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Major U.S. media outlet picks up on Vintage Leaf’s call for an end to the shootout; and 10 questions we’re asking about how these young, eager Leafs will handle adversity next season

You may recall that this past Sunday I posted a column, calling for the NHL to put an end to the shootout.

As I wrote the piece, I felt I may be alone on the subject, and quite possibly out of touch. Regardless, I am not only tired of the shootout, but of regular-season overtime as well.

In any event, one day later, lo and behold a major U.S. newspaper, the Detroit News, apparently wrote a piece calling for much the same thing, at least with regards to terminating the shootout. I haven’t read their perspective yet, but my long-time friend Gene gave me a heads up last night that the Detroit paper had put their stake in the ground as well on the subject—one day after I posted my piece.

I really do hope the league will look at the issue, but I can’t see them going back, unfortunately.

 As we enjoy the late season Leaf resurgence, we all recognize that this could be a mirage, but at the same time the Leafs under Burke are at least putting some pieces together.

How can we not like the Bozak, Kulemin, Kessel trio, or the apparent emergence of young Gustavsson? He is a competent NHL rookie goalie, to go with a Cup-winner in Giggy. For that matter, though we have given up more goals than just about any team in the NHL save Edmonton, the Leafs have developed a defense that may well be not bad come October. Gunnarsson and Phaneuf will be the young leaders on the back end.

But there are a lot of questions remaining—questions that can only really be answered as the 2010-’11 season unfolds:

• Can Giguerre ever be goalie he was a few years ago? If not, can he at least be a consistent goalie who keeps the Leafs in games—and occasionally steals a game?

• Will Gustavsson take that next step and become a solid, number one, NHL goalie?

• Will Kessel be able to avoid the kind of lengthy slump that, this season, came at a time when the Leafs still had hopes of a playoff berth?

• Will Kulemin continue to track as well as he has this season? And now that the fans’ expectations will be that much higher, how will he respond when he hits his first slump as a highly-paid “star”?

• Can the team continue its improvement in the critically-important penalty-killing area when it really matters come next season?

• Will Beauchemin rebound to have the kind of season we were expecting this year?

• Will Schenn become an elite-level, top four defenseman, or will he settle in as just another decent NHL blueliner?

• Can Komisarek come back healthy and play effectively within his limitations?

• What if the Leafs get hit by the kind of injury bug that has felled teams like Edmonton this season? Will they have the depth to endure?

• Will Stalberg, Hanson and Caputi take the next step in their development and become solid “bottom six” NHL forwards, or will the Leafs still be looking to plug holes and audition people for both the “top six” and “bottom six” forward positions twelve months from now?

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