Friday, November 30, 2007

Break up the Maple Leafs!

After last night's annihilation of the Thrashers, the NHL should seriously consider breaking up the Leafs.

Seriously, with all the fuss about the Leafs, has anyone outside of Ottawa noticed how bad the Senators are playing right now. They had started the season on fire with I think 11 straight wins but now have lost 5 straight.

Although the Senators are first overall in the East and 10 points ahead of the Leafs, compare their records over the last 10 games. Of course no one is hitting the panic button since they are still in first place.

Maple Leafs

I Remember This Sign in my High School

Storm Makes it on the Cover of SI

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Leaf fans are getting restless

Harold Ballard's spirit has inhabited Richard Peddie's brain

It seems Harold Ballard may be dead but his spirit lives on...within Maple Leaf president Richard Peddie's brain. What else could explain his continual humiliation of Toronto Maple Leaf GM John Ferguson. He has promised Ferguson contract extensions and then withdrawn the promise. He spent the summer looking for a mentor for a GM who was in the job for 4 years. On the Fan 590 yesterday Scotty Bowman, one of the candidates said he was interviewed twice by Peddie who seemed to show no interest in Bowman. Is he nuts?

More recently, he is running around telling the media Ferguson was unqualified for the job and it was a mistake to hire him. This is coming from a Ferguson supporter. Yeah who needs friends like this. Harold Ballard also enjoyed humiliating his employees and one that bother me the most was his treatment of Roger Neilson, one of the best coaches in the last 30 years.

In 1978 a reporter approach Ballard following a loss regarding his thoughts on the coach, Neilson. Ballard just blurted out that he was fired. Which is how Neilson found out, through the media. This was Thursday evening and the Leafs had a game on the Saturday. The Leafs had no assistant coach so there was no one who could even step in on an interim basis. GM Jim Gregory approached a few people but was turned down, including his assistant GM and previous Leaf coach Johny McLellan. McLellan had stepped down as coach in 1973 because of health reasons and wouldn't step back behind the bench.

Meanwhile, Neilson was still running practices. The coach was extremely popular with the players and Leaf captain Darryl Sittler approached Ballard about reconsidering. He agreed on the one condition that Neilson start the game on the Saturday with a paper bag over his head. Neilson refused and went to speak to Ballard. They reached a compromise and Neilson didn't step behind the bench until after the national anthem was sung. He received an extended standing ovation and Ballard go to play out his little drama.

Back to the present. Richard Peddie is likely the biggest liability right now within the MLSE organization. Replacing the GM and coach is pointless unless responsibility for the hockey team is taken away from Peddie.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

World Class Santa

If you're good at climbing chimmneys then you might want to consider the Santa Games. Prospective Santas battled it out in five sports: chimney climbing, reindeer racing, kick sled racing, porridge eating and Santa's Christmas Eve.

The winner Dave Downey spent three years in training to be a Santa. So is Dave now over qualified to be a mall Santa?

It's Raining Teddy Bears

Portland Winter Hawks ice hockey fans threw what was reportedly a world record 20,372 stuffed animals on the ice after what they thought was their team scored first goal of the season. Only thing is the goal was disallowed. The event was planned and the bears donated to charity.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is Justin Pogge Ready?

I've heard a number of people question whether Justin Pogge should be brought up to the NHL to shake up the Leafs. I believe the answer is no. Although the Marlies have a winning record, his stats do not reveal that he is someone who can help the Leafs right now. He would face a lot more shots in playing on the Leafs.

Wins: 5
Losses: 1
OT/SO losses: 2
goals against: 2.68
saves percentage: 0.899

Whats Happening with the Maple Leafs

Got back to town last night and there was no talk about the Grey Cup game - only that the Maple Leafs had lost another 2 games. There is speculation and rumours regarding a new president, general manager and/or coach. The Toronto Sun suggests that JFJ tried to fire Paul Maurice last week but was not allowed to. But within the organization it appears calm.

So whats really going on? Here are some questions and answers that I've put together that reflects my uninformed perspective.

Is it true that MLSE doesn't care about winning a Stanley Cup and only cares about the bottom line?

I don't think so. Sports leagues have many owners who want to win but have no clue how to build a winner. They are also all owned by business people who like to make money. And some have no clue how to make money owning a franchise. That isn't a problem here. The Leaf owners were one of the top spenders before the salary cap which conveniently papered over years of weak ownership and management. The Chicago Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908 but not from lack of trying.

Are the Leafs really that bad?

Definitely. They are near the bottom of the league in most statistical areas. No matter who is in their lineup, they play the same sloppy hockey that every team in the league hungry to play the Leafs. Don't be fooled by the occasional strong game. As they say, "even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut."

Why are the Leafs so bad?

Hard to know but like everyone else I have my theory. Five or six years ago they Leafs were tough team to play against with Gary Roberts, Tie Domi, Shane Corson, Travis Green, Wade Belak, Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe. They were dirty, mouthy and irritating. Pat Quinn was an offensive minded coach who hated the trap. So he directed an offense oriented team that had lots of irritating players and great goaltending (Joseph and then Belfour) to cover up all their defensive mistakes. Today they are a soft team that plays the same likes to play wide open with just ordinary goaltending. Even the defensemen are offense oriented. It's a formula for disaster.

Who is to blame for this mess, Ferguson, Maurice or the players?

Everyone has to share in the blame. The manager doesn't have the right mix of players to win but thinks he does. No physical players, no strong defensive players. After the lock out he stated that he would hanging onto draft picks because young players were critical to building a winner. He has failed to keep that commitment. But even worse, the assets he has received in exchange for younger players and picks have not helped the team. The coach seems to have lost the players despite their vocal support. If he has a defensive system he isn't evident. Every expansion team coach goes with trap to survive until the franchise develops some good players. It's easy to execute with marginal players and keeps the scores down. Finally, the Leaf players seem to be unable to respond to their coach. I can't explain it. You need to be in the dressing room itself to understand.

But if you want to know where to start, its moving Richard Peddie out of the president's position. It was his idea to bring in an inexperienced GM and he continues to stand by him. The same thing happened to the Raptors when Peddie hired Babcock until they both pushed aside with the hiring of Bryan Colangelo.

Why hasn't Ferguson and/or Maurice been fired and players traded?

I can understand why there has been no firings yet. The most qualified candidates already have jobs. You can get permission to approach them in the off season but not during the season. Still the papers have bounced around all kinds of names and something may still happen. The worse the team does the more likely the organization will have to do something, even if it means bringing in some people on an interim basis. Also, the ownership doesn't need to act quickly because every ticket for the remainder of the season is sold. So that isn't a factor to consider. Which also feeds the perception among fans that the ownership is not interested in winning the Cup.

What would fix this team?

I think only blowing it up will work. The chemistry is all wrong here. Trade away players with big salaries for draft picks and use the money to buy some good free agents next summer. But this is a difficult thing to do in the Toronto market because their is a perception that you need to always ice a competitive team when you are charging the highest ticket prices in the league. However, once the team sinks to the bottom of the standings, the option of tinkering to maintain a competitive team is taken away from you. Also, trading players in this market is a real challenge. High priced players are virtually untradeable until the trade deadline. And the Leafs have at least 4 players with no trade contracts. The next guy has his work cut out for him.

So who would you keep?

Well no one is that good on this team to make them untouchable. The theory for rebuilding under a salary cap is keep underpaid players which provides more money to work with in the future. Not too many players on the Leafs fall into that category.

In Other Hockey Tournament New


Six hockey players and two coaches were suspended following a brawl between two teams of eight-year-olds in Guelph Friday.

Three players each from the Duffield Devils and Niagara Falls Thunder Novice AAA teams, and their respective coaches, were ejected from the Guelph Power Play Tournament after a brawl during a game at Exhibition Arena. Guelph Police are reviewing videotape of the incident and criminal charges may be laid.

A small fight had broken out between players on the ice, he said, and both coaches sent more players from the bench to join in the fracas. A member of the Niagara Falls coaching staff approached the Duffield bench and allegedly spit in the face of a Duffield coach. Police seized video footage from parents who were recording the game and will review it.

Lots Of Similarities Between Leafs and Cowboys

I checked out Maple Leaf GM John Ferguson's blog to read the latest exercise in denial. Here is the latest entry from Dallas.

Lots Of Similarities Between Leafs and Cowboys

John Ferguson GM Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club
Nov 23, 2007, 3:20 PM EST

Thursday was the American Thanksgiving. Our team spent the afternoon at Texas Stadium, watching the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Jets. It was a great time. Many of our players had never seen an NFL game before, let alone one at Texas Stadium. But it was also a great point of comparison. The building was sold out and there is talk the new Cowboys stadium will cost over $1 billion. Everywhere there were signs of the tradition and excellence the franchise has enjoyed. It was a great chance for our group to see that type of fan excitement from within. The excitement, the passion, the anticipation, the spotlight and even the media coverage is very similar to what our players experience in Toronto. Playing in Toronto isn’t like playing anywhere else in the NHL. We think it’s the best place in the league; you’re on the big stage every night, playing in front of a sold-out crowd. We work very hard on making sure that the player’s entire family experiences everything the city can offer, from first class medical coverage to access to the best fit in schools. All that said, we know that playing in Toronto isn’t for everyone. The level of fan interest and the expectation of performance are intense. We are very open in our discussions with players and agents. You need to be excited about the possibility of playing here. When we signed Jason Blake as a free agent this summer, we talked a lot about our commitment to the players and their families and how we support them away from the rink. Jason was attracted by the challenge of playing here and by how we as an organization welcomed and helped families. Those things, as well as the excitement in the market are what make Toronto unique in the NHL. It was fun, for a day, to compare the life of a Cowboy with that of a Maple Leaf.

Note: The only similarity between the Cowboys and Leafs are the cost of tickets. Any others are a product of JFJ's creative mind.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Congratulations to Sheri - We are 'Crazy4U' too

Kanata Results

The Midget B Finals have not been posted yet and I doubt its because they are still in overtime. I'm sure the tired people in Kanata will get around to it. Here is the link.

The final game was between Ottawa Ice and Perth Wings. Ottawa had defeated Burlington Barracudas (undefeated in regular season play) 1-0. Perth defeated Nepean Wildcats also by a score of 1-0.

For the Storm is it was a great learning experience...and lots of good times.

Storm Nation Alumni Come to Kanata

Storm Rebound But Come Up Short

The Storm finished the Kanata tournament with their most inspired game of the season but failed to capitalize and numerous scoring opportunities. The result was a 2-1 loss. The game was played with considerable intensity by both teams and showcased some excellent end-to-end action. Both goalies made sharp saves to keep their respective teams in the game. Kendra made some incredible stops but unfortunately, a rising shot beat her over her shoulder in the third period and turned out to be the game winner.

The Storm got strong performances from quite a number of players including Kendra, Maryssa, Marley, Rebecca, Petra, Jessica B and Genevieve. What is most noticeable is the steady improvement in every player on the team. And playing two great games in a tournament at this stage of the season is a great accomplishment despite what the scores were. Let's hope the momentum can be carried over to the game next Saturday evening in Aurora.

Almost as important, the weekend provided a wonderful opportunity for people to get to know each other better. Special thanks to Sandy to not only does a great job managing the team but acting as a social coordinator.

As well, it was so nice to have so many ex-players come out to support the team. Lesley, Stephanie, Vanessa, Heather, Rebecca and Paige, it was great to see you!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Some ugly sites in Ottawa you should avoid

Try locating David Green from high school

Bryan McCabe Highlight Reel

Watch it after you've had a bad game. Guaranteed to make you feel better.

From Bryan's biggest fan.

At least they're sorry

Game 2...not so good

As Coach Willie pointed out before the start of game 2, your legs aren't going to feel as good as they did earlier in the day. The team's success depends on how many people can play as hard as they did against Oshawa. Unfortunately now enough people were able to as the Storm lost to Perth by a score of 5-1.

It was certainly evident that the Storm was less able than Perth to skate hard just 6 hours after previous game. Still there were some positives. The defensemen are gaining confidence and caring the puck more. The team in also getting more shots on net and generating more sc0ring opportunities. Clearly the effort was there even the legs weren't. The only Storm goal was scored by Amanda who picked up the puck in the corner and then skating to the front of the net to slip it past the goalie.

The good news is that Oshawa lost to Napean which elminates Oshawa from tournament. So all we have to do is beat Napean to advance into the semis.

Storm Blows into Kanata

So the Storm blew into Kanata on Friday afternoon and took out Oshawa. The Storm showed the same tenacity that they exhibited earlier in the week against Clearview and kept coming back to squeak out a 4-3 win over he Oshawa Generals. It was clearly the best effort of season and a big step forward for the team. They scored a season high 4 goals and 3 were on the powerplay. The team also registered 37 shots on net.

Scoring for the Storm was Mari with 2 goals while Jackie and Lauren N each had one. Lauren scored the game winner on the power play late in the 2nd period on a hard wrist shot that went just under the crossbar. There was some confusion on the play as one referee called no goal but he was over ruled by the second referee who clearly saw the puck go in the net. The 2nd period was wide open with the two teams scoring 5 goals but both teams failed to score in the final period. The Storm had to kill off a 5 on 3 situation for 1:12 of the final period to preserve the win.

Winning the game certainly provides a great start to the tournament and provides a good opportunity to advance to the semi-finals on Saturday.

Next game is against Perth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is Andrew Raycroft the new Tom Kurvers?

Looking at Tuukka Rask beating the Maple Leafs last night in his NHL debut reminded me of the Tom Kurvers trade.

Early in the 1989-90 season, Leaf GM Gerry MacNamara brought Kurvers to Toronto from New Jersey for a future 1st round pick. As you may note, trading draft picks has been standard Leaf practices for decades. Kurvers at the time was a pure offensive defenceman and good on the powerplay. Management of the day thought that they had a pretty good collection of players and that someone like Kurvers would put them over the top. That season he scored 15 goals for the Leafs and 52 points. But in the playoffs he was a bust and the Leafs were knocked out of the first round in 5 games.

Management decided the team was too offensive minded and couldn't get through the grind of the playoffs. So the team was dismantled the next season and Kurvers was shipped off to Vancouver. He retired 2 years later. The bottom fell for the Leafs that season and they finished second last which happened to be the year the Devils had the Leafs' first pick. Quebec drafted Eric Lindros first overall and the Devils followed with Scott Niedermayer. He turned out to be a pretty good player. Last time I checked he was on 4 Stanley Cup teams and had won the Norris Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Jump forward to the 2005-06 season. Leaf GM John Ferguson thinks he has a pretty good team but needs more consistent goaltending. He trades a Finnish goaltending prospect, Tuukka Rask to Boston for Andrew Raycroft. The Leafs don't make the playoffs and management concludes that Raycroft doesn't appear to be the answer to their goaltending problems.

This story is beginning to sound familiar.

Kanata Weather

Ottawa North - Kanata - Orléans
11:57 AM EST Wednesday 21 November 2007

Snowfall warning for Ottawa North - Kanata - Orléans issued ..10 to 20 centimetres of snow likely by Thursday night..

An approaching winter storm from Missouri will bring the first winter storm of the season tonight and Thursday. Many regions extending from Lake Huron east to the Dundalk Highlands is currently seeing rain but as the temperature falls to near freezing the rain will quickly change over to wet snow and ice pellets this afternoon and then snow tonight. Near 10 centimetres of snow is expected to fall tonight with an additional 10 centimetres to follow on Thursday. Higher snow amounts are expected to fall over higher terrain.

Regions across eastern Ontario including Ottawa have already received snow from a previous disturbance and will continue to see snow fall tonight and into Thursday. Total snowfall amounts near 15 centimetres by Thursday night are possible as the winter storm slowly moves east across the lower lakes tonight into New England by Thursday night.

Discovered 7 People Shorter Than Bianca

The seven surviving Munchkins from the 1939 movie classic "The Wizard of Oz" received their star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame.

Storm Fight Back For Tie

Last night against Clearview. the Storm fought back twice to finish with a 2-2 tie. The game was clearly one of the team's strongest games of the season in contrast to Sunday when the Storm played with little energy following an extended layoff. The Storm out skated Clearview for much of the game and dominated in the final period.

In fact, Lauren N had a terrific opportunity to score the winning goal in the final few minutes during a powerplay. The puck came loose at the top of the right faceoff circle and Lauren swooped in and tried to fire it into the top corner, just missing. Genevieve and Rebecca also had great scoring opportunities late in the game.

There was a huge improvement in the defensive zone coverage resulting in few scoring chances for Clearview. In the first 5 games of the season, opposition defensemen were able to pinch and keep pucks in the Storm end of the rink. Last night the forwards neutralized some very good Clearview defensemen and won a lot of battles along the boards. It was great to see players responding to the coaches.

Goals were scored by Mari on the powerplay and Jackie on a great individual effort.

So off we go to Kanata for the first tournament of the season.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blue Jays have a new starting pitcher

Bear Market for Goalies

The inability of Anaheim to trade Ilya Bryzgalov indicates that the bottom has fallen out of the goalie market. Anaheim was only looking for a middle round draft pick and since 1/4 of the season has been complete, only $900,000 remains on his contract. So Phoenix picks up a starting goalie for nothing.

So don't expect the Leafs to be trading Andrew Raycroft real soon. His salary is almost double that of Bryzgalov. In fact, Phoenix was one of the teams interested in Raycroft.

The question is why did Ferguson give up so much for Toskala since he and Brizgalov are relatively equal in ability. It's become obvious that he overpaid.

Cell phone Cover

Leafs after the First Quarter

Saturday's 3-0 win against the Senators can be read in many different ways. The Leafs have turned the corner. Ottawa was flat. This is what the Leafs can do with a full lineup. Paul Maurice is getting through to the players.

But as Coach Bruce has been quoted "even a blind squirrel will come up with the occasional nut." Bad teams can have great games and great teams can play some awful games. And the NHL season is made up of 82 games.

When looking at the Leafs over the first 21 games, they have been the model of inconsistency much as they have been for the last two seasons. They swing between good and bad games without any predictability. They did everything right on Saturday night but against the Bruins on Thursday, they did everything wrong. Without an extended winning or losing streak, the Leafs will likely repeat the scenario played out in the past two season which is fighting for the last playoff spot right to the last weekend of the season.

Leaf management is reluctant to change the core of this team because on paper it looks good and frequently during the season also looks good on the ice. As well, with the salary cap and structure of teams today, changing your core is not easy. But this team will never succeed because the team chemistry isn't there. Five years ago the Leafs were a tough team to play against. Ask the Senators. Back then they has Roberts, Corson, Domi, Green, Belak and chippier versions of McCabe and Tucker. Today they are playing soft and the only tough guy Belak sits because he can't play a shift without taking a penalty.

During the 1st quarter of the season, some Leafs have had strong starts. Sundin is having his best start in 5 years and has been close to the NHL scoring leader all season. Antropov is having a break out season and has not yet missed a game with an injury. And he is doing it without been on a line with Sundin. Steen and Stajan have begun to develop the makings of a shutdown line that can score on occasion. Wellwood has only played a few games but has shown how important he is to a team that lack much creative play. Kubina has bounced back from a terrible season until he got hurt.

But that's about it. Blake has been unable to find the back of the net. This could be blamed on his health problems but for the fact that he leads the team in shots on net. Toskala has been unable to win the starting job that was his for the taking. McCabe leads the team with a -6 and has made rookie mistakes that get him on the sports news' highlights.

Specialty teams have been awful. Third periods for the most part have been a disaster. They might as well concede games that go into a shootout. If teams carry a designated fighter (who rarely wins games for you) then why don't they carry a designated shootout specialist? Certainly the Leafs need one and a few more shootout wins are all that the Leafs needed the past 2 seasons to get into the playoffs.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What Global Warming?

Bottled Water a can?

NHL Bargains and Busts

When you look at the number of goals scored by top line players and their salaries you can begin to understand how difficult it is to be a general manager in the NHL. With the salary cap there is little room for error but much to gain by finding a inexpensive gem.

For example, on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jason Blake has scored only 2 goals in 21 games which works out to $500K per goal. Ouch! Nik Antropov has scored 9 goals but since his salary is one-half of Blake's, it works out to $51K per goal. Any GM could live with that.

The NHL goal scoring leader with 16 goals is Ilya Kovalchuk and he is earning $92K per goal. The biggest busts in the NHL are Sergei Sampsonov and Doug Weight. Both are earning $3.5 million but have yet to score. Other busts are:

Michael Handzus $930K/goal
Chris Drury $569K/goal
Jarmor Jagr $512K/goal
Scott Gomez $445K/goal
Patrick Elias $365K/goal
Sergei Federov $359K/goal
Glen Murray $300K/goal
Marc Savard $263K/goal
Patrick Marleau $262K/goal

And the best bargains in the NHL are:

Cory Perry $14K/goal
Patrick Sharp $18K/goal
Mike Richards $19K/goal
Paul Stastny $22K/goal

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ha Ha Ha, Merry Christmas

This will make you shake your head in disbelief.

Santas in Sidney, Australia have been instructed not to use the traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women. It seems "ho ho ho" could frighten children and is too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute. Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha".

What's next dressing Santas in business suits?

Flames Were Hot, Storm Was Not

The Vaughan Flames scored 3 goals in a span of 2:53 in the first period and one of their players scored a natural hat trick (3 straight goals) as the Storm fell 6-1. Although the Storm started the game very strong and dominated the play, errors in their own end lead to their downfall. Obviously, the long lay off between games may have contributed to the inconsistent performance from a number of players. The Storm last played on October 28.

On a positive note, SK returned to the ice after tearing an ACL last January. She took a regular shift on defense and played a strong game. Rebecca moved back to play defense and Lauren F took her place on right wing and both looked good in their new positions. In particular, Lauren was ferocious in the corners and forced quite a few turnovers. Mari scored the only goal and appears to have recovered from the ankle sprain suffered against Orangeville last month.

The Storm's record is now 1-3-1. Next game is November 20 against Clearview at Grandravine arena.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Alex Rodriguez Crawls Back to the Yankees

Just 3 weeks ago, Scott Boras, agent to A-Rod informed the Yankees that his client would not be returning to New York and would pursue free agency. He supposedly had previously informed the Yankees that the starting point for negotiations was $350 million over 10 years.
At the time I thought Boras was just blowing a lot of smoke to get some action going. After all, the Rangers had to eat part of Rodriguez's contract in order to trade him which was an acknowledgement that no one felt he was worth $25 million per year. As far as I'm concerned, nothing has really changed as far as his market value.

The word on the street is that only the Angels were interested in Rodriguez and likely not anywhere close to $35 million per year. So it appears A-Rod contacted the Yankees owners to explore a return to the team and a meeting was set up - without Boras.

Now the Yankees have always been clear they wanted to have the best player in the game continue to be a Yankee but this turn of event gives the team the negotiating edge. So it is reported that Hank Steinbrenner has asked that the new contract be front-loaded to include a $21 million discount for the Yankees. That is the money the team would have gotten from the Rangers if Rodriguez hadn't used the escape clause in the contract.

So at the end of the day everyone will be happy. The Yankees and Rodriguez are made for each other. A-Rod remains the highest paid player in the game. He will likely save face by blaming his agent and calling it a big misunderstanding.

It's enough to make you ill.

Jiri Tlusty is not the only naked Maple Leaf

Amid the fuss regarding the nude Jiri Tlusty photos on the Internet, I noticed the following quote on

"It's tough in this city to censorize anything," said Leafs forward Wade Belak on Wednesday. "I've been known to take out the trash naked from time to time. Now with all these allegations with Jiri I don't know if I'm going to feel safer out there."

A naked Wade Belak carry garbage cans is not something I would want to see in the morning. It's a wonder house prices in Leaside haven't dropped.

And is "censorize" a real word?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Don't laugh at this!

Lightning Victim News Tape Mess Up - Watch more free videos

Why is Jiri Tlusty Up With the Leafs?

I don't understand why Tlusty is still up with the Leafs. He was originally called up from the Marlies because there were missing Wellwood, Tucker and Bell from the lineup and players like Battaglia, Belak, Newbury and Gamache weren't good enough. But neither is Tlusty.

In his first game with the Leafs he scored to goals including the game winner. But remember one went in off his butt. In the next 8 games he has only managed 2 assists and has been pretty much invisible. He is averaging 11 minutes and 2 shots per game.

Wellwood, Tucker and Bell are all back so there is no reason to keep him with the big team. And he has had very little North American hockey experience outside of the 9 games with the Leafs, just 37 OHL games and 6 AHL games. The kid is not ready and history has shown you can hurt a player's development by moving him up too fast.

And the latest incident involving the posting of inappropriate photos on the Internet is a good excuse to drop him from the big team away from the media. When was the last time a reporter showed up at a Marlie practice. I would ship his butt (bare or otherwise) back to the Marlies without haste for some maturing.

What is Going on in Dallas?

Dallas Stars owner Thomas O. Hicks announced that Brett Hull and Les Jackson have been named Interim Co-General Managers to run the Stars’ Hockey Operations for the remainder of the season. Earlier Hicks announced that he relieved Doug Armstrong from his duties as General Manager of the hockey club.

Dallas has struggled this season, but still keeping up with the rest of the Pacific Division. They have a similar record to the Leafs but I guess standards are higher in Dallas. It is a bit of a shock since Armstrong has been in the organization for 17 years so you would think he'd be given more slack. But attendance is down.

So instead we have another GM sideshow. I understand Les Jackson is a good hockey person but why Brett Hull? And why co-GMs? Hull has no management experience so why not make him an assistant? He has a tendency to make flippant remarks which is fine as a TV commentator but from a manager can produce conflict in an organization. He has openly stated he doesn't watch many games because he finds the games boring.

Can't wait to see how this develops.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sean Avery Gets Too Much Attention

While everyone was fussing about a classless idiot, did anyone notice that the Leafs lost at home again. They have only won 3 games at home out of 11 played at the ACC. Only Washington and Phoenix have won fewer home games but these teams have played fewer home games than the Leafs. And once again the highest paid Leaf (that being Bryan McCabe) wore the goat horns on the winning goal by Montreal.

The possibility that the Leafs will make the playoffs are slowly slipping away. Now how can that be considering they have been in 8th or 9th place for the past month and playing .500? Well that's because .500 is not good enough when teams get awarded a point for losing after regulation time has ended. Just like last year, the Leafs will likely need 92 to 94 points to make the playoffs. Since they only have 19 points in 19 games they will need to 75 points in their remaining 63 games to reach 94 points. That is a winning percentage of .595 in their remaining games. I don't see this team doing that. See you later JFJ.

As for Sean Avery, well I'm not going to say anything because I don't want to be sued. But he's no role model. And you will find he will likely play on a lot of teams throughout his hockey career as teams and teammates tire of his act.

Sad, But True

Coach Bruce has been working on these dance moves...just ask him

Hockey Hall of Fame Inductions

I was fortunate this year to be invited to the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) Induction ceremonies. The invitation came through Jim Gregory who is a long-time family friend and one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Jim has a long history in hockey and was the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1970s. He went on from there to become an executive with the NHL where he is still employed. He is actually the chair of the Hall of Fame selection committee and was finally included in this esteemed group.

While managing the Leafs, Jim actually pulled together an impressive lineup with Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Borje Salming, Ian Turnbull and Mike Palmateer. He might have been able to build a championship team but the owner Harold Ballard pulled the rug from under him to bring back an old crony, Punch Imlach. Imlach dismantled that team and the Leafs went through 15 years of awful teams. The Toronto Sun has an excellent bio on Jim Gregory.

And it worked out that the Class of 2007 was probably one of the most stellar groups to go to the Hall: Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Scott Stevens and Al MacInnis. Some are saying it's the best group ever inducted in a single year.

Saturday night was a reception held at the HHOF for Jim and was attended by family, friends and colleagues. Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell represented the NHL. Some former players who played under Jim attended included Sittler, Salming and McDonald. Salming looked like he could step out on the ice and play with the big boys. Red Kelly who coached under Jim was there as were several ex-Leaf GMs, Gerry MacNamara, Gord Stellick, and Cliff Fletcher. Johnny McLellan's widow (he coached the Leafs under Jim) came out. I spotted a few broadcasters, Harry Neal and I think Howard Berger. It was a great night and a good opportunity to mingle compared to the following night.

Although we were fortunate to get tickets for the ceremony, our tickets did not get us into the Great Hall were the proceedings took place, Instead we were in the actual HHOF watching over video feeds. The place was packed. There was a reception before the ceremony with great food.

I was able to get some photos off the video which you can see below. Mark Messier was the last to be given a tribute and to speak. All the inductees were quite emotional but Messier was a wreck within 3 minutes. He spoke the longest, I think for over 15 minutes. He could barely get through his speech. I captured just a very small bit of it which you can see below. Messier was quite humorous and joked that he was glad to spend time with Gregory on the weekend. "I finally met somebody who was crying more times than me this weekend." Messier opened with a story how he and his family were coming into downtown Toronto from the airport and their car was stopped at a traffic light when an older gentleman spied him while crossing the street.Messier had the window down, so the man leaned in close and said (Messier did this in an authentic Canadian accent), "Messier, eh? You're here for that old-timers' game." It was a priceless and humble moment and had the place in stitches.

Afterwards they all came down to the HHOF main area where we were situated to sign the induction book and pose for pictures. Joining them were a number of HHOF members including, Johnny Bower, Darryl Sittler, Marcel Pronovost, Clark Gillies and Borje Salming. In the crush I was able to take a few photos. There were so many hockey personalities there to honour the group, former teammate, coaches and managers of the 4 players. It was an incredibly emotional evening and I'm still trying to sort through it all in my mind. ESPN has a great post on the event.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Glenn Healy to Replace John Ferguson?

While watching Hockey Night In Canada's Hot Stove Lounge Roundtable on Saturday night, I head former Toronto Sun columnist Al Strachan suggest that Glenn Healy was rumoured to be replacing John Ferguson. I had a good laugh at the time. But Howard Berger remembers that Healy was one of the names bounced around when Ferguson was hired in 2003. And Maple Leafs’ chairman Larry Tanenbaum was particularly fond of Healy, and he remains so today.

At MLSE anything is possible. Though the last thing the Leafs need is another inexperienced GM.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jones Soda release holiday flavours

The Christmas pack has Sugar Plum soda, Christmas Tree soda, Egg Nog soda and Christmas Ham soda. The Chanukah pack has Chocolate Coins soda, Apple Sauce soda, Latke soda and Jelly Doughnut soda.

All flavours are caffeine-free and kosher (even the ham flavour).


Are there too many signs?

The pest is back