Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,
Two players now have expressed a desire to be traded away from the foundering club—centre Jamal Mayers and defenceman Garnet Exelby—and Wilson isn’t thrilled with the timing of the requests.
On one hand, the besieged head coach said it doesn’t bother him that players express a desire to be traded if they want out, adding that it happens all the time.
But his worry is that their unhappiness will spread. And the last thing the 17-27-10 Leafs need is more negativity in the dressing room, especially with back-to-back games this weekend against the New Jersey Devils on Friday in Newark and the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday back at the Air Canada Centre.
“What you don’t want is to have a pity party where guys who don’t like what’s happening to them suck other people into the same black hole,” said Wilson on Thursday after practice. “That’s an age-old problem on teams, pity parties: ‘I’m not playing well, so I want to make sure that nobody is playing well and I feel better because I have everybody in the same boat with me.’ “
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
For the rest of the season, and especially leading up to the March 3 trade deadline, it will be hard to view Leaf players as anything but commodities.
For a non-playoff team on which futures are on the line, the big game won’t be so much hockey as it will be guessing who stays and who goes.
Against the visiting L.A. Kings on Tuesday, for example, the final score was 5-3 for the impressive young team from California.
But the important result was that a player like Niklas Hagman improved his stock on the trade market while goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, a restricted free agent this summer, only created more questions about where he might fit with the Leafs.
via Darren Dreger of TSN,
Rugged Maple Leafs forward Jamal Mayers believes he has at least a few good years left him in, but doesn’t see Toronto in his future.
Leafs general manager Brian Burke granted Mayers agent, Pat Brisson, permission to speak to teams in an effort to generate trade interest.
via Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
Was there a little gamesmanship in Toronto this morning? The Leafs had the practice ice first this morning, and when they left, the Zamboni came out to resurface. The driver stopped though, and came off the ice before the job was even half finished.
Why? Because Leafs coach Ron Wilson does his daily media session next to the rink, and apparently the noise from the Zamboni is too loud. So as the Kings filed onto the ice, they had to stand around and wait for Wilson to finish, so that the Zamboni could then come back out.
More than a little peeved, the Kings banged their sticks on the ice and glass in order to create as much noise as possible. Finally, Wilson finished, the Zamboni returned and Kings practice started after a 15-minute delay. Only in Canada, eh?
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,
The Maple Leafs are on the verge of a fifth consecutive non-playoff season, and they have yet to draft a player over that span with the instant, high-level success that Drew Doughty will bring on Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Kings make a rare visit to Toronto.
Doughty, from London, Ont., the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, comes to Toronto with a stellar resumé, and as much promise as any teenage defenceman to stick in the NHL since Bobby Orr.
“Well, I’ve been around a long time,” Kings coach Terry Murray said Sunday. “I remember Ray Bourque coming into the league as an 18-year-old and he was a force for the Boston Bruins right from his first year. I watched Paul Coffey over his career and I coached him in Philadelphia, and he was great as a teenager. I had Scott Stevens as an 18-year-old in Washington, and going back to when I was a player, I can remember (Orr) as a teenager and no one was as good as him. ... That’s a special group of players and Drew belongs in that class.”
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• Every time I see Phil Kessel bent over at the bench sucking wind, I wonder: How do you build the Maple Leafs around a kid who doesn’t seem to be in game condition?
• This is why the surprising Colorado Avalanche will make the playoffs and the Phoenix Coyotes might not: Of Colorado’s final 32 games, 19 are at home. Of the Coyotes’ final 30 games, only 12 are at home.
• If I’m Vince McMahon I’m lining up John Tortorella and Larry Brooks for Monday Night Raw.
a few more hockey notes…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
With the March 3 trading deadline less than six weeks away, 30 NHL clubs are starting to look at moves they would like to make. Burke’s annual frustration is that swaps that will be made in the final hours before the deadline could be made now, but aren’t.
“It’s a bizarre psychology,” he said. “On February 3rd, general manager `A’ will not give me a second-round pick for John Doe, but on March 3rd, he will give me a second-rounder when he could have had that player for a month already helping his team make the playoffs.
“Why not pay deadline prices on February 3rd instead? But everybody waits until five minutes before the store closes.”
more on the Leafs…
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Gustavsson is called The Monster, but often resembles a lobster when he gets into the pressure cooker of game situations and starts flailing around, over-playing angles or mishandling pucks.
He must be given some leeway for adjustments to a new league, new country and two heart procedures, yet he’ll turn 26 this year.
As good a goalie guru as Francois Allaire is, five months of tutoring has not made Gustavsson a Kwai Chang Caine to his Master Po, snatching pebbles from his hand to show the teacher he’s ready to take on the world. There are technical deficiencies that Gustavsson’s size haven’t yet compensated for, but might with patience.
Toskala’s three-year tenure in Toronto has produced 62 wins. That doesn’t make him a washout, but does nothing to prove the San Jose Sharks were wrong to keep Evgeni Nabokov and deal the Finn here.
Tough one to call, but with Colton Orr involved, questions will be asked.
Orr received 2 minutes for interference on the call plus five for fighting with Shaone Morrisonn. You can see the penalty log below…
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.
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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