Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Word around the NHL is that Lamoriello has been difficult to deal with, but the first-year Leafs GM is well aware of his role — trying to turn as many players into draft picks as possible.
The most likely Leafs to move: Defenceman Roman Polak, forwards Daniel Winnik, Shawn Matthias and P.A. Parenteau. It’s highly unlikely anyone would be interested in Nick Spaling, Brad Boyes or defenceman Martin Marincin.
Lamoriello has decided not to go to Nashville for the all-star game, choosing to remain in Toronto to plot his trade strategy.
“I have a lot of business that needs to get done,” he said. “And being home will give me a chance to work on it.”
A good number of scouts were in attendance on this night. The Panthers, unlike the Leafs, are unlikely to do much.
more plus notes on the Leafs...
from Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet,
In an interesting way, Kadri’s offensive deficiency has led to him playing the strongest, most engaged hockey of his career, to the point that Babcock now calls him the best forward on his team. Throughout the season Kadri has been in Babcock’s office nearly every day, talking to his coach about everything from hockey to dealing with the media to family life. Babcock didn’t know much about Kadri as a person when he came to Toronto, but he did know Kadri as a competitor from his time coaching Detroit, and says his pupil is “a way better player than I expected.” Which is actually a good summation of Babcock’s core message to his centre—be better. “He’s been real strong, he’s really working hard at trying to do what we ask him to,” Babcock says. “He’s practising way harder; he’s better in the weight room; he’s a better citizen. He’s just better. A better human being.”
Of course, Kadri’s evolution is still in its early stages. Babcock describes his young centre as being “on mile 25 of a 100-mile journey,” which is perhaps a reference to Kadri’s age but more likely just a nicer way of saying Kadri could be four times better than he is today. The process will continue through the end of this season and perhaps for years to come, until Shanahan’s Great Maple Leafs Rebuild is complete and the team is ready—they hope—to challenge for a Stanley Cup. They also hope by that point Kadri is everything Babcock told him he could be during that phone call last spring—an elite player, a leader, an example of professionalism for young players entering the organization.
Dave Keon discusses what it means to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs and how he feels being honoured with a statue on Legends Row.
Check out the ceremony by the Toronto Maple Leafs to honour Turk Broda, Tim Horton and Dave Keon.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The Leafs have employed a much sounder brand of hockey, sure, but they’ve only managed to score eight times while dropping six of the last seven games. And with James van Riemsdyk sidelined for the next month or more, there isn’t much promise of an offensive explosion to come.
“What are you expecting?” said Babcock. “I think these forwards are doing what they do. How many guys really score? You know what I mean? Let’s grind, let’s play.”
In other words, he’ll gladly live through dull 1-0 games as long as his team starts finding a way to come out on top. In fact, that’s basically how he thinks the Leafs need to play at this stage.
“James (van Riemsdyk) scored, right?” said Babcock. “James and (Nazem Kadri) scored, who else? So let’s go to work, let’s just find ways to win games. Let’s get people to the net and pucks to the net. It’s not going to be pretty, but I don’t think that surprises anybody.”
- TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger joined Mike Richards in the Morning on TSN Radio 1050 Toronto Wednesday to discuss Dion Phaneuf and the comfort he's found in Toronto this season.
Dreger says that if there was a deal on the table this past summer for the Maple Leafs captain, Phaneuf would have really considered lifting his no-movement clause to get out of Toronto. But when the Maple Leafs hired head coach Mike Babcock, things changed.
"During the off-season, I think it would have been very easy to convince Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-trade protection and accept a trade. I think he thought it was inevitable that it was coming, that it was just a matter of the phone ringing. Newport calling or Brendan Shanahan saying 'we got this deal, would you consider?' I believe he absolutely would of. Until they hired Mike Babcock and he a conversation with Mike Babcock," said Dreger on the radio....
- Having already acquired top-line centre Ryan Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Nashville Predators seem interested in bulking up their offence.
ESPN Senior Writer Pierre LeBrun spoke to Preds general manager David Poile on Tuesday. Poile says the team needs to improve if they're going to have any chance at qualifying for the playoffs....
from Sean Fitz-Gerald of the Toronto Star,
An airport baggage handler in the U.S. is suing the Maple Leafs after he suffered “permanent and disabling” shoulder injuries when the team raced to fly out after a game, with one member of the equipment staff allegedly rushing gear into the plane.
Kenneth Osborne filed suit earlier this month in St. Clair County, Ill., across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Mo., where the Leafs fell 3-0 to the Blues in a game on Jan. 17, 2015.
Osborne, working for Jet Aviation, was helping load the Leafs charter.
According to the complaint against Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, Osborne and his colleagues were using a conveyor belt — one controlled by a lever on the ground — to load the plane. The Leafs equipment worker, who is not named in the suit, is alleged to have “repeatedly operated the lever in an attempt to speed up the loading operation,” despite at least one warning not to interfere.
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
Here in mid-January, it’s clear three clubs — Toronto, Buffalo and Columbus — will be sellers at the trade deadline, and pretty evident Edmonton will be, too.
Of those clubs, Leaf winger Leo Komarov and his 16 goals may be the most appealing asset available. Komarov, 28, has two more years at an affordable $2.95 million cap hit, and has shown this season he can play in the top six on the Leafs, and definitely in the top nine of a better club.
The Leafs would be looking for a first rounder, which might be a stretch. But with so few teams falling back of the pack, there may not be many better players out there at the deadline.
many more topics...
The Leafs are on the cusp of both drafting high – perhaps even No. 1 overall – and maintaining their dignity in the process.
It behooves them not to screw up a perfect season with too much needless winning. The future is closer than you might think.
-Michael Grange of Sportsnet where you can read more on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Last night Twitter was full of remarks regarding this offside challenge by Mike Babcock.
Some people were saying time to get rid of this challenge, others saying too close to call on the play while others said it was or wasn't offside.
My view, the NHL needs to embed cameras into the boards along the blueline in order to make this type of call with better accuracy.
The cameras will help, why is the NHL slow to react to what everyone knows?
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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