Friday, June 29, 2007
Yesterday, MLSE President and CEO Richard Peddie confirmed that MLSE has retained an executive search firm to hire a senior hockey executive to provide counsel to their hockey department.
In what can only be charitably described as backhanded compliment, Peddie said that, despite JFJ being the GM position since of August of 2003 and irrevocably in charge of the Leafs for the past two year, his hand-picked GM is “still learning.”
Ouch! The admission that all is not going well with JFJ’s tenure is like some sort of awful metaphorical eating contest - Peddie choking down some crow while publicly serving JFJ a great big piece of humble pie.
Despite two weeks of near daily media coverage, MLSE’s intentions are about as clear as JFJ’s Master Plan (you know the one-year deal to clear cap space to sign the UFAs who never materialized plan, which became the build-not buy plan that became the deal three first round and two second round picks in four years plan, which sort of fit in with the tougher to play against plan that didn’t really work out, leaving the Leafs with the make the playoffs at all cost and CYA plan. Whew.)
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Makes me wonder how well season tickets are selling on Long Island. Just another example of how poorly the game is selling in the U.S. market. If I was only 12 years old again...oh yes and living on Long Island.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Looks like we went from a goalie with a glovehand problem to one with a stick side weakness. Still Toskala is again the better overall goalie. There is no doubt that this is an improvement in net for the Leafs.
The interesting thing will be to see how Raycroft reacts to the trade. He can either pout and quit (like in Boston) or he can man up and challenge Toskala.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
12 Forwards: $20,411,000
8 Defence: $20,829,000
Belfour's Buy-out: $770,000
Cap room remaining: approximately $2.5 million (presumes a $48M cap with some flex room).
Despite all these moves JFJ insists he wants to build through youth. So why isn't he? Well JFJ will continue to stray from his plan as long as he has no long term contract with the organization. As long as he feels he need to make the playoffs to keep his job then he will continue to sacrifice another piece of the Leaf's future to hang in for another year. So he can't afford to drop to the bottom of the standings like the Flyers did last season.
Since the Leafs keep bringing this guy back each year then just sign him to a multi-year contract and see what he can do. And if you have no confidence in him then why is he in the job for even one more day?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
The first team get together was on a lovely Saturday afternoon in the backyard of Sandy and Jane. It was a great opportunity for players, parents and staff to mingle and introduce each other before people take off for the summer. Next time we meet will be in September for our first practice.
Have a great summer everyone!
Friday, June 22, 2007
My thoughts: Well most good GMs have figured out that draft picks and home grown talent are essential in today's NHL. I guess JFJ doesn't fall in that category. For the second time in his four year tenure, he deals away the Leafs' first round pick.
It's nice to have Toskala to challenge Raycroft and Toskala's cap hit is fine, but he's 30 years old and an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Today I heard JFJ actually admit he was unhappy with Raycroft's performance last season. During the season he couldn't say enough nice things about his goalie.
Mark Bell is is intended to fill the power forward spot that the Leafs have sought. He has been a disappointment so far in his NHL career so I'm not expecting a lot out of him. So a conditional 1st round pick, 2nd round pick and 4th round pick seems a bit high - especially if the player San Jose wants in the 1st round isn't available. If San Jose can't get their man, the pick moves to 2008, a draft many are calling the deepest in years - comparing it to the very robust 2003 entry draft.
For me this is another disappointing deal by JFJ.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Over the pat 10 years, the Leafs have traded 3 first round picks away before drafting (1997, 2003, 2004), traded 2 picks after the draft ( Boyce/2000, Rask/2005) and 1 pick is out of hockey (Cedera/1999) and one will play with the Marlies next season after a so so year in the OHA (Tlusty/2006). That leave only 3 first round picks on the Leaf roster - Antropov (1998), Colaiacovo (2001) and Steen (2002).
Going into the draft the Leafs biggest needs are a #1 centre to replace Sundin who it appears may be in his last season. Steen, Wellwood and Stajan have not shown enough to be more than 2nd or 3rd line players. Also the team should be looking for a power forward. They currently have little size on the wings. They could fill these needs through trades as well. They have a surplus of defensemen which explains why the rumours regarding a trade for Bryan McCabe. Not an easy contract to move. More likely is Stefan Kronwall.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
So Muckler is probably leaving because of some grand plan of owner Eugene Melnyk. But it's interesting that a GM would be let go after such a successful season. Meanwhile in Toronto, John Ferguson has been given an endorsement and contract extension although his team has not made the playoffs the past two season. Clearly a case of lower expectations.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Crosby is the youngest-ever winner of the NHL scoring race (Gretzky was 20 when he won his first of 10).
Crosby is the first teenager to win a scoring title in any major professional sport, and the youngest professional hockey player to record a 100-point season. Crosby has done it twice now in his first two NHL seasons.
He is also the youngest NHLer chosen as a first-team all-star, another honour picked up this past week. On May 31, Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins named him their captain, too, making him the youngest team leader in league history.
The most successful Leaf in trophy voting was Thomas Kaberle. He finished 8th in votes for the Lady Bying Trophy. Surprisingly Kyle Wellwood finished only 24th and he didn't receive a single penalty all season. Kaberle finished 17th in votes for the Norris Trophy. For some unexplained reason McCable finished 24th (I didn't know salary factored in the voting). Finally, Paul Maurice finished 16th in votes for the Jack Adams Award. Why would anyone vote for a coach who's team didn't make the playoffs (Maurice wasn't alone here)?
Thursday, June 14, 2007
By the end of day 1, Balsillie reeled in about $6.25-million in deposits on season tickets and luxury suites at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.
Sixty of the 70 proposed suites were booked at $5,000 each, according to The Canadian Press, while 4,700 lower-bowl seats went for $1,000 each and about 2,500 upper-bowl seats went for $500 each.
The purchase price of $238 million is well above what the franchise is worth and what anyone was willing to pay so the current owner is eager to sell to Balsillie and the NHL governors cannot possibly turn down the sale (requires 75% majority)
Nashville officials have already indicated what they are looking for to let Balsillie out of their lease ($18 million) and he seems to be fine with that. Any Save-the-Predators activity will not be effective because the team receives little support from the Nashville business community. Meanwhile Balsillie has already worked out a 20-lease arrangement for Copps Coliseum. Should the transfer be approved he will use the next year to bring the arena up to NHL standards.
The Leafs have been silent about the move and it is rumoured that they have been offered $50 million as compensation for infringing on the Leafs' territory. I don't see the Teachers' Pension Plan turning down that kind of money since they are guaranteed to continue to sell out the ACC.
Balsillie has been in contact with the federal Competition Bureau which has had concerns that the NHL bylaws contravene the Competition Act.
However, on the negative side:
Gary Bettman is opposed to more franchises in Canada and supports expansion to Houston and Kansas City. He continues to believe that he can land a significant U.S. TV contract despite falling interest in hockey in the U.S.
The NHL governors are resisting dealing with the sale and franchise move at the same time (which is preferred by Balsillie) and have now postponed their June 19 meeting to discuss the sale.
One NHL governor, who requested anonymity, told a Globe reporter that he and a number of his peers are not happy with the way Balsillie is conducting his bid for the team. "This guy is showing he is a pain in the ass before he even gets in the club". Balsillie's likely to succeed in his crusade for the simple reason that he'd be less of "a pain in the ass" if granted his team than if they try to fight this new development.
It's unsure if Balsillie will have sufficient votes for the move and whether certain teams have the ability to veto the move. This is where the Competition Bureau may step in. However, Balsillie appears to be more than willing to go to court if necessary. He fought the U.S. government over access to the U.S. market for his blackberry products so the NHL is small potatoes to him.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
There won't be a Stanley Cup parade in Anaheim, although it won't be because of traffic issues. Instead, there will be a rally at the Honda Center tomorrow night, if the locals haven't already forgotten about this Stanley Cup victory.
So, how are the Ducks spinning this?
"We want to make sure the fans have a way to celebrate and acknowledge the players who brought this championship to Orange County," said city spokesman John Nicoletti.
"We always take our cue from the team, and the team wanted to make sure the celebration and grand arrival of the players is concurrent," he said. "This gives everybody the opportunity to be in one place."
Only Zubrus and Bertuzzi advanced to a conference final and they were the only ones of this distinguished group to record seven or more points (Bertuzzi had seven; Zubrus eight, but did not score). It's always difficult to question a GM who has the intestinal fortitude to make a big trade, but, in hindsight, it doesn't seem like very much return for the futures that were spent to acquire these big-ticket players.
Again, the sellers all won.
|Player||Pos||Status||06-07 Cap Hit||o7-08 Cap Hit|
|Belfour||G||Year 2 of buy-out||$750K||$750K|
|Devereaux||F||Signed to 2009||$450K||$650K|
|Antropov||F||Signed to 2009||$1.125M||$2.05M|
|Kilger||F||Signed to 2009||$900K||$900K|
|Newbury||F||Signed to 2009||$450K||$450K|
|Ondrus||F||Signed to 2008||$475K||$475K|
|Pohl||F||Signed to 2009||$463K||$463K|
|Ponikarovsky||F||Signed to 2010||$713K||$2.105M|
|Raycroft||G||Signed to 2009||$2M||$2M|
|Stajan||F||Signed to 2008||$875K||$875K|
|Steen||F||Signed to 2008||$901K||$901K|
|Tucker||F||Signed to 2012||$1.59M||$3M|
Signed to 2008
Signed to 2008
|Belak||D||Signed to 2008||$670K||$670K|
|Gill||D||Signed to 2009||$2.075M||$2.075M|
|Kaberle||D||Signed to 2011||$4.25M||$4.25M|
|Kronwall||D||Signed to 2009||$625K||$475K|
|Kubina||D||Signed to 2010||$5M||$5M|
|McCabe||D||Signed to 2011||$5.75M||$5.75M|
|White||D||Signed to 2010||$453K||$850K|
|Wozniewski||D||Signed to 2008||$463K||$463|
Thursday, June 07, 2007
It's hard not to believe that Jim Balsillie didn't have just a little to do with the fact this is now being investigated, and you wonder if this business is making the Maple Leafs brass squirm. He would love to move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton and has already had some discussions regarding arena leases.
I would love to see this happen. The Toronto Maple Leaf organization treats its very loyal fans poorly - that is a fact. They charge the highest ticket prices in the league and provide a very poor product. Their commitment is to making money (and they make lots of it) and not to winning. It is a country club atmosphere built around a culture of losing.
Let's face it the GTA is a huge market that can be shared by two hockey teams. A second team will introduce competition and force the Leafs to examine their product and price for the first time. The other owners have no love for the Leaf organization because of their weak support of the lockout and the amount of money they make. Wouldn't it be nice if the other owners ganged up on Toronto and forced them to accept another team in their territory? Or better yet,what if Balsillie copied the Baltimore Colts and just packed up their hockey bags and moved to Hamilton? What would the league do?
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
The Ducks had three strong forward lines that could all score, Norris Trophy finalists Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger to man the blue-lines and a consistently good goaltender in Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Senators were impressive through three rounds but could not cope with the rough-and-tumble Ducks in the final, and it didn’t help that goaltender Ray Emery had his worst performance of the post-season in the final game.
It took the Ducks 14 years to win the Cup. While the Leafs completed the 40th year since winning their last Cup without even making the playoffs. Comparing the Leaf and Duck rosters underscores how far the Leafs need to go to compete. The Ducks have a line made up of 2nd year players (Getzlf, Perry and Penner) that will all be stars while the Leafs best young players (Wellwood, Steen, Stajan) struggled this past season.
So the culture of losing will continue in Toronto. Losers always have an excuse for not winning. When asked by Canadian Press to provide a post-mortem on the Leaf's most-recent season, Ferguson said "We were number one in the league to man games lost to injury in what turned out to be the toughest division in the East and probably in the league to qualify." When asked about the impact Sean Hill's delayed suspension had on the Leafs and Islanders, Ferguson said, "For sure I think we would have made the playoffs."
Monday, June 04, 2007
I watched Don Cherry on NBC and he toned it down - in the wardrobe department anyway, for that much hyped second intermission appearance on NBC, alongside host Bill Clement and analyst Brett Hull. Cherry was wearing a white suit, with a polka-dotted tie - conservative attire by his usual standards. His rationale: "I didn't think the U.S. crowd was ready for one of my biggies" - but promised to trot out something more audacious if he was invited back on.
Cherry spent much of the time advocating for more fights in the NHL. He suggested it would be good for the NHL in America and for NBC. Seems 2-1 scores are fine for Cherry as long as there are 6 fights. He was not the usual bombastic Don Cherry partly because he voice was hoarse. But as well, Hull wasn't about to let Cherry dominate the air time.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Dean McAmmond was skating 1-on-1 against Pronger early in the third period of Game 3 when Pronger hit McAmmond with an elbow. McAmmond was knocked out from the blow and is doubtful for Game 4 as well.
In Toronto Star online poll, 88% of respondents agreed with the suspension.
What does that mean exactly? Well it means that only 523,000 households watched the game in the U.S. But perhaps what it really further illustrates is that nobody cares about hockey in the U.S. any more. The rating was down 18% from last year's opening game, which had a 0.88 rating. Here's a way to put things in perspective: The capacity for Ducks games at the Honda Center is 17,174. The team could match the overall viewership for Game One by selling out just 31 home games. Or another way - Versus reaches 73 million homes, which means that less than 1% of it possible audience watched the game.
Simply put, the NHL has no fans south of the border. Ratings are bound to increase when the series shifts to NBC after Game 2, but much of that will come from drop-in traffic. But if you want to use a true metric of real NHL fans, the Versus games are the ones to look at. They are the real fans that sought out the game. They are the ones who fought through the TV Guide and found Versus on channel 42,446. These 523,000 are the last real American NHL fans standing.
Edit: I hear that the local NBC affiliate in San Diego cut the last few minutes of Saturday's Game 3 Ottawa win over the Ducks so they could show Wheel of Fortune in HD instead. That sums of the state of the NHL in the U.S.