Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
They are still the engine that drives the ratings for Hockey Night In Canada, no matter how ugly it gets on the ice.
But for how much longer will the Maple Leafs be foisted on the majority of the nation each Saturday night?
The deeper the struggling team’s slump gets and the greater the level of anger rises in Leafs Nation, the closer CBC executives will look at how many homes the team reaches on Canada’s most-watched weekly sports program.
Much like the team itself, the broadcaster realizes it’s too early to panic just three Saturday nights into the NHL season. It doesn’t hurt that the Leafs continue to draw big ratings and will continue to do so in the immediate future with all-Canadian matchups coming up.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the start of conference play in the NHL in 1993-94, only five teams have won once or less in their first 10 games and still made the playoffs, two of those coached by Wilson.
His 2003-04 San Jose Sharks and 1996-97 Anaheim Mighty Ducks both faltered at the start with just one win, but Wilson took the Sharks to the Conference championship, while Paul Kariya came back after their slump to help Wilson and the team make the playoffs for the first time in Ducks’ history.
read on for the other teams that have made the playoffs…
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
The angry glare in Luke Schenn’s eyes spoke volumes when a reporter brought up his third-period stint on the bench Saturday night.
No, there wasn’t an injury behind the move and yes, he was humiliated about playing just three shifts in the Leafs’ seventh defeat (0-6-1). Welcome to Ron Wilson Roulette, where any Leaf might feel those splinters until this club wins a game.
“No one has stepped up and when you make a mistake, that’s the way it’s going to be,” Schenn said yesterday at the MasterCard Centre. “They’re going with the guys playing the best.”
That Schenn would be singled out shows how far the Leafs have slipped. Last season’s NHL’s all-rookie team member was among the most trustworthy in his own zone.
This year, first with veteran partner Francois Beauchemin and then others, Schenn has the same malaise that’s gripped the dressing room. Toronto has given up a league-high 28 goals, while four defencemen, Schenn, Tomas Kaberle, Mike Komisarek and Beauchemin are a combined minus-17.
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.
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.
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