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Entries with the tag: toronto maple leafs

Mike Babcock, ‘The Decider’

From NHL.com's Mike Zeisberger:

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on Wednesday responded to the second guessing of his recent roster and lineup tactics.

"This is how I look at it: They hired me to decide," Babcock sternly told reporters after practice. "You get to decide what you react to. If you let the noise get in the way … can you imagine if every time someone in your life told you that you couldn't do it, you listened to them? Where would you be?"

The Maple Leafs (25-17-4) are third in the Atlantic, 11 points ahead of the fourth-place Detroit Red Wings, who have two games in hand, for the final guaranteed Stanley Cup Playoff berth from the division. But Toronto hasn't won in regulation since defeating the Arizona Coyotes 7-4 on Dec. 28.

Toronto is 2-3-3 since then, with the two wins each in a shootout. After a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday ended a six-game homestand 2-2-2, fans and media voiced concerns.

Continued

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  Tags: mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Kasperi Kapanen wins a double-OT game for Toronto

Toronto's Kasperi Kapanen ended a double-OT game between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring the winning goal thanks to a pass from Brian Boyle:

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  Tags: toronto+maple+leafs, washington+capitals

Thanks, but no thanks

Finnish politeness from Philadelphia Flyers forward Valtteri Filppula:

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  Tags: philadelphia+flyers, toronto+maple+leafs, valtteri+filppula

More Matthews-vs-Laine talk

From TSN's Travis Yost:

The suddenly furious discussion around the Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews Calder Trophy race is a debate worth having, if only because what Laine has provided to his team offensively is remarkable.

As it stands today, only two players – Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Minnesota’s Jason Zucker – have been on the ice for more goals per-60 minutes than Laine. It’s a testament to his wondrous shooting capabilities and the chemistry he’s developed with his linemates.

So, yes, I think it’s a very real argument. As is the case with anything of the sort, you can slice and dice it a thousand different ways. Winnipeg fans will note that Laine plays for a weaker team. Toronto fans will note that Matthews is probably the better defensive player. And round and round we go.

The one piece I keep coming back to is the offence that comes with Laine. I’ve written in the past about my optimism over his individual shooting percentages – he strikes me as a Steven Stamkos or Ilya Kovalchuk type, which is tremendously high praise. It’s exceedingly rare for anyone to sustain high shooting percentages over long periods of time, and even if Laine isn’t a 19.5 per cent shooter, he’s got a real shot at 15 per cent or so, which would be phenomenal.

Continued

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  Tags: auston+matthews, ilya+kovalchuk, patrik+laine, steven+stamkos, toronto+maple+leafs, winnipeg+jets

Eric Fehr goes to Toronto

From TSN's Bob McKenzie:

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  Tags: eric+fehr, pittsburgh+penguins, toronto+maple+leafs

Will the Blues still move Shattenkirk?

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports that the Blues are considering moving Kevin Shattenkirk even though St. Louis is in the thick of the Western Conference's playoff race:

Doug Armstrong is facing a deadline dilemma. Since deciding he’d send head coach Ken Hitchcock packing in favour of Mike Yeo on Feb. 1, the St. Louis Blues are back in a playoff position and heading into Saturday’s action they were five points ahead of the Nasville Predators for the final playoff spot in the Central Division.

Now, the Blues’ GM has an even bigger decision to make regarding unrestricted free agent defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk.

He is regarded by many in league circles as the biggest chip available at the March 1 trade deadline, but Armstrong is facing the reality that the Blues are in the thick of the playoff race in the West. Can he really afford to send Shattenkirk elsewhere just because he won’t sign a deal?

The New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs are among the teams that have shown interest.

Right now, the asking price for Shattenkirk, 28, who has 11 goals and 42 points, has three elements: a high-end prospect, a first-round pick and another piece. Teams don’t want to pay that for a rental and the Blues are willing to do a sign and trade. However, a deal fell through recently.

“If they can get a good deal I think they’ll take the assets,” said a league executive Saturday.

Garrioch continues with many rumors...

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  Tags: kevin+shattenkirk, mike+yeo, new+york+rangers, st.+louis+blues, toronto+maple+leafs

Ducks acquire Jhonas Enroth

The rare 1 AM trade:

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, jhonas+enroth, toronto+maple+leafs

Ben Bishop loses his two front teeth

Ben Bishop lost his two front teeth on a nasty shot to the mask from Peter Holland:

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  Tags: ben+bishop, peter+holland, tampa+bay+lightning, toronto+maple+leafs

Laine, Jets rally for OT win over Toronto

Patrik Laine scored a hat trick as the Winnipeg Jets rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in OT:

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  Tags: patrik+laine, toronto+maple+leafs, winnipeg+jets

Maple Leafs re-sign Martin Marincin

From the CBC's Tim Wharnsby and the AP's Stephen Whyno:

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  Tags: martin+marincin, toronto+maple+leafs

Ranking the Top 10 American players

From NHL.com's Brian Compton:

The United States of America is celebrating its 240th birthday Monday. Citizens will spend the day celebrating their freedom with friends and family.

Keeping in the holiday spirit, NHL.com looks at the top 10 American NHL players of all-time:

1. Mike Modano, C -- Arguably the best U.S.-born player in the NHL history, Modano spent two decades with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise and led it to the Stanley Cup in 1999. Modano played 1,499 regular-season games, and his 561 goals and 1,374 points are more than any player born in the U.S. He also had 58 goals and 146 points in 176 Stanley Cup Playoffs games. Modano was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.

2. Brian Leetch, D -- Leetch broke into the NHL with the Rangers late in the 1987-88 season and won the Calder Trophy in 1988-89 with 23 goals and 48 assists in 68 games. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy and helped the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years in 1994 and remained in New York for another 10 seasons. Leetch finished his career with stops with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. In 1,205 regular-season games he had 247 goals and 781 assists. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Continued

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  Tags: boston+bruins, brian+leetch, dallas+stars, mike+modano, minnesota+north+stars, new+york+rangers, toronto+maple+leafs

Brendan Shanahan’s plan for the Leafs in progress

From the Globe and Mail's James Mirtle:

Two years after Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment made a controversial bet on Shanahan – who had never worked for an NHL team in any capacity – what he will say is that he feels the Leafs are ahead of where he expected them to be.

He has a top coach in Mike Babcock, with a Stanley Cup and Olympic-gold pedigree. He has an experienced general manager in his 73-year-old mentor Lou Lamoriello, working on transactions. He has an up-and-coming executive in Kyle Dubas, managing the minor leagues (where the Toronto Marlies finished at the top of the standings), a renowned bird dog in director of player personnel in Mark Hunter and a cap guru in Brandon Pridham.

After the weekend, Shanahan also has 18-year-old wunderkind Auston Matthews, the projected star centre the Leafs selected first overall at the entry draft in Buffalo.

It’s a start.

“I had an idea before I even accepted the job of what needed to happen in Toronto,” Shanahan said in a wide-ranging conversation with The Globe and Mail about the rebuild the Leaf organization is undergoing. “But because I’ve gotten support [from ownership], things have fallen into place a little bit quicker. Other people have bought into it and come aboard.

“In each of my [hiring] meetings – whether it’s been with Mike Babcock or Lou Lamoriello or Kyle Dubas, Mark Hunter, Brandon Pridham – my approach has been honesty. ‘This is who we are. We need your help. We have a long way to go.’ But I like some of the early signs. And we’ve had some luck, obviously, with the lottery draft. It was nice to have a little bit of luck on our side, as well.”

Continued

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  Tags: brendan+shanahan, kyle+dubas, lou+lamoriello, mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Toronto trades Daniel Winnik to Washington for Brooks Laich

From the Maple Leafs:

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  Tags: brooks+laich, connor+carrick, daniel+winnik, toronto+maple+leafs, washington+capitals

Brooks: Tavares might ‘bolt’ from Islanders’ identity crisis

From the New York Post's Larry Brooks:

So, no, I don’t believe that there is the slightest correlation between [Steven] Stamkos’ looming availability this summer and Toronto’s excise of Dion Phaneuf’s $7 million cap hit that runs through 2020-21 via last week’s stunning trade with Ottawa.

The deal does indeed create oodles of projected space for the Leafs down the line, albeit with a skeleton roster, following the 2017-18 season. And who might become available as a 27-year-old free agent on July 1, 2018?

Why, none other than John Tavares.

It is more than two years down the line, and the steps that might take the Mississauga native — for whom Greater Toronto has lusted since ever before this other No. 91’s junior career commenced in Oshawa a decade ago — from here to there cannot be plotted at this early date.

But the Islanders have work to do here with not only Tavares, working on the fourth year of a club-friendly six-year deal worth $5.5 million per season, but with their entire team in making the transition from Long Island to Brooklyn.

Maybe it will change upon this summer’s transfer of ownership, but the franchise thus far has attempted to straddle the two locales, in essence refusing to acknowledge the reality of where the team plays and to whom it belongs.

Brooks continues...

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  Tags: dion+phaneuf, john+tavares, new+york+islanders, steven+stamkos, tampa+bay+lightning, toronto+maple+leafs

Saturday Headlines: On Drouin, Shattenkirk, Yandle and All-Star voting

According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox:

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking for a young player with a comparable contract in return for Jonathan Drouin, which is why Robby Fabbri's name is making the rounds;
  • Kevin Shattenkirk's name is on the market because St. Louis was going to send him to Columbus for Ryan Johansen, and he may still be available as the Blues look to add offense;
  • Keith Yandle is probably going to be traded because the Rangers won't re-sign him as a free agent;
  • The All-Star Game may include a "quiet meeting" about expansion, but no vote by the Board of Governors;
  • Jakub Kindl is on waivers and the Red Wings are cap-crunched due to Johan Franzen's LTIR issue and Kyle Quincey's $4.25 million salary coming back on Monday, and it's 50-50 as to whether Kindl might be claimed;
  • Friedman reports that the NHL may change All-Star voting to allow fans to pick captains or issue a list of candidates from which the fans can pick All-Stars;
  • Cox states that William Nylander is on a slow but steady return process from a concussion suffered at the World Juniors;
  • And Robin Lehner should return to the Buffalo Sabres next week:

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: all-star+game, buffalo+sabres, detroit+red+wings, jakub+kindl, johan+franzen, jonathan+drouin, keith+yandle, kevin+shattenkirk, kyle+quincey, new+york+rangers, robin+lehner, st.+louis+blues, tampa+bay+lightning, toronto+maple+leafs, william+nylander

Ducks lose Gibson in crease collision

From NHL.com:

Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson left 41 seconds into the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Honda Center on Wednesday with an apparent lower-body injury.

Gibson was injured when he collided with Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri. Gibson was attended to by the Ducks training staff before heading to the dressing room.

Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen entered the game in relief with the Maple Leafs leading 3-0.

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, john+gibson, nazem+kadri, toronto+maple+leafs

Kessel unconcerned with ‘spotlight’ involved with returning to Toronto

Phil Kessel is a little...let's say socially challenged...but it's refreshing to hear Kessel tell the Pittsburgh and Toronto media that he simply doesn't care about the "spotlight" involved with returning to Toronto tomorrow night:

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  Tags: phil+kessel, pittsburgh+penguins, toronto+maple+leafs

Coach’s challenge aiding ‘incidental contact’s’ cause

Earlier today, ESPN's Craig Custance discussed the effects that the coach's challenge has had upon video coaches, and this afternoon, the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno discusses the fact that the standards of goaltender interference have changed--not only under the new rule, but with "incidental contact" yielding more and more waved-off goals:

It can definitely help the goalies. [Jonathan] Bernier and fellow Leafs goalie James Reimer said a handful of goals against might not count thanks to coach's challenges.

"I think they would be the first ones to tell you it's great for the referees, too," Bernier said. "We all make mistakes, and obviously that can change momentum of the games."

It changed momentum of the Sharks-Capitals game, even though some players complained that there wasn't sufficient contact between Jay Beagle and goaltender Martin Jones to take the goal away. Beagle appeared to brush Jones as the puck was going by, and referee Tim Peel said the goalie wasn't able to do his job.

"Any incidental contact, call it. That's the standard that seems to be set now," Capitals coach Barry Trotz told reporters. "I don't have to agree with it, but if that’s the standard, then you're going to get a lot of challenges from the coaches around the league."

Rederees determining a standard for these subjective calls is crucial to how effective coach's challenges will be. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said he considers getting bumped part of the game, but perhaps the slightest contact will lead to goals being wiped out.

"It's not even a game of inches, it's a game of millimetres," Reimer said. "You get bumped on the skate lightly and he knocks you off balance for a half-second and the puck goes in."

Continued

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  Tags: barry+trotz, braden+holtby, james+reimer, jonathan+bernier, martin+jones, san+jose+sharks, toronto+maple+leafs, washington+capitals

Coach’s challenge depends on video coaches

From an Insider-only entry by ESPN's Craig Custance:

As close as they are, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock sometimes can’t help but poke fun at his friend Mike Babcock. Take, for instance, Hitchcock’s reaction when asked about Babcock winning the NHL’s first coach’s challenge on opening night.

“Babs looks like a star and he didn’t do a damn thing. He stood on the bench looking bewildered. Typical Babs,” Hitchcock said, laughing.

In Babcock’s defense, he was quick to credit assistant coach Andrew Brewer after the game, the guy Hitchcock pointed out was the true star. Brewer is a Maple Leafs coach with a background as a video coach.

“Andrew saved him. I would imagine Andrew got 29 calls today. How did he do it? What did he do? It came down quick,” Hitchcock said. “It was a sharp call and had a big impact on the game.”

When the Sharks won their goalie interference coach’s challenge against the Capitals, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer was quick to credit goalie coach Johan Hedberg and video coach Dan Darrow.

“I’m just the puppet calling the timeout,” DeBoer said to reporters. “It was a great catch.”

When the NHL’s board of governors approved the addition of a coach’s challenge to give NHL head coaches the ability to challenge goals scored following questionable goalie interference or plays that were potentially offside there were visions of guys like Babcock, DeBoer and Hitchcock throwing flags onto the ice and becoming the center of attention.

The reality has been much different. The new rule has thrust the video coaches, not the head coaches, into the spotlight.

Continued

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock, mike+babcock, pete+deboer, san+jose+sharks, st.+louis+blues, toronto+maple+leafs

All about the 40-second shift

From TSN's Travis Yost:

Mike Babcock has pulled very few punches about the current state of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the work it’s going to take to repair the damage that’s been caused under the old regime.

He consistently points out that the Leafs skaters are flush with bad habits. In Babcock’s eyes, these are the priorities for the club in the early going. If Babcock can’t iron out the issues embedded in both the players and the organization, he knows he’s going to have a difficult team turning the ship around.

A big focus early on for Babcock has been player shift length. Babcock’s been adamant about bringing the average shift length for both forwards and defencemen in Toronto way down, and this is consistent with how he’s historically coached. In Detroit, Babcock was almost militant about shift length. It’s worth recalling this quote from an old ESPN the Magazine article, with then assistant coach Paul MacLean talking about how seriously the team takes every passing second:

Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean is never without his stopwatch, clicking it each time the Wings make a line change. "We use our own time," says Babcock, eschewing the arena stat sheet. For playoffs, he wants short shifts -- 40 seconds, tops -- making sure stars like LW Henrik Zetterberg stay fresh enough to sustain the tempo his two-way game demands. Quick, smart line changes are so crucial that the Wings devoted an entire practice to them during an unexpected layover in St. Louis last season. Bonus benefit: Quick changes prevent positioning breakdowns that result in odd-man rushes.

The 40-second shift has seemingly been passed down from coaching generation to coaching generation, but it’s not a number pulled out of thin air. Player performance starts to go off of the rails once you breach that threshold. (Anything beyond 60 seconds can be utterly disastrous.) I don’t know how coaches first arrived at that number, but by my estimation, it’s a pretty reasonable benchmark:

Continued

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  Tags: detroit+red+wings, mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

SI’s Farber profiles Mike Babcock

Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber tells quite the gritty tale as to how Mike Babcock went from working in a slaughterhouse to working for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I'll spare you the gore...

Theoretically, this is the perfect marriage. After last season Babcock was a free agent with a gilt-edged résumé—10 straight playoff appearances with Detroit, a Stanley Cup (in 2008 with the Red Wings), two losses in seven-game finals (’03 with Anaheim, ’09 with Detroit) and Olympic gold with Team Canada in ’10 and ’14. Toronto was seeking a credible coach. After turning down a five-year, $20 million extension from Detroit and an offer by potential-rich Buffalo that essentially mirrored the one from Toronto, he cashed the golden ticket—$50 million over eight years. Six-point-two-five average. First-line money, and more than double the salary of Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks have won three Cups in six years. Says Red Wings GM Ken Holland, “Babs won the lottery.”

Why Toronto? Consider a theory. You know how the NHL suspends a player for one game in the playoffs for an offense that would have cost him two during the year because of the postseason’s relative importance? Well, there’s also Stanley Cup math. One Cup in Toronto would be exponentially greater than two or three elsewhere (e.g., 1994 New York Rangers 54-year drought). So an ambitious coach in Toronto gets a two-for-one deal: Win a Cup, get a statue. “I couldn’t see leaving Detroit for someplace other than an Original Six team, but I wanted to try something new,” Babcock says. “The hockey market, let’s be honest, it’s been a coach’s graveyard. Why would I be naive enough to think I could be different? I guess I just am. [We have to] be patient. Get good things going. Not deviate from the plan. Set ourselves up for a 10-year run. It’s probably going to take us three years to get that run set up.” When Babcock was introduced on May 20 in a press conference televised across Canada, he memorably cautioned, “If you think there’s no pain coming ... there’s pain coming.”

But this comment from Henrik Zettererg is very telling for Wings fans...

Playing for Babcock takes a toll; this coach accepts only exact change. “It was time. I think Mike felt that, and [the players] felt that,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg says. “The way he locked on things. The criticism. Hockey was 24/7 for him, and he demanded that of his players.” Zetterberg volunteers that he never thought this in 2008, of course, when Babcock was coaching Detroit to the Cup. “He’ll straighten things out in Toronto, no doubt, because he’ll structure ’em up.”

And Farber continues...

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  Tags: detroit+red+wings, henrik+zetterberg, ken+holland, mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Brendan Shanahan is a very thorough man

Sportsnet's Michael Grange conducted a thorough interview with Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, and it reflects Shanahan's attention to detail:

The leather-bound appointment book lies in the centre of his desk, the edges perfectly aligned. There is a cell phone, parallel with two television remotes, not one a degree out of place.

Around Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan’s office there are some pictures you’d expect from a Hall-of-Fame player turned executive (lifting the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings) and some you might not (shaking hands with Bill Clinton and Stephen Harper).

There are books on business innovation: “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, and on sports innovation: “Big Data Baseball,” by Travis Sawchik.

But the 2015 edition of the brown, plush American Express appointment book takes pride of place. He fills it out himself, in ink, a habit he began when the high school graduate got his first real job, working alongside the league’s Ivy League trained lawyers at the head office in Manhattan. They go four years back now and the 2016 edition is already waiting at home.

He’s aware all this can be done digitally, but he likes the ritual and the permanence of the paper and pen.

“I’m more inclined to write stuff down, log things,” he says. “After you leave I’ll write down we spoke.”

Grange continues, and Shanahan also appeared on Prime Time Sports on Wednesday evening:

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: brendan+shanahan, toronto+maple+leafs

Babcock’s got his hands full

From the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran:

If there was ever a time when Mike Babcock might have some self doubt about the job he chose for himself, it could well be this week.

On Tuesday, his Maple Leafs were out-skated, out-hustled and outperformed by Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres, a team that courted his services as much as the Maple Leafs.

On Friday, he'll return to Detroit, where he spent a decade behind the bench of the Red Wings, a team that didn't want him to leave.

Based on the way his team plays, he may be left wondering: "What have I gotten myself into?"

Continued

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  Tags: mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Sitting down with a ‘fireside chat’ with Mike Babcock

From the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger:

In the first of this two-part series, the new Leafs coach sat down with the Toronto Sun to open up on a variety of topics, including Dion Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri, Lamoriello and, most importantly, re-establishing the Maple Leafs brand in the hockey world.

“We’re an Original Six franchise that doesn’t hold our rightful place in the National Hockey league right now,” he says. “We will.”

How? Even Babcock is aware of the perception that, rightly or wrongly, some players don’t want to be play in Toronto, whether it’s because of the franchise’s recent futility or because of the fishbowl that comes with being a Leaf.

“Maybe not now,” he says confidently. “But they are going to come.

“What was the line in that movie Field of Dreams? ‘If you build it, they will come.’

“So, there ya go.”

Continued...

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  Tags: dion+phaneuf, lou+lamoriello, mike+babcock, nazem+kadri, toronto+maple+leafs

Mike Babcock attends fundraiser for suicide prevention in Peterborough

This news item from the isn't TMR stuff any more because it's not Red Wings-related, but as a Red Wings fan, I'm glad to read the Peterborough Examiner's Dale Clifford report that Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock's commitment to mental health awareness hasn't changed a bit:

The 52-year-old was the guest of honour for Breakfast with Babcock, a fundraising event in support of a new suicide prevention program hosted by Team 55, Let’s Tackle Suicide Awareness, at the Trentwinds International Centre on Tuesday morning.

An announced crowd of 506 attended the affair and $71,544 was raised for the new two-year program with the Canadian Mental Health Association Halliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (CMHA HKPR) called Assertive Outreach for Suicide Prevention (AOSP).

The program serves individuals who’ve been identified to be at high risk for ongoing or repeated suicidal behaviour and offers support for the person’s immediate and short-term needs and helps to create a safety plan, while connecting them with other resources.

Babcock talked some hockey and his involvement in the game over the years but his focus mainly was on talking about leadership qualities on and off the ice and sharing why he was so passionate about mental health and particularly suicide prevention, especially after losing two family friends to suicide.

...

“When I heard what they were doing here and had the opportunity to be here, I wanted to come,” he said. “I didn’t come here as a coach but I wanted to talk about mental health and share it with others. I care about people, worry about kids. There is nothing worse than suffering in silence. People need someone to talk to if something is wrong. Sharing with someone can get you through it and can make a difference. These things have been very important to me.”

Continued

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  Tags: mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Simmons on the Leafs’ unstoppable forces, the NHL’s not-so-quiet summer and Ilitch’s health

Among the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' sports notes...

Lou Lamoriello is an autocrat. Although, a former NHL general manager referred to him the other day as a dictator. Mike Babcock is somewhat of an autocrat as a coach. It’s his way or the highway. Jacques Lemaire is about as rigid as they come. What’s going to be fascinating is how these men of large minds, large egos, and total belief in their own ways find a way to work together. The Leafs could be way more interesting off the ice than on it ...

I see where young Auston Matthews, likely first pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft, will be paid $400,000 to play in Zurich this season. That’s slightly more than the going rate for under the table money in the OHL ...

The NHL’s summer? Superstar Patrick Kane investigated; Ryan O’Reilly arrested; Slava Voynov off to jail; Jarret Stoll caught with cocaine; Mike Richards, first investigated, then had his contract voided; And the Canadian dollar just keeps on dropping. And how was your summer? ...

This will surprise some Leaf fans: Dave Nonis, the fired general manager, had three offers to join NHL teams before deciding to take a senior consultant’s job with the Anaheim Ducks. Among the teams interested in Nonis were the Montreal Canadiens ...

And this one, we're familiar with in Metro Detroit, because far, far more of a stretch than it's made out to be in the out-of-town circles:

Many who admire Mike Ilitch, owner of the Red Wings and Tigers, are concerned about his ability to properly operate his franchises. Ilitch is 86, not in the best health, and there is a lot of family interference around him these days. The Dombrowski firing seemed odd as did the quick hiring of Alex Avila to replace him.

Simmons continues and comments on the Patrick Kane situation...

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, auston+matthews, dave+nonis, detroit+red+wings, jacques+lemaire, jarret+stoll, lou+lamoriello, mike+babcock, mike+ilitch, mike+richards, patrick+kane, ryan+o'reilly, slava+voynov, toronto+maple+leafs

Maple Leafs hire Jacques Lemaire as assistant/‘special assignment’ coach

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  Tags: jacques+lemaire, mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Canucks to bring back ‘Flying Skate’ jersey for one 2015-16 season game

From the Vancouver Canucks:

The Vancouver Canucks are pleased to announce that the club will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rogers Arena in the 2015.16 season. The celebration will include many fan-favourite athletes, artists and iconic moments on select nights throughout the season, including the return of the retro black skate jersey on February 13th when the Canucks face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

More exciting details will be released on Canucks.com and Twitter (@VanCanucks) in the coming weeks.

“Rogers Arena has provided twenty years of fun and extraordinary moments and we’re excited to celebrate its rich history with Canucks fans this upcoming season,” said Victor de Bonis, Chief Operating Officer, Canucks Sports & Entertainment. “It continues to serve as the premier sports and entertainment venue in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. We are proud to have hosted more than 27 million guests since opening our doors in 1995, and we look forward to creating more unforgettable experiences for our fans for years to come.”

Continued

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  Tags: toronto+maple+leafs, vancouver+canucks

Babcock on Lamoriello: ‘This was a home run for Mike Babcock’

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock spoke with NHL.com's Dan Rosen regarding the Leafs' hiring of Lou Lamoriello as their general manager:

"Lou has been about winning," Babcock told NHL.com in a phone interview Thursday. "Lou is a guy who has pushed himself to get better every single day. I think a senior management guy joining our team, understanding what the vision and what the plan is, is a home run for all of us. Everyone concerns themselves with the team on the ice; the team off the ice precedes the team on the ice. I think we're set up very good."

Babcock said Lamoriello's experience and history of winning, including three Stanley Cup championships with the Devils (1995, 2000, 2003), will be especially important for Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas, director of player personnel Mark Hunter and assistant to the general manager Brandon Pridham.

Babcock said he has been impressed with Dubas, Hunter and Pridham since he was hired on May 20, but adding Lamoriello will give those young executives a sounding board.

"To bring in a guy like Lou, that gives those guys someone to talk to, someone to mentor them, someone to ask, 'Hey Lou, you've been through this 100 times, what do you think?'" Babcock said. "You have an experienced guy who is still passionate and still fired up about it and still wants to work. That's Lou. He loves hockey."

Babcock said he first met Lamoriello during the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, when he was coaching the Anaheim Ducks against the Devils. New Jersey won the series in seven games.

In the 12 years he's known Lamoriello, Babcock said every time he has spoken to him he has come away impressed. Babcock said he has gotten only positive reviews from the people who have worked for Lamoriello, including a recent review from former Devils coach Peter DeBoer.

"Every coach I've ever talked to about Lou, and most of them have been fired by him, love him," Babcock said. "I talked to Pete DeBoer the other day about him. He raves about him. Lou has got a way of doing things, but Lou is a smart, smart guy and just like all of us who are in the pursuit of knowledge and the pursuit of winning, we're sure willing to adjust to somebody who has a better idea. This was a home run for Mike Babcock."

Rosen continues...

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  Tags: kyle+dubas, lou+lamoriello, mark+hunter, mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

Ron MacLean talks about the Kessel trade, Babcock’s machinations in Toronto

Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean spoke with Sportsnet's Luke Fox regarding five "hot topics":

On what the Phil Kessel trade means to Pittsburgh: “It’s great for Sidney Crosby. The challenge with Sid, thinking back to the Vancouver Olympics, is figuring out who to play with him. Finally after about three games, coach Mike Babcock said, ‘Sid, who do you think?’ And he said Eric Staal and Jarome Iginla. I see Kessel as maybe that triggerman that Sidney needs.

On 2015′s biggest free agent, Mike Babcock, moving to Toronto:“Mike Babcock is a big believer in ghost rosters. He doesn’t want too many of the same players. I’m not sure the Leafs had too many other Kessels, to be honest. Toronto will assemble a team in Mike Babcock’s version of teams.

“Mike didn’t want Marty St. Louis, who was the leading scorer in the National Hockey League [in 2013] to go to the Sochi Olympics because he had set out a roster of what he had in mind. He told Steve [Yzerman]: ‘You can pick him, but I won’t be able to play him.’ And Yzerman drafted according to Mike both at Sochi and Vancouver.

“In Vancouver at six in the morning, Yzerman called him and said, ‘Are you up?’ Mike said, ‘I’m a coach. I’m always up.’ And he let him make the final selection on forwards. Mike took Jonathan Toews and put him on the checking line with Rick Nash and Mike Richards—very unconventional. That’s what’s happening in Toronto: Mike’s doing the ghost roster as he sees fit.”

Continued

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Toronto signs P.A. Parenteau

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Steve Downie to Phoenix

Steve Downie goes to Arizona:

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Simmons: Leafs’ incomplete front office may haunt them

The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons questions whether the Blackhawks are a classic sports dynasty, he discusses the Leafs' desire to essentially salvage the players who haven't been completely poisoned by the concept of playing hockey in Toronto (Phil Kessel is  not one of those players in Simmons' eyes), and he offers the following words of warning:

When Glen Sather was talking trade with Montreal in the deal that eventually sent Scott Gomez to the Canadiens, his assistant Jeff Gorton, was clear about New York’s needs: Make sure, he told Sather, that Ryan McDonagh is included in the transaction.

Sather had heard the name McDonagh, but had never seen him play. He listened to his assistant and moved accordingly.

When Brian Burke was talking trade with the Blue Jackets in a deal that sent Sergei Fedorov to Columbus, his assistant Bob Murray had a word of advice. “Don’t make the trade without Francois Beauchemin.”

Burke’s response: “Who the hell is Francois Beauchemin?”

He made the trade and Columbus included Beauchemin in the deal.

Why does this matter now? It matters as the Maple Leafs get ready to remake their roster. They don’t have a general manager. They don’t have a pro scout of any reputation. They may have capable junior hockey operators: But they don’t have people who know the NHL and the AHL and all levels of hockey inside and out.

When the time comes to make a deal next week and they need a [Jeff] Gorton or a [Tim] Murray whispering in a general manager’s ear, who will do the whispering? They don’t have a GM and they don’t have a Gorton or a Murray type. Of all that Brendan Shanahan has done, his lack of NHL experience and pro scouting acumen may come back to haunt him.

Simmons cintinues...

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Have the Maple Leafs’ castoffs suddenly become ‘added value’ players?

Sportsnet's Damien Cox suggests that the Toronto Maple Leafs must take an aggressive approach to pre-draft-day trades in order to move out bodies and bring in both younger prospects and picks, and while this entry fits under, "KK Hockey" more than my blog, I (George) read this as a Red Wings fan and thought, "How did two months suddenly turn Toronto's trash into another man's treasure?"

To be in position to get the best players over the next few years, more picks are needed and winning has to become a secondary goal, which means people have to go. Phaneuf almost went at the trade deadline to Detroit, and that’s a scenario that will be revisited, even though the Leafs have yet to hire a new general manager. Shanahan feels comfortable making major deals with Mark Hunter, Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock at his side, and the Red Wings may be willing to give up the futures now that they weren’t willing to relinquish in March when a deal that featured Phaneuf going to Motown for the contract of Stephen Weiss and defenceman Brendan Smith wasn’t concluded because the Leafs also wanted futures the Wings weren’t willing to surrender at that point.

Yes, because Teemu Pulkkinen scoring like a machine during two-and-a-half rounds of the Grand Rapids Griffins' playoffs = he's totally redundant.

Kessel, meanwhile, has seven years to go at $8 million per, but even in an off, off season he potted 25 goals. There’s no obvious match here, but lots of teams failed in the playoffs or missed them because they struggled to score and could have interest in the winger.

And so they're supposed to surrender major compensation for someone described by the Toronto media as nothing more than a malcontent and a cancer?

Bozak and Lupul would be the next two on the list, and if Kessel can’t be moved, they are easier to deal. Lupul has three years left at $5.25 million, Bozak three more at $4.2 million.

The Leafs have demonstrated in the David Clarkson trade with Columbus and the Phaneuf talks with Detroit they’re willing to absorb salary if that’s what it takes to make a deal. Moreover, they’re keenly aware that once the free agent market opens July 1, and with the cap likely to increase only to about $71 million, their options to move these players are likely to be reduced significantly as budgets get spent.

That doesn't mean their prices have gone up since the trade deadline, when the Leafs weren't able to consummate deals for any of the above-listed players.

Cox continues, and I'm not trying to rip the guy, but let's just say I think his take on the value of the players the Maple Leafs' press corps bashed for the entire 2014-15 season aren't any higher because other teams are desperate to take the Leafs' problem children on this summer.

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  Tags: brendan+shanahan, david+clarkson, detroit+red+wings, dion+phaneuf, joffrey+lupul, kyle+dubas, mike+babcock, phil+kessel, toronto+maple+leafs, tyler+bozak

Simmons talks Leafs GM and Hawks/Bolts’ cap management

Among the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' Sunday notes:

Word is that Mike Babcock is pushing for [Mark] Hunter to be named general manager of the Leafs. Brendan Shanahan would be wise to look elsewhere. Shanahan needs Hunter to find players. A general manager won’t be able to spend the kind of time scouting that the Leafs require to properly rebuild. Hunter may want the job but the practicality of it doesn’t make sense...

Those who say this is the last shot for the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t really paying attention. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith — the best 1-2-3 in hockey — are signed through 2023. Corey Crawford is signed until 2020. Marian Hossa is signed through 2021. Niklas Hjarmalsson is signed until 2019. So if you lose a Patrick Sharp here, a Brad Richards there and sign Johnny Oduya, Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook to new deals, there’s no reason this kind of success can’t continue for several more years...

Two more things on Keith: 1) His cap hit is $5.5 million, making his contract one of the best in hockey. By comparison, the Dion Phaneuf contract looks ridiculous. 2) Should the Blackhawks win Saturday night, Keith may be the leading candidate to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, but he’s not a Norris Trophy finalist. For the record, he was on my ballot, ahead of both P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson, who are up for the award.

...

If Steve Yzerman can juggle the salary cap prudently, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be Stanley Cup contenders for years. Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn are all 25 and under. And figuring they pick up some assets for the disappointing Jonathan Drouin, that should make them even stronger...

When Brian Lawton tried to acquire defenceman Tomas Kaberle when he was general manager in Tampa, the Leafs first asked for college kid Alex Killorn. That conversation didn’t last long.

Simmons continues, discussing the usual potpourri of sports topics...

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  Tags: alex+killorn, brad+richards, brandon+saad, brendan+shanahan, brent+seabrook, chicago+blackhawks, dion+phaneuf, duncan+keith, erik+karlsson, johnny+oduya, jonathan+toews, marian+hossa, mark+hunter, mike+babcock, nikita+kucherov, niklas+hjalmarsson, ondrej+palat, patrick+kane, pk+subban, pk+subban, steve+yzerman, steven+stamkos, tampa+bay+lightning, toronto+maple+leafs, victor+hedman

Friedman’s ‘Headlines’ include discussion of front-office compensation, Competition Committee talk

 

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman issued his customary "Saturday Headlines" during the second intermission of Hockey Night in Canada's Saturday broadcast, and he discussed the following topics:

According to Friedman:

  • The NHL's GM's will ensure that teams who have fired coaches or managers will not receive draft pick compensation--only coaches and front office executives who are under contract to an NHL team, not fired by an NHL team, will require compensation;
  • Friedman believes that John Hynes, Ray Shero's AHL coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will probably be named the Devils' next coach, not Phil Housley;
  • Friedman doesn't believe that the Rangers will allow the Maple Leafs to speak to New York Rangers assistant GM Jeff Gorton;
  • He states that the Capitals and Braden Hotlby's representatives have begun to talk contract turkey;
  • And the NHLPA's Competition Committee will review the NHL's GM's proposals for 4-on-4-to-3-on-3 OT, defensive centers placing their sticks on the ice first and the 5% growth factor in the salary cap will all be discussed, with a "trial period" for 3-on-3 OT and possibly lesser growth for the cap in the offing.

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  Tags: braden+holtby, gm+meetings, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, nhlpa, phil+housley, ray+shero, salary+cap, toronto+maple+leafs, washington+capitals

Don Cherry talks Babcock, again

To put it indelicately, Don Cherry is going ga-ga over Mike Babcock, and while he insists that Babcock is no messiah, Cherry spent 85% of this Coach's Corner praising Babcock, praising Babcock, and also praising Babcock as the best coach in the world and the coach who will bring Canadians and Ontario natives to "Canada's team":

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Mike Babcock’s Hockey Night in Canada close-up

The end of Mike Babcock's media tour took him to Sportsnet's Hockey Night in Canada studios, where he sat down with George Strombolopolous for an 11-minute interview that aired during the 1st intermission:

If it's possible to make Mike Babcock feel warm and fuzzy, and if it's possible for Mike Babcock to make himself seem fuzzy, this is as close as it's gonna get.

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Don Cherry talks Babcock

Don Cherry conducted his usual "Coach's Corner" during Wednesday's Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, and he's changed his tune about Mike Babcock:

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Has building a coaching and managerial team become too draft-pick expensive for the Leafs?

The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons is concerned that the Toronto Maple Leafs may have to give up too much of their "futures" to build a new coaching and management team:

Word around is that the eventual hiring of a Leafs GM may also come with some kind of compensation price. Possibly a second-round draft pick? Possibly a third-round draft pick?

The Red Wings already established the price on a Mike Babcock hiring as a third-round pick and now that it seems Babcock is likely to return as Detroit coach, what becomes the price to hire AHL coach Jeff Blashill, who is under contract to Detroit?

While once upon a time, the elevation from a senior position in one organization to a GM or coaching job elsewhere was considered part of the game and encouraged, that isn’t the case any longer and anyone under contract elsewhere cannot freely hired by the Leafs.

So [team president Brendan] Shanahan must balance the worth of a GM and coach against the value of a draft pick.

And at a time when picks are precious and about all the Leafs have, how much is too much in compensation?

Simmons continues with the usual abundance of hockey and sports notes...

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  Tags: brendan+shanahan, mike+babcock, toronto+maple+leafs

‘Headlines’: Coach’s challenge won’t include throwing objects on ice (usually)

Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox's "Headlines" included a discussion of a possible suspension for Tyler Toffoli, PK Subban's 3rd fine for diving (Cox notes that the "divers' list" doesn't roll back to zeroes for the playoffs, either), a discussion at the GM's meetings of making the All-Star games teams' more meaningfully-picked than the fantasy format, Cox reporting that Mike Richards is working out in LA to potentially rejoin the team, and it wouldn't be CBC/Sportsnet if Cox didn't address the Maple Leafs' signings of Nikita Soshnikov and Casey Bailey:

As for the coach's challenge, as Sportsnet's Mike Johnston notes, no flags will be thrown on the ice (or anything else):

If and when the NHL implements a coach’s challenge it will work differently than what we see in the CFL and NFL.

For one, there won’t be any flags tossed onto the ice.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, challenges will work the same way timeouts work. After contact in the crease during a goal or when a player is penalized (or not penalized) when a puck goes over the glass, the coach will call the referee over to the bench or the official will look to the bench and ask if the coach would like to use a challenge.

“You can’t have certainty on this, but the type of situation which this is intended to address is the puck goes in the net, nobody makes a call but it turns out there was contact that nobody saw,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last week. “It would be an attempt to get the better call, but it would ultimately still be the official’s call and it would still be his judgment.”

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  Tags: los+angeles+kings, mike+richards, pk+subban, pk+subban, toronto+maple+leafs, tyler+toffoli

Simmons offers a spread-out set of Sunday topics

The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons discusses the inevitable "falls" of Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel as the main topic in his Sunday notebook, but you and I both know that numbers 3 and 81 will be exiting Toronto in salary-and-or-player-dumps soon, and we all know that Jaromir Jagr's ability tos core in the "Dead Puck" era was (and now is again) pretty damn impressive, so this set of observations strikes me as the most pertinent "chunk" of Simmons' notebook:

Before trading David Clarkson to Columbus, the Leafs thought they had a deal going that would have sent him back to New Jersey. The player whose contract would have swapped in exchange has not been confirmed, but quite likely it’s the concussed Ryan Clowe ... There was significant interest in Roman Polak at the NHL deadline, including from his former team, the St. Louis Blues. The Leafs like what Polak gives them from a stability and maturity point of view, something the current team is lacking in ... Pretty sure Ron Wilson was an advocate of Phaneuf being named captain of the Leafs. Wasn’t he the coach at the time? ... The narrative once was that the Leafs won the trade that brought Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner to Toronto in exchange for Francois Beachemin. The standings don’t agree. Since then, the Leafs are playing .497 hockey and the Ducks are accumulating points at a .638 clip ... If you don’t love the Andrew Hammond, Hamburglar, story, you don’t love sports. I’m doing something I don’t remember doing before: I quietly cheering for the Ottawa Senators.

Simmons continues, discussing his usual potpourri of Sunday sports topics.

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, columbus+blue+jackets, david+clarkson, dion+phaneuf, francois+beauchemin, jake+gardiner, joffrey+lupul, new+jersey+devils, ottawa+senators, roman+polak, ron+wilson, ryane+clowe, toronto+maple+leafs

Deadline day Garrioch

The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch can only pen "'almost deal'" columns after today, so he's delivering a hum-dinger of a rumor wallop this morning. Among his trade deadline day ruminations:

A guy who isn’t being talked about much who may be attracting a lot of interest is New Jersey defenceman Marek Zidlicky. Nobody is sure if Devils GM Lou Lamoriello would actually deal Zidlicky, but teams have been calling to see what the asking price is, just in case he does decide to make a move.

...

The Maple Leafs want to be the busiest team in the league Monday. They have been trying to deal almost their entire roster, but all eyes will be on captain Dion Phaneuf and wingers Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. They’ve also, for the past two weeks, been shopping centre Tyler Bozak and his $4.2-million salary. Toronto has a chance to make this a significant day if they make moves.

...

The Montreal Canadiens set up shop in San Jose on Sunday night after a long flight that left at 11 a.m. The Habs have been steadfast in their search for a defenceman since the quest for help began. They were able to help their forward ranks by picking up Devante Smith-Pelley from the Ducks earlier this week in exchange for Jiri Sekac, but the thinking is GM Marc Bergevin isn’t done. The Habs would like to get a defenceman and the belief is they’ve been eyeing Toronto’s Roman Polak and Edmonton’s Jeff Petry. Though teams have wanted draft picks in return, the talk is the Habs may be dangling goaltender prospect Zach Fucale, who was a second-round selection (No. 36 overall) in 2013.

Garrioch continues, reporting that the Sabres and Bruins may swing a Chris Stewart deal, that the Blues want to make some sort of impact and that Matt Beleskey is in high demand.

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Kypreos: Maple Leafs still trying to move Dion Phaneuf

I'll let you take this interview breakdown from Sportsnet's Jeff Simmons for what you will:

According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, the Maple Leafs are trying “real hard” to move captain Dion Phaneuf.

“It’s abundantly clear that he won’t be the captain next year,” Kypreos said Sunday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “So the sooner they can get him out, the better. They’re trying real hard to make that deal going into (Monday).

“It’s a gut feel, but I think (by) this time (Monday), Phaneuf is a member of another hockey club.”

Kyrpeos added Phaneuf appeals to a handful of teams in need of an upgrade on the back end, but the Leafs will have to retain part of his salary in order to make any trade work.

“It’s a matter of that contract,” Kypreos explained. “As soon as there’s a number that can be agreed upon, he will not be a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

Phaneuf signed a seven-year, $49 million contract extension during the 2013-14 season. He will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 season.

Continued...

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Pre-trade deadline ‘headlines’ from Cox and Friedman

added 9:31pm, Watch the segment below...


Two days prior to the trade deadline, Sportsnet's Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman dished trade-related "headlines" during the 2nd intermission of Hockey Night in Canada's Saturday broadcast.

Cox stated that the Maple Leafs may be the most active team at the deadline. They're listening to offers for Jonathan Bernier, emphasis on "listening," but there are teams like San Jose, Dallas perhaps (given that Kari Lehtonen continues to struggle); Olli Jokinen, Korbinian Holzer and David Booth are also possible moves.

Cox wondered whether the Maple Leafs would trade Joffrey Lupul to the Habs, and there is only "very lukewarm interest" there, and the Clarkson deal was going to be more complicated, but the Blue Jackets and Leafs were unable to consummate a larger deal, so they swapped Horton for Clarkson.

According to Friedman, Patrick Sharp was not asked for a list of 10 teams to which he would accept a trade within 48 hours of the trade deadline, and because that list wasn't asked for before 3 PM on Saturday, he's going nowhere; he also reports that Mats Zuccarello and the Rangers are at contract loggerheads, and the Rangers offered 6 years at $4.5 million on average, so he's being shopped, but the Rangers are not allowing would-be suitors to discuss a contract with Zuccarello before making trade offers;

Jeff Petry's not playing tonight for Edmonton and Montreal, Anaheim and St. Louis have been rumored; Friedman wonders if the Blues have considered moving Vladimir Sobotka to help the team despite Sobotka's status as a KHL'er;

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: antoine+vermette, buffalo+sabres, calgary+flames, chicago+blackhawks, chris+stewart, columbus+blue+jackets, curtis+glencross, david+booth, david+clarkson, edmonton+oilers, jeff+petry, joffrey+lupul, jonathan+bernier, keith+yandle, korbinian+holzer, mark+pysyk, mats+zuccarello, nathan+horton, new+york+rangers, olli+jokinen, patrick+sharp, phoenix+coyotes, st.+louis+blues, ted+nolan, tim+murray, toronto+maple+leafs, vladimir+sobotka

Simmons on the Franson trade, Burmistrov and Price for Hart

Amongst the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' Sunday hockey and/or sports-related notes, which mostly involve the Toronto Maple Leafs:

If you break down the Cody Franson-Mike Santorelli trade, it’s basically Franson for a late first-round pick and Santorelli for the prospect Brendan Leipsic. The Leafs had a very extensive book on Leipsic, partly because personnel man Mark Hunter had his London Knights play against him in the Memorial Cup. Leipsic is known for three things: 1) being small; 2) being ultra-competitive; 3) having ridiculous ‘he could stickhandle in a phone booth’ hands...

Coaches that interest the Leafs: Still working division: Mike Babcock, Todd McLellan; Ken Hitchcock; Dave Tippett; Out of work division: Peter DeBoer. Seemingly no interest: Dan Bylsma...

The Leafs also have some interest in Alexander Burmistrov, the troubled high draft pick playing in the KHL, whose rights are owned by Winnipeg...

I'm intrigued by Burmistrov myself--he's 23 and liberally-listed at 6' and 179 pounds, and he hasn't exactly lit it up during two seasons with the Ak Bars Kazan, but he's still fleet-footed as all hell get out, and he could be somebody's next-year reclamation project.

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: alexander+burmistrov, carey+price, cody+franson, dan+bylsma, dave+tippett, hart+trophy, ken+hitchcock, mike+babcock, mike+santorelli, montreal+canadiens, nashville+predators, pete+deboer, todd+mclellan, toronto+maple+leafs, winnipeg+jets

Clarkson beans Gonchar, baffled about game misconduct; Gonchar day-to-day

This hit drew Paul's eye, so take note, per the Canadian Press's Kelsey Patterson:

The Montreal Canadiens picked up two points on Saturday by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shootout.

But they had to do it without defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who left with an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return after a questionable hit from Toronto's David Clarkson.

The 40-year-old blue-liner was playing a loose puck behind Carey Price's net when Clarkson pushed him with both hands into the boards. Gonchar fell awkwardly and remained on his knees for several seconds.

Clarkson, who was assessed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for the hit, didn't feel the hit was dirty and was even surprised to be sent to the dressing room early.

"I haven't seen it, but I think I got him in the shoulder," said Clarkson. "You don't like to see a guy go in awkwardly. I'm not sure of much more than that. I was just finishing my check. I didn't know I was kicked out."

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  Tags: david+clarkson, montreal+canadiens, sergei+gonchar, toronto+maple+leafs

Don’t believe the trade deadline hype

Wise words from the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson:

It’s that time of year when every scout at a game must mean discussions are taking place with that team. When overheard conversations find their way to Twitter and immediately result in a rumor being started.

It’s that time of year when rumor websites make sure to include every outlandish scenario, and they attach high-profile teams such as the Maple Leafs to ensure a healthy dose of clicks to help the bottom line.

But here is the real bottom line — take every rumor out there with a grain of salt.

It’s so easy for someone to say “Toronto would like to have Jonathan Drouin’’ and pose it as a possibility that he will be moved to the Leafs. Well, of course the Leafs would like to have a player such as Drouin. Who wouldn’t?

But to report that as something that could happen is just irresponsible.

...

But remember, this is silly season. There are rumors that have credence coming from trusted and reliable reporters who have earned that reputation from both inside and outside the media, and there are those that come from everywhere else.

Continued, and skepticism in healthy doses is highly recommended between now and the deadline. And then afterward.

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  Tags: tampa+bay+lightning, toronto+maple+leafs

Russo discusses Byfuglien flying the Jets’ coop, Kessel to…Miami?

Among the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo's Sunday notes:

Looking ahead perhaps: One reason why the Tyler Myers pickup by Winnipeg could really be bright? Dustin Byfuglien, the thorn-in-the-Wild-side hybrid defenseman, is potentially a year from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

If Myers develops, he could replace Big Buff if he departs. If that happens, he’s exactly the type of player the Wild needs. Rumor has it he’s from Minnesota, too.

Kessel moving? The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost 21 of 25 games with Phil Kessel scoring four times in those games. He has since been demoted to the fourth line.

“I go where they want me. I love Toronto, but [if] it’s not here, it’s not here,” Kessel said.

Don’t be surprised if the Florida Panthers try to trade for the high-priced Kessel. He has a place in Palm Beach, the Panthers might have the assets to give up, and Kessel, not exactly fond of the spotlight, would be able to get out from under the microscope.

Continued...

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  Tags: dustin+byfuglien, florida+panthers, phil+kessel, toronto+maple+leafs, tyler+myers, winnipeg+jets

Simmons: Don’t provoke an angry Kessel

The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons suggests that the ever-prickly Phil Kessel's being handled the wrong way by new Leafs coach Peter Horachek:

Randy Carlyle came to understand the remarkable but flawed oddity that is Phil Kessel. He didn’t coach him much. He didn’t speak to him all that often. Mostly, realizing what he was up against, having a petulant child as his most talented and most protected player, he left him alone.

Since the firing, the more attention that has been put on Kessel, by Brendan Shanahan, by Peter Horachek, by Steve Spott, by the media, the more he has retreated, the less he has produced. Kessel’s collapse in the final 22 games post-Olympics a year ago was supposed to be monumental. The Leafs won just six games. Kessel managed just six goals in that time.

But heading into Montreal on Saturday night, Kessel’s retreat has been unlike any other before it. The Leafs have won just two games for Horachek. Kessel has only six points, three of them goals, in the 16 past games. The collapse a year ago he scored at .68 per game. The collapse now: .38 per game — a 31-point pace.

By salary cap numbers, Kessel is the eighth-highest paid forward in the NHL and next season he will rank 10th. For a scorer who is usually in the top 10, that is paying market value for Kessel. And by my count, he would be the top offensive player on 21-of-30 NHL teams. That won’t necessarily make him easy to trade if the Leafs go that route. But one thing seems clear: The way to get the most out of Kessel is to put the least amount of pressure on him. He reacts like a spoiled kid when prodded, hanging on the periphery, rarely pushing his way through.

Simmons continues with the usual amount of Sunday notes...

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: peter+horachek, phil+kessel, randy+carlyle, toronto+maple+leafs

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