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Reimer stakes his claim; so does Bernier…and then those fights

In a sense, there aren’t many more popular Maple Leaf players in these parts than James Reimer.  Setting aside his goaltending abilities (though a player’s skill is always part of that equation, I well realize), in his three seasons in the Toronto market he has done nothing but bring a positive energy to this organization.  I would argue he has also demonstrated a genuineness that you don’t often see in athletes, not to mention  a touch of humility as well. He is, at least to me, a tremendously likeable young man.

So for those who don’t “like” the 26 year-old, it’s likely not at all personal.  What they don’t like is not Reimer, but maybe that they see him as injury prone. Or they may not like his “rebound control” or his perceived weak glove hand. They perhaps don’t like that he sometimes looks behind himself after making a save, as though he thinks he didn’t actually make the stop.  Heck, they may not like what their fellow critics still see as a letdown in Game 7 of this past spring’s first-round matchup with the heavily-favoured Bruins, when the Leafs were achingly close to an upset of (in hockey terms, at least) near epic proportions.

Bottom line, some Leaf supporters may just truly believe (in some cases, the belief can be categorized as “sight unseen”- more a case of perception, statistics and reputation than legitimate personal observation) that newcomer Jonathan Bernier is simply a better goalie.  Those fans evidently feel that Bernier will take us further than Reimer.

Again, nothing personal, they would no doubt say.

As some of you who visit VLM on occasion may know, I have stated here over the course of the summer months that my belief (not shared by many, it seems) is that Bernier is absolutely Nonis’ guy (again, you don’t trade for a goalie—when you already have a good one—and give up three useful assets and then sign the new player to a contract, unless, deep down, you think he’s better than what you already have.  You just don't.)  Some choose to believe that this was just a move to add depth at an important position.  O.K.—but two 26 year-old competitors who are both talented and want the same job, well, that can’t last long. You can only play one at a time.

I’m a Reimer guy but can’t and don't deny Bernier is certainly a gifted young netminder as well.  (A fighter, we find out, too...)  And sure, in some kind of ideal hockey world, these two would get along famously, share the net as true team players and wish the other man all the best—even if that meant that other guy would own the net 80% of the time.

We don’t, however, live in an ideal hockey world.

But I’ll set all that aside for today. I’ll look to accept that this is a legitimate competition, that Tim Leiweke’s summertime statement that “we inherited the other guy” (Reimer) means nothing (sure, sure) when it comes to Carlyle and/or Nonis making a decision about goaltending. 

So if it is a level playing field competition, where are we right now, a week before the season begins?  Well, let’s start with the fact that I put precious little stock in exhibition games. (Though I will acknowledge that Carter Ashton caught my eye Saturday night, so did Bodie blocking a shot when Reimer was out of the play, Gardiner’s remarkable recovery speed, though that’s not news, and the willingness of a lot of the “prospects” to finish their checks in their all-out effort to impress the coaching staff. And hey, DeVane scored, showing a nice touch for a guy with a reputation more for rugged play…)  But even given the insignificance of a single exhibition game, is it not fair to suggest that Reimer showed at the ACC on Saturday night that he is not quite ready to be shuffled off to the hockey dust bin just yet?

Sure, he was beat up high on Buffalo’s first goal.  (Though someone please tell me who are all these NHL goaltenders that don’t give up the majority of their goals up high?  Almost everyone plays the same in the current era; you know, take away the bottom of the net, drop down the moment a guy is about to shoot.  Of course goalies like Reimer are going to give up goals up high…)  And the second Sabre marker was a bit peculiar, and should not have gone in.  That was on Reimer, yes, though there was a Sabre crashing the crease a bit as I recall. 

But that’s not unlike Reimer.  He sometimes gives up either an early goal, or a bit of a softie.  Then, more often than not over the past three seasons (at least when he’s healthy) he battles, grinds, keeps the Leafs in the game and on more than a few occasions he gives his club a very good chance to win. (Let’s not harp on the Boston playoff game.  I will always maintain that was a team letdown.  Sure, you’d love your goalie to make every save at the end.  But if we score in a wide-open empty net, we’re not even having that conversation…)

So what did he end up with Saturday night, albeit against a lot of guys named Joe—close to 40 saves?  That included a game-saver on a clear cut breakaway with almost no time left on the clock in regulation, and a bit of an all-around goaltending display in the subsequent never-ending shootout, where he made just about every kind of breakaway save possible.

So am I suggesting Reimer should be number-one, that he has earned the right to be Carlyle’s go-to guy?  Hardly.  It was one game, a (virtually) meaningless exhibition game.  And Reimer was not perfect against an under-manned Buffalo side. Bernier showed some of his skills Sunday night in the return match at the ACC, as well as his fighting skills. He will get more opportunities this pre-season and Reimer will no doubt get more ice time as well before opening night on October 1.

I guess I’m just saying that, for what it’s worth, Reimer showed me something.  And it is essentially what he has always shown here—guts, a compete level that I think is admirable, and a fair bit of skill to boot.

Many wrote to me over the summer saying, "don’t worry Michael, Reimer will fight back and compete".  I never doubted that.  That has never been my point in this entire Bernier-arriving-on-the-scene scenario.  I did not question Reimer’s mental toughness or any of that.  (I also don't doubt that he was ticked off, and rightly so, after doing everything he could to claim the top job here. How could you not feel somewhat disheartened?) I just wanted to be sure that it was in fact a level playing field, and not a pre-determined outcome.  Because if it isn’t a fair fight, then I’d rather, as I’ve said here before, see him moved to an organization that will appreciate what he brings to a team, on and off the ice.

For now, I’ll wait and see, and hope that when he falters (and that will surely happen), he gets the same chance to rebound that the newer Leaf does.

And if they can somehow live happily ever after, I’ll take it.


Leaf fans will no doubt say that the brawl after Buffalo third goal (triggered by the DeVane-Tropp mismatch) will help bring the Leafs together, that it was good to see them standing up for one another.  That may well be true. Yet I wonder if the same people who think that it was wrong for Buffalo tough guy John Scott to go after Phil Kessel think it was fine for DeVane to fight with the much smaller Tropp?


I'm all for tough, physical hockey. I've discussed that here many times before.  I mean real toughness- hard, clean hits, players who are hard on the puck in the corners and in front of the net, who fight for every inch of the ice.  Fighting, however, can be an altogether different matter.

We'll never get rid of what I'll call the phoney fights if fans and the TV commentators react the way they did during the brawl.  It was, based on that reaction, the most exciting part of the evening, which for me is kind of sad.  I guess it has always been thus, and always will be. We just can't shake that old hockey mentality- and it seems most fans don't want to, nor does the traditional hockey establishment.

But isn't it inconsistent that on the one hand we are upset when players get hurt, we complain about concussions ending guys' careers and talk endlessly about how hockey has to do something about all that, yet we applaud what we saw Monday night.  We spent the summer of 2012 talking about how sad it was that three ex-hockey enforcers died suddenly under tragic circumstances.  Yet we stand and cheer for this?

How long will Tropp be out?  No one cares, it seems, since people got to see fights fuelled by what-  players trying to impress their coaches?


I mentioned above that Ashton caught my eye Saturday night.  Well he did again on Sunday, obviously, for a variety of reasons.  Two more points, involved in some battles.  Is it enough to convince Carlyle he belongs here over, say, Mason Raymond?


  1. Hey, did you notice that one of the goals against Bernier was glove-hand high?!

    Horror of horrors... does he have problems like Reimer... Funny, didn't hear any media pundits commenting on the goal!

    One thing that would show me it is really an equal competition opportunity would be for the Leafs to extend Reimer at 2.9 M... then the contracts would overlap at the same rate for next year... may the best man win!

    Don't think it'll happen, though!

    Hope James finds all the motivation he needs to excel and overcome the obstacles in his path... I also hope Bernier plays just as well... Sawchuk and Bower, yet younger!

    There appear to be many unresolved issues pertaining to the final roster... Ashton is doing his best to impress, but wish he hadn't slashed McLaren (breaking the pinkie) to potentially create a spot for himself.

    Hoping Tropp will be okay... seemed like a mismatch, even if he seemed 'game to go' - it didn't look good for him hitting the ice... sure looked like the 70's there for a bit. Part of why the pre-season is such a weird animal.

    1. I know the commentators said that Tropp "wanted to go" but what was he going to do- skate away like Kessel? He's trying to make the team. He had little choice, sadly. The guy had no real interest in fighting. He had just scored a goal to make it a one-goal game. Why would he fight then and break the Sabres momentum? (Those questions aren't for you, InTimeFor62- I'm just wondering how objective observers would see the chain of events...)

      Ashton is trying to impress, for sure. Maybe with Clarkson possibly suspended, he'll be here?

      Yes, I saw the goals against Bernier. I think he'll be very good, but you know my feelings regarding the whole situation. Thanks InTimeFor62.

    2. What situation? We have two good goalies under $5 mil....lets go win some games and claim Stanley once again. If two millionaire atheletes can’t wrap their heads around that, then What? Its a team sport, we are still rebuilding and getting close to competing once again. I know it’s been awhile, but lets gel as a team and work as a team.
      I like Ashton and have met his father who was a warrior of a hockey player. I hope he sticks and give our young players a chance to gel with the big club. Too bad the cap is making it hard for teams to be the best that they can be. It might be nice to have a few more million to work with but we don’t. adios Mr. Raymond as good a fit as he may be.
      Thanks for the great topic and I hope the suspensions don’t handcuff us on winning early in the season. It’s important, as it is any year, to get a fast start and win early and often. thanks VLM for listening.

    3. I appreciate hearing from you, Steve. If these two young netminders can truly work together (and if management really believes in both of them) yes, that would be great to see.

      I remember Ashton's dad as an NHL player as well. The young man is showing some jump and I sense Carlyle likes what he has seen so far at camp and in a lot of the exhibition games. Lots of promise with some of these young guys. Thanks Steve- stay in touch!

  2. "Yet I wonder if the same people who think that it was wrong for Buffalo tough guy John Scott to go after Phil Kessel think it was fine for DeVane to fight with the much smaller Tropp."

    My take on things: Devane is a fighter in the mold of Colton Orr. He is an offensive fighter. He is mean and he punches to do damage. That's Devane's style. His punching power makes him dangerous.

    Earlier in the game Devane was challenging Scott. Even a close loss would enhance Devane's reputation, so he had a lot to gain. The goals and assist in preseason, plus good showing against the giant could cement his future as a Leafs enforcer.

    Scott was not interested in Devane, because he was preoccupied with some verbal battle with Kessel.

    For some reaso,n Corey Tropp challenged Devane. I don't think Tropp realized who Devane was. Tropp grabs and actually throws the first punch. You can see it really well in this video at about the 1:20 mark:

    Tropp gets hurt by Devane and at this point, I think Scott is angry, partly at himself for not fighting Devane earlier and also because that same enforcer has now injured a team mate.

    Scott then decides to take it out on Kessel, his partner form the verbal battle earlier in the game, rather than wait for Devane to come out of the penalty box.

    1. Tropp may have thrown the first punch, but he did not initiate things, DP. Why would he? That would make no sense, given the game circumstances. Devane took advantage of a guy nowhere near his weight class. Not fair - or impressive- to me, at least.

    2. I think Tropp does initiate things. He is leaning on Devane, jousting, then pulling Devane's sweater. You wouldn't do that with Colton Orr.

      I think Tropp just got excited from scoring a goal and let his emotions run away with him by challenging Devane to a fight.

      I also think he knew what he was doing.

      Tropp has a history of fighting and has often challenged pure fighters and and fought bigger men. He isn't Phill Kessel. In the 2010/11 season in the AHL, Tropp had 9 fights. Tropp has fought Zac Rinaldo, Tom Sesitio (6'4"), Brandon Mashinter (6'3") and Troy Bodie (6'5").

      I think Tropp just picked the wrong guy in the up and coming Devane, who was considered the toughest guy in the OHL for years. People in the OHL were a bit scared of Devane and would leave him alone. I think Devane has the potential to be a top 10-15 fighter in the NHL. Tropp should have left him alone too

      Devane can't back down, because he is trying to win a job..for now and for the future. Even just a few games to start the NHL regular season will drastically affect his future and his finances for this year. His NHL salary is almost 10 times more than his AHL salary.

      I think this is just a case of a guy initiating a fight with a guy above his class.

  3. Too me it looked like Tropp actually started the fight with Devane. Now obviously, I'm not on the ice so I don't know what is being said maybe Devane instigated it that way but to me it looked like he(Tropp) started that one.

    This whole situation tonight is exactly why I don't like pure fighters in the game of hockey. Scott has but one purpose and that is to fight, I don't care how you dress it up, how you want to sugar coat it, he does nothing but fight. He has no redeemable qualities as a hockey player (much the same as our two resident goons). If you look back at most of the major incidents in the last 25 years I have been watching the game seriously these are the guys who do all the damage. Far from protecting players and calming things down, they are responsible for almost all of the carnage that has taken place. When Scott goes over the boards after a lop sided fight he is not going out to score the tying goal he is going out to start a fight pure and simple.

    As for Clarkson, what a stupid, stupid move. He is now going to miss the first 12% of the season over some ridiculous play. There was no need for him to jump the boards, none at all. By the time he got off the bench the replay clearly shows that Ashton already had Scott on the ground with two linesman on them. This was just a brain dead move. The Maple Leafs are not a deep enough team that they can afford to have one of their so called top six guys not playing. This could spell big trouble for them. We've seen over the last couple of years how a bad start can sink a team. Just mind numbingly stupid. I have to be honest and say so far Clarkson has not impressed me at all. Hopefully, he can get it turned around soon.

    As for Bernier, Reimer I've made myself clear over the summer. Bernier is the guy for the reasons you stated Michael and anyone who thinks Reimer is going to get a fair shake is dreaming. The job is Bernier's to loose no matter how good Reimer plays.

    1. Historically I have not been opposed to fighting at the NHL level, Willbur. That said, the kind of senseless goon-like brawling of the '70s made no sense to me, nor does this modern-day thuggery that you refer to. For me, that's not what tough hockey s really about. (I've offered my definition, and the type of players who come to mind in that regard, here before.)

      You know my views on how management feels about Reimer. Thanks Willbur.

  4. To touch on the goalie situation, I suppose that it comes down to your own perspective. Mine is that Reimer has proven himself and is a number one goalie, and therefore the starting job is his unless he proves otherwise. Leafs management has made it abundantly clear, with the overtures toward Luongo last year and then with the trade for Bernier, that they disagree. It's unfortunate in my view, but I do believe that Bernier is going to be given every chance to be the starter, and all things being equal, he will get the nod.

    It seems sad that all that can be discussed today is the events at the end of last night's game, but that's reality. It does in fact have a profound effect on the start of the Leafs season, seeing as they will be without Clarkson, hopefully won't be without Kessel, and now need to fit another player under the cap room they have left (for ten games worth at least). I really wish they would have been smarter than that. I didn't see last night's game, except for all the clips of the brawl, although I did see the Saturday night game. You could see it coming then. Kaleta and Ott did what they do, we know what they are, and they helped build up the tension. I guess in the end I'd like to see the Leafs smarter than that.

    I have never had a problem with fighting in hockey in the right circumstances, Ashton's pummelling of Ott Saturday would be a perfect example of that. Players policing themselves, plain and simple. I do have a problem with the staged fights at the drop of the puck. Orr and McLaren obviously fit in that category, and to me it's just silly. It adds nothing to the game, it does not give the team a "boost". For all the fans who would argue that it brings the crowd to its feet, all I can say is I have attended plenty a game where no fights broke out, and it would appear as though out of sight, out of mind takes hold. The fans still enjoyed the game and seemingly never noticed that there was no fighting. All that besides the obvious, it's always seemed to me such a waste of time for anyone who sits through a three hour hockey game hoping for that ten or twenty seconds of fighting on average, when they could just as well attend a boxing match or MMA fight.

    Okay, I've mentioned our own face punchers on the Leafs roster, but I will at least give them credit for adhering to the unwritten code of conduct, in that they seek out other fighters and would never continue the fight once they see their opponent is hurt. Hell, even Kessel knew to let up once he saw Flynn was hurt last night. And despite their limited talent, they do in fact try to play hockey for a few minutes on the ice. John Scott, I have to say, he is in the worst category. He is so obviously devoid of hockey talent it's embarrassing. He reminds me of Peter Worrell. I got a chance to see him up close at a game once, and shook my head in disbelief from the stands. Imagine me of all people, actually knowing that I can skate and stickhandle and body check better than this guy who's playing in the NHL! But I go after Phil Kessel. That's beyond 70s goonery, that's straight out of Slap Shot. As much as it was stupid for Clarkson to leave the bench, at what point do you draw the line? Let's say the game is in Buffalo next time and regardless of Carlyle's miscalculations, Buffalo does put Scott out there, along with Kaleta and Ott on the last line change, and the Leafs have Kessel out there with say, Bozak, Lupul, Gardiner, and Gunnarsson. And Buffalo does in fact just "jump" them all. Do you sit on the bench and watch as these goons smash your scoring line onto the ice? At what point does the bench clearing band actually need an exception? I think last night came dangerously close to that.

    1. Your last paragraph is balanced and thought-provoking. Are there/should there be exceptions to the "leaving the bench" rule?

      I cannot argue about or defend Scott. I just think Devane did his own version of what Scott tried to do, and in a sense, that catalyzed Buffalo's "response" and the subsequent silliness.

      In the end, we all interpret behaviours in our own way. I see lots of blame to go around and tend to draw the same conclusion as you, Pete, when it comes to this notion that these brawls bring teams together. Where, exactly, is concrete evidence in hockey history of that? Because there are plenty of occasions when players and teams act this way, and they are, in the end, awful teams.

      Thanks Pete, I appreciate your input on a sensitive subject.

    2. I have to admit I was not ready for what happened last night. I'm not sure what happened during the game that caused the fight with Devane in the first place but if Scott was upset about it why would he not challenge Devane? It just seems logical to me and certainly more fair. That may have been the end of it. Instead it seems to be more like "You hurt my little brother so now I'll hurt yours.' The result was simply a lot of players dragged into a fight they didn't want. Unfortunately, this could go on for a while with the most innocent of players being hurt on both sides. C.N.

    3. Well said, C.N.- thanks for chiming in today.

  5. I was at the game last night - my impressions:

    A rule of hiking and hockey: never poke a sleeping bear.Tropp poked the bear. Deliberately. Big mistake, as it turned out. Devane did what had to be done, by hockey "rules". But he took no particular joy in it. I lay respsonsiblity for that one on Tropp.

    Buffalo coach Ron Rolston is the one who should be suspended. You can't blame the soldier for following the general's orders.

    Having said that, why does Buffalo have so many cheap-shot players? Ott, Kaleta, Scott...

    Definitely a bad decision by Clarkson - he hasn't shown much so far, has he? Anyone else starting to get a queasy feeling?

    Bernier made some great stops, particularly when chaos reigned in front of the net, but got beat over his shoulder on a shot he should have stopped. He leaves a lot of room there when shooters come in from the right - scary. But he does hold on to pucks. On Saturday, Reimer made some brilliant stops, particularly in the shoot-out, but dropped the puck a couple of times and gave up that soft first goal we've come to expect. I'm happy with our two goalies, for the most part, and think they'll give us a chance to win most games. But I don't think one has outshone the other yet.

    Rielly looked very poised out there - very difficult to imagine he won't get a look for the start of the season. If anything, it looked like he could outskate Gardiner in joining the rush and then getting back to the point. Colborne was slo-mo Joe at the start of the game, but picked it up and warrants a stay with the big squad, I'd say. I liked MacWilliam, but I see he's been sent down. Devane looks effective. I also liked Carter Ashton's play, and Bodie isn't afraid to get in there and muck it up. From the various injuries we've already got, and suspensions coming up, I won't be surprised if they stay for a while.

    The most noticeable thing for me is a change in the Leafs' team mind set. This is clearly a team that intends to be a factor in the playoffs. It's been a while since I've felt that team-wide, and I think it reflects on the success of Carlyle's approach.

    Tuesday should be interesting.

    1. Thanks as always for your observations, Gerund O'. Lots of young players looking to stay with the Leafs. Goaltending shows promise, no doubt.

      As for the Devane/Tropp thing, I guess i'm in a minority of one on this one. I just don't pin all this on the Sabres. Far from it. But I won't debate the point here.

    2. I checked the Sabres' site for their take on things.
      They felt that Devane went too far with Tropp - he could've ended it earlier in what was clearly a mismatch. Scott said he would've started up with whoever was opposite him - it was Carlyle's choice that Kessel was there. But he understood TO's response after the fact. Rolston said he'd been putting the Scott line out all night and Carlyle had the last change - it wasn't up to him to decide who would line up against Scott.
      No one seemed overly concerned - as Ott said "it's hockey".

  6. Good colum from Damien Cox today:

    "Toronto Maple Leafs-Sabres brawl: Pin blame on Buffalo coach Ron Rolston: Cox"

    "...Rolston, after seeing Corey Tropp decide to start a fight with apprenticing Leaf tough guy Jamie Devane and end up groggy and beaten up for his efforts, responded as though it was Devane who had attacked his player and sent out the aforementioned Scott, who for years now has taken up NHL roster spots because he is 6-foot-8 and a fighter of moderate ability.

    It was the classic tap on the shoulder, the “and-don’t-dance” wordless missive from the coach.

    Rolston wanted revenge, so he sent out Scott. Leaf coach Randy Carlyle didn’t want any part of it, so he sent out his best forwards, believing the “code” — enforcers aren’t supposed to go after non-combatants — would defuse the situation...

    ...If Rolston hadn’t sent out Scott, nothing would likely have happened. Or perhaps Scott, in the way it’s supposed to work, would have challenged Devane after he left the penalty box.

    1. Sorry DP, I'm not changing my mind on this one, regardless of what a columnist says. Too easy to see this one with Leaf-coloured glasses. Lots of blame to go around.

    2. Well, you can't blame me for trying...persistence has been my mode of operation for a long time and in most cases it works well.

      I'm quite sure that there have been times in my life when I have succeeded by nothing other than more persistence than the other guy. I'm not going to change my stripes at this old age.

  7. Another great article from you Michael! Always great to hear your opinions. Always aprpeciated! I completely agree with everything you said. The NHL really has to stop tiptoeing this fighting issue. Either they have to embrace it and admit hockey is a violent sport where you're likely to become really hurt. Give players full warning what they're signing up for or remove fighting altogether. These stupid rules like keeping helmets on, etc are getting to be ridiculous. There really shouldn't be any leeway. It should just become one way or the other.

    As for Ashton you bring up a really good point! My only issue is how do the Leafs fit him (or Raymond) while finding space for Franson? There just isn't any space. Franson is beginning to look promising and I really want to see how him and Gardiner do over an entire season together. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the good words, Sasko- my guess is Franson will sign (at some point) but I don't like how this has transpired.

      With regard to Ashton and other promising young Leafs, maybe injuries (and now, a suspension) will make some room through the course of the season. (Though I don't know enough about the cap to understand how they all would 'fit' once/if Franson is indeed signed. ) Thanks Sasko!

  8. With respect to the goalie scenario, both have looked good in pre-season. However, that shootout in Buffalo just confirmed to me that Reimer has the competitive edge, and has shown he is ready to start the season as THE #1 guy. As much as the Leafs may like Bernier, I just have this sense that Reimer is not going to falter and give Bernier a chance to take his job.

    For the moment, put aside whatever reasons why the Leafs may have acquired Bernier, and just look at performance in camp and pre-season only. Both have played well. Although the two play different styles, both have been effective. Certainly I like Bernier's calm approach in net and his puck handling skills are a plus. Nonetheless, Reimer in my opinion has the edge. Barring injury, or a really bad game, I just don't see Reimer giving that #1 job up.

    Now, back to that nonsense fighting last night. I tend to agree with others in that Tropp entered that fight with Devane of his own choice. He may have done so to try and prove his toughness, and wanting to make the team, but it was his own decision. Devane is a bit bigger, but he certainly isn't out of his weight class, albeit not the same experience level.

    Two unfortunate things in that Devane-Tropp fight, led to the mayhem which was triggered by Scott. Devane caught Tropp wilh a solid blow to his face which essentially KO'ed Tropp. Devane turned away at that point, and the linesman were about to step in and protect Tropp. Unfortunately he went down fast, and in doing so banged his head on the ice. If he wasn't concussed from the punch itself, the head hitting the ice surely did.

    Putting Scott on the ice immediately afterwards was like un-leashing a pitbull. WHY in the world Carlyle had Kessel out there is beyond me. Make a line change, and get someone out there who can fend off the guy. Leaving Kessel and Bozak out there is not defusing the situation. It's like wrapping a filet in bacon to give to the pitbull. I think Carlyle admits now he may a mistake.

    The rest was nonsense, and sadly Clarkson will pay the price with a 10-game suspension.

    One last comment..... What the hell is Bernier coming out of his net to fight Miller for??? What will that accomplish/prove?? If Bernier thought that would impress Carlyle and the Leafs, I'm disappointed. Regardless of his reasons, it lacked logic and maturity. I suppose now he won't complain about his tender knee (due to new equipment), but rather his tender hand from trying to hit Miller's head.

    1. I understand all the points people have raised here about Tropp- I just don't understand why he would be looking to do anything other than push Devane away. (We can say he "started" the fight- I can't conceive he really wanted to go with Devane...)

      Leaf fans would not have liked it if the same thing had happened going the other way, and a young player was out indefinitely as a result. Again, I'm not going to debate the point. People can see this how they choose.

      I don't know how I feel about Bernier coming out of the net. I know people get all pumped up about the Potvin/Hextall fight years ago, and Vernon/Roy were part of the Detroit/Colorado battles. This seemed, well, like a guy trying to impress, as you point out, Don. I don't want to criticize Bernier because the hockey culture is such that those things seem to be encouraged. That's another topic I should just let go! Thanks Don.

    2. "I understand all the points people have raised here about Tropp- I just don't understand why he would be looking to do anything other than push Devane away. (We can say he "started" the fight- I can't conceive he really wanted to go with Devane...)"

      I think you are trying to say that something could not have happened because it's not logical.

      Well, rather than argue what's logical I will just show you some video of Corey Tropp not being logical. It's what he does. He throws punches against against bigger tougher guys, and sometimes he even wins:

    3. I hear you, DP. I just feel that sometimes (and you know I always respect your views), Leaf supporters have a biased perspective on events. See Jim's comments below for his take on what happened.

  9. Michael,

    A very interesting Sunday night game to say the least. People can probably stop saying that nothing interesting happens in the preseason, wake me when the regular games start up. I had a very curious day today, hearing how wrong it was for Scott to go after someone other than a goon. In Toronto, it is apparently ok for the Leafs to bring a gun to a knife fight, but heavens to Betsy if someone else does it to us. I don't recall any uproar here when McLaren fought with Josh Georges last season. Jon Scott went after Kessel, big deal. He is a goon, he's not paid to score goals. He was going to fight someone in that situation. Carlyle had last change and made his bed, so to speak. He could have put that Bodie goon over the boards, the two goons fight each other, end of story. The fact that Toronto is the most goon happy organization in the League seems lost on most people today.

    It was nice to see Kessel fighting, as well as that Bernier fellow. No big loss if either of them breaks a hand, or a Sabre breaks their skulls. Completely replaceable commodities those 40 goal scorers, and starting goalies in the NHL. I had little respect for Carlyle's intelligence after the comment last year about concussions being influenced by helmets, and their propensity to increase skull temperature. Today, I have zero respect for him. I honestly believe that if he could dress 20 fighters a night, he would. It is time that Randy and the people who think like he does, retire from hockey. Clarkson is lost for the mandatory ten games to start the season, Kessel may be suspended for slashing and spearing Scott. Clarkson can just claim that his helmet made him do it, or whatever. Its not like Phil can claim to be a pacifist, he did pummel that Sabre after Scott tried to maim him. Phil did exactly what Scott tried to do, fight someone you think you can beat.

    So the Leafs signed Mason Raymond today, to a very minor sum of a contract. They are well and truly screwed when it comes to re-signing Franson, in my mind. The only move I see is to try and trade J.M. Liles. I don't see anyone else on the roster that I would let go, while getting the cap relief that they desperately need.

    1. I hear your frustration, Jim. The "helmet made him do it" comment made my night, though. Thanks.

  10. According to everything I read today about last night Tropp for some reason actually asked Devane to fight. That fight was started by him, probably because he was looking to impress his coach. Bad decision by him for sure.

  11. I can't say I envy the life of a fighter and I imagine they have a lot of players yapping at their heels constantly wanting to fight. I can understand them finally saying " Okay, that's it for you!" What I don't understand is their lack of restraint when fighting with a smaller or inexperienced player that just wants to prove himself. These fellows control the fight for the most part, they know they're better, bigger and more experienced so why go for the knock-out. I recall a fight last year involving McLaren and a young player that ended with the player out-cold and bleeding on the ice and it wasn't necessary. I also saw a fight early in preseason where the enforcer clearly controlled his punches and barely touched the guy. It looked real, everyone was happy and showed a lot of character. I can respect that.

    1. Excellent post, Anon. I well remember the McLaren fight you cite- and agree with your perspective. If there really is a "fighter's code" then surely what McLaren and Devane were part of doesn't meet the so-called standard of expectations. You raise a good example this pre-season of an enforcer who pulled his punches because of the circumstances. Thanks Anon.

    2. Thankyou right back. I only wish I could remember the name of the fighter I spoke about. I must be getting old! Wonderful articles, Michael. We appreciate it. C.N.

  12. Hi Michael! I really enjoyed the discussion on Hotstove this morning. I wanted to refer back to the weekend for a moment. We've all seen brawls before and will see them again ( hot tempers and adrenaline will do that) but what most bothered me about this incident was the coldness of it all. I'm sure the players felt it and would be a lot more in-tuned than a coach .
    I'm also in a position, being the parent of sensitive sons (with red hair!) , to understand Kessel's reaction and I can't find it in myself to blame him for it. There's something very menacing about a player that politely says " Sorry about this,Phil, but...."
    However, I can't agree that the league is right in not suspending Kessel for regular season games. Other players need to feel things are fair for everyone. I think also it would have served Kessel better in the long run. When issues are taken care of in a way that's fair, we move on- it's done. I'm afraid the league missed an opportunity to finish this now. C.N.

    1. For me, personally, C.N., there is an inherent unfairness in the whole scenario. Yes, emotions take over and I get that, having played sports at a reasonably competitive level in my younger years and being around all kinds of sports over 50+ years.

      That said, I didn't like how Devane went too far with Tropp; I didn't like Scott going after Kessel; I didn't like Kessel swinging his stick dangerously at a defenceless guy; I didn't like Carlyle lack of foresight. I could g on...

      Lots of blame to go around- on all sides of the coin- including the NHL, who pretends they care about unnecessary violence but encourage fighting. Thanks C.N.

  13. Michael, just watched this clip of Nonis speaking last night, and he spoke a fair bit about what his intentions were with respect to the Leafs goaltending situation, and the thoughts behind bringing in Bernier.

    I'm not sure it sways your opinion either way, but I thought he sounded very genuine. I still think Reimer proves (yet again) he is that #1 guy.

    1. I'm still a bit from Missouri on this one, Don (TML_fan) but let's see how things unfold. Actions will speak louder than words, as always. Thanks for the link.