Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Robert MacLeod of the Globe and Mail,
It appears the on-ice futility is finally starting to catch up with the Toronto Maple Leafs, cashbox kings of the NHL.
For the first time since moving into the Air Canada Centre 10 years ago, the NHL’s richest franchise confirms that it has been unable to lease an unspecified number of the facility’s 152 luxury suites for Leafs games this season.
Yet the team does not believe this is the first sign that fans are growing weary of the product.
“We’re certainly aware of the tipping point theory,” Richard Peddie, president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the team, said yesterday. “We have not experienced it. But listen, winning is the best thing you can possibly do. People want to be entertained, but they want to be entertained and win. We know we’ve got to turn things around, and we will.”
Colton Orr vs Matt Carkner last night.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Yes, they played well enough to win in this heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Senators.
But with just three wins in 19 games, moral victories aren’t worth a damn any more, especially when the script never seems to change.
And now, the difficult questions need to be asked.
First off, when was the last time a Maple Leafs goalie stole a game for this team the way the Sens’ Pascal Leclaire did last night, especially in the third period when he turned aside all 15 Toronto shots at a time when the ice seemed steeply tilted in favour of the visitors?
Answer: Maybe you have to go all the way back to (gasp) Andrew Raycroft. Who’d have ever thought that?
Secondly, can someone possibly help out Phil Kessel on the offensive end?
from Damien Cox of the Spin,
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 63 losses for Wilson during his Leaf tenure against 37 triumphs. Of those 63 defeats, 18 have been through either overtime or a shootout.
Of a possible 200 points, Wilson has achieved 92 for a “winning” percentage of .460.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is not good. The optimism from Wilson’s hiring is gone and it sure doesn’t feel fresh.
The tone? Well, the idea was that a teacher was coming to town, a no-nonsense bench boss who would make sure everything, from defensive zone coverage to the laundry, was done correctly. Wilson spoke of a new culture, an end to any sense of entitlement players might have, something he called the blue-and-white disease.
Interesting, then, to hear Wilson discussing on Monday the need to start benching players who make major errors early in games and punishing players for egregious errors.
Shouldn’t that have been happening, oh, 100 games earlier?
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun via the Toronto Sun,
You see, it was Burke who threatened the Bruins with a Group II offer sheet before making a deal for winger Phil Kessel in September.
The Leafs could easily be sitting in the same position if they don’t get the 25-year-old Swede signed. Gustavsson, who is making $810,000 (all terms US) on a one-year deal this season, has emerged as the club’s No. 1 goalie ahead of Vesa Toskala.
There would be more than an NHL GM or two who wouldn’t mind put the screws to Burke by signing The Monster to an offer sheet worth $5 million a season.
Gustavsson was the most sought-after free-agent goalie on the market before he signed with the Leafs last summer. Every team in the league scouted him. Most made a pitch for him. The Stars thought Gustavsson was going to sign there to push Marty Turco for the job.
“Don’t think for a second there wouldn’t be a lineup of teams again offering up big money if he gets to restricted free agency,” said a league executive.
from Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star,
Who knew the Eighties would be looked back on fondly as the good old days?
Or that the Toronto Maple Leafs would try to emulate them?
You remember the ‘80s: Mullets, glitter-rock, linebacker padded shoulders on ladies, cocaine and the absolute nadir for Leaf hockey – 56 points in ‘81-82, 57 points in ‘85-86, 52 points in ‘87-88.
Toronto, following Saturday’s 5-2 loss to Calgary – another of those ‘80s Tribute Nights, Wendel Clark and Russ Courtnall saluted on this occasion – is on pace for a 50-point season circa 2009-2010, if the calculations of someone who dropped math in Grade 10 can be trusted.
Inconclusive was the final ruling on the no-goal in last night’s Leafs/Blackhawks game.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Kaberle had modestly mentioned in the past his captaincy of the Czech national team and that he was one of Mats Sundin’s deputies for many years, but he won’t outright lobby for the job.
“I think a whole bunch of guys in here can step forward,” Kaberle said. “Whether you’re 19 or 35, you have something to say. When I feel I have to (be vocal) I am.”
Among the forwards it is slim pickings. Matt Stajan and Wilson aren’t seeing eye to eye, as the former’s demotion from the first line to the fourth will attest. John Mitchell only has one full year of NHL experience. Phil Kessel is a scorer, not a screamer. And the others either don’t have the ice time or off-ice presence.
“What good would it do,” asked one keen observer, “if a .146 hitter got up in the middle of a losing baseball team’s clubhouse and started making speeches?”
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
There, among the top 10 point producers in the league, is Kaberle, who, as of yesterday, was tied for 10th with 20 points, best among NHL defencemen.
“It’s cool,” admitted the normally understated Kaberle about seeing his name among the Ovechkins and Thorntons.
“Cool” is a very applicable term when it comes to discussing Kaberle.
On one hand, it describes his demeanour on the ice, always seemingly calm in the heat of battle.
Unfortunately, “cool” also describes the reception he sometimes gets from the demanding members of Leafs Nation.
Maybe it’s because they don’t think he shoots enough. Or is tough enough. Or is good enough in his own end. All legitimate gripes.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The Blackhawks are a Western Conference contender. The Leafs, after a blip of promise last weekend against Carolina and Detroit, descended once more into maddening mediocrity Tuesday in a loss to lowly Minnesota.
Whereas not so long ago Chicago could be mocked as a historic franchise that had lost its way, today it’s the Leafs that can only report excellence in the Forbes standings, not the NHL’s. The Windy City has already been lauded for hosting a superb Winter Classic, while Brian Burke’s promises of doing something similar at BMO Field – no Wrigley, to be sure – ring somewhat hollow.
Nobody would have thought five years ago the Leafs would be sucking the exhaust fumes of the Hawks, but that’s where we are.
One franchise stood still, the other caught the gusts of a new NHL.
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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