Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star, I
t’s been decades since the Leafs actually ruled the hockey world, of course. They were a team to be reckoned with not that very long ago, but now this club, which hasn’t played a post-season match since 2004 and is by far the NHL’s most expensive to watch, has sunk to bottom of the standings after two weeks of this season.
The only good news is that Nazem Kadri wasn’t forced to be part of this.
“It is depressing here right now,” Leaf head coach Ron Wilson admitted after a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
That verdict was hardly a shocker. The Leafs are plagued by substandard goaltending and kill penalties less efficiently than any other NHL club, and those two factors alone probably doomed the team to defeat at the hands of the champs.
That said, the time has come to really start wondering about the impact Wilson is having on this squad.
In a nutshell, after one full season and four games, the Leafs either aren’t listening to what Wilson is preaching or can’t execute his instructions.
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
There is a theory going around that one of the reasons for Toskala’s poor start is he’s having trouble adjusting to Allaire’s different style.
Tuesday morning, Toskala disagreed with that hypothesis.
“Who’s saying that?” he asked.
I told him I’d read it in a couple of articles and heard it discussed on television.
“All the big things are pretty much the same,” he said. “Every coach is similar, there is nothing unusual. I feel good.”...
Anyway, I relayed this story to another goalie on Thursday, and he disagreed. He understands Toskala’s refusal to make excuses, but says there is a big difference between the two men’s preferences.
“Toskala is all about getting out and challenging [the shooters]”, he said. “Francois is adamant how he wants his goalies to play. He is all about being a blocker ... taking away the net, covering up all holes and limiting gaps.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that goaltender Joey MacDonald has joined the team on an Emergency Recall from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Jonas Gustavsson was placed on Injured Reserve and is expected to miss at least one week with a groin injury.
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province via Canada.com,
“If there’s tampering going on, ultimately there are no secrets in this world. We will get to the bottom of it,” Bettman vowed in May 2008.“And I’m no fan of tampering. And when it happens, it gets punished severely.
“A team that meddles with an individual under contract could face heavy fines and the loss of draft picks. And an individual who talks to a team while he’s still under contract would face fines and a possible suspension.”
Seventeen months later, severe punishment has been reduced to a gag order. “Heavy fines” and the “loss of draft picks” have turned into $25,000 US. And Bettman’s call to arms has become a call to prayer. Because we should all pray that the Leafs aren’t allowed to operate above the law because of their power, friends and influence.
Here’s the kicker, even if the Canucks think the decision is a farce, they are not allowed to express it, by NHL order.
from Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star,
Coach Ron Wilson has indicated the vacancy will be filled in the coming weeks. GM Brian Burke told the Star yesterday maybe yes and maybe no. “If the coach names a captain, I’ll totally support his decision. But the word `soon’ implies there’s a need for it in the near future. I’m not sure we even have the right guy right now.”...
It’s telling that no successor to Sundin jumps out as the obvious choice. Arguably the Leaf “brand’’ these days, the face of the franchise, is Burke. In his image the club has purportedly been designed. He’s the template.
Burke rejects that characterization. “I don’t want to be the face of the team. Sure, I’ve been doing all the TV and radio to kick off the season but now the players take over. Soon, you’ll be looking for me on milk cartons.”
NEW YORK (October 7, 2009)—Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the National Hockey League, today released the following statement which will serve as the League’s only comment regarding its findings relative to purported tampering allegations as between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs’ organizations:
“I confirm the following:
“That Ron Wilson, Head Coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, violated the provisions of NHL By-Law 15 relating to inappropriate public comments by speaking generally to his Club’s potential interest in negotiating with Daniel and Henrik Sedin prior to such time as those players’ existing contracts with Vancouver had expired. The League has imposed a fine on the Maple Leafs’ organization as a result;
via Bruce Garrioch of Off The Posts,
Is it me or does anybody else think that Ron Wilson won’t - or shouldn’t - last long as coach of the Maple Leafs.
He had a total, and complete, meltdown following the 2-1 loss to the Senators Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre. It was awfully funny to hear.
Apparently his early-morning practice was moved to noon so he didn’t follow through on that threat.
I just don’t get the feeling he is going to be behind the Toronto bench forever - five year contract or not - if this team doesn’t pick it up.
“We stunk. We had no offence at all. I mean, that was almost embarrassing from seven or eight guys who we are counting heavily on. They only showed up when it was too late (a third-period Matt Stajan power-play goal).
“Playing on the perimeter, not wanting the puck, not willing to take a hit to make a play. Jittery when we do have the puck. We need a much better effort.”
-Toronto Coach Ron Wilson after losing to the Senators last night. More on the game from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So what we think we might know about the Leafs after two games – Lee Stempniak looks much improved, added toughness doesn’t mean much if the other team won’t engage, Viktor Stalberg clearly does belong – really doesn’t mean much.
Nothing, you see, can be known until the goaltending is sorted out.
When you allow only 51 shots in two games and give up 10 goals to lose twice, you know you have a problem.
By comparison, Detroit is admitting it may have a problem between Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard after losing twice to St. Louis in Stockholm, and the Wings goalies gave up only nine goals on 53 shots.
Some of it is about goals-against averages and save percentages, but goaltending is also a feel, something that creates an atmosphere around the team. If the netminding is sound or even better, excellent, players compete in a comfort zone, knowing they can make an error here or there, and they tend to relax and gel better as a unit.
The boys at Orland Kurtenblog use the zoom feature on their TV.
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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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