Kukla's Korner Hockey
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
“I didn’t want to leave,” he said. “I signed to play there. I wanted to win there. But circumstances change.
“We didn’t make the playoffs for three years, they bought Darcy out, they bought Razor [Raycroft] out. Who knew if Mats was going to come back or not? When we looked at it, we thought it was time for a fresh start.”
McCabe told Fletcher the Panthers were his top choice. He said the acquisition of defencemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes, plus the presence of Jay Bouwmeester, meant he would be joining an up-and-coming defence corps.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
“Not one minute have I worried about who the captain is or whether that’s an important issue right now. It’s not. This team has to learn how to play. It’s not about the captain or all this other stuff,” said Wilson, holding court after his players had gone through testing and medicals.
“We’re going to do it as a group. I don’t think the team is looking for one guy to lead them out of the mess the last few years have been.”
The C, in concept anyway, will instead stand for committee. Wilson said a possibility is to have a pool of four to eight players from which the captaincy is awarded on a rotating basis. It might also stand for confidential, since there’s no guarantee the fans will know who’s been designated as the captain for a particular game.
The National Hockey League (NHL) will launch the 2008-09 season with NHL Face-Off Rocks™ 2008, an opening day spectacular headlined by the world’s greatest arena rock band, Def Leppard, on Thursday, Oct. 9. The multi-platinum selling rock band will open the night with a special performance of their arena-inspired hit single, “C’mon, C’mon” from Fox Theatre in Detroit, followed by the raising of the Detroit Red Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup Championship banner prior to the start of their sold-out home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena.
from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,
...In any event, the new Toronto bench boss turned some heads when he suggested that the fight for spots in the starting lineup on defence will be so heated at training camp this weekend that certain favourites, guys who were regulars last season, may end up starting the season with the AHL Marlies.
“If there’s one area where I think we’re fairly deep, or relatively strong, it’s on the back end,” Wilson said. “These guys are going to compete and there’s probably going to be a shock or two at the end of training camp as far as who’s not going to be here, and Cliff (Fletcher) is going to have to make some decisions as far as where people play.
“But it’s wide open and everybody will get a chance.”
From Mike Toth at Sportsnet.ca:
With Cliff Fletcher at the helm, the Leafs have suddenly become Ontario’s answer to the Calgary Flames, as no fewer than six members of the 1989 Stanley Cup squad have switched their allegiances from “The ‘C’ of Red” to the Blue & White. In addition to Fletcher, the architect of that Calgary triumph, Toronto’s management and coaching line-up includes Al Coates, Joe Nieuwendyk, Tom Watt, Doug Gilmour and Tim Hunter, with all of them expected to play a key role in Fletcher’s long-range plan to transform the lousy Leafs into serious contenders.
And can you really blame Fletcher for being so attracted to Flames?
After all, when Cliff exited Calgary to take over the Leafs for the first time in the early-90’s, he immediately fleeced his former team by pulling off the “Killer” trade that made Gilmour’s gang the toast of Toronto.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
Fletcher tossed around words like “patience” and “development” as he examined the upcoming campaign.
“Unfortunately, there’s no fast-track system. There’s no miracle cure out there,” he said of rebuilding the Maple Leafs.
The message was clear: Brace yourself. The Leafs are going to struggle early and often. But with Ron Wilson behind the bench, proper tutelage in the organization, and the continued acquisition of young talent, Toronto could eventually have the base for sustained success. Once there, they’ll even get back in the business of signing big-name free agents.
“From what I read this summer, we are written off. That’s fine; then we can sneak in and beat a lot of teams.”
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
...But there were still concerns about Van Ryn’s play in his own end. He answered those concerns with a plus-15 season in 2005-06, only to be beset by wrist problems.
“The wrist problems are behind me,” he said. “It’s partly my fault because [in 2006-07] I kept playing because I wanted to try and help us get into the playoffs.”
Glancing down the Leafs’ roster brings a reflective smile to Van Ryn’s face. The road he has travelled in hockey has crossed paths with a handful of people in the Leafs’ organization. He played with Jamal Mayers in St. Louis. In Florida, he also skated with Joe Nieuwendyk, now Toronto’s special assistant to the general manager, and Niklas Hagman, who arrived in Toronto last night. Van Ryn also grew up in Western Ontario playing against Mark Bell and Boyd Devereaux.
“I feel comfortable here already,” Van Ryn said.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
“I’m doing great,” said Blake. “I was actually at the doctor last week. Everything is definitely managed. I’ve put it behind me. It’s good to be back and I’m ready to play. My mind is totally clear.
“It’s the best I’ve felt in 10 years. I worked hard this summer. I did a couple of different things to get ready for this year and hopefully it will pay off.”
That Blake seems to be winning his battle with chronic myelogenous leukemia is perhaps the best news of all. He was assured from the beginning it was a beatable form of cancer. Still, the news came as a blow.
“I didn’t think it would take that big of a toll on me. It did,” said Blake. “It’s unfortunate that had to happen.”
from Steve Buffery of the London Free Press,
But, Toronto being Toronto, (Ron) Wilson repeatedly was asked about Sundin yesterday.
While he was gracious enough to give some thoughtful answers—through clinched teeth—his message was definitely mixed.
On one hand, Wilson said he respects Sundin for not rushing back if he is unsure whether or not he wants to play—adding that he would welcome the longtime Leafs captain back with open arms.
Then he said this,
“If the leadership was a burden for some of the people that aren’t here anymore, then we’ll try to spread that out and shoulder the responsibility with a lot of our younger people,” Wilson said. “Inevitably, people step up and assume the leadership on a team when they see the opportunity is there.
“We’ve got to go in a different direction. We’ve got to get younger and we have to pass the torch to other people in that room.”
more on the Leafs…
added 11:02am, from Darren Dreger of TSN,
Sources tell TSN Mats Sundin and his representatives JP Barry and Claes Elefalk met with Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher Friday morning. Joe Nieuwendyk, recently hired as Fletcher’s assistant was also involved in the discussions.
Sources say Fletcher outlined his plan for the team this season and assured Sundin that Toronto will keep the door open for the 37-year-old captain in the event he decides to resume his career.
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