Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bill Lankhof of the Toronto Sun,
Wayne Primeau sat at his dressing room stall, beads of perspiration popping from his forehead and forming tiny rivers that ran down his cheeks, rivulets cascading like tiny rapids from his nose.
“I don’t think it’s from lack of effort. The work ethic is here. We just can’t afford to take off even one shift,” said Primeau, who acknowledged that four wins at the quarter pole in the NHL season isn’t what he thought he was signing up for when he joined the Maple Leafs in a trade last July. Actually, his brief fling as a Leaf hasn’t been what he expected either personally or collectively….
“Not playing a lot of minutes can get difficult but it is what it is. I expected to play a little more. It’s one of those things where some other guys were given an opportunity,” he said, picking his words carefully, “and maybe they were showing more early on.”
via the Twitter of Jonas Siegel,
John Mitchell out six weeks with a knee injury. Vesa Toskala will miss the upcoming trip with a groin injury.
from Michael Langlois of Vintage Leaf Memories,
The continued emergence of Ian White as perhaps the best all-around Maple Leaf defenseman evokes memories of another “under-sized” defender who had a lengthy and successful NHL career.
I’m thinking of Pat Stapleton, the long-time Chicago Black Hawk who forged an excellent career as an NHL defenseman, despite his relative lack of size. At 5 foot 8 inches, Stapleton was considered ‘short’ in his era, just as White, at 5 foot 10, is so considered today.
continued and a fairly new blog, geared towards us old-school guys…
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
When it was suggested that Jason Blake doesn’t exactly pay his own way with his meagre goal-scoring numbers and that he would be a candidate to be sent packing, Burke said: “Does anyone on this team work harder than Jason Blake? There has to be an element of fairness in this.”
That is the difficulty Burke finds himself in. Some of this terrible Leafs team is his. Some of it was inherited. The mix of old and new has not worked out at all. And Burke, being stubborn, stands behind his free-agent signings and trades of the summer. In other words, if players are buried, they won’t be his acquisitions.
“It’s a fair comment to say that many of the moves I’ve made haven’t panned out yet at all,” Burke said. “(Mike) Komisarek had a slow start. (Francois) Beauchemin had a slow start. I would go back and sign them again tomorrow knowing they’ve had a slow start. I believe in them. I know what they can do. They’ve both played their way out of it and played well. But we went 0-and-7 while they found their game.
“When you’re the guy driving the bus, you get paid to make these calls. Virtually every one of them seems wrong at this time. Yet I don’t believe they are. I still believe in the blueprint. It requires patience.”
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
The players were hoping that a second win in 72 hours, the club’s first back-to-backs in almost a year, might give GM Brian Burke pause for thought as he contemplates trades and call-ups.
But the 40-year-old Roloson had other plans. The 61 Toronto shots tied the modern-day team record from an 8-0 win over Detroit in February of 1976.
“I don’t know what to say,” Kessel chanted after getting his sixth goal to start the three-goal comeback in the second period. “Sixty shots…it was unbelievable and still we don’t win (the Isles were held to 20 shots). We have to bury the chances.
“We had a little lapse for five minutes and it cost us.”
Coach Ron Wilson had seen Roloson play some great games while both were in the Western Conference, but this took the cake.
“We missed the net a lot of times and I’ll bet we had 100 shots altogether,” Wilson said. “I just don’t want our team to get frustrated. Phil thinks he can score when he has the puck, but a lot of our guys just hope to do it.”
from William Houston of Truth & Rumours,
It seems stupidly arrogant and self-defeating for a sports writer to ridicule his readers, to tell them in so many words that they’re a bunch of dopes. Why would you want to knock the people you hope will read your column?
But there he was, David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail, sneering at the Toronto Maple Leaf fans and heaping scorn on them from a high place.
Shoalts explained in his Saturday column that “your agent” – that’s him – had been cooped up at home for two days and, therefore, was able to put his ear to the pulse of “Leafs Nation” by listening to the radio. And guess what he learned?
“If most fans had their way, Brian Burke would be busy this weekend firing Ron Wilson, trading Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Luke Schenn and just about any other prospect the Toronto Maple Leafs have, and presto, they would no longer be the worst team in the NHL…
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
On July 1st, the Toronto Maple Leafs may have as many as 17 free agents to contend with, and 11 of those players will be unrestricted.
For many teams this would be considered a horrendous challenge.
The Leafs look at it as a great opportunity.
The corps of the 11 unrestricted free agents includes Alexei Ponikarovsky, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Vesa Toskala, Garnet Exelby, Wayne Primeau and Mike Van Ryn.
Matt Stajan is believed to be a prime trade target and isn’t likely to be back.
Ponikarovsky is valued and will likely be offered an extension, however after that the interest in those remaining is quickly fading.
from Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun,
Despite all of the bombastic banter, and off-season acquisitions, the Leafs at the 20-game mark have won just three and lost 17. Spare us the argument that overtime or shootout losses are ties!
The “pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence” Burke promised seems to have instead become poor, pathetic, pitiful and pomposity.
Still Burke woos always wishful Leafs Nation with sweet-talking BS about “like a movie” one day the Leafs will “ride off with the girl on the horse followed by a parade.”
Problem is this movie so far is a flop and a lot of Burke’s promises so far have amounted to nothing but hot air as we saw with the charade he played while in Anaheim when he was rumoured to come here?
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So if the water keeps rising, and it’s rising very quickly around the Leaf enterprise right now, Burke may ultimately get pushed into doing something he is dead set against.
The guess here is that Wilson has 10 more games to show some noticeably positive results.
The team is healthy, particularly the key players, Wilson was lucky enough to have a pure scorer in Phil Kessel added in early November and he’s working with a team that isn’t overly inexperienced.
The club, however, was dead last in defence and penalty killing last year. It still is. Youngsters like Luke Schenn, Nikolai Kulemin and John Mitchell are going backwards or sideways.
Whatever Wilson and his assistants are preaching either isn’t getting across to the players, or it’s a game plan they can’t execute.
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Two things seem abundantly clear this morning.
One, this notion that sending big-money Leafs to the minors — Jason Blake is the most obvious target — will somehow fix what ails the club is just wrong. Blake may not be much use this season, but unless he is clearly a detrimental figure in the dressing room, just getting rid of him is essentially pointless and probably just symbolic.
Unless you have a replacement, dumping a player isn’t much of an answer.
Two, whatever is wrong with this team, Ron Wilson seems powerless to fix it.
The Leafs were the worst defensive team in the NHL last season and the worst penalty killing team. Today, they are the NHL’s worst defensive team and worst penalty killing team.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org