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The Leaf roller coaster continues

I wasn’t quite sure how to “feel” on the heels of the 5-4 shoot-out loss against the visiting Red Wings on Saturday night.  I mean, considering the Leafs trailed 3-1 after the first period against a traditionally strong opponent—and a club that has been particularly good on the road so far this season—things did not look especially rosy at that point.  But the Leafs were full measure for an exciting comeback that had them in the lead 4-3 heading into the dying minutes of the contest.

That in the end they walked out with a point could be a positive, all things considered.

On the other hand, that they could not maintain a lead when it counted, and then could not close the deal in extra time, meant a valuable lost point. While hardly a fatal condition, it all seems wrapped up in the somewhat inexplicably inconsistent play that has been the Leaf season thus far.

A few observations from Saturday night, for a team that is now 18-16-4 on the season (good for 40 points in 38 games, though nowhere near enough, for my liking, wins in “regulation”):


  • I’m starting to get annoyed with James Reimer being pulled as often as he has been.  Now, his detractors can well say, “well, he’s getting pulled because he has played lousy in those games”.  And in truth, Bernier has inevitably stepped in in those games (like Saturday night against Detroit, and earlier this season against Ottawa) and got the Leafs points when they seemed headed for disaster.  It’s just that, if I’m Reimer, I’m wondering why it’s always me getting pulled and why I’m not being allowed, ever, to play through tough games. It is a team game after all, and while he struggled and was far from flawless against the Wings, his teammates let him down, too. I have to believe the guy is getting awfully frustrated with the yo-yo he’s on.  He’s not allowed to give up a bad goal, or have the occasional bad game, without getting yanked? Is Mike Keenan coaching this team?
  • We all love Morgan Rielly and his obvious skills.  While I do wish he was leading the Team Canada blueline right now, he’s here and is playing regular minutes and seems to be progressing nicely.  But I wonder why he was so far up ice (near his own blueline) when the puck had not even cleared the zone with the Leafs leading 4-3 in the third period.  It was a miscue (in my mind, anyway) that, in part,  led to the 4-4 Detroit marker.  For me, when you are a defenseman and your team is leading by a goal with less than 10 minutes to go in a game, you need to think safety and security first—not jumping up in the play to join the rush.  Did we need a fifth goal Saturday night, or did we need to protect a precious one-goal lead?  I’m not saying the goal was solely on him, simply making an observation that I assume the Leaf coaching staff will talk to him about.
  • Still on Rielly, the talented young man almost won it for the Leafs in overtime.  How many times now has he come so close to almost ending the game that way?  I have to believe it won’t be long before one of his offensive forays during those four-on-four situations is going to lead to an OT winner.
  • I liked the fact that David Clarkson took umbrage with Todd Bertuzzi’s move in the third period.  I’m referring to the moment when Bertuzzi, after the whistle, felt compelled to tuck the puck behind Bernier into the Toronto net.  Clarkson immediately went over to Bertuzzi (a player I cannot stand, for reasons I have expressed him on more than one occasion, and will likely be obvious to anyone who has followed the sport for more than a few years) to express his displeasure.  Bertuzzi should not even be in the league as far as I’m concerned, so you can imagine I had no issue with Clarkson reminding the Wing forward that he was, well, classless.
  • Phaneuf’s goal was a howitzer, eh?  I thought he had a pretty dominant game overall.  Beyond being a plus 2, he just seemed to bring his physical game, jumped into the play at mostly the right times and did yeomen’s work in his own zone.
  • Ex-Leaf Gustavsson has had a nice season as the Detroit back-up so far (.920 save percentage, 2.25 GAA) though he has struggled his last few games.  He was erratic against his former club, though two top-notch plays did stand out for me.  One was his save on Phaneuf in the second period, when it looked like the captain had a yawning cage. But Dion was denied his second of the game when Gustavsson dove back across the net and, with his stick in the air, deflected the shot away.  These things often seem like lucky saves to me, but that was a pretty athletic play. The other moment was in the shoot-out, when Mason Raymond tried coming in from the side with some speed.  Gustavsson slid out suddenly and poked the puck away with authority.  (It really did remind me, because of the TV angle, of a play in the ’67 finals between the Leafs and Montreal. A then young Yvan Cournoyer (pictured as a junior at right), one of the fastest things on skates, came flying in on a breakaway off the wing. But the venerable Johnny Bower came out and knocked the puck off Cournoyer’s stick to safety. It was the classic Bower poke-check, and so similar to what we saw on Saturday night.
  • Kessel picked up an assist, but generally speaking, the production of the van Riemsdyk/Kadri/Kessel unit has been modest of late.  It’s not necessarily a cause for concern, again, just what it obvious to all of us.  It’s clear that missing Bolland and Bozak for an extended period and the resultant line shuffling is a challenge for Carlyle.  The issue for me is not whether Kadri is a bona fide first-line NHL center (I don’t think he is right now) but simply that when you are missing two of your top three centers, eventually it’s difficult to be as good offensively as you would otherwise be. It’s just the reality of the situation.  The Leafs miss their centers and while others (like Holland) are doing some good things, it’s not the same.
  • If Lupul can continue to produce (he had some jump and nastiness in his game Saturday night) that could bode well for the next while.



There is still a lot I can’t make heads or tails out of with this squad, but they played an exciting game against an old rival.  If nothing else, it sets us up nicely for the Winter Classic game on January 1.  That said, there is plenty of work to do between now and them first.

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For those who may not yet have checked out my eBook, "The Maple Leafs of My Youth: what being a Leaf fan means to me, here are some links for how to download it.

27 comments:

  1. If I was Reimer I would demand a trade. If not taken seriously then it would maybe even be worth refusing to report for work. He is a legitimate number one NHL goalie but he is being treated like a third stringer who should consider himself lucky just to get to wear the Maple Leaf for a night. Drastic action like that wouldn't be seen by other teams as an attitude problem, since everyone who has any interest in him already knows his character, as well as the extreme mistreatment he is suffering at the hands of the Nonis/Carlyle circus. Bernier has given up weak goals before, but is always permitted to finish the game. As soon as Reimer slips up, even slightly, that's the end of his night. The reality of last night is that Reimer had nothing to do with the poor team play in the first period, and it is entirely likely that the renewed sense of urgency the team showed after the intermission would have been present with Reimer between the pipes as well.

    I would rather see Carlyle gone than Reimer, since I'm absolutely certain that trading Reimer will be regretted fairly quickly. But we know there's no chance of that happening as long as Nonis is calling the shots (or at least spinning a wheel to tell him what to do).

    I realize these comments are fairly inconsistent with any opinion I have expressed in the past, but I reached a breaking point last night. I'm still angry this evening as I type this. I have never been one to blame the coach when the players fail to perform on the ice, but Carlyle's foolishness with respect to the goalies is probably harming the team. I remember a team I played on where I split starts with the other goalie. A group of players felt that I was better, or at least had a better work ethic in practice, and whenever the other goalie played and surrendered a goal they would make derogatory comments about him to me. While it made me feel good to be appreciated, I was worried about the impact of the situation on overall team chemistry. We were just playing more or less for fun. When this is what you do for a living I would imagine the impact on interpersonal relationships would be exponentially more pronounced.

    I'll stop the angry rant for now; or at least hit the pause button, because I'm sure this issue will come up again and I'll have plenty more to say. But I would like to end on a positive note.

    Rielly is great to watch. My initial impression of the World Juniors decision was the same as yours, but the more I reflected I realized I would rather have him play significant minutes against men instead of taking a leadership role playing against boys. Your mild criticism underscores that point. He made a mistake last night and was punished for it. Making a similar mistake in Sweden may not have led to an adverse result, and perhaps may not have taught a lesson. Staying with the Leafs should benefit his long term development, and based on what we have already seen there is plenty to be excited about.

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    1. A quick comment on the Reimer/Bernier situation, Oliver. Some fellow Leaf fans will (perhaps understandably) say: "Who cares who plays, as long as we win. It's all about the team".

      That is fine, but only to a point. The reality is successful teams are built a certain way. There's a reason NFL teams don't have two number-one quarterbacks. There are uniquely crucial positions in some sports, and hockey goaltender is one of them. For a short time you can alternate, maybe, or if one guy is injured, sure. But if you have a netminder who is top-flight, a first-tier goalie, he needs to be the guy- full stop. He needs to play, and most importantly, needs to know that he absolutely is "the guy". Otherwise, you have chaos, and I will continue to say that is one of the huge team harmony issues still facing the Leafs. Once it became abundantly clear the two goalies were in fact pitted against each other (a few teams into the season), not one as a back-up supporting the other, there has been nothing but trouble here. (Yes, lots of other issues, of course, but from a team chemistry standpoint, this situation is plain awful.)

      No one wants to talk about it, and fans pretend it's OK. It isn't, regardless of what Nonis, Carlyle or players will claim. Everyone knows Bernier is the intended number-one, from Lewieke to Reimer. I wrote here a while ago, set Reimer free.

      Rielly is a tremendous young player, for sure. I still would prefer a less hastened development curve, but it is what it is. Thanks Oliver.

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  2. Well you hit it right on the head Michael. Last night just reinforced it for me, Bernier is the guy they want and the sooner they get rid of Riemer the better off it will be. I still say that when the Riemer trade goes down it will come to be viewed as one of the great bad trades in Leaf history. I just don't understand it but it is crystal clear now and I really can't talk about it anymore. It just pisses me off the whole thing from the original trade to Reimers treatment. This is a coach who will have run off three above average players in the last year and for what? Is the team any better than they were last year? I personally think they are worse. It would be one thing if Carlyle was right about these guys but it looks like he was completely wrong.

    Rielly is now the third best d man on the team behind Phanuef and Franson and maybe not even behind Franson. He is good enough to play and he deserves to be here period. You send Reilly down or to the world juniors and suffer a huge drop in talent. Neither Fraser or Ranger are as good as Rielly.

    I hope when Bozak comes back they don't break up the first line. Yes, they haven't produced as well as they have in the past but give them a chance to play and they will. Don't just break up the line, just let them get it going.

    Even having fairly low expectations for the Leafs this year, this has been a frustrating year. I think this team could be so much better but are being held back by Carlyle. It took me a while to sour on him but I finally have. The Leafs need to make a change, either Carlyle or one of the core guys before its too late.

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    1. It's difficult not to feel that something is off, Willbur. It just feels as though there is a disconnect somewhere. I don't mean guys don't get along, or aren't "playing hard". But the chemistry just feels off. Coaching, the goalie situation, leadership, I don't know but it doesn't feel right from the outside looking in. Thanks Willbur.

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    2. This sounds like the second opinion from someone who resists blaming a coach but has reached the end of the line with Carlyle (2 for 2 so far, I can't wait to hear what the others have to say!). Obviously extremely anecdotal evidence, made even more suspect by my own clear bias, but it kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

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    3. That is exactly what it is Oliver. When Carlyle was hired I remember a lot of people saying it was the wrong hire but I was on the fence. Elite coaches just like elite players grow and learn from past experiences so I was willing to give him a chance. I read an article published in Anaheim shortly before Carlyle was let go and word for word it just describes what is happening here. It was amazing, all the same complaints from lack of scoring to terrible defensive play to odd lineup choices. After watching this year I just can't get behind Carlyle anymore. He is not the solution and in fact is a major part of the problem.

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    4. Interesting. Do you have a link to that article?

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    5. I have to agree with everyone here. The goalie issue has caused concern right from the start. It would have been better to move James when Bernier was acquired. I wouldn't have liked it, and I'm sure his team-mates wouldn't have either, but things would have settled by now. Nonis and Carlyle have instead set up an ongoing drama which has effected the dressingroom, has fans choosing sides and would have eventually ruined Reimer's confidence. Actually, he has such a strong character they've just made him hopping mad. We already knew, with the Luongo drama, that this whole experiment was doomed to fail and this transparent attempt to pull the wool over our eyes has me boiling. Do they really think the majority of fans are that stupid? It's insulting. C.N.

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    6. Yes C.N., they do think we are all stupid. Leiweke making those comments and their subsequent phony talk made that abundantly clear. This has been a recipe for disaster from the get-go, though most fans wanted to believe it was all fine and pie in the sky. It wasn't- and isn't, even if things settle off and on temporarily. They've made their choice, deal Reimer and move on.

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    7. Sorry, leafdreamer. I remember it was a link thru either leafsnation or PPP. It went to a blogger in Anaheim who covers the ducks. It was kind of weird to see an article written 3 years earlier that could very easily have been written to describe the situation today.

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  3. Here comes the 'goalie controversy' we've all been waiting for.

    To be honest, I did not expect it to transpire despite my respect for your opinion which has been stated often enough that the 1a qnd 1b goalie tandem is unsustainable. In addition to the goalie controversy it's looking like we now have a coach controversy on our hands as well. The two are related insofar as it appears that there is a rift between Reimer and Carlyle as evidenced by Reimer's, well publicized by the CBC and beyond, rolling his eyes at Carlyle after having been benched after the first period vs. Detroit.

    In addition to this Reimer vs. Carlyle episode we have also witnessed the bitterness of MacArthur and Grabovski in the past and we know that Lupul was very unhappy with Carlyle in Anahaim. It is also becoming pretty clear that, despite being a fan-favourite, Jake Gardiner is not a favourite of the coach and we are left wondering about his fate with the club. There's frequent talk of Carlyle needing to get fired now even among the non-advanced-stats-obsessed fans who didn't hate him from the start. He's being described as inflexible and far too 'traditional' and he seems to appear to be quite mean in dealing with some of the players he doesn't like. He's being criticized for not letting players 'play to their strengths' and not recognizing so-to-say what he's got.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that the time has come for the management to decide whether they are going to continue to allow Carlyle to build his team or allow the team to continue to develop under a different coach.

    I must admit that I'm no longer 100 percent behind the coach like I used to be and that I'm a little worried about how far he will go with his 'program' and whether we stand to lose more of our 'valuable assets' over Carlyle's stubbornness. Interesting times ahead indeed.

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  4. Here comes the 'goalie controversy' we've all been waiting for.

    To be honest, I did not expect it to transpire despite my respect for your opinion which has been stated often enough that the 1a qnd 1b goalie tandem is unsustainable. In addition to the goalie controversy it's looking like we now have a coach controversy on our hands as well. The two are related insofar as it appears that there is a rift between Reimer and Carlyle as evidenced by Reimer's, well publicized by the CBC and beyond, rolling his eyes at Carlyle after having been benched after the first period vs. Detroit.

    In addition to this Reimer vs. Carlyle episode we have also witnessed the bitterness of MacArthur and Grabovski in the past and we know that Lupul was very unhappy with Carlyle in Anahaim. It is also becoming pretty clear that, despite being a fan-favourite, Jake Gardiner is not a favourite of the coach and we are left wondering about his fate with the club. There's frequent talk of Carlyle needing to get fired now even among the non-advanced-stats-obsessed fans who didn't hate him from the start. He's being described as inflexible and far too 'traditional' and he seems to appear to be quite mean in dealing with some of the players he doesn't like. He's being criticized for not letting players 'play to their strengths' and not recognizing so-to-say what he's got.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that the time has come for the management to decide whether they are going to continue to allow Carlyle to build his team or allow the team to continue to develop under a different coach.

    I must admit that I'm no longer 100 percent behind the coach like I used to be and that I'm a little worried about how far he will go with his 'program' and whether we stand to lose more of our 'valuable assets' over Carlyle's stubbornness. Interesting times ahead indeed.

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  5. That being said I would like to offer a different interpretation of Reimer's recent antics: I was very disappointed by his reaction to being pulled against the Wings for a number of reasons:

    1) only a few nights ago he went on a rant about how there's no excuses and how everyone has to step up and look themselves in the mirror and prepare better etc. etc. He is the one that let in 2-3 bad goals in one period and should take his own advice and accept that, if he were to come out unprepared and allow a bunch of bad goals, then he should take responsibility.

    2) Reimer got a chance to put his words into practice the game after his rant and he did well and he got the credit and he got to start the next game as well. What more can you ask for? He was given the opportunity to lead. It's ok to have a bad period. Sit the rest of the game out and come back next time. Was there really a need to make a big deal out of it? Whatever happened to supporting your team and the other guy in goal? Why not let Bernier and the rest of the team focus on the game and not have to watch Reimer rolling his eyes on the big screen?

    3) Even if Reimer was wronged, even if, none of the three were his fault and he was exposed by the bad defensive plays and 'couldn't have had them', still, he shouldn't let the whole country watch his response. He can ask to talk to Carlyle or talk to the captain or even say something in the dressing room. There's no excuse for letting everybody know that he's pissed and disrespectful of the coach.

    4) This amounts to 'demanding a trade' and that deflates the price the Leafs can ask for Reimer. He's putting the team at a disadvantage. And he's not doing himself any favours either - I don't think any of the GMs that are considering acquiring him are gonna be impressed either.

    I could go on. I'm really not happy with Reimer right now. It's not like he's Henrik Lundquist or Ryan Miller or a Martin Brodeur and has played 20 seasons of amazing hockey and has nothing to prove. Both him and Bernier are young, inexperienced goalies with everything to prove. He played well for one season. That's all. He (and his supporters) are acting like he's a proven elite goalie in this league. He is clearly not.

    Perhaps this is the inevitable result of Nonis's mistaken belief that having two good young goalies fighting for a stater's job can be a winning strategy and perhaps Reimer was 'set-up to fail'. But he's not doing himself or the team any favours by letting the bad-scenario script unfold. Perhaps it's asking too much, but if he's such a character guy, maybe an apology or an explanation is in order? Is that too much to ask? Am I being unfair?

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    1. I understand what you are saying with regard to Reimer and his reaction Saturday night, leafdreamer, and I always look forward to and respect your views on these things.

      I guess I just look at the same picture differently. It's been patently obvious (Lewieke, "we inherited the other guy"...) since the summer Bernier trade that Reimer was no longer going to be the top guy. Fine. But it's all pretense to suggest it's an even playing field or a fair competition. It only is to a point.

      Regardless of whether one accepts that, it's not like this is the first time Reimer has been pulled. So if he reacted "badly" (and I'm not convinced he did, despite CBC and Healy going on about it...he hardly pulled a Patrick Roy) or not as well as he could have, well, he's human. Name me the player who likes to be yanked in the middle of his work day in front of 20,000 people- and millions on television. His reaction, in my mind, given the circumstances and the history with Bernier, was completely understandable.

      Let's be honest here: everyone who talks about teamwork is talking about something very important. I write about it extensively in my professional life. But name me the player who, unless he is absolutely a borderline skill guy who is simply happy to be playing at whatever level he is at, is satisfied with sitting on the bench. Would Phil Kessel be a "team guy" if he played 10 minutes a night, was benched for his indifferent play regularly or some new sniper took over his power play time. Not a chance. He'd ask for a trade in a second, even though he's on a long-term contract and making a gazillion dollars. That's the way sports is, especially these days when players have options.

      So no, Reimer is not Roy, Hasek, Brodeur, etc. But he has played here for four seasons now and deserves, in my view, some kind of basic respect. Being "given" the next game after a really good performance Thursday should not be a favour to the guy. He earned it. And he earned the right to play through some tough goals. Was he the guy that let that player stand alone alone in front of his net, with nary a defenseman in the picture? In my view, did not deserve to be pulled right away by the coach. (Quick aside: I've often wondered, if a coach claims he is not pulling a goalie because of bad play but because of poor team play and he simply wants to shake the team up, why he doesn't make that obvious to everyone in the building by going up to the goalie and patting him on the back when he comes to the bench and speak with him right away. It would be so easy to do.)

      But the bottom line is this cannot work. Goalies are human, they have feelings. These guys have been pitted against each and it simply won't work. I've been saying it for months. Trade Reimer and get something good in return.

      I don't agree about GM's reactions to Reimer. if I'm a GM, I want a guy who wants to play and is ticked when his coach yanks him. You don't think Belfour was pissed all the time Mike Keenan yanked him? Dallas was happy to win a Cup with him.

      Again, I hear you and respect your view- I just see this very differently. But it's not something I will debate further. Everyone has their own opinion. I'm just stating mine.

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  6. I totally appreciate Leafdreamer's comments respecting Reimer and the particular 'eye rolling' incident following a couple 'bad' goals where Reimer did not benefit from good defensive coverage, then failed to make at least one stop of the two (and if he had, I don't think he would have been pulled). Hence Randy pulled the plug... and rightfully so, in that particular situation.

    What I will also note, based upon my own experiences in life, I almost always FINALLY react to a long-standing (pressure-building) frustration during an 'inopportune/imperfect scenario' that doesn't fully or properly 'justify' my reaction (if taken in isolation respecting the current situation).

    Reimer deserved not to get the hook (based on lack of defensive support) in 2 or 3 of the times he was previously pulled, even if there was legitimate reason to take him out of the Detroit game. Having lost the opportunity to win the net in a fair competition, I think James had set himself up to believe he was FINALLY getting a chance to 'hold the net' for a few games (after earning that right last season).

    Getting pulled without a chance to redeem himself AND holding a higher expectation and hope, James was probably devastated by the reality of a situation he had 'held together' admirably to this point. I can't judge him harshly, because I believe he is a young man who has not received the fair opportunity that has been an express concern from Michael since the acquisition of Bernier.

    I can't help but think that we merely observed a good man's breaking point (not that he won't recover and excel, merely that something of his loyalty to the Leafs, and likely that of his 'followers,' has probably been damaged as a result - -not to mention providing fodder for his detractors. It is not being a detractor to note James' weaknesses, but it seems that some go too far with that and fail to see his honour, integrity, work ethic, responsibility and 'compete' levels that make him a special player for many of us.

    Carlyle seems to have cleaned up his public persona/ media relations in a way that contributed to my increasing openness to him as a coach, however, the recent 24/7 interaction with Fraser and Ranger seemed direct, but far less than a cordial way to encourage the 2 defenseman (especially given the injuries for one player, and the 'history' of the other). It would appear that encouragement is not a strength for Randy... makes you wonder if Eakins may just be the kind of coach that could have gotten these guys to play for him... Randy seems to be losing the room in my estimation and I had hoped for better things with him... perhaps there is still time for him to 'turn it around' and improve upon such perceptions.

    We're all 'grasping at straws' with partial knowledge on the problems we hope to see improved leading to better results and a resolution of apparent or real controversies. I hope only for the best for ALL involved and that the logo we cheer would not be further sullied by what appears to be brewing...

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    1. You are so right when you talk about grasping at straws and 'partial knowledge". That is absolutely the case here. But there's not much else we can do, as fans, eh?

      Your own (and thank you for sharing that) expression of personal vulnerability (I hope you don't mind calling it that) is something many of us can relate to. At least I can. We try our best to be the 'team guy', but when we feel, over time, that we have been pushed to the wall, some of us finally react- or even erupt.

      Reimer has hardly "erupted", but I sense he has been pushed to close to his limit, and if so, (I'm not trying to reads his mind here, just guessing), I get it as much as anyone on the 'outside' can.

      VLM readers know what my solution has been for months. I haven't changed my view. There's no right or wrong here. Everyone cheers for the same team. But there are ways to work with players and show respect. I don't like the way the brass has handled this and the current situation will not end well. So make a deal, and everyone (including we fans who appreciate Reimer) will have to move on. Thanks InTimeFor62.

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    2. You have captured the essence and intent of what I was saying, Michael, and yes it is aptly called an 'expression of personal vulnerability' that I have shared. What feels like 'an eruption' from within has rarely even been noticed by the people I talk with 'after the fact' of the areas that concern me.

      So also is it the case with James who did not erupt, rather glowered at the injustice of the big picture (if not the specific circumstance), the difference, of course, being that I don't have cameras and media looking to create a controversy out of a natural (and limited) reaction (unlike Patrick Roy, for instance).

      James did not over-react, it's just that his reaction was 'captured for analysis' - creating a crisis that can only grow with over-analysis...

      Why do I provide these observations?

      Because some years ago, I learned a valuable lesson from a trusted, close confidante who has excelled in media relations for many years. I had been asked to give testimony in a capital crime trial and found that the media chose to quote me as saying the opposite of what I had testified on the stand and it 'created a story' for them.

      I could have easily proven their lie from the transcript of the trial, but I was counseled NOT to confront the lie unless I "wanted to BECOME the story".

      I would counsel James to accept his own reaction, OWN it (as I'm sure he will) and move on in the knowledge that there are parasites out there who would steal our life energy for their gain (at our loss). I hope he can keep his motivation high, despite those who would create a story for their own benefit (and certainly not the benefit of James or anyone who truly appreciates the Leaf franchise and hopes for the players to have a positive atmosphere in which they can excel).

      So with these observations, I return to the game (instead of the show about the game), even if I felt it helpful to counter the increasing and unhealthy media obsession with 'creating a story' and relying upon James' strengths of honour and integrity to 'answer to them' about their projections into a situation that is intensely personal and private for the young man. In defending his reaction, Reimer would only play into the trap that is set for someone like James... and, in the long run, he is the one who 'pays the most for the longest' while the media glibly moves on to exploit the next 'controversy' for their benefit...

      What ever happened to the fifth estate?

      Makes it ever harder to enjoy a pastime without all the exploitative intrusions, doesn't it?!

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  7. PS I'm most thankful to enjoy the opportunity to express 'discussion points' in this forum, where friends meet to make sense of it all. Given that the media can make such a big deal about such things, it's great to have a place to express a response to it all! Thanks, Michael!

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    1. You know how I feel. Providing this platform for thoughtful people has been my pleasure.

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  8. Reimer's response at the beginning of the year was exactly what I expected from him. He's an amazing competitor. He's been pulled from games where Bernier has been left in to continue to battle. He had a weak first period, I agree, but has prooved in the past he is capable of shutting the door when left in. He will not get that chance now. Anyone else but Reimer, I would have expected a 'Roy' reaction. I have the greatest respect for James. He will not lose my respect for showing for one moment that he is human. I don't believe showing his frustration was inappropriate. We'd think nothing of it if we saw a goalie smash his stick in frustration, yet we won't allow a look from James. The pressure and expectations we place on these young players is beyond belief. Even Jesus wasn't immune to showing his frustration and disappointment. C.N.

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  9. Michael, after defending Carlyle and Nonis for the most part, I have to say that the two of them have gone to a great deal of trouble to recreate the Luongo drama in Toronto. We've been pointing fingers at the team and individual players since the start of the season but seldom at the two who saw fit to put the Leafs in this untenable situation. After a great deal of thought and a viewing of some of the HBO footage, I have officially joined the dark side. Thanks, Michael. C.N.

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  10. It's getting messy in Leafland!
    As for Reimer: he didn't look sharp, he was back to flailing on his knees, and another goal against would have sunk us. I think it was the right move to pull him - as it turned out, we salvaged a point from what looked like it was going to be a long night. I'm not saying the rest of the team were playing particularly well (they weren't in the first period), and maybe James was the sacrificial lamb, but tyhe fact is they did play better for the rest of the game. Is it fair to Reimer? Just as fair as it is to Ranger and Fraser (or any player) to be healthy scratches. As we saw in the latest episode of 24/7, they were bluntly told they weren't playing well enough to help the team. If that's what the coach - any coach thinks - the player will be sitting. I believe that's what Carlyle thought of Reimer's play on Saturday.
    The bad news is that we can clearly see - in Reimer's reactions to goals against, in his post-game interviews, and yes, in his eye-rolling, that he's feeling the stress. He's no longer the positive team guy that he's been for his career with us. But I have to point out that neither is Bernier. Even he talks about coming to the rink not being fun these days. A few wins would help, for sure, but this brings me to my next point...
    I've mentioned a few times that I just feel something's wrong with this team, and it's difficult to put a finger on it. I know you agree Michael, as do others. Watching that last episode of 24/7, and watching how Carlyle is handling this team, it's clear to me that there's a disconnect between his methods and the players receptivity. To be berated like school children, to be told you suck, to be told the systems are good, the poor play is your responsibility and not the coaching staff's... The glazed, disinterested and even scornful expressions on the Leaf players in the dressing room say it all for me. Carlyle's old school, but it's a new day. This group and this coach are not a good mix.
    I've mentioned before we have three options: we either need players who are receptive to the coach's systems, or new systems that fit our current players, or a new coach. The kind of swoon we're in right now got Ron Wilson fired. If Nonis stands behind Carlyle, then it's option 1 or 2. Otherwise, it's glass half empty and a long season awaits.

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    1. To a large extent, what dysfunction is evident has been brought on by management. The GM built the team, so he gets the credit when things go well, along with the coach. When things go south, Nonis and Carlyle are, rightfully, on the hot seat. It's simple, as you note, Gerund- either the players aren't good enough, or we don't have the right coach. Things can change but time's a ticking...

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    2. I don't disagree that pulling Reimer may have been the right move on Saturday. What bugs me is even though his numbers are slightly better, he has a winning record and he is the incumbent he doesn't get the chance to play thru a bad period. Bernier hasn't been pulled once this year despite having a losing record. Reimer has no rope to work with while Bernier has enough slack to hang a bus from. The management told us it was going to be an even match to see who was better but that is a complete and utter fallacy. Leaf management has been trying to hand the number one job to Bernier since they traded for him. The fact that he hasn't been able to do it speaks volumes to me. About both Bernier and Reimer.

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  11. Hi Michael,

    Sure is a busy time of year, thanks for taking the time to put out some more wonderful Leaf thoughts.

    Since others are sharing, I thought perhaps I would as well. Those who know me, are aware of my tendency to make light of, or even playfully deride my friends. I am usually bad at hiding my true feelings on a matter, even when I try. Several years ago I was looking for work, and participated in a group interview. We were to be taking an aptitude test that was placed face down on the tables. My eagerness to get this over with prevailed, and I turned mine over to put my name and date on it. The nice HR lady in charge of this insulting test, chastised me for my impertinence. While turning the papers to their rightful position, I rolled my eyes, duly noted by those in charge. Needless to say, Jim did not get hired that day.

    No matter what the management team of the Maple Leafs decide to do with the goalies, I have little faith that they avoid screwing it up. You could rightfully say that starting the season this way was in itself an error. This group, like many others before it, can't seem to spell cat, if we spot them the c and the a. Grabbo and MacArthur, sure are doing a fine job of putting up points in the NHL. Apparently, the problem in Toronto was them. I'm pretty sure that they weren't, and getting guys in here that have more truculence, or heart, grit, whatever. Was a plan that has so far failed to work out, hello David Clarkson, yes, I mean you.

    It has been no secret since our coach was brought in, that I was not on board. I thought that Eakins was a coach that would be perfect. I still feel that way, our guy can go as far as I am concerned, and I won't miss him at all.

    Most of you have already guessed that I am not a sensitive person. It's true, I'm not. If the worst thing that ever happened to me in my athletic career was a missing pat on the back, it would have been a delight. The concern for Reimers feelings, puzzles me. He let in 3 goals on 12 shots against a team missing 7 regulars, in one period. If he didn't think he deserved to be pulled, make more saves sir. They need to get some points, winning in regulation 3 times since the start of November, is not good enough. There is no more rope to give these guys to figure it out, including Reimer, or the coach and GM.

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    1. While we look at the Reimer situation differently, you are absolutely consistent in the way you assess things, Jim. Right now (including on the heels of the game in New York Monday night) they are playing just well enough to lose.

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