Kukla's Korner Hockey
There are those of us who thought the Leafs would take a shot at a playoff spot and maybe sneak in but who were also under no illusions as to the lack of talent on the team. We just thought the conference stunk so much that even the Leafs had a shot.
-Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail. More on the Leafs from Jeff.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
As low as the Leafs have tumbled in recent weeks, defenceman Tomas Kaberle still has “no interest” in waiving his no-trade clause in order to be moved to a Stanley Cup contender, according to his agent.
Kaberle wants to help rebuild the 28th-overall Leafs, not by allowing himself to be dealt for draft picks or prospects but by staying and continuing to play well.
“As corny as it sounds, he believes he is part of the solution,” Kaberle’s agent, Rick Curran, said Wednesday.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
The Leafs have sent down skilled rookie forward Viktor Stalberg to the American Hockey League’s Marlies in order to call up pugilist Jay Rosehill, whose muscle likely will be front and centre against the modern-day version of the Broad St. Bullies tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre.
In 23 games with the Marlies, Rosehill has two points and 122 penalty minutes. It’s easy to see he hasn’t be recalled for his playmaking skills.
The Leafs obviously are attempting to send a message after their fight-filled 6-2 loss to the Flyers in the City of Brotherly Loathe seven days ago.
The primary target for most of their bitterness was Flyers superpest Dan Carcillo, who irked the Leafs when, after scoring a beautiful goal, looked at them in a mocking fashion as he skated past their bench.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Our fans have to understand I’m as frustrated as they are,” said GM Brian Burke. “Way more so.”
If there’s change to come, it won’t be the coach. Ron Wilson’s job is “100 per cent safe,” said Burke.
Change is more likely to come in the form of call-ups – Tyler Bozak and Jay Rosehill at the top of the list – followed by trades.
“I’ve been moving heaven and earth on the trade front for some time, I would be more concerned if there were deals going down all around me. There aren’t,” said Burke. “We’ve looked at call-ups. No one at this point has kicked down the door to the point where we have to give them a recall. Bozak and Rosehill have been strong the last couple of games, so we’ll think about giving them a look.”
Fans of a team on a 2-6-2 slide are understandably frustrated, but have yet to entirely throw in the towel. One site, boycotttheleafs at ipetition.com, is urging fans to stay away from the Air Canada Centre, to send a message that fans are sick and tired of losing. As of Sunday, there were only 18 signatures.
via Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
A quick Brian Burke report card. His team stinks.
His friend, the coach, can’t get the Maple Leafs to kill penalties or play anything resembling team defence. His big acquisition, Phil Kessel, has gone soft and sour. He won’t be drafting Taylor Hall in June or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the year after. And his college free-agent signings are nowhere to be found while David McNab, who signed Andy McDonald and Dustin Penner for Anaheim, has come up with another good one for his former team in Dan Sexton.
Outside of goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who has had two heart procedures and a groin injury in his rookie season, little has gone right in Burke’s world and, knowing him, that has to driving him to absolute frustration.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
There’s no question Gustavsson is agile and quick and aggressive. But a No. 1 goalie? That’s unclear, and there’s just no way the Leafs can go into next season just wishing they have quality netminding.
They hoped Vesa Toskala would bounce back strongly from off-season surgery, and Burke was as wrong on that as John Ferguson was on banking that Andrew Raycroft could replace Ed Belfour.
They can’t just hope Gustavsson can do it next fall. They have to know. That means the final 36 games have to include at least 25 Gustavsson starts, assuming he’s healthy enough, and then a cold, realistic assessment has to be done over whether he’s ready.
from William Houston of Truth & Rumours,
It’s hard to know how much to blame Wilson or the players for this mess. As (Bill) Watters has said, correctly, the team is woefully short on talent, as well as toughness. And this is where Burke will be held accountable.
The Kessel trade appears to have been a mistake. The free agents Burke signed over the summer haven’t panned out, although the goalie Jonas Gustavsson may develop. Burke tried to make the team tougher, but hasn’t.
When a caller pronounced Burke a failure on “every count, period,” Watters replied, “You said it well. Brian Burke’s record to date is nothing short of abysmal. I recommended this guy for the job, and I think there’s more good in him than there is bad. So far, we haven’t seen much good, but I think he deserves another kick at the can.”
Burke is a likeable, but blustery guy who can also be intimidating. It will be interesting to see who, if anybody in the Toronto print media, takes him on if the Leafs stay buried at third last in the NHL standing.
Now you can watch it.
Funny, really, to hear Ron Wilson bleating today about how unfair it is that the media is allowed to watch his practices and report on them.
This is the very same coach, ladies and gentleman, who upon coming to Toronto last season ripped the very same media people for not taking the time to watch practice carefully and to ask questions specifically related to drills and practice techniques.
-Damien Cox of The Spin. More on Wilson from Cox.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
He called out Phil Kessel for his lack of offence and then zeroed in on the meek response the Leafs gave after falling behind 4-0 to the Flyers and letting Philly enforcer Daniel Carcillo rub their noses in it. Kessel, who has just one goal the past 10 games, declined to talk to reporters afterwards.
“Ooh, he gets singled out in professional sports,” a caustic Wilson said of the stir his speech created. “He hasn’t played well the past 10 games. I could single out a lot of players, but he’s our best player and a lot of times that needs to be the message.
“We (criticize) it here (in public) because I’m ticked off. You do need a kick in the rump sometimes and then we’ll see how people respond.”
Wilson also ripped the team for its penchant for allowing early goals, lack of special teams’ success and their general compete level, after the Leafs teased everyone the night before with a come-from-behind win over Florida.
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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