Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brian Burke continues to spin the roulette wheel

The constantly changing Leaf roster changed some more today. By now everyone know that the Leafs signed Christian Hanson of the famous Hanson hockey lineage. If he dresses for a Leaf game this weekend he will be the 39th player to suit up for the Leafs this season.

There is speculation that the Leafs will go after several other high profile U.S. collegiate players. Although only a small number crack NHL lineups the risks are low. As free agents there is no need to use up a draft pick, they tend to be cheap unless they are too old to qualify for an entry level contract.

The collective agreement only allows teams to have 50 players signed to a standard NHL contract (minor league players are included). The Leafs had made room for themselves by putting Mark Bell and Stefan Kronwall on waivers. Trading Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore brought their roster of players down futher. However, since then they signed Jeff Hamilton (from the AHL), Alex Berry (a 2005 draft pick), Jay Harrison (from Switzerland), Erik Reitz (claimed off waivers from the Rangers), Martin Gerber (claimed off waivers from the Senators) and now Hanson. My understanding is that players out for the season (Vesa Toskala, Olaf Kolzig, and Jamie Heward) don't count.

So when I finish counting all the bodies it adds up to 48 players. That means that Burke can sign 2 more bodies and assign them to either the Leafs or the Marlies. Mind you they are allowed to sign free agents to post-dated contracts under the collective agreement. Since the Leafs have at least a dozen contracts ending on June 30, they could sign more players but not be able to use them this season. Meanwhile the guy who puts the names and numbers on sweaters has been kept very busy.

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#43 - Nathan Dempsey
(Jay Harrison, Ken Belanger)


#44 - Brian Bradley
(Ryan Hollweg, John McIntyre)


#45 - Carlo Colaiacovo
(Zdenek Nedved)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Toronto Maple Leafs have the worst goaltending in the NHL



If scoring was at the same level as the mid-1970s, I wonder if the Leafs would be challenging the NHL record for the most goals given up in a single season. There is no question that they have the worst goaltending in the league. It's pretty pathetic when the Senator castoff, Martin Gerber is the best performing goalie on the Leaf's roster.

One thing is a given, we won't be seeing a tandem of Justin Pogge-Curtis Joseph next season. Both goalies have been awful. Last week's first star recognition given Joseph was overly generous for a 6-minute performance.

The Leafs expect Toskala to be healthy for the start of next season and have him under contract for one more year. And finding a cheap backup is not that difficult as long as you don't limit yourself to ex-Leafs looking to ease themselves into retirement. But goaltending beyond 2010 looks to be a huge question mark. That needs to be settled because goaltending is the basis for rebuilding a team. Which means Brian Burke will either be drafting another junior goalie or working a trade for a goalie prospect.


Goalie

GP

W

L

OTL

SO

GA

SH

GAA

SV%

M. Gerber

8

4

3

0

0

23

256

2.89

.910

V. Toskala

53

22

17

11

1

166

1518

3.26

.891

C. Joseph

18

4

8

1

0

43

315

3.62

.863

J. Pogge

7

1

4

1

0

27

173

4.36

.844


Sunday, March 29, 2009

In defense of Don Cherry

by Sean Leahy - Yahoo Sports

I don't mind Don Cherry. Really, I don't.

I know his xenophobia, borderline racism, and out-of-touchness with the modern game have rubbed some people the wrong way over the years, but don't we all have one older family member that possesses one of those characteristics? We don't take offense to any unusual comments made by the loved one and pull a Tuukka Rask-esque tirade; we just brush it off and get on with our lives.

That's what so puzzling to me about the reaction to Don Cherry, not just in the recent Alexander Ovechkin-celebration issue, but anything the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Hockey host says that's controversial.

Maybe I'm not so offended by anything Cherry says because I don't take him very seriously. I enjoy him for what he is: a character, whose sole job is to entertain on the topic of hockey.

For eight minutes every Saturday night during hockey season, he offers a sermon on the state of the game from his pulpit that is the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. Not only is it fun to anticipate what kind of insane suit Cherry will sport, but seeing how many times he can make Ron MacLean uncomfortable is also very entertaining.

In the past month, the vitriol aimed at Cherry has increased tenfold after his pointed comments about Ovechkin and his display of exuberance after scoring a goal. The critics came out in full force, calling the man of many jackets a laundry list load of things, including a blowhard. His opinion on showing emotion after scoring a goal will have no affect on whether or not people keep tuning in, though.

No matter who he offends, hockey fans will still anticipate the first intermission every Saturday night for "Coach's Corner". It's the "Howard Stern effect" from Private Parts. Why did people keep tuning in to Stern as Paul Giamatti's "Pig Vomit" told us in the movie? Because they wanted to hear what he had to say next. And the same goes with Cherry.

When hockey fans saw Ovechkin's 50th goal celebration last Thursday night, you know their collective first thought was, "I wonder what Don Cherry is going to say about this on Saturday night."

What makes Cherry so polarizing is his mouth and the knowledge or garbage that comes out on a weekly basis. He's a proud supporter of everything Canada: From Doug Gilmour to Bobby Orr to the military, with whom he salutes fallen soldiers at the end of each "Coach's Corner". He's also stirred up controversy for disparaging remarks against European and French Canadian players for their use of visors.

When he's not talking about the hot topic around the League, Cherry has the ability to break down the subtle nuances of the game for the average viewer, highlighting a player's positioning on the ice, an important shot block by a defenseman or a deft pass as to why a play succeeded or failed. His knowledge of the game of hockey is second to none.

It's when Cherry begins talking about today's NHL player where he veers off and pisses off the masses, such as the latest instance with Ovechkin.

Maybe it's a generational thing with Cherry and he's unable to relate to players in today's game? Gone are the stoic players who would just raise their hands in the air when celebrating a goal. Today's NHL player, making ten times more money than any one that Cherry every played against or coached, are younger and show much more personality out on the ice.

In Don Cherry's NHL, every player would be like Sidney Crosby: respectful of the game, a stoic personality, who's sometimes robotic in responses and doesn't make himself the center of attention. Or as Wyshynski put it last week, "...what is the Don Cherry 'classy' and "right" way to party down after a goal? Put on a loud jacket and give the thumbs-up? Hum a few bars from 'O Canada'?"

In that sense, it's easy to see why a player with Ovechkin's personality, on and off the ice, would put a wrinkle in the latest outrageous suit of hockey's most famous talking head.

Going back on the Ovechkin issue one last time: Isn't the personality that he shows on the ice the same sort of thing that Cherry represents as a talking head? Isn't Cherry's loud, boisterous personality comparable to the excitement and passion that the Washington Capitals' star shows on the ice?

Love him or hate him, Cherry, much like cockroaches or the NHL's love affair with black jerseys, isn't going anywhere. He's been put on a seven-second delay since the visor comments in 2004, but he's still at the forefront of the CBC's Hockey Night coverage, and Cherry will still be there every Saturday because hockey fans won't stop tuning in.

No miracle win this time

The season came to a close yesterday when another late collapse prevented to Storm from moving on in the playoffs. The effort was certainly there but the team just could never find the tempo that made it such a power earlier in the season. In the first period the Storm dominated Mississauga as it had in games earlier in the season. However, despite a very one-sided period the teams remain scoreless. Again, unlike earlier in the season, the Storm could not put away a team that was clearly reeling.

The Storm was able to maintain the pressure in the second period but a defensive lapse midway through the second period led to a Mississauga goal and provided the Chiefs with new life. Just two minutes later Lauren N fired a high shot at the Mississauga net that their goalie was unable to handle to tie the score at 1-1. At that point the game began to get rough. Amanda was run into the boards and left the game with dizziness. Several minutes later Sheri was the recipient of a nasty slash that provided the Storm with a 5 minute powerplay. Sheri was able to score one goal on the ensuing powerplay but the Chiefs were able kill off the rest of the penalty without any damage.

In the third period the momentum was beginning to shift. Perhaps the Storm were tiring but nonetheless by late in the game they were just hanging on. However, with only 3 minutes remaining two defensive breakdowns just 44 seconds apart provided Mississauga with two goals and the series.

Certainly this team had nothing to be disappointed with. It was not only the most successful Storm team this season but one of the most successful teams in the Storm's 16 year history. Their record speaks for itself - in 50 games over the course of this season, the team won 30 and tied 7. They scored an incredible 121 goals. We had 4 players who scored 15 or more goals this season. Our stingy goalies - Bianca and Asia shared 18 shutouts.

Our incredible captain - the best captain we have ever seen was truly inspirational. She was an unselfish player who was constantly setting up teammates. In fact, only one player scored more total points than Mari's assist total. We received great leadership from all our third year players - Mari, Sheri, Jackie and Sarah-Kate. We will also be losing Asia, Genevieve, Lauren F and Maddy. Their departure will be a huge loss. But we have much to look forward to. Our first year Midget players made large contributions to the team and improved tremendously over the season. We hope that Madeleine, Allie, Alicia and Gabbie decide to continue what they began this season. Finally, we expect strong leadership from core players Bianca, Lauren N, Paitra, Kailee and Amanda next season.

So we will be getting together on the ice one more time at the Brampton tournament to celebrate this memorable season. We hope many of you will find the time to come out this one last time.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Team of the Year!!

2009 North York Storm Midge B Tryouts

April 25th - 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm - Rinx arena 3

April 26th - 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm - Rinx arena 3

April 30th - 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm - Rinx arena 3

See you there!

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#40 - Phil Oreskovic
(Kelly Fairchild, Ken McRae)

#41 - Nikolai Kulemin
(Paul Gagne, Eric Lacroix)


#42 - Kyle Wellwood
(Tim Stapleton, Kevyn Adams)

Jackie, they're stealing your move




Thursday, March 26, 2009

Get ready for the Cardiac Kids

Game two of the division finals started off well for the Storm. They actually had excellent scoring chances in the first period but fell behind 1-0. Certainly the skating legs were beginning to return but some costly turnovers found the Storm down 2-0 early in the third period as Mississauga was able to make the best out of their scoring chances.

With five minutes remaining in the game Mississauga found themselves in penalty trouble and the Storm had a two-man advantage for 1:38. Right before the first penalty expired Jackie fired a slapshot past the Chief goalie to reduce the lead to one goal. However, with Bianca on the bench for an extra shooter, there was a turnover at the Mississauga blueline which lead to an empty net goal to close out the scoring.

This leads to another dramatic third game on Saturday. Once again the Storm will need to win both the game and overtime to move on the League Championships next weekend.

Andrew Raycroft still struggling


Last night Peter Budaj got the start for Colorado and was pulled after surrendering three goals on 14 shots through the first 20 minutes. Andrew Raycroft spelled him in the second period and gave up four goals on eight shots. Budaj was inserted back between the pipes in the third period and made seven saves.

As bad as Budaj has been, Raycroft has been worse. Last night's save percentage of just .500 brings his season average down to .889. That's better than last season's .876 but so much below is rookie season when he had a save percentage of .926.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Storm Nation lets a win slip away

The opening game of divisional finals against Mississauga was pretty much what you would expect from two teams that haven't played a game that mattered in 2 weeks. It was a sloppy affair that was the Storm's to win.

After a slow start the Storm was able to put some pressure on the Chiefs and broke a scoreless tie in the middle of the second period on the powerplay. Mari who was battling for control of the puck behind the Mississauga net spotted Lauren N charging to the net. She fed her the puck and Lauren buried it behind the goalie. Later in the period Amanda almost made it 2-0 when she soft wrist shot beat the goalie and went off the crossbar.

It looked as if the game would end that way when a forward was called for hooking when several players were trapped up ice. It was the first Storm penalty of the game and it was with only 1:45 left in the game. But right off the faceoff Mississauga gained control of the puck and were able to jam in a rebound to tie the game.

The Storm did lack some intensity and discipline especially late in the game while hanging on to a slim lead. Let's hope for a better result on Thursday evening.

Leaf Nation tries to relive that Cujo magic

I was at last night's Leaf game as much to see Alex Ovechkin than anything else. It was a pretty dull game. In fact the first period was classic snoozer - no goals, no penalties and no hits. But it was essentially a meaningless game for both teams. But things certainly picked up in the last couple minutes of the game.

There was controversial goal, a tantrum, an ejection and a goalie saviour all within the last minute of the game. I have to admit the officials really blew the call. You see far too many goalies being shoved like that. There was a time when you payed a price for wacking at a goalie.



But the Gerber ejection brought the crowd to life. The Air Canada crowd still gets a charge out of seeing Joseph in net. After a terrific initial save off Ovechkin to finish the third period, Joseph made eight straight saves in the overtime period. Well the Air Canada crowd was on their feet chanting "Cujo...Cujo". I hadn't heard a Leaf crowd this loud in about 5 years.



It got even louder in the shootout as Joseph stopped all three Capital shooters - Backstrom, Semin and Ovechkin. Then when Andy Frost announced Joseph as the first star the building was literally shaking. Never mind that the first star should have been Gerber who was superb for 59 minutes. He faced 36 shots and was only beaten by Ovechkin on a terrific play and later by the officials. For the fans it was 1999 all over again and Cujo was the goaltending legend.

Don Koharski retires for another donut

Koharski retires after over 2,000 NHL games. The last ref to have also worked WHA games. Who can forget Jim Schoenfeld's advice to consume some type of pastry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers


#37 - Trevor Kidd
(Darby Hendrickson, Doug Shedden)

#38 - Yannick Tremblay
(Dave Harlock, Chris Snell)

#39 - Travis Green
(Clarke Wilm, Simon Gimache)

Ovechkin Dons 'Coach's Corner' Shirt

Monday, March 23, 2009

Good spoken English is essential

...good spelling not so much!


Bryan McCabe Shoot Yourself in the Foot Award (runner up)

Walt Poddubny dead at 49


Many Leaf fans heard about the sudden death of Walt Poddubny at the age of 49.

Poddubny like many retired players disappeared from the limelight after his hockey career ended. What many fans don't realize is that many players struggle with their post-hockey lives and poor Walt was one of them. Although his hockey salary peaked at $350,000 (US), he died penniless living in his sister's basement in Thunder Bay. The Globe has an excellent piece on his life after hockey.

Even better is a book by ex-Leaf GM Mike Smith called Life After Hockey. Many people don't know that Smith has a Ph.D. and quite a brilliant man. He has written about 10 books about hockey but this one is his best.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#34 - Bryan Berard
(Jamie Macoun, Dave Reid, Rob Cimetta)

#35 - Vesa Toskala
(Bruce Boudreau, Jeff Reese, Curt Ridley)

#36 - Dmitry Yushkevich
(Jamie Heward, Anton Stralman, Ken McRae)

Leaf MVP is Ron Wilson


Anyone who watched the Leafs crush the Canadiens on Saturday couldn't help but notice the contrast in the two teams. The Leafs battled for the puck all night and won most of the time. They are beating teams without the front line players of yesteryear...no Mats Sundin, no Darcy Tucker, no Bryan McCabe, no Alex Mogilny, no Gary Roberts, no Own Nolan, not even Nik Antropov. In fact they have no front line players.

Last night the Leafs dressed 6 rookies (Schenn, Stralman, Oreskovic, Grabovski, Kulemin, Mitchell) and 4 players from the minors/scrapheap (Ondrus, Devereaux, Hamilton, Gerber). Their top scorer (Blake) has chronic myelogenous leukemia. (He would be my pick for the Bill Masterson Trophy again.) Had the Leafs played this hard the previous season they might not be in a rebuild mode right now.

Now I realize it's easier to play the role of spoiler than it is to be a contender. In previous season the Leafs most often played their best hockey when nothing was on the line. But this year it is clearly different. The culture has certainly changed. Ron Wilson has been teaching these guys how to compete hard every night. The lessons appear to be sinking in. The players on the team know the Leafs are rebuilding and have essentially been given the choice - play hard and you might be able to become part of the process or don't play hard and you surely will move on.

Frankly, I don't care if the media likes Ron Wilson. I don't care if he doesn't gets along with Howard Berger or that he doesn't care to be interviewed by Bob McCowan. I just want to see the Leafs win every night. Ron Wilson makes you believe that it could happen.

Tuukka Rask (remember him) totally loses it after shootout

Bryan McCabe Shoot Yourself in the Foot Award

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another ignored headshot

For getting about fighting. The NHL should outlaw hits to the head like this one...


Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#31 - Curtis Joseph
(Grant Fuhr, Jiri Chra, Allan Bester, Al Smith)

#32 - Steve Thomas
(Mikael Tellqvist, Daniel Marois, Mike Eastwood)

#33 - Al Iafrate
(Don Beaupre, Doug Favell, Wayne Thomas)

My pick for greatest goalie...Dominik Hasek


The spotlight has certainly been on Martin Brodeur and Patick Roy over the past two weeks as they both sit on top of the NHL statistical heap. The debate rages on over which is better but are either one deserving of the title - Greatest Goalie Ever? In my books Dominik Hasek may have the edge.

Hasek did not win any Stanley Cups and only finished 10th in career wins. He happened to luck out by playing for the Red Wings between Stanley Cup wins. Part of the reason is that Hasek was not the dominating goalie late in his career which is when he landed in Detroit. There is no arguing that Brodeur and Roy were outstanding goalies for longer stretches.

But there is probably little argument that Hasek was easily the best goalie in the NHL from 1993-94 to 2000-2002. He dominated other goalies including Roy and Brodeur who were both in the NHL during that period. During that 9 year span he won two Hart Trophy’s as the league MVP and six Vezina trophies as the NHL’s best goalie. He led the league in save percentage for 6 straight years from 1993-94 to 1998-99 and in many of those seasons the runner up wasn’t even close.

Hasek is the all time career leader in save percentage at .9223. Brodeur (6th) and Roy (13th) are at .9136 and .9102 respectively. As the debate rages on about the significance of wins for goalies, you have to remember that Hasek played for the mediocre Buffalo Sabres for years. So wins would be much harder to come by. Which is why his career save percentage is incredible. Facing 40 shots in a game was not an unusual occurence for Hasek. How often has Brodeur faced 40 shots in a game which is one reason he can play over 70 games in a season.

Another consideration is that Hasek started his NHL career later than Roy and Brodeur. He was 26 when he arrived in the NHL and as a result sits in 18th place for career games for a goalie (Roy and Brodeur and 1st and 2nd). So considering his 10th place finish in games won playing for the Sabres, he did great. Hasek is just one of many great players who did not play for a Stanley Cup winner. That shouldn't be a knock on these players.

So who is the best? There is no way to determine. But I have never seen a goalie play net like Hasek during his prime. He was simply out of this world.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cujo needs a dose of reality right now


So Curtis Joseph is making noises about not retiring. He has his first 2 decent starts of the season in March and now he thinks he can still play. He is even suggesting that he is worth signing because he won't cost much against the cap. Let's face it, the only reason he is playing in Toronto is that Cliff Fletcher felt sorry for him because of family issues.

Here are my 5 reasons for not bringing back Cujo:

1. He walked out on a Leaf team that almost made it to the Conference finals because he felt Pat Quinn slighted him during the 2002 Olympics. He turned his back on millions of fans that idolized him because of a big ego.

2. I'm tired of Toronto bringing back former Leaf players well passed their prime. This is a hockey team not an alumni association.

3. He played terribly all season long. The coach had no confidence in him and who can blame Wilson. The team needed Joseph to step up because Toskala was hurt for much of the season and he couldn't get it done.

4. He would be taking a potential roster spot away from someone much younger. Of course anyone the Leafs put in there would be younger. But the Leafs are supposed to be rebuilding so what is the point of signing him for another season.

5. He is turning 42!

Alex Ovechkin gets his 50th

...then gets a little silly celebrating. Don Cherry will have something to day about this on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#28 - Tie Domi
(Bob Rouse, Randy Carlisle, Bill McCreary)

#29 - Mike Palmateer
(Karel Pilar, Felix Potvin, Brad Smith)

#30 - Terry Sawchuk
(Bernie Parent, Bruce Gamble, Ron Low, Wayne Thomas)

Brodeur wins #522

Mikhail Grabovski's Maple Leaf career is likely to end soon


Yesterday in practice Mikhail Grabovski and Jason Blake had their second altercation in the past month. Grabovski has this penchant for hitting the team's leading score from behind into the boards. Grabovski, is obviously mistaking Blake for one of the Kostitsyn brothers. Fortunately Blake survived the incident to provide the Leafs with some offense against Tampa Bay.

But seriously how much longer are Brian Burke and Ron Wilson going to put up with Grabobski's act? Does anyone wonder why Montreal unloaded this guy? The guy plays like former Leaf Sergei Berezin and that ain't no compliment. He has a serious case of glue stick. He plays like the only role for linemates is to feed him the puck. His outbursts are an embarrassment and a distraction. But even more important - he is a defensive liability and without sufficient physical strength to compete in the NHL.

So when you try to pick the 6-8 players Brian Burke will build his future Leaf team around, don't bother including Mikhail Grabovski.

Umbrellas don't always keep you dry

How Wayne Gretzky ruined the NHL

I'm being facetious of course when I suggest Gretzky ruined the NHL. But there was a time when everyone in the NHL did their own fighting. Even small players like Dave Keon and Yvan Cournoyer fought their own battles. Sure there were tough guys in every era like Reggie Fleming, Tiger Williams, John Ferguson, Keith Magnuson, Terry O'Reilly, and Brian Sutter but they all could play hockey.

Today things have changed. Teams carry players who cannot play the game and in fact are a liability on the ice so they only see 4 to 6 minutes of ice time per game. Their job is to fight and only fight. I'm talking about guys like Daniel Carcillo, Colton Orr, Riley Cote and Eric Godard. These 4 players have only scored 6 goals this season but accumulated about 675 minutes in penalties and been in 73 fights.

So when did the designated fighter first appear or better yet when did star players stop fighting their own battles? Many people think it started with the Broad Street Bullies. But on the old Flyer teams even stars like Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber would fight. The Flyers were built to intimidate opponents and they had no soft players. It was when Wayne Gretzky entered the league that the enforcers first appeared to protect The Great One. Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley would often warn opposition benches to stay clear of Gretzky or they would have to deal with them.

Bill McCreary a minor leaguer called up by the Maple Leafs is most remembered for his open ice hit on Gretzky on January 14, 1981. The hit was remarkable because it was the first time that Gretzky had been hit hard in his young career and it left Gretzky on the ice for several minutes. The incident received considerable press and it was widely publicized the next day in the newspapers. After the hit McCreary was shuffled off back to the minors. Some say it was to protect him from being seriously injured. Others believe he was somewhat "black listed" and never did find another team that he could play for.

So if you hate goons in hockey well blame Wayne Gretzky.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who was the greatest Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur?

Below are comparison stats for Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur (from James Mirtle). It is so difficult to make comparisons when players have played in different eras though there was some overlap between the Roy era and the Brodeur era. Still when you look at wins, Roy never played when shootout existed. Meanwhile Brodeur has 27 wins as a result of shootouts.

So what are the most important stats when comparing star goalies? Are wins an important stat? Probably not so much because you need offense in front of you to win games. Scott Clemmensen looked pretty good in front of the Devil's defense. But he looked like a minor leaguer in the Leafs' net. And maybe goals against average also reflects the quality of a team. I think shutouts are an individual stat less dependent on team performance. And save percentage even more so.


Roy Brodeur

Stats All-time Stats All-time
GP 1,029 1 986 2
W 551 T1 551* T1
L 315 10 293 14
T/OL 131 T7 127 T9
Pt% 0.618 10 0.633 6
SO 66 14 100 2
GAA 2.54 30 2.20 7
Saves 25,807 1 22,585 3
Sv/60 25.7
23.3
Sv% 0.910 T13 0.919 6





Playoffs



GP 247 1 169 2
W 151 1 95 2
L 94 1 74 2
Pt% 0.616 6 0.562 20
SO 23 1 22 2
GAA 2.30 24 1.96 9
SV 6565 1 3920 3
Sv/60 25.9
22.4
Sv% 0.918 11 0.919 9

People still like Don Cherry


It doesn't seem to matter very much what Don Cherry says because he seems to be as popular as ever. A poll I conducted recently indicates that 77% of respondents either liked that he spoke his mind, felt he was one of the most knowledgeable people in hockey or didn't necessarily agree with him but found him entertaining. Only 15% of people thought the CBC should fire him.

I guess I must be in the minority. I think if an NBC basketball analyst trashed European NBA players he would be history. Can you imagine a Fox analyst making negative comments about Puerto Rican baseball players? Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder got fired in 1988 for saying that blacks were "bred to be the better athlete because ... the slave owner would breed his big woman so that he would have a big black kid."

But Don Cherry keeps getting away with it year after year. He cleverly wraps his xenophobic views around our national sport and the flag. But it's still wrong and the CBC tolerates it because he makes them so much money.

You're right Alex Ovechkin it made it on YouTube




So if you want to know how the actual jingle goes it's below:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Story of Anvil

The stepfather of former Midget B captain Jasmine, Steve Kudlow, started a heavy-metal band called Anvil in 1973 while still in high school. The band is still around and playing in front of big crowds in Europe. The band is now the subject of a documentary called Anvil! The Story of Anvil that has been making the rounds at film festivals including Sundance.

I understand that the film is being released in Toronto on April 3 at the Dundas Square AMC. Below is a clip from the film which includes Jasmine's mom Virginia.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers

#25 - Peter Zezel
(Joe Nieuwendyk, Orland Kurtenback, Tom Kurvers, Ed Litzenberger, Wayne Carleton)


#26 - Allan Stanley
(Mike Krushylneski, Gerry Meehan, Dmitry Yushkevich)

#27 - Darryl Sittler
(Frank Mahovlich, Shane Corson, John Kordic)

Protect those trees!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Coach Wilson, why didn't you take game misconduct penalties earlier in the season when games mattered?


#22 - Rick Vaive
(Tiger Williams, Brian Conacher, Brian Spencer, Errol Thompson)


#23 - Eddie Shack
(Alexi Ponikarovsky, Randy Carlisle, Todd Gill, Joe Crozier)


#24 - Bryan McCabe
(Ron Stewart, Drake Berehowski, Brian Glennie, Brent Imlach)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ron Wilson gives it to Howard Berger



UPDATE:

Howard Berger gives it back (this is going to be fun):


“If there is one thing, among many, that I’ve learned in my first season around Ron Wilson, it’s that the coach of the Maple Leafs doesn’t react well to criticism. That’s not to suggest the other Leaf coaches I’ve had experience with in the past 20 years enjoyed being challenged, but Wilson takes it as a particular affront — mainly because of his heightened sensitivity to all things media.”

“Ron fancies himself as being cool and detached when it comes to reporters; he has often insisted that coverage of his team is “irrelevant”. But, he belies that notion in just about every one of his daily gatherings with the media horde that follows the Maple Leafs. In fact, he’s probably the most media-paranoid coach I’ve ever been associated with, and that’s saying a mouthful after my years around the big Irishmen, Pat Burns and Pat Quinn. Though Wilson is often cutting and sarcastic in his repartee with the Toronto media, he finally boiled over in his post-game scrum on Tuesday night, moments after the Leafs had come from behind to beat the New York Islanders in overtime.”

“I couldn’t quite figure the timing of it. Here the Leafs were — in Game 67 of another lost season, with no chance to make the playoffs — and Wilson is suddenly pulling out all the stops. Stick challenges are so rare in the NHL, and are almost always utilized as a last resort in a critical circumstance. I had difficulty in Ottawa envisioning such a circumstance, with the Leafs 11 points removed from a playoff spot and wedged, as per usual, in no-man’s land in the Eastern Conference standings.”

“Wilson’s move in Ottawa on Monday was justified, but I found the timing to be ridiculous. If this was the sort of tactic he planned on ultimately deploying, why didn’t he try and pull it off back in November or December, when the potential gain would have been more meaningful? That’s all I was questioning. Calling for a stick measurement isn’t really a ballsy move; in fact, it borders on a cheap ploy by a coach who’s team is usually in a desperate situation. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Wouldn’t it have been more useful for Wilson to try such a maneuver, let’s say, on Nov. 15th in Vancouver, when his players were nobly battling the Canucks at the end of a tiring road swing? Or against Washington at the Air Canada Centre on Dec. 6th, when the Capitals clung to a 2-1 lead for the entire third period? At least the season was still hanging in the balance back then. There was nothing to be gained from growing desperate in Ottawa on Monday.”

“Where Wilson’s media paranoia, and his aversion to any sort of criticism, got the better of him, was in his interpretation of my question. He chose to view it as a challenge to his integrity as a coach. I was simply asking about the odd timing. Now, I can understand why he took exception to my thought that he could have used the stick challenge earlier in the season. I think he determined it to be an accusation that he wasn’t trying as hard to win games back then, but that’s absurd. It never crossed my mind, and the concept of his integrity as a coach was not at all a part of my thought process until he raised it in his post-game harangue Tuesday night. On reflection, though, it was a rather insensitive remark after a tough loss to the Senators, and one I could have phrased differently. Wilson is a proud man and a very good coach; I’ve never questioned either of those qualities in a general sense. My challenge on Monday related only to the timing of his decision in that particular game.”

“Unfortunately, Wilson doesn’t have the mind-set to accept any sort of media challenge. He is so hyper-sensitive to being even mildly confronted that he often executes pre-emptive strikes, accusing reporters in scrums of harebrained notions about his club that have never — and would never — cross our minds. Just about every day, it’s “you guys” this, and “you guys” that, as Ronny pre-supposes some imaginary form of attack. I’ve lost count of the number of times my colleagues and I have looked at each other moments after a Wilson rant and said, “Where the hell did that come from?”

“Sadly, this flaw in his character shrouds one of the most thorough, clever and articulate hockey people I’ve ever run across. Hardly a day passes that I don’t learn something from Wilson and — privately — we’ve had several engaging chats, mostly about his days as a defenseman with the Maple Leafs in the late-1970s. When I felt we had gotten off to a rocky start in our relationship early in the season, I attempted to call a meeting with Ron. I asked him, personally, and I tried to arrange it through Leafs’ media relations director Pat Park. I had a tough few years with Quinn as well, but we ironed out our differences very quickly once we got together behind closed doors. It’s the way I always try to mend confrontation, but the request to Ron fell on deaf ears. Perhaps such an understanding or truce would defeat an edge Wilson feels he holds over reporters. In that regard, he’s only fooling himself.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It might be unhealthy


McGangBang

A McChicken sandwich inside a double cheeseburger.

Maybe Brian Burke doesn't plan to blow up the LeafsI

When Brian Burke joined the Maple Leafs, I like everyone else, was positive he would nuke the lineup. He only reinforced that notion when early on he indicated he would trade anyone but Luke Schenn. But after the trade deadline passed with only minor moves, I began to wonder if he was going another direction.

With all the changes in the last 12 months the team doesn't seem any weaker than a year ago but it is a lot younger and cheaper. During that time Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Bryan McCabe, Andrew Raycroft, Nik Antropov, Dominic Moore, Alexander Steen, Carlo Colaiacovo, Kyle Wellwood, Hal Gill, Chad Kilger, Wade Belak, John Pohl, Andy Wozniewski, and Staffan Kronwall have moved on but they don't seem any worse. A lot of young players have had an opportunity to show their stuff and there is more promise than initially believed. John Mitchell, Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grobowski, Jiri Tlusty all have upsides.

Burke has 16 players signed next year with lots of cap space ($12-$15 million) to play with. He is loaded with serviceable 2nd and 3rd liners (Stajan, Grabovski, Hagman, Ponikarovsky, Kulemin Stempniak, Blake) but lacks front line players. I'm now thinking that he might use that money during the free agent season to sign players capable of playing on a top line. Perhaps players like Andy Mcdonald, the Sedin twins, Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri and Marian Hossa. He would also need to add some muscle. Prices may be lower this summer as a result of the weak economy (which has had little impact on the Leafs).

Burke is not that patient of a man. I don't see him stripping the team of talent so that it sinks low enough to grab high draft picks for a few seasons. That approach is typically adopted by smaller market teams like Pittsburgh and Phoenix. Toronto doesn't need to take that route.

Top All-Time Toronto Maple Leafs by Jersey Numbers


#19 - Paul Henderson
(Bill Derlago, Ron Stewart, Kent Douglas, Tom Fergus)

#20 - Bob Pulford
(Rick Vaive, Al Secord, Ed Belfour)


#21 - Borje Salming
(Bob Baun, Kirk Muller, Gord Drillon)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Leafs maintain their revolving door policy


According to my count, the Maple Leafs have had 36 different players in their line up this season. On Monday that list will grow to 37 should recent call up Phil Oreskovic get into the game against Ottawa. Oreskovic is the team's second pick in the 2005 draft, will be making his NHL debut.

So what are the odds that the Leafs will hit the 40 player mark? Well pretty good still considering they still have 16 games to go. Though hard to say how many of the remaining Marlies are appropriate for an NHL look see.

Oreskovic is a big, hard-hitting defenceman who won’t hesitate to drop the gloves. He is listed at 6-foot-3, 217 pound.

So why are the Leafs using so many players this year? Well injuries do play a part in the number of call ups. But I think it's obvious that since they are not in playoff contention, the Leafs are trying to provide as many Marlie players as possible with exposure to the NHL. The move is either to reward hard working minor leaguers and/or an opportunity assess NHL readiness.

You know there is too much violence in hockey...

when the team mascots get into the act.

There goes the excuse for handing in that assignment late