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Category: Toronto-Maple-Leafs

The Future Is Bright For The Leafs’ William Nylander

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

... Nylander is all about hope. For the better part of 20 years, maybe more, the Leafs have used or wasted their first-round picks. They haven’t found scoring stars in the first round since Wendel Clark and Vinny Damphousse were kids.

And here is this 18-year-old all full of flash and dash, a will of the wisp kind of player, with a clear knack for knowing where the puck is and where it’s going. The best players can’t always explain why. But the puck follows them and they follow the puck. The relationship is somewhat symbiotic.

Instincts can’t be purchased. You either have them or you don’t. You either have the right kind of burst or you don’t. You either have hands or you don’t. Watching Nylander try to play with Phil Kessel was like watching two dance partners just a step out of sync Tuesday night. They were trying to read each other and not necessarily clicking. But you could see there was an understanding of sorts — a veteran-to-kid kind of respect. Kessel is the kind of teammate who can look down on a linemate who can’t play at his intellectual level. Nylander and Kessel tried to make nice and occasionally they did, but it’s clear there may be a spot one day on left wing with Kessel and somebody playing centre.

That’s the future. Whether it’s the present will be a matter of much discussion over the final weeks of the pre-season. Nylander happens to play the position the Leafs are strongest at. They have wingers like Kessel, van Riemdyk, Lupul — a trio almost assured of producing 90 goals this season -— a rare luxury for a team just about everybody is already writing off.

more

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  Tags: william+nylander

Coaching Phil Kessel

from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,

In the days after Steve Spott landed a job as a rookie assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs in July, he was tasked with a bevy of responsibilities by head coach Randy Carlyle.

Among them, Spott was charged with devising a new breakout play for a team that has long struggled to get the puck out of its own end. Spott thought he’d hit on an effective strategy — until, that is, he shared the plan with Leafs leading scorer Phil Kessel. When Kessel voiced displeasure, Spott discovered a harsh reality of life in the NHL. In some corners of the league, and apparently in Leafland, a coach’s learning curve involves bending to the desires of star players.

At least, such was the gist of an anecdote Spott shared at a coaches’ clinic at which he was a guest speaker last month, this according to interviews with three minor-hockey coaches who were in attendance.

“Spotter said that when he went to Phil (with the breakout play), Phil said, I’m not doing it,” said one of the attendees, a former professional player.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Morning Line - Randy Carlyle

“This season is not about me, not at all. It’s about the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’ll never be about me. I’m a sidebar. I’m the tsetse fly on the wall. This season is about the Maple Leafs. It’s about our team. It’s about our players. It’s about our organization.

“The reality is, we have to win more games. Simple as that. Winning cures pretty much everything.

“Losing is hard. This is why we’re bald and we’re grey and you ask yourself, ‘Why do I do this for a living?’ You carry the losses with you. And in this market, you carry it a little big longer and a lot louder.

“You have to have short-term memory. You have to be able to move on to the next practice, the next game, turn the page and keep your emotions so you make the decisions that are best for your group.”

-Randy Carlyle, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  More from Carlyle by Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: randy+carlyle

Randy Carlyle Under The Microscope

from Kevin McGran of the Breakaway Blog at the Toronto Star,

... But all of the storylines connect at Carlyle.

He wasn't fired at season's end when the team collapsed.

Some believe it was the way they played -- with fire most of the time -- that cost them a playoff spot. Continually outshot. Continually out-possessed, in the new parlance of analytics. Carlyle's teams -- even in Anaheim are horrible at possession games.

Some believe it was simply a matter of goaltending, that if Jonathan Bernier didn't get hurt against the Los Angeles Kings, the Leafs would have sailed into the playoffs, and nobody would have lost their jobs.

Now is Carlyle's chance to prove himself, and do so under less than ideal conditions.

For one thing, it seems evident there'll be more -- oh, what's the word? advice? instruction? meddling? -- from above.

The front office looks like it's going to active, with assistant GM Kyle Dubas communicating the ideas from the team's analytics department. That means Carlyle is going to hear from Dubas about line changes, line combinations and who'd play best with Phil Kessel.

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Morning Line

"We're comfortable with the character of the group -with the group coming back and the players that we added. If we had questions about their character they would've been gone in the summer."

-Dave Nonis, GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  More on the Leafs from TSN.

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  Tags: dave+nonis

What Was Time Leiweke Thinking?

via TSN,

“There are players we have in our organization today whose numbers are off-the-chart good, and whose character is just terrible,” Leiweke told a group of business students at Ryerson University, just ahead of Leafs training camp. "I don't care how good your numbers are if you have bad character you are doomed for failure."

Now Bob McKenzie addressed the issue, via Hope_Smoke tweets (make sure to check out more in his recent timeline),

McKenzie "For a guy who has one foot out the door already, that's like throwing a molotov cocktail back into the building"

McKenzie "The two biggest insults you can give a hockey player is calling them a choker or say they have character issues"

McKenzie "f I was running MLSE I'd want a full explanation from Leiweke, & a tape of the interview

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: tim+leiweke

Tim Leiweke Talks Analytics

from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,

“We’ve gone from very little analytical information to we have two guys we just hired that are considered two of the smartest analytical guys in the game of hockey today,” Leiweke said, likely referencing Dubas and Metcalfe, an engineer who built wildly popular analytics hub extraskater.com.

“Including one that owned his own website that every general manager used and we bought the website. When he came, that website came with us and we took it down. We don’t want anyone else seeing it. It’s called a monopoly. It’s good.”

Leiweke also made the point that the Leafs will continue to pursue “character” as well as players with good analytics, noting that “there are players we have in our organization today whose numbers are off the chart good and whose character is just terrible. I don’t care how good your numbers are, if you have bad character, you are doomed for failure.

“We are very convinced analytics make us smarter,” he added. “We are very convinced that analytics will reduce our mistakes. We are convinced that analytics at the end of the day will be key to getting this team back on track. But that said they will never ever replace our ability to determine one’s character and passion for the game of hockey. You have to be good at both, not just one.”

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: tim+leiweke

The Power Of Brendan Shanahan

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: tim+leiweke

Would You Call This A Conflict Of Interest?

from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,

When the Toronto Maple Leafs make their way out West in March and play the Vancouver Canucks, the game is scheduled for 4 p.m. locally as usual, but that should change.

And for very good reason. While the following is a small, perhaps even niggling thing to some degree, it’s important.

Over the past few years, that game has always been at that time, but now things are different. Before this season, those Saturday television rights were owned by CBC, and as an independent party to the game and contractor with the league, the network was given the right to ask Vancouver to move the game from the traditional 7 p.m. start on a Saturday night to 4 p.m. to increase the audience in the East.

Why the Canucks ever agreed to it in the first place is a mystery, but it’s almost certainly been put into in the contract at some point.

But now Rogers owns those rights, and for those who may not have noticed, Rogers is also part-owner of the Leafs. If the game were allowed to go ahead at 4 p.m., which always takes the home-team Canucks out of their usual routine and is certainly an advantage for the visiting team, it would mean that the owners of the Leafs were able to demand that Vancouver change the start time to the advantage of their team. It gives them an unfair competitive advantage.

This is a clear conflict of interest which the league should not let stand.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

David Booth Feels Playing In The East Will Help His Game

from Mike Johnston of Sportsnet,

It’s no secret David Booth struggled during his time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Much of that can be attributed to various injuries—Booth missed a total of 68 regular-season games in less than three seasons with the Canucks after being acquired from the Florida Panthers in 2011—but being on a Western Conference schedule also had its drawbacks.

The Detroit native thinks playing in the Eastern Conference again will benefit his game.

“It really is tough [playing in the West], and for me personally the amount of rest I get is the most important thing for the way I feel, the amount of energy I have,” Booth told The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday. “Travel kind of wears you out. Those are things every team has to deal with. I just think some guys adjust to it differently, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m excited to be in Toronto and to be in the East. Hopefully [travel fatigue] doesn’t play such a big role as it did in Vancouver.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: david+booth

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

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