: Given his success, Babcock could have taken a job with a team that is much closer to being a contender than Toronto. He won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008 and two Olympic gold medals with Canada (2010, 2014). The Maple Leafs, who haven't won the Cup since 1967, represent one of hockey’s greatest challenges. After signing an eight-year contract, Babcock has the credibility and organizational power to successfully command an intense on- and off-ice commitment from his players. Babcock demands discipline and hard work from his players; those who don't give it will find themselves elsewhere.
Because of their lack of success, coupled with the media scrutiny in Toronto, the Maple Leafs have not been a destination for many high-profile free agents. Babcock said upon his hiring that he wants Toronto to be a "safe" city for his players. That will be accomplished by winning and consistency.
"You see what they're doing obviously on the outside with hiring different people in management and coaches, but the stuff behind the scenes, the things they're doing to track performance and health, is all very encouraging. They're making the commitment and that starts up top with ownership. They're making a commitment to different things to really make sure that there is no excuse if you put the work in."
-James van Riemsdyk of the Toronto Maple Leafs. More from Dan Rosen of NHL.com.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
The Toronto Maple Leafs asked an impartial arbitrator to award goaltender Jonathan Bernier the minimum amount possible in a brief filed to both sides on Wednesday, calling for an award of $2.89 million on a one-year deal.
The minimum award for restricted free agents in salary arbitration is 85 per cent of their previous season's salary, which for Bernier was $3.4 million.
Bernier, 26, is the only one of 23 players in the arbitration process this summer to receive a filed offer from his club below what he earned last season. The Maple Leafs did not issue Bernier a qualifying offer in June equal to his $3.4 million salary and instead opted for arbitration, where they had to option to offer 85 per cent.
Bernier's camp, led by agent Pat Brisson, asked the arbiter for an award of $5.1 million. The two sides are $2.21 million apart heading into the scheduled hearing on Friday morning.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
... with the coach Mike Babcock already hired and not the least bit intimidated about what the GM may or may not say or want to do and Brendan Shanahan evidently making the real calls in the organization, you have to wonder as to how effective he’ll be. After all, when he was in Jersey he was pretty much all powerful. What he said was law until the final days of his time there. In this case, it’s Babcock who holds all the power when it comes to running the team.
Lamoriello’s peculiar dictates ran the Devils and it made life miserable for many, which is why most players tried to get out of New Jersey as quickly as possible with the exception of lifers like Patrick Elias, Martin Brodeur and Ken Daneyko.
Who can forget Igor Larionov telling the story of how, at age 42, when he was finishing his career, he wasn’t supposed to have a glass of wine with his dinner the night before the game. And, as we know now given his involement in Napa, Iggy understandably took wine very seriously.
In the team pictures taken in civilian clothes, everyone had to wear the same color shirt and tie. Members of the media were not allowed to go into any of the coaches’ offices, even if invited, which they most assuredly were not but only because of Lou’s dictates. No player was allowed facial hair as he obviously considered them far too immature to be able to make their own personal choices.
Legend had it he had security cameras installed in the hallway so he could tell which player was talking with which reporter at all times.
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.
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