Monday, February 9, 2009

Blogging News

I've got some exciting news. Well, exciting for me.

I've been picked up as a blogger for the Maple Leafs Hot Stove run by Alec Brownscombe. Most of my insightful posts will be put up over there. Anything else, I'll still put up here. I'm not going to double post.

So check out Maple Leaf Hot Stove for future posts of mine and other very insightful Leaf fans and writers.

Thanks for reading my blog up to this point. I really appreciate it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I propose a rule change

Not that it matters much on my little blog, but I'm getting quite peeved with the amount of fighting that goes on directly after a crushing body check.

It has happening all over the league and enough is enough.

I don't know when over the past 5 years it became the norm for a player to go after someone who through a big hit. It's time the NHL does something about this.

Luke Schenn has been on both sides of this equation. The first time occurred way back in October. I can't remember who was involved, but Schenn immediately went over and started a fight with the player who delivered the hit. Then last night, Schenn after destroying Malkin (easily one of the highlights of the season BTW), had to face the music against Tyler Kennedy.

This sort of behaviour is going to lead to less and less people delivering hits, as the middle weights on teams will be afraid of having to go toe to toe with a guy like Brashear, Laroque, or Boogaard.

Here's what I propose. Simple and sweet. Anyone who initiates a fight with someone who delivered a big body check for remainder of the game receives a 2 minute penalty and a 10 minute misconduct. If it happens in the last 5 minutes of the game, they are suspended for the following game.

It penalizes the team, sits down the goon for a period of time, and encourages players to enact retribution the way it is supposed to be done: catching the player with his head down and delivering a bone crushing hit in return.

Of course, we all know that won't happen with Schenn. He is omnipotent afterall.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I was speaking with a co-worker the other day about the current state of our Leafs and how our interest relates to them.

We came to the same conclusion; We are completely apathetic towards our team. Neither ups or downs really affect us all that much. Let me explain.

As a fan, I am ecstatic when my team wins. A few years ago, the highlight of my day was when the 3rd period ticked down to 0:00 and the Leafs had more goals than their opposition. Everything that happened that day ceased to matter. The Leafs winning was the apex. That's how much I cared.

Conversely, despite how great my day had gone, if the Leafs lost, it all went out the window. From 2005-2008, a Leaf loss meant I was depressed. It was a affirmation of just how terrible the team had become and how little hope there was of it getting any better. From 98-2004 I was furious after a loss. The Leafs we're a powerhouse for most of those years and no one had any business beating them in a game of hockey.

Thus was my life as a Leaf fan. The highs we're high and the lows we're low. My friend concurred the same.

Queue 2009.

I am now completely indifferent. My emotions conflict with each event involving the Leafs. I want a good draft. I would love to have Tavares. So, part of me wants them to lose. Yet, as a lifelong fan, I can't be content with a loss. That's the source of my inner conflict and the resulting apathy.

When the Leafs get embarrased by Nashville. A good part of me is furious. Yet I receive much solace in knowing that the loss has helped contribute towards a better draft pick. Every game they lose, the better the odds. Yet I'm angry. Angry they didn't win.

Then Carolina comes to town. My Leafs take a 4 goal lead. I'm happy, cheering, and elated at the thorough embarrassment they are dishing out. Angry, that they are going to move 2 points farther from Tavares. Then Carolina erases the 4 goal lead in less than 10 minutes and I'm furious again. Furious that they could blow such a sure win. Then Tavares enters my mind. Awesome! But wait, Cam Ward lets an easy puck through, and suddenly I'm happy (angry?) again.

And thus it goes back and forth. Happy for a loss; Angry at a loss. Happy for a win; Angry for a win. Ultimately it all comes out a wash. So what can a torn Leaf fan do?

At this point, I'm just hoping to be entertained with a Leafs loss. I want to see the team play a great game, get a 2-0 lead, then lose 3-2 but be the better team.

Is it possible every game? Not likely. But I can hope.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Toughness is there; Hendrick still a weenie

Brad May has certainly brought what he was supposed to bring. Some toughness and willingness to get dirty.

It's currently between the 2nd and 3rd period of a very dirty affair between the Leafs and Canadiens. There is some bad blood, to say the least, between these two teams. Kostopoulos's pile driving of Van Ryn's face into the glass, Kostitsyn's trip of Schenn, and Grabovski's quite flagrant spear are in the minds of the players tonight. And it shows.

It has been chippy from the get go.

Thanks to Jamal Mayers for avenging the cheapshot.

I'm a believer that the bare knuckle fist fighting that goes on hockey doesn't need to be there; But I'll certainly cheer and get excited for a good old fight.


Am I crazy, or does Sportsnet have Paul Hendrick as a pseudo-analyst as well? I can understand why a TV station run by MLSE could make such a idiotic decision. But Sportsnet? They can do better than that.

One of Hendrick's quips tonight was this, and I'm paraphrasing slightly because I didn't write down the exact quote since my eyes went red with anger at the stupidity of this man: "Blake just pushed a Canadien player as he skated to the bench".

Really? A hockey player nudged another hockey player? That never happens. Thank you, Hendrick for advising us of that breaking news.

This man needs to be bound, gagged and locked in closet from the moment the puck drops in any hockey game within 50 miles of him, until the final whistle. He is not a hockey analyst. There are coaches of blind hockey teams that know about about hockey this guy. (Ed Note: There are actually blind hockey teams out there. My father coached one. The puck beeped. Players aren't 100% blind, but rather, legally blind.)

Anyway, I'm going back to the TV to watch the Leafs play more stellar defensive hockey and eventually lose 8-1.

I hope Ian White's Mustache gets into a fight with a Kostisyn. Either one. I'm not picky.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen

If someone could tell Bryan Murray just what is wrong with their team, he could make a quick buck right now.

As a hardline Leaf fan, I can't help but snicker a Ottawa's fortunes right now. For the past 12 months they have a been an absolutely dreadful hockey team. Despite being stacked with 3 of the best forwards in the league, they simply can't score goals. Their defense can't seem to overcome the loss of Redden and Meszaros. Fisher can't find the net and Vermette has been less than ordinary.

Ottawa's fall from grace has been nothing short of spectacular.

I'm loving every minute of it.

Now's the time to gloat, because much like the tides turning or the day becoming night, the fortunes will reverse and it will, again, be our turn to eat crow.

But until that day comes, I can sit here and know that my team has started their return to the top, and Ottawa has just started is trek to the bottom.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Paul Hendrick: Poor Man's Mcguire

I imagine many people reading this have spent a long time watching Leafs TV broadcasts of Leaf hockey games. I just have one question; Who the hell thought it would be a good idea to put Paul Hendrick between the benches as an ice level analyst? That person needs to be demoted.

When the NHL first allowed the media to sit between the benches during games, I was apathetic towards it. I didn't think one way or the other it would make that much of a difference. I felt it was harder to get a good overall feel for what's going on out on the ice from that position. All the interesting stuff that you really want to hear, like Avery calling someone a racial epithet, Avery making fun of someone's girlfriend, or Avery making fun of someone's serious illness, (do you detect a pattern here?) all this lovely banter would never make it to air. I didn't think it was going to impact the broadcast much.

Pierre McGuire and Glenn Healy proved me wrong. I summarily hate McGuire's penchant for calling high performers 'a monster', although that has waned in recent memory, however, his spot on analysis and keen hockey eye offered amazing insight to what was happening throughout the hockey games. Getting McGuire closer to the ice improved his ability to broadcast and analyze games. Ditto for Healy. Healy was a never an all-star goalie. However, like many former goaltenders, he's an incredibly smart hockey man. McGuire and Healy really showed how great between the bench coverage can be.

Then Leafs TV came along and destroyed it.

Paul Hendrick has a fantastic radio voice. I'm sure he would do well as a weatherman or community spotlight piece on a local TV network. His introductions to Leaf games on Leafs TV, while littered with a litany of lame alliteration (see what I did there?) and cheesy puns, decently setup the game and his voice suited perfectly as a voice over.

Fast-forward to this season and someone thought it would be a good idea to place this man, who has absolutely ZERO hockey acumen, as the on-ice analyst.

What a horrible decision. Horrible.

Hendrick adds little value to the broadcast. Every time he speaks all he does is say something that even the most novice fan would have already known. Hendrick's knowledge of the ins and outs of in-depth hockey strategy is startling low.

I've tried to give Hendrick the benefit of the doubt and give him time to grow into the role. And over time he has improved. If by improved, I mean, Hasn't improved.

Now, to be fair, Hendrick has increased the frequency of his injections of Hockey for Dummies. When he started, Hendrick would say on a good day, 3 things during the course of a period. They usually consisted of something pointless like 'Blake just took a shot' or 'Carlo maybe hurt'. Now it's up to 5 or 6 times in a period.

McGuire and Healy would provides us information on this that we're subtle. Defensive zone coverage, pinching maneuvers, rotating players to support teammates, positioning, neutral zone breakouts, details of the left wing lock, powerplay passing to spread out the defense and create seams, etc etc etc.

To be short, McGuire and Healy analyze the game the way they are supposed. Hendrick might as well be watching Sesame Street on his monitor.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Perhaps I am a Jinx and a Look at Other Strange Leaf Injuries

No sooner than I heap praise on the unexpected team leader in Matt Stajan, he goes down with a strange non-hockey related injury.

Toronto has had it's fair share of strange and/or ill-timed injuries or other maladies over the years. Here's a look a few:

Doug Gilmour
In his first game back after being traded to Toronto at the deadline in 2003, Gilmour had a career ending knee injury in the second period versus Calgary. Gimlour was clearly in the twilight of his career, however, he had scored 11 goals and added 19 assists in 61 games. Now I'm not saying he would have been the difference maker, but that series against Philadelphia was dreadful and Gilmour certainly could have provided a veteran and leadership presence on a team that managed to lose those traits as soon as the post season began.

Karel Pilar
Once a promising young defenseman, Pilar was well on his way to a solid NHL career. He wasn't a tower like Pronger, or as naturally gifted as Lidstrom, but he had all the tools to be a great player for many years. Unfortunately, in 2002, Pilar was diagnosed with a viral heart infection that was the undoing of his career. He missed too many games in some of the most important years in a defenseman's development. He managed to fight through the infection, recover and return to the AHL in an attempt to recover his career. He may have done it, if it wasn't for a relapse of the same virus that ultimately put an end to his efforts.

Luca Cereda
A player drafted 24th overall by Toronto in the 1999 entry draft, Cereda was touted as one of the smartest players in the draft and could have been a fantastic grab at 24th. But much like Pilar, Cereda succumb to a heart infection that eventually ended his career. He missed an entire season in 2000-01 recovering from heart surgery. He was added to the list of 'what could have been' when he went back to europe in 2004 before retiring in 2007.

Mikael Renberg
December 28th, 2002, while getting ready for a game, Renberg was tying his skates just as he did every game when a small blister on his hand broke. The next day he had a raging infection, high fever and his hand swelling dramatically. Quick work by the team doctors and hospital staff controlled the infection and Renberg recovered within a two weeks. Staphylococcocus Aureus is the medical term for a staph infection. Renberg was lucky. If he waited much longer, it's likely his hand would have been amputated, and at worst, he could have died.

Ed Belfour
Belfour had a simliar, yet not quite as serious infection as Renberg, earlier in the year when he cut his finger on his skate eyelet.

Mark Bell
Just when Mark Bell was beginning to show limited signs of returning to his Chicago Blackhawks form, he got into a fight with Ryan Malone and had his orbital bone shattered. Three months later Bell returned with a full face shield protecting his surgically repaired face and he proceeded to destroy Alfredsson in the hit that I had been waiting for ever since Alfredsson hit Darcy Tucker from behind in the playoffs, separated his shoulder, then scored the tie-breaking goal. See the hit here.

Bryan Berard
Marian Hossa managed to change the face of the Toronto defense corps for years to come when he proceeded to scoop out Berard's eye with an uncontrolled follow through. Careless use of the stick they call it. Thus began my hatred for Marian Hossa. You can read all about it. Berard was a fantastic talent that had great potential as a puck moving defenseman with a great shot and sound defensive awareness. He would never be the same after this. Sorry for poor quality, it was all I could find in my 30 seconds of youtubing.

I'm sure there are many other odd injuries that relate to the Leafs that I am forgetting about. If you can think of any, throw them in the comments. I'd love to have a refresher.

You can read a similar list as it relates to all sports over at Bitter Leaf Fan.