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10 assumptions we can make about the Maple Leafs...

I wrote a piece here recently about Leaf players who, in a sense, divide the fan base.  But as we all know, it is really much more than just that when we talk about those who truly love the Maple Leafs.  Leaf fans are a funny bunch.  It has always been this way.  But it feels particularly noticeable now, perhaps because of the pervasive influence of social media—something even older folks like myself have become more and more aware of.

What I’m talking about is just how much fans differ after watching the same Maple Leaf “movie”.  Here we are, virtually at the end of the 2012-’13 NHL regular season (albeit a very short one) and we still are absolutely split on a host of issues. 

Some of these “issues”?

  • Grabovski:  some hate the way he has been utilized by the coach and think he’s been just fine given his role, ice time and wingers.  Others see his play as having fallen off rather precipitously from previous seasons.
  • Carlyle himself:  lauded by some (including myself for the most part) but absolutely loathed by a loud segment of the blue and white fan base, who hate that he eschews the advanced stats principles (though he is well aware of what those “stats” tell him) and has an imperfect relationships, according to some reports, with certain players. (Quick aside:  hockey history is littered with stories of successful teams who evidently had players that could not stand their coach….from Al MacNeil and Scotty Bowman in Montreal to the more modern example of John Tortorella in Tampa Bay.)
  • Reimer:  a burgeoning hero once again to quite a few fans, but he is not without a truckload of critics- he has a bad glove hand, can’t control his rebounds, doesn’t know where the puck is, gives up too many bad goals, etc.   And he’s a goalie. Hard to trust those guys, eh?
  • Virtually everyone loves the captain now, and it is hard not to grade his overall game quite favourably these days.  But goodness, many are really unhappy with the rest of the defense group, which some nights can seem like an uninspiring lot.
  • Jake Gardiner may also be one of those “situations” that is driving people crazy the most.  A segment of the fan base can't abide that he is not playing regularly, because they see his puck-moving skills and calm demeanor on the ice as huge assets for the team. (Not to mention his obvious skating ability and overall talent.)  But some look at this as a case of having to earn your ice time, regardless of how precocious a young player he seems to be.  They feel Carlyle is doing the right thing by insisting that Gardiner focus on playing a tougher (on the puck, I mean), mistake-free game before he sets off on his dashing offensive forays.
  • Bozak:  Despite the young center’s relative success (and to some, it’s more than relative), many bemoan that Kessel is “stuck” with what they see as, at best, a really nice third-line middleman.  Yet, he has a ton of “supporters”, too, who see him as under-rated.
  • The very presence of O’Byrne has some in a tizzy.  They look at his “stat” breakdown in Denver and see horrors ahead for him in Toronto if he even sets foot on the ice.  His every “mistake” will be tweeted.  Yet some are happy to have a big physical defenseman who may fit nicely with Liles. Carlyle certainly is.
  • Of course, it goes without saying that we are never in agreement in Leaf Territory on Kessel.  (I’ve tried to be consistent here—I think he plays much the same almost every night.  Some times the pucks goes in for he and his linemates and he’s a hero; when the puck’s not going in, he is supposedly in a “slump”.  Sure, he may have a bit more jump in his step some nights, but generally he’s flying around out there…) The “trade” will forever be part of how many assess him, of course, and that’s part of sports, fair or not. No question he has been splendid much of the season, but again, for some Leafers, he will never be the rounded player they’d like him to be.

Have I forgotten anything?

So no, we won’t agree on a lot of things.  That’s just the way it is.  I do hope, though, that as fans we can spend less time fighting one another’s views and pull together to enjoy the playoff run.  This is a fun team to watch, imperfect and certainly flawed though they are.  An as much as some do not like Carlyle, one question:  how many games have they been “out of” with no chance to win this season? 

Not many.

So again, as much as “analyzing”, each in our own way, is part of the enjoyment of being a Leaf fan, let’s try to enjoy the moments, too.  But since I don’t like when other people tell me what to do, feel free to ignore my “advice”.

Now, there are some things I feel pretty strongly about going forward.  And I believe we can make the following assumptions:

  1. Barring injury, Reimer is the guy in goal.  (I referenced this possibility on a couple of occasions recently, here (I said this when the Leafs were slumping)  and here.  I hope it pans out this way, because I’d like to see the young man in form and truly healthy at playoff time.  It would be nice if Leafworld could finally put the “goalie debate” (and never-ending controversy) behind us.
  2. Carlyle has a pretty good idea what he’s doing.  Some may not like what he’s doing (including, yes, some of his players) but I’ll put my faith in a guy with tons of experience as a player and coach at that level over a computer that spits out stats—as revealing as some of those statistics may well be.
  3. Phaneuf will be called upon to play 30 minutes a night in the playoffs. Yes, that may wear him out, and it would be nice if we had another guy who could log and share some of those minutes, but right now, I’m not sure if we do.  From a “I can skate all night and not miss a beat” perspective, Gardiner would be that guy.  He never seems to get tired.  But at the moment, it doesn’t appear as though he will be on one of the top two blueline pairings.  There is some history here, though.  In their hey-day, McCabe and Kaberle played 30 minutes a game and more sometimes, as needed, in the early 2000s at playoff time—and often quite dependably despite the huge workload.  Phaneuf is young and strong. He may tire, but he can handle it though I’m a bit concerned about his workload heading into the playoffs.
  4. Komarov will be invaluable come playoff time.  He plays “playoff hockey” all the time.  Adding an extra gear to that should not be a problem.
  5. This will be a pivotal spring for Gunnarsson.  If he’s hurt, then my comment may not be a proper guide.  But if he’s OK, this will be an opportunity for the Leaf brass to see what they really have in the player who has made a reputation as a fairly reliable defensive defenseman, with occasional offensive flair.  The playoffs will test his mettle, and I think he can respond.
  6. Scrivens will be an ideal playoff back-up.  If he plays, he will battle all night, and do everything he can to help his team win.
  7. I think we can assume that, with the playoffs right around the corner, management will ensure Lupul does absolutely nothing to face any setbacks over the next couple of weeks.  Yes, they would like to see him in “playoff form” from Game One of the first series, but they would much rather he be completely healthy whenever he does return.
  8. Carlyle will not play both McLaren and Orr in the playoffs.  He may be tempted, depending on the match-up (Boston??).  But I think not.  He will want more versatile wingers, but he will need guys who can hit and finish their checks, and those guys certainly do that.
  9. Grabovski should become a more important player for us in the playoffs than he has been in the regular season.  Setting aside whatever issues Carlyle has with his play, I don’t see it as personal.  Kadri will get a lot of attention from the opposition in the first round, and that should leave a bit of room for Grabovski to play a little offense in addition to his checking responsibilities.  He may shine.
  10. There will be a Leaf who surprises us at playoff time.  I don’t know if it will be Gardiner, Frattin, Colborne, Bozak, or someone else, but it usually happens in the spring.

And...number 11 could be:  many of us will find things to criticize, even if the Leafs make it all the way to the finals.

Again, it’s just the way we are.  But what the heck—we’re fans.

Let me know if you see things differently.


  1. I tend to be optimistic about the Leafs future. This season that optimism has mostly proven correct.

    I think the Leaf will sort out most of the perceived problems as soon as the playoffs start.

    Carlyle will probably cut back on his fighters. We have already seen this is recent games. I think the lines might look something like this

    JVR Bozak Kessel
    Lupul Kadri Kulemin
    MacArthu Grabo Frattin
    Komorov McClement Orr/Hamilton

    Maybe the exact lines are different but those are the guys I see getting minutes, but maybe I am wrong on Frattin.

    There will probably be injuries and we will be happy that we have O'Byrne, Gardiner, Hamilton, McLaren.... even if they don't play every game.

    The interesting thing is the balance on scoring. If this were a full season (pro rate this season) we would have 9 guys with 15 goals or more. Other teams will have trouble with checking three lines that can put it in the net. I think Grabo will bounce back.

    When the year started, I thought that we could give a good team a scare in the the first round and maybe make it to the second round. I still think that. Scrivens will turn out to be a fine backup and I stand by the prediction.

    Crossing my fingers for the second round....

  2. You've been on the money this season, DP! Thanks...

  3. 1. Reimer is the goalie moving forward. I think his play this merits the oppurtunity to start the reat of the way till we bow out, may it be a couple of months from now.

    2. Carlyle does indeed know what he is doing. Whether it is the right thing remains to be seen. So far so good.

    3. Phanuef since his slow start has been excellent, a true number one guy. I wasn't a big Phanuef fan to start but he is winning me over now. I do worry about the number of minutes he does play over an 82 game schedule but again so far so good this year.

    4. I suppose Komarov could do all right in the playoffs. I am more or less ambilivant towards him. He's there but ehh.

    5. Gunnarsson has defintely struggled this year. Does fit better than anyone else that is currently on the roster. Must be better though to justify the spot and not just be default.

    6. Nothing wrong with Scrivens as a back up in the NHL. I would have preferred some veteran experience to back up Reimer but Scrivens has done all right this year.

    7. I agree. With the 3 points against the Rangers, the playoffs are just a formality at this point. No need to rush him back. 100% for round one.

    8. I'm not so sure about this one. He might play both as he played 3 for a lot of games in Anahiem's cup win. I would think McClaren gets the nod over Orr just because he is a better skater and I believe has better hockey sense but it wouldn't shock me to see both.

    9. I don't know about Grabovski. I think he could be on his last legs here in Toronto. Certainly, if it came down to a Coach's preference I think Carlyle would prefer to have Bozak as his 5 mil center. To me I see a lot of similarities between the way Wilson lost all confidence in Schenn and left him a shell of a player. I think Carlyle totally misused this guy and I think his confidence is well and truly shot. That's not to say Grabovski has played great because he clearly hasn't but I think there is a lotta blame to go around here. Sometimes, a certain player and a coach just don't mix well.

    10. I think it will be Kulemin that takes himself to a new level. I know you have wanted him to be more physical Michael and I think he has over the last 10 games. I have seen him dish out some pretty decent hits over the last 3 weeks or so as well as be productive while still being the defensive conscience on his line which allows Lupul and Kadri to do what they do so well (have I mentioned how much I love the makeup of this line). Someone pointed this out the other day on Maple Leaf Hot Stove, Kulemin actually plays the center posistion in his own end taking some of the pressure off Kadri, that's a nice example of something Carlyle has done which has helped this team for those who think Carlyle has done nothing right. Since Carlyle said he expected more out of Grabovski and Kulemin about 15 games ago (I might add Carlyle took some of the blame on himself at the time) one player has been much better and one has gone completely in the crapper. Splitting them up has done wonders for Kulemin and not so much for Grabovski.

    While I had pegged this team to miss the playoffs again, I have also said consistently that I think they are very close. While I do think they are playing somewhat above their heads right now I truly believe they are only a year maybe two away from being cup contenders. They are that close in my opinion.

  4. We're seeing a lot of this stuff through similar lenses, Willbur.

    I absolutely agree that sometimes coaches and players just don't connect, for whatever reason. (I would have thought Carlyle would have loved Grabbo's usual feisty play, but something didn't click for some reason...)

    As you say, Kulemin has gone north since Carlyle's little nudge. (I haven't said much about Kulemin, I think because I did not want to say a lot until I'm sure what I'm seeing is not a short-term mirage!)

    I'm hoping Komraov will show us something.

    Giguere would probably be an ideal experienced back-up, but that ship has sailed, eh...that said, I like what Scrivens brings.

    You've been consistent in your views all season, Willbur. They are close, and getting closer. Thanks Willbur.

  5. I think the reason we fans have these "issues" is because we are fans. We think with our hearts, we're passionate about our team (as we should be). If we were look at things factually, it wouldn't be as much fun.

    Kessel is a fantastic player. Great scorer, underrated passer. But the fact is he HAS been scoring less, we fans don't want to hear it because we like him and the things he does well compensate for his lack of goals.

    Same with Reimer. He is our guy. Most of us like him and we know he DOES HAVE a slow glove and can't find the puck 3 or 4 times a night .

    And as great a skater Gardiner is the fact is he is "soft" defensively and his "calmness" has him holding on to the puck not knowing what to do with it, and then getting stripped of it (as we all saw in the last 2 games he played).

    They are our guys, we love them and they are the best in the world to us. If we had Carcillo, Kaleta and Torres we'd love them too.

    For the playoffs, Boston would be "worst case" I think. The Habs would be great because of the history, and we can beat them.

    I've come to hate losing to the Bruins more than the Habs. I'd hate to see it happen in a playoff series.

    1. Kessel's PPG average is right where it was last year. On a full schedule he would be at 82 points. Pretty much the same as last year. His goal production may be slightly down but his points aren't.

    2. Exacty my point, his goals are down, but the points are the same. People argue that he's having a down year, that me be, but only in goals. I've often said he is the only guy on our team that would play on any other team's first line.

    3. I am actually quite impressed with Kessel this year. Despite his linemates both going quite for large stretches of games he continues to put up numbers. The thing that really impresses me is the fact he has almost re-invented himself this year. I always felt he was a pure sniper type before. Now he is the best playmaker on the team and while never to be confused with Bob Gainey on defensive play at least competes. He is the real deal and I wasn't that big of a Kessel fan before this year.

  6. I'm concerned that Carlyle actually WILL play Orr and McLaren consistently in the playoffs, regardless of the opponent. He has shown a tendency to play the two of them at the expense of others (Frattin, most recently) and that's a concern for me. If he was going to phase one or both of the fighters out of the lineup for the playoffs, he would have done it by now. But all indications are that he will continue to play Orr and McLaren and Frattin will keep sitting. If Frattin is needed due to injury once the playoffs start, he'll need a while to get in game shape and he will likely be in Carlyle's doghouse again, through no real fault of his own. This is the vicious cycle that Carlyle has started up with various players (Frattin and Gardiner are the best examples). And don't get me started about Grabbo taking fourth line shifts on Wednesday. This is quickly devolving into a Carlyle rant, so I'll end here :) Great job as always, Michael. Thanks.

  7. It's funny, portuguese leaf, I just have this sense that a Leaf-Bruin match-up would be outstanding. I'm not saying we would win, just that it would be awfully exciting in a lot of ways.

    You make, as always, great points today. We like "our" guys, but can't help but criticize them sometimes in spite of that. Thanks for visiting.

  8. I know there is some angst over Carlyle's roster deployment, Twisted Sittler, and I can understand the frustration. Let's see where this goes. Playoff hockey brings its own demands. Carlyle at least has a ton of experience in big games, handling roster match-ups, etc. (albeit with a better roster in Anaheim). I will choose to think all of our guys will be ready for action, even if they have spent some time "upstairs". Thanks Twisted Sittler.

  9. you've made a great list of 'controversial contemporary maple leafs topics' michael. the one that caught my eye is the bullet point regarding tyler bozak. the guy has NEVER been given appropriate credit/kudos/respect for the hard-work and creative play-making that he brings to each game. people say that he's propped up because of the talent of kessel and lupul etc., but he also wins a lot of face-offs, and appears to bring 100% every game. he might not be the 'true' number-1 center for our future, but i think we should count our blessings to have bozak.

  10. The neverending story - Phil Kessel. I really feel that he just keeps getting better, when I pay close attention to his shifts I'm generally impressed (and yes, sometimes surprised). I see a really talented hockey player improving his tradecraft on many levels - good for him for having a good attitude and work ethic, and good for our coaching staff for helping him become a better player and asset. I refuse to use the "t" word, Phil Kessel has earned the right to be assessed (and appreciated) entirely on his own merits.

    I'm unsure about playing both of Orr and McLaren. I don't hold with all the fighting, but there is simply no mistaking the physical confidence with which this team plays, and it does not come out of thin air. Our skill guys have said it themselves, they feel safer out there - don't we believe them? There's no doubt we pay a "hockey price" when we have our Blue Bombers on the ice, so it's a balancing act. I think the coach has achieved that balance pretty well this year, so I'd say let him do it in the play-offs if he thinks it will give us a better chance to win. We just have to be prepared for the occasional camp-out in our end.

    You make a good point - eventually we need to sit back and enjoy the ride, it's been a while and we've all paid our dues. I really like a lot of our players (as in like them as people as much as one can tell, not just as hockey players). What Reims gives on the high glove side he takes back with battle, and he really seems an engaging young guy. Lupul's return from the broken arm was stuff for the ages, whatever happened afterwards. They've all got foibles (like you and I don't?!), but I like this team, they're an easy team to support. Let's celebrate their successes, admire their efforts, and support them when they falter.

  11. Well said, Alex C..

    I don't know for sure but my guess is more and more Leaf supporters have come to (maybe grudgingly, in some cases) respect what Bozak brings. I know some would rather Grabbo get his minutes, but it's hard not to concede that Bozak has done just about everything he has been asked to do.

    Here's a question: if you asked the Leaf wingers, who would they rather play with, Bozak, Kadri or Grabovski, would most say either Bozak or Kadri? I'm not in their shoes, but that's my guess. Thanks Alex.

  12. Thank you for a thoughtful post, Michael.

    All fair points on Kessel and our "Blue Bombers". And I think you've captured a lot of what I was trying to say today. Of course we fans have the right to analyze every little thing about the roster, the coach, etc.. We all do it, to varying degrees. As I often say, it's part of the fun of being a fan.

    But at some point we can maybe sit back and enjoy that the team is finally having some success, however modest it feels right now. That's what we all wait for, right?

    Could things go south in the playoffs? Sure. They could also bring real success. Same with next year. There are never any guarantees.

    Thanks Michael.

  13. I'm a lucky guy, I was at the game in '67 when they won the Cup. I know there are 150,000 people who say they were there, but I was - a 15 year-old with his dad, it doesn't get much better. He doesn't remember now, heck sometimes he doesn't remember me, but that's a moment they can't take away from me and because of that I've been playing with the house's money ever since. Wow, the times we've been through since then, from the sublime (and I'm thinking no's 93, 27 and 13) to the ridiculous (Harold, RIP). But boy that city used to hum when the Leafs were playing for the big prize. I hope these new generations of fans get to experience that, they deserve it - and I sure won't turn it down. :-)

  14. I appreciate that you shared that story, Michael. I was not there! (I said with envy...) I was a young (born in '53) Essex County (southwestern Ontario) kid praying for the Leafs to win against all seeming odds in that series. You have, obviously, a memory for and of a lifetime. That you shared it with your Dad is no doubt what makes it all the more special. That bond is a huge part of being a sports fan, and certainly a hockey and Maple Leaf fan.

  15. Willbur- I've been around long enpugh to appreciate your Gainey reference....

  16. On your 8th point (Carlyle will not play both McLaren and Orr in the playoffs. He may be tempted, depending on the match-up (Boston??). But I think not. He will want more versatile wingers, but he will need guys who can hit and finish their checks, and those guys certainly do that.)

    I would suggest that he may 'platoon' these guys on alternating nights. Randy seems a bit more comfortable with Orr, though, so we will probably see more of him.

    Depending upon the opponent, I suggest that we'll see more of Hamilton (for the likes of Boston) and Frattin/Colborne (for Montreal). Pertaining to Hamilton and Colborne, I'm glad the leafs are are giving them a 'taste' in order to integrate them with the team and not be 'overwhelmed' should they find themselves in the lineup.

    Come playoff time, we may find Hamilton (and especially Colborne) filling in 'up the lineup' should injuries occur, and they won't be 'coming in cold' as 'outsiders' and 'bandaids' rather as teammates who are 'stepping up' to fill a need. Seems like a wise bit of coaching (/ GM'ing) to me!

    I appreciate you noting other discussion points going forward, Michael, and your sage counsel to actually enjoy the playoff run that is within sight for the first time in so long... I plan to do just that (not that I won't notice 'deficiencies', just don't want them to be my focus - it's not my JOB :) !!

  17. Agreed, InTimeFor62, on Colborne and Hamilton getting some ice time now so they will be a pretty seamless fit come playoff time. They may be important contributors along the way.

    Yes, we will for sure notice the "deficiencies", but a playoff run would be tremendously enjoyable. Thanks InTimeFor62.

  18. #2 of this, my main disagreement, is obviously the longest. A two poster, in fact, I hope I don't bore you. You may recall back in February I had problems with Carlyle and the Leafs, here: where I correctly said the Leafs would have a hard time in March, with half the month being quite difficult. Sure enough, they went .500.


    1. Agreed.

    2. Carlyle 'knows' what he's doing in the sense he knows which roster players he's deploying, knows what ice time he allocates and to whom, the game style he plays. He does not know the consequences of his actions and as far as he's concerned only the W is what matters. Which, to an extent, is true. The win matters the most.

    The problem is that his 'system' is doing much more harm than good, both in player development and for next season. There are very few teams historically that have made the playoffs while being outshot by ~4 a game. Even less at ~5 a game. Obviously the Leafs aren't quite as bad as ~5 a game, but it is very concerning that of their 10 games with shots over 30, six have come against the incredibly weak southeast, three have come against Buffalo and one has come against the NYI - two of those games needed overtime. Likewise, of the 15 games where his system allowed less than 30 shots, six have come against the weak southeast. The rest are scattered against some good teams (Boston x2, Pittsburghx1, Montrealx1) while others are against some severely handicapped offences (NYRx1, NJx1,) some quite weak teams (Buffalo x1, Philly x1) and a middle of the pack team in the Islanders who admittedly have a very bright future. This may hold up this season, but if it continues the Leafs will crash back to earth in dramatic fashion next season. This isn't sustainable.

    In addition, the message he conveys to his players contradicts what he does with them on the ice. Earlier in the season he was complaining that Kulemin and Grabovski need to start scoring more. He may not believe in statistics but the undeniable fact of the matter - no quirky numbers here - is that for the first time in their careers Grabovski and Kulemin went from starting slightly over 50% of the time in the offensive zone to slightly over 30% of the time. They are being forced to drive the play forward. They actually are doing well at this given they are almost always matched against some extremely stiff competition. How can you expect offence from your players when you aren't putting them in a position to succeed? That Grabovski was skating on the fourth line last game for much of it (and it isn't the first time) was mind blowing. People saying he hasn't played well don't know what they're talking about. He has played fine. Most of his points have come at even strength, evidence that his struggle to drive the puck forward from the defensive zone does occasionally pay off. Statistics aren't everything and the eye test certainly isn't everything, but both must be incorporated into evaluation. A few teams in the league are starting to realize this. A great article on this, here:

  19. And the second part.

    Another example: "You try to go with your best people from a pure skill standpoint" Carlyle says. Yet he bafflingly continues to play two goons against goonless teams over useful players like Frattin and Hamilton. Surely you only need one of Orr and MaClaren, and surely Hamilton can fill the role of a checking forward much better than either Orr or MaClaren. He's physical (going straight after Chara comes to mind), can score as evidenced by his AHL numbers, and is far quicker. They may 'feel' like their increased physicality is a good thing, but then again Ron Wilson's last two teams were also top 10 in hits. I'm not doubting physicality is essential to a great team, but I am saying too much of it means you're trying chasing puck too evidenced by the lack of shots this season. The team may 'feel' more confident when they know somebody has their back in a fight, but in reality the Leafs actually get two points far less of the time when they fight. When Orr fights, they come away with points about 45% of the time +/- a percent or two, from 2009-13. When he's not even in the lineup it's more than half the time they win.

    Or, surely Kadri is better with Kessel than Bozak is. Kadri is good for quite literally any line he's on, as we have seen. There is a great article about this in regards to Bozak, here: I know very little of why Bozak is preferred to Grabovski, but I do know Grabovski is more gifted offensively and defensively, and is essentially even faceoff wise if not for a few percentage points on the dot. Kadri may be poor on the dot, but the only way he will learn this is through experience. Why not routinely place him with Kessel and Lupul (when he's healthy) on the fly if you don't want him taking big draws in crucial games?

    As well, Carlyle takes a very long time to adapt when what he wants isn't working. How long did we have to wait until Franson was inserted on to a power play which Kostka routinely got several minutes on despite not producing anything, for example?

    Perhaps the most dangerous thing he's done this season is release his concussion 'theory.' I didn't have a problem with Carlyle as a person until he said that. It's inexcusable that in such a massive hockey market with so many easily influenced minds - children in particular, that you could publicly state such a theory without even consulting somebody specialized in the field.

    Not all is bad, however. I do give him mostly full marks for the much improved PK. Two major factors went into this: stellar goaltending that Ron Wilson dreamed about, and the elimination of fronting which Ron Wilson seemed far too adamant about incorporating into his system. This, of course, helps out the goaltending massively.

    3. Agreed on both Phaneuf and Gardiner. While I do think Gardiner should be playing over somebody like Kostka or O'Byrne, he absolutely should not be playing more than 20, very sheltered minutes a game. It is how he will thrive - being eased into the league with experience against relatively very weak competition - third lines, fourth lines. Not from the press box.

    4. Agreed.

    5. Agreed. I do believe he's hurt however. There is a comment somewhere near when he came back from his early injury that he figured it wouldn't get better for the rest of the season, so he had to play with what % he was able to give of himself. I wouldn't be surprised if he has some minor surgery in the summer.

    6. Agreed.

    7. Agreed. As long as he doesn't wear those brain incubators, he'll be fine..

    8. Oh, I hope so. I doubt it, but I hope so.

    9. Not if he's kept in a checking role, he won't.

    10. Well, of course. Every team has one of 'em.

  20. Sorry for the delay in responding RJ- I've been out and back only briefly. I have read through your comments. Thank you for taking the time to break things down.

    I hear what you're saying and while we may differ on the Grabovski debate, I can see your point to a certain extent. I don;t think Grabbo has really spent that much time on the fourth line.

    I will reiterate the question that I asked while chatting with with Alex C. above: if the team's more talented wingers (Kessel, Lupul, JVR, etc.) were asked which center they would like to play with, my guess is the first two choices would be Kadri or Bozak. If that's true, that may be a hint as to what's going on. McClement is a solid third-line guy, so where does Grabbo "fit"? I'm not a coach, and will defer to those who stand in those shoes and live with the players every day.

    Thanks RJ. (I will be out this weekend, so won't be able to respond to any further discussion on this one for a couple of days....)