Kukla's Korner Hockey
from William Houston of Truth & Rumours,
Generally, the Leaf players are given a soft ride by the reporters covering the team and also by most of the commentators in the city. Too many reporters — not all — carry on as fans rather than journalists. See Leafs TV, for starters.
So, when Burke signals to his players, by way of the movement freeze, that they’re receiving preferential treatment compared with those on other teams, he’s just giving them another reason to think they’re special, when they don’t deserve to be. Special? Precious might be a better word.
“I’m trying personally to eliminate pre-game skates,. For lack of a better word, they are retarded. They are from the dark ages. Physiologists will tell you, you can’t get that energy back if you waste it in a pre-game skate.”
-Leafs coach Ron Wilson. More on this topic from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.
from Mike Ulmer of TorontoMapleLeafs.com,
Imagine you are Ron Wilson. Your team is three points out of the playoffs after being left for dead. You want to develop Gustavsson at the right pace. His talent, and his shortcomings, jump out. But do you ride Toskala in consecutive days, easing the load on your rookie while pinning your playoff chances on a veteran often trying to rebound from ineffective play and injuries?
Or do you throw Gustavsson in and hope he negotiates the dangerous ground between becoming less active and more poised?
In professional sports, fairness isn’t a frequently used word. Maybe that’s because no matter what you do, it seems impossible to reckon who you are being fair to.
from Jonas Siegel of AM640,
Could Ian White’s career year be the tipping point for Tomas Kaberle’s exit out of Toronto?
It certainly seems that way.
White, a restricted free agent at season’s end, will command a big-time raise from the $950,000 he’s earning this season, something perhaps in the neighbourhood of $2.5-3 million per season.
And that’s where it gets tricky for Burke.
from Jeremy Sandler of the National Post,
Optimists among the Toronto Maple Leafs faithful can look at the team’s standing exiting the NHL’s brief break for Christmas and find reasons to smile.
Since losing 12 of 13 games to start the season, coach Ron Wilson’s team is 12-10-3, basically a .500 record.
In one stretch of 17 games, the Maple Leafs went 10-5-2, a run that made “We’re right where we want to be” a theme among many of Toronto’s players before the team travelled to New York for its pre-Christmas 3-1 loss to the Islanders.
But parse the standings any way you like, the overall numbers give a stark reminder of just how bad the Maple Leafs have been.
from Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun,
He may have lost his NHL shutout record this week but now the family of the late Terry Sawchuk would like to find his two stolen Stanley Cup rings.
The guy who beat this long-held record earned it. But whoever stole the rings not only didn’t earn it, but also fleeced a nice family of some very special memories.
It would be a great Christmas present to see them returned.
“It has been a mystery for almost 40 years,” said Sawchuk’s 55-year-old son, Jerry, one of seven children. “We feel the rings are still out there somewhere.”
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Three games without a point - his worst stretch as Leaf - doesn’t mean a Kessel benching is imminent, but Leafs coach Ron Wilson would like to see more soon from the team’s designated sniper.
“I agree he’s a little off,” Wilson said following Tuesday’s practice at the Mastercard Centre. “He’s not skating, he looks like he’s a little tired. He’s played a lot of games ... that’s as far as I will go.”
Kessel was willing to take it a little further while trying to shake off one of his least memorable nights with his new team. A mediocre minus-four in his past four games, Kessel was held to just four non-threatening shots on goal in Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres.
To add misery to the miserly attack, the winger was on the ice for Derek Roy’s game winner in overtime. Rather than help earn the valuable extra point, Kessel contributed to it going the other way.
“I just haven’t been playing as well as before,” Kessel said bluntly before the team hopped a flight to New York for Wednesday’s game against the Islanders.
“Lately, I just haven’t been the best. I haven’t been terrible, but I know I have a lot better in me. I have to pick it up.
No penalty on the hit.
added 10:39pm, better quality video of the hit is below…
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
The Maple Leafs netminder offered little resistance as four goals flowed past him in a span of 11 minutes, 16 seconds in the second period, giving the Buffalo Sabres all they required for a 5-2 win over Toronto at the HSBC Arena.
The outburst came on just six shots, drowned a 1-0 Leafs lead thanks to Viktor Stalberg’s first NHL goal and led to the yanking of Toskala in favour of Jonas Gustavsson, who made his first appearance since leaving a game on Dec. 1 with heart problems.
“We’re not getting any saves, everybody gets shaky and you suffer breakdowns trying to run around,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “If you make mistakes, you have to buckle down and get the job done. Unfortunately, (Toskala) did not and I had to get him out of there.”
Remember the embarrassing goal Toskala allowed to New York Islanders defenceman Rob Davison in March 2008? Davison’s shot from 197 feet skipped past Toskala one night on Long Island, making the goalie the butt of jokes and giving him a spot on highlight reels.
Well, Toskala came close to outdoing himself.
read on and watch a goal Toskala wish he had back during the Leafs loss to the Sabres Friday night.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Wilson isn’t issuing a bold prediction to order tickets for April to beat the rush, but if the Leafs can overcome some Northeast Division demons this week and continue a string of home success, the Eastern Conference standings will start to speak for itself.
From an 0-7-1 start and national scorn, the Leafs began last night just four points back of a post-season berth as they began their final 50 games of the NHL schedule.
“We’re getting close enough to that eighth-place line to realize where we’ve come from,” coach Wilson said before taking on the Senators. “We do want to make the playoffs this year and to take our foot off of the gas right now would not be a wise choice.”
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