Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
If the Maple Leafs are smart, they might want to get to Brendan Shanahan before the NHL Players’ Association does.
Could Shanahan fix all that ails the Leafs? No, not even close, unless he’s got a mask and some pads lying around his garage that he knows how to use.
But even after 21 seasons, with a lot of miles on his chassis, Shanahan surely could add something as an early-season pickup.
Can’t believe a lot of fans wouldn’t like seeing a boy from Mimico take his last meaningful strides with the team of his boyhood daydreams. It’d be a lot better than organizing tributes for ex-Leafs skating for other teams.
from Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette,
Two weeks into this fledgling NHL season and it’s like being told you’ve just won a month’s vacation in Tahiti - with Louise Harel.
You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
If you’re a partisan of Les Habitants, you want to weep.
But if you also happen to hate the Maple Leafs, you’re collapsing in hysterical giggles every time someone hits the punch line: “Brian Burke.”
As this tale of two cities unfolds (and it’s important to remember that the season is still so young it has to be burped after every game) the rapidly eroding fortunes of the Leafs and Habs are a big part of the early-season story line.
from Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star,
For the first time ticket sellers can remember, Leafs tickets with face values of $100 to $300 each are routinely selling for as little as half that amount.
“In the past, they always said it didn’t matter what the Leafs produced on the ice because people will still pay top dollar,” said Shawn Brookes, director of operations with FanXchange, a website that connects buyers with sellers. “This is the first time I’ve seen customers finally getting fed up with these astronomical prices.”
Most of the Leafs tickets sold on FanXchange this season were snapped up for below face value, says Brookes.
For a home game against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 13, “there were tickets – dead centre golds – selling for $90 or $100 instead of the $203 face price.”
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Like every coach in the NHL not named Bruce Boudreau, Ron Wilson can only dream of having an Alex Ovechkin in his lineup every night.
But failing that, the Maple Leafs coach feels he can use the NHL’s top sniper as a teaching tool for his struggling team.
As suspect as the defence and goaltending have been, Wilson knows that if the Leafs don’t start finding the back of the net soon, the six-game losing streak to start the season isn’t about to end.
So after watching the league’s deadliest sniper fire 12 shots at the San Jose Sharks and scoring twice on Thursday, Wilson hammered his message home yesterday.
“The best player in the league, he spends all night shooting,” Wilson said after practice at the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence. “He shoots from everywhere and creates lots of opportunities.
“If we want to score more goals, we need more guys shooting and driving to the net.”
from Spector at Fox Sports,
The stumbling start of the Toronto Maple Leafs has Toronto fans and media whipped up into a near-panic over the club’s performance and lamenting the few options available for management to improve the situation.
Most pundits appear to have absolved Leafs general manager Brian Burke for his club’s struggles but their apparent willingness to give Burke a pass has drawn criticism from one of their one.
Author and former Toronto Globe and Mail columnist William Houston has in his retirement started up a new blog called “Truth & Rumours”. In his inaugural post Houston not only blames Burke for what he considers poor decisions on the part of the Leafs general manager but also scolds the Toronto sports media for their unwillingness to criticize Burke after spending months praising him.
In a season already filled with bad news, the Toronto Maple Leafs received another helping on Friday.
Defenceman Mike Van Ryn is expected to announce that he has decided to undergo extensive knee surgery which could potentially spell the end of the 30-year old’s NHL career.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
What’s so wrong with Burke’s Leafs? A better question might be: What’s right with the Leafs? The answer: Next to nothing.
Of all that is confounding, though, in this early season dive is the play of the Leafs defence. That was supposed to be the strength of the club. Francois Beauchemin, the veteran, at $4.2 million US a year. Tomas Kaberle, the puck mover, at $4.25 million a year. Mike Komisarek, the hit man, at $4.5 million a year. Luke Schenn, the rock solid kid, at $875,000 a year. Ian White, underpaid and underappreciated, at $950,00 a year. And after that, the collection of Jeff Finger, Garnet Exelby and Mike Van Ryn, the extras and the injured at $8.5 million.
An expensive, experienced NHL defence at more than $23 million for the season. One of the highest-paid bluelines in hockey. Good enough for Beauchemin to get a Team Canada summer invitation. Good enough for Kaberle and Komisarek to be considered sure things for the Olympics come February, although the Komisarek ballot has to be in some doubt now. Good enough to not lose by tennis scores most nights.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
...even today, Burke has no qualms about the price he paid to get Kessel out of Boston last month—a pair of first-round picks and a second-rounder.
“Well, if I had known we’d be 0-6, I still would have done that trade,” Burke told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “I can’t draft a player who is going have that kind of impact this year in this draft. This is about being better this year. But I’m not annoyed at any reaction from the fans. When you’re 0-6, you should be grateful they’re still coming to the games.”
Because the Bruins do own that first-round pick this year, you can forget the Leafs pulling the plug early, if at all. No point making that pick look even better for Boston. Instead, I suspect Burke will continue to try to improve this team. One NHL GM told ESPN.com on Tuesday the Leafs boss had contacted him and undoubtedly others. But when your team is winless in six games to start the season, great deals are hard to find.
“The ones that are calling, it’s not a helpful group,” Burke said of talks with other GMs. “I haven’t got anything but anchors thrown at me. We’re not in a hurry. If I didn’t think this group could get the job done, I’d be more concerned. But I believe in the group.”
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Burke has traded away one of the early picks in June’s entry draft. And it’s one thing to trade away a first-round pick, it’s another when that pick could be converted into Taylor Hall or someone of that ability.
And the more the Leafs lose, the more focus there will be on Kessel to make certain the deal is not the embarrassment that it’s starting to look to be.
Yes, the draft watch already has begun in earnest, and yes, with 76 games still to play, with almost everything about this Leafs team looking wrong, there is little even an optimist can believe after a promising pre-season.
This team can’t score, can’t defend, can’t kill penalties, can’t stop pucks, and can’t pick first in the draft.
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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