Kukla's Korner Hockey
Yahoo! Sports NHL Editor Sam McCaig released his rankings for the top players at each position last week. As a respected writer and a knowledgeable hockey mind, I expected McCaig’s rankings to align with many of the other major outlets in Canada, namely TSN Rogers Sportsnet. Instead, I found his rankings to be misleading, specifically at the defence and goaltending positions. These rankings have generated tremendous debate amongst fans, especially with the lack of hockey coverage at this point in the summer.
Although there can be arguments made for other players to crack the top 25 or criticisms against players who were ranked higher than expected, I would rather focus on the Leafs presence (or lack thereof) in the rankings. McCaig listed three Leafs amongst the top 125 players; Phil Kessel the 22nd best right winger, Nikolai Kulemin the 18th best left winger, and Dion Phaneuf the 15th best defenseman.
With very little news circulating in the hockey world (well, except the news that Oilers defenseman Theo Peckman is changing his number next season), I’ve decided to tackle a story that I’ve been meaning to write for several weeks now, but never got around to it because of the scorching hot temperatures in Toronto. Give me a break, I’m still celebrating from one day, in particular, during the first week of July. No, I’m not talking about Canada Day.
I’ll give you a clue. It rhymes with Lebda. Oh wait… it is Lebda.
Now that Brett Lebda has moved on to greener pastures in Nashville and part two of ‘overpaid and skillfully challenged defenseman off the roster’ has occurred (*cough* Finger *cough*), the Leafs have, on paper at least, a more of the youngest and more versatile defense cores in the leagues. Led by Dion Phaneuf, the backend boasts a nice mix of smooth skating puck movers and hard nosed shutdown guys.
For a player coming to a new organization after spending almost a decade with another team, the adjustment period can last quite a while. Even if the player performs well on the ice right from the get-go, there can be a slow transition off of it.
I’ll admit, I have neither seen nor heard much of John-Michael Liles in interviews, but I am thoroughly impressed with his charismatic and contagious personality. As I began watching his interview at the Toronto Sick Kids hospital, I was taken aback by his poise and professionalism. He speaks confidently in front of the sometimes-suffocating Toronto media, answers questions thoughtfully, and embraces the opportunity to play for the Maple Leafs.
Despite growing up in Indianapolis, playing college hockey and spending the last eight seasons in the Western Conference, Liles understands the magnitude and responsibility that comes with playing for this team. He acknowledges the rich history that has proceeded before him and arrives with a firm mandate not to alter with it.
Today we introduce our Toronto Maple Leafs blogger Greg Thomson.
I am not sure what direction the Leafs are headed, but I do know Greg will be following them on a daily basis.
Hello and welcome to what will be the future home of Bay Street Bullies, the official Toronto Maple Leafs blog on Kukla’s Korner.
My name is Greg Thomson, your newly appointed Leafs blogger who couldn’t be more excited to take on this challenge of covering a team that has such a storied history and devoted following. I’ve always been a loyal reader of KK Hockey and consider it a priviledge to join such an esteemed team of writers. I hope to add another element to the site while also providing around the clock coverage for a fan base that craves analysis on everything from a blockbuster trade (we’ve seen a number of those over the last few months) to a waiver claim.
To give you a brief background of myself, I have covered the Leafs for the better part of the last three seasons, but have dedicated more time towards writing after launching my own blog, Leafs Nation Online, last summer. I have also contributed to Inside Hockey, The Hockey Writers and Maple Leafs Hot Stove. Aside from KK, you can find me on True Hockey and The Good Point, where I contribute general hockey coverge.
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