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50 summertime opinions on the Leafs and other hockey/sports issues

Let’s face it.  We can always try to “create” some hockey and Maple Leaf news on occasion, but every once in a while, especially in the summertime, there just isn’t that much going on.  I don’t doubt that Burke & company are working feverishly to improve the team by whatever method they can.  But it’s a slow time. (Unless the Leafs are indeed trying to work a deal for Stamkos.  That would be anything but a slow news day...)

That said, last summer they made one of their best decisions in August, signing the relatively un-heralded Clarke MacArthur to a modest one-year contract.  He turned into one of their most consistent players during the 2010-’11 season.

In any event, taking advantage of one of the quietest days of the sporting calendar, here are some thoughts that I realize some (many?) may not agree with, but isn’t that part of the fun, after all?

In no particular order of importance:

  1. I’m most comfortable with where the Leafs are at on defense.  They should have at least eight guys who can play solidly at the NHL level, if they are given the right responsibilities and ice time—Schenn, Phaneuf, Aulie, Gunnarsson, Franson, Liles, Komisarek and Lashoff or Finger.  I’m likely forgetting someone and there are some young guys who will be pushing up from the Marlies, too.
  2. I love Reimer and while none of us can be assured we won’t have problems in net, I believe he will be better than simply “OK”.
  3. I like Gustavsson, too, but as I’ve posted recently, he may be better off away from Allaire.  We’ll see.
  4. I’m still not comfortable that the forward mix is there.  Connolly is/was not the summertime answer for me.  Short-term he may look fine this season.  Most guys show well early on with a new organization after years with the same team.  Guys get stale.  I’m not among those who applauded the move, though I think I understand why the organization did it.
  5. NHL owners will kick themselves for some of the contracts they handed out this summer.  Not just because player performance will often not live up to what has been paid out, but when the new CBA rolls around, they will have no one to blame but themselves when they cry poor-again.  When did the NHL become the NBA, the league of “lousy contracts that have to be moved…?”
  6. Something needs to be done about hockey equipment, and I don’t mean goalie equipment.  If we really want to protect players, they will have to reverse some things, slow the game down and make the equipment less….hard.
  7. No-touch icing has to be introduced.  I have no idea why it’s still not in place.  Everybody claims to love Olympic and international hockey and they’ve had no-touch icing for years.
  8. Just quickly on that subject, I don’t love Olympic hockey.  I did when it was amateurs playing the top Soviets when I was a kid in the ‘60s (when we were underdogs), but not today’s version.  Besides, I prefer the NHL season and especially the playoffs, which are amazing.  I don’t like short tournaments and one-game knockouts.  We never really identify the best team.
  9. It’s true, isn’t it, women soccer players dive much less than the men do.
  10. I’m glad Roberto Alomar will be inducted in a few days into the baseball Hall-of-Fame.  I’ve watched baseball since the late 1950s and he was, for a handful of years, one of the smartest and best all-around ballplayers I have ever seen.
  11. In an era where we automatically discuss/consider just about everybody for HOF induction in hockey and baseball, especially if they won a championship (even just one) how is Jack Morris not in the baseball Hall-of-Fame?  Writers hated him and he was a snarky SOB much of the time with the media, but c’mon.  Besides winning like 275 games (yes, with a high ERA; he didn’t care about stats), he was superb, consistently outstanding, in the post-season.  He pitched a ton of complete games.  If knuckleballer Phil Niekro is in the Hall-of-fame, well…who would you pick if you needed to win a big game?
  12. On the baseball HOF issue, for years I have said Pete Rose belongs.  Clearly, the guy is not going in as a builder, I get that.  But what he did to damage the integrity of the game happened long after his playing career was over.  He belongs.  Gambling is an addiction.  Why are other addictions more easily forgiven?
  13. I don’t want to see any baseball players go to jail.  I mean, c’mon, Bonds, Clemens, these guys played baseball, and awfully well.  But why should they go to jail because they were placed in the impossible position of having to testify before Congress?  If they tell “the truth”, their baseball records are thrown out.  If they “lie”, they could go to jail.  Surely the U.S. Justice system (and politicians) has/have more pressing things to deal with, and real criminals to chase down.
  14. For the record, it’s not as though I like what these guys allegedly did.  But it would appear just about everyone was "cheating” from the early ‘90s on. So what do we do? How can we ever really know who was "clean"?
  15. For the record, does anyone truly believe that people in baseball, from the commissioner’s office on down, did not know that players were “using”.  Of course they did.  They may not have known how many, but it would have been impossible to not know.  They chose not to “know”.  Pure hypocrisy. Selig could then look like he was a hero when he finally made his anti-drug pronouncements.
  16. If we’re going to put all those baseball players in the Hall, fine.  Just like with Rose, on their plaque, or in a special place right next to it, just include a statement that explains their misdeeds, as in “these players performed during the steroid era, when statistics were highly inflated”.  For Rose, you simply add “Rose unfortunately discredited himself by betting on sports, including baseball, while he was manager of the Reds after his playing career was over..."
  17. O.J. Simpson has not been removed from the Hall-of-Fame.  I don’t even know what my opinion is on that one, but if he is still “in”, then surely things that Rose did after his career should not prevent him from getting in.
  18. The football strike will end the middle of next week.  Why?  It’s not a prediction.  It’s a question of both players and owners seeing money walking out the door very soon, what with exhibition games around the corner.  Just play.  Stop whining.  We’re talking about sharing billions of dollars a year.
  19. It’s funny.  Many of us don’t like certain professional athletes, for any number of reasons—even when we don’t really know them at all.  But if that athlete did something nice for our kids, we would change our minds in a second.
  20. Conversely, we may really like a player, but if that player was rude or whatever when one of our kids approached them nicely for an autograph, we would never think the same of them again.  Human nature.
  21. I’m sorry to see any city lose their franchise, but I do feel a wrong has been righted with Winnipeg having an NHL franchise once again.  I will say this, however.  Perhaps the city—fans, corporate sponsors, even people who aren’t big hockey supporters—may appreciate having a team even more than before.  It’s the old story, once you lose something, you appreciate what you perhaps took for granted.
  22. I’m trying to think of a radio sports talk show guy that I truly enjoy listening to.  You know, someone who isn't annoying, doesn't come across as arrogrant.  Not offensive.  Someone you can just enjoy listening to.  The one guy that jumps to mind is Gord Stellick at The Fan 590 in Toronto.  I don’t enjoy him on TV as much.  I did not like him as a morning-show guy.  But back in his old early afternoon slot, he seems more himself.  Down-to-earth, not trying to be funny, just an everyday guy with a background in hockey who remembers things that happened more than three or four years ago.
  23. Another guy I generally enjoy is Michael Grange from the Globe& Mail, who co-hosts occasionally the drive-time show on The Fan.  Thoughtful guy who unfortunately has to play a bit of a subservient role to the host while all the “inside” comments waste a fair bit of air time.
  24. Jim Barker, the coach of the Argos, almost makes me want to be an Argo fan again.  (I was a big Toronto fan as a kid.  Dick Shatto was my favorite player in the early 1960s, then Bill Symonds…I may be spelling his name wrong.  But I loved the Argos right through the Leo Cahill years…).  I just like the guy’s enthusiasm for his team, the league and the game.  He’s "selling” me, but I don’t mind, for some reason.
  25. The Bruins obviously did not have any interest—zero—in re-signing Kaberle.  Maybe if he was on the market in September and was willing to play for a million a season, they would have signed him back.  Are you shocked that Carolina (I almost wrote Hartford…wow…) offered him more than 4 million a year for four seasons?  I am.
  26. Jose Bautista is one of those guys who makes you like baseball.  He’s like the James Reimer of the Jays.  Older, of course.  And he’s bounced around way more.  But you can just see he comes from a family who helped him develop a work ethic. He now clearly appreciate his fortune and also accepts his responsibility as a leader in the clubhouse and in the Toronto community.  Sometimes good guys can finish first.
  27. I probably haven’t watched a major-league baseball All-Star game from beginning to end in more than 40 years.  I just can’t get excited for an exhibition game, as much as I enjoy seeing the good players together.  I don’t even watch the home run derby very much.
  28. TV sports highlight shows, novel as they were twenty some years ago, now can’t seem to hold my interest.  I wish there would be a better format than one or two “anchors” just sitting there reading a script somebody wrote as they wind their way endlessly from one “highlight” to another.
  29. NFL rookies (first-round draft choices) are so, so, so overpaid.  It looks like the owners have caved on that issue.  Too bad.  It really messes up the economics of the sport.  It makes no sense that kids who haven’t played a down make millions—guaranteed.
  30. On that topic, it is sad, unbelievable, absurd…pick a word…that the NFL and modern-day players are not doing more for former players who need help.  If every player who makes more than a million dollars a year gave up $10,000 a year, and each owner gave up the same for every player they pay that much too, former players could have proper medical care, shelter, etc.  It remains a travesty that this has to be “collectively bargained”.  Can’t negotiate compassion, I guess.  It should just come naturally...
  31. If the NBA lost a season, I’d be fine with that.  Too many guys are overpaid.  And like six coaches per team for maybe 10 guys who actually play.  Red Auerbach did not need five assistants back in the 1960s when the Celtics were great.  Times have changed and young players need coaching, for sure.  But not many fans will have sympathy for either side if this gone on for long.
  32. In the United States, people cannot live without football.  They can live without basketball.  And both sides in the NBA labor dispute should recognize that.
  33. I used to love when the British Open went from Wednesday to Saturday.  I remember watching the ABC “Wide World of Sports” as a kid.  You’d get the fourth and final round on Saturday much earlier than usual, because of the time difference.  Those were the days.
  34. I think Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment does many fine things in the community.  But when it comes to the success of their sports franchises, they have a remarkably dreary record.  The Leafs have not been in the playoffs since 2004.  There is zero excuse for that.  And that includes current management.  The Raptors are one of the worst teams in the league.  (Some young players, sure, but almost everyone has some OK young players.).  Bryan Colangelo, as popular as he is with the media, has not done a good job.  Full stop.  They have been way worse than they were before his arrival. And Toronto FC has consistently gone backwards.  That’s a shocking lack of success on the fields of play for MLSE.
  35. I still miss Danny Gallivan, the great old Montreal Canadiens play-by-play man.
  36. If Tim Connolly is not healthy for the full season, I wonder what options the Leafs have for first-line center?
  37. As those of you who follow this site know, Bobby Orr was the best hockey player I ever saw.  He wasn’t a favorite of mine (I hated the Bruins), but I was fearful every time he was on the ice.  His skating ability was just beyond everyone else's.  Other guys were maybe as fast in that era, but his "extra gear" and ability to stop, turn, pull away, spin around at top speed set him part—along with his vision and smarts.
  38. My favorite goaltender of all time was probably Glenn Hall.  I just loved his style.  In his time, he was so unique…not the classic, old-style stand-up goaltender.
  39. One of my happiest times as a Leaf fan was when the Leafs traded for Bernie Parent in 1971—a great young goalie just emerging as a star.  The most frustrating time as a Leaf fan was when Bernie jumped to the WHA soon thereafter.
  40. Certain “rumors” just seem to persist.  When that happens, I tend to think they may come true—which is why I believe Weiss could end up in Toronto in a deal with the Panthers.  Or maybe even Stamkos.
  41. This may be the season the Leafs jump past Montreal in the Eastern Conference standings.  I don’t see the Habs as much improved.
  42. I still think the Kovalchuk trade and re-signing last summer was a terrible move by Lamoriello. The Devils may be going backwards for a while.  How can they replace Brodeur, who has the one constant for the franchise for almost 20 years?
  43. Was the Canuck loss in the finals just another necessary step in their progression to becoming a championship team, or will they slide back, having missed their golden opportunity?  I see the Canucks as a strong team again, but I think this past season was their “year” to win.
  44. I think the player Leaf fans will miss most this coming season is Tim Brent.  The organization may replace him with someone who has more skill, but in one short season, he captured the hearts of many Leaf fans because he was willing to do the hard things, like blocking shots, needed to win. 
  45. I think Reimer will be considered one of the top five goalies in the NHL within the next two seasons.  His temperament makes him a guy that should be able to handle problems that will inevitably crop up.  He may have his struggles, but if the Leafs are patient, he should be very good for a long time.
  46. The Red Wings are poised to take steps back.  I say this every year at this time, and some year it will be prophetic.  I love the organization and the way they have built the organization over the past twenty years.  I just think they are coming to the end of the line as a dominant team.  Still competitive, but they aren’t strong enough to compensate unless they receive out-of-this world goaltending.  In their hey-day, they didn’t always need that.
  47. I thought Ron Wilson was going to get a contract extension at the end of last season.  It’s an awkward situation now.  If the team does really well early, maybe het gets the extension.  But what if they then slip back?  If they do “OK”, does he keep his job and just finish out the season, with the players knowing he may not be back?  If they start poorly, will Burke make a change?  He is not one to fire coaches.
  48. I’m hoping Kulemin will keep building on his first few seasons.  His numbers—and his overall play—keep improving.  I was concerned that he didn’t play key minutes for Russia in the World Championships, but that may have been a blip.
  49. Kessel still needs to win me over.  I don’t doubt his talent.  That’s there for everyone to see.  But what about his relationships with coaches?  He’s young, for sure.  Lots of time to grow up.  I just wonder if he is a guy that will ever really buy into what great teams need to be successful.  And I also wonder if he will be the kind of player who can be big in the playoffs, when grit means as much as skill.
  50. I enjoy writing this blog.  I hope readers—whether they agree or not with some of my recollections, observations and assessments—enjoy it, too.



  1. Michael-
    #13- the U.S. justice system is way too busy ignoring all the white collar crime and war crimes of the past decade to bother with doing their job.
    #26- going to see JBau vs. the Yanks on Saturday with KimJorn. Woo hoo!
    #35- just got back from visiting Halifax, thought you'd like this-
    #36- I think Connolly is going to be just fine, maybe better than that. Here's hoping he's this year's Clarkey Mark. I think he was deeply fed up with Buffalo's media, if so, I hope he can figure out how to deal with Toronto's. If he's a bust/gets badly injured, I rest assured that BB is constantly on the lookout for his true #1 centre.
    #46- Next year the Wings may even back in our division- wouldn't that be nice?
    #50- Take solace in the fact that there a LOT of people reading here, despite it being a "comment light" place. Your work is appreciated and one of the few Leafs' blogs I always read.

  2. Thanks for sharing the great old photo of Danny Gallivan, KidK...and thanks as well for your kind comments about the site. I hope you're right, that even though there aren't a ton of comments here(the ones that are posted are generally very thoughtful, which is great) some do enjoy the site. Thanks again.

  3. 26- right on, he's the (biggest) reason i started watching baseball recently.
    43- agreed, thought the same thing and said if it's not this year, it's not anytime soon. wouldn't mind being wrong though (second team, along with SJ)
    44- definitely, loved the guy, always played with heart. pretty sad seeing him go.
    50- pretty disappointed i didn't find this blog earlier. great stuff. (found you on twitter recently)

  4. Enjoyable as always, Michael. Somehow felt like I was sharing a beer with you! Pt 1 of 50 responses as a second round is brought over...

    1. I agree about feeling comfortable with the Leafs' Dmen - though I didn't see Finger do anything that makes me think he's an asset.
    2. I like Reimer, but didn't like his tendency to give up the easy goal, which surfaces at the end of last season. I'm hopeful, but not convinced. I'll be watching training camp with added interest this year.
    3. And don't forget the Marlies' guys...
    4. I really don't see much improvement here. I'm not a fan of bringing in players who've had significant injuries, particularly concussions.
    5. Yeah - there were certainly some head-scratchers, weren't there? I don't think the stats on how many of those "overpaid" players perform at a high level are very good.
    6. Agreed. I saw Don Cherry talking about this a while ago. Reminds me of the days when football linemen would have casts put on their forearms.
    7. A case can certainly be made for no-touch icing. Only problem - it eliminates the once-every-tenth-game-or-so moment when a hustling forward beats a defenceman to the puck, sometimes resulting in a scoring chance or even a goal. I'd like to keep that in the NHL game.
    8. I enjoy Olympic hockey. The teams may not be the "best" - like soccer, the club teams are - but the Olympic games provide a level of excitement and fan involvement that's unique. When was the last time the streets were empty across Canada because everyone was watching a Stanley Cup game?
    9. There's a lot to like in the women's game!
    10. I was a Jays' season ticket holder from 1986-1998. I saw Alomar lots of times. In virtually every game he played, he'd do one thing that was flat out amazing. There's no question for me - he's far and away the best baseball player we've ever had. His home run against Eckersley on Thanksgiving (I know because we all ate dinner around the TV, much to my grandmother's annoyance) is as iconic as Carter's Series winner. If any fan boos him for whatever it is he's supposed to have done, i hope they're ejected! It really was an unforgettable pleasure to watch him play.
    11. I hate that writers get to have a say about who goes into the HOF. Too many axes to grind. And most of them never played the game at any significant level. They're romantics about things, not realists. Like rock critics.
    12. Definitely agree. Please let's not talk about the "integrity" of the game.
    13. See above.
    14. Ditto.
    15. Ditto.
    16. A fair solution!
    17. Well, I guess OJ's crime didn't affect any of his stats! Maybe they could add an addendum as you suggest in 16. Also, EVERYONE in pro sports tacitly supports gambling on games - it increases fan interest. I seem to remember that Rose didn't have his team throw a World Series or anything... or even a game, did he?
    18. Talk about a sport that has a relationship with gambling!
    19. I had that happen when Roger Clemens visited a friend's kid at his school.

  5. Another round!

    20. When Dave Winfield rudely ignored my mother - a huge fan, by the way - at a spring training game, I disliked him for the rest of his career. Still do, as a matter of fact.
    21. And let's show a little love for Quebec!
    22. I like Stellick too. Had a good chat with him once, on the way into a Leafs game. Good guy.
    23. I enjoy Stephen Brunt - and i did like the fellow from Buffalo who passed away last year.
    24. I'll need some more convincing on the Argos. I'm not a football fan, so that makes it difficult at the best of times.
    25. I think Kaberle is taking some unwarranted heat on his playoff performance. To my eyes, he got better as the series progressed, and made some outstanding plays to get the puck out of his end in the finals. I'm not surprised Boston didn't want him - but I still think that with the right partner, he has a few more good years in him. At the same time, his best years were here.
    26. Yeah - what's not to like about Bautista? Though he needs to work on his third base slide a bit.
    27. Agreed. But by determining who gets home field advantage in the World Series, at least it means something, and something relatively significant. Can't say that about any other All Star game!
    28. I miss Van Earl Wright. HE made highlight shows interesting!
    29. The NFL doesn't interest me until January.
    30. No surprise here. Hey - hockey has just decided concussions merit concern! Pro sports is not about compassion, I'm sorry to say. It's only relatively recent that it's even been about treating the healthy players fairly!
    31. If the NBA vanished from the earth, I'd hardly know.
    32. If any sport vanishes for a while, fans will find something to fill the void. I don't think the NFL is immune from this, either.
    33. I find watching golf on TV marginally less boring than watching a poker game. Maybe if I played golf... (I have noticed that after I try a sport, I become far more appreciative of the skills of its best players. Except poker.)

  6. Last call...

    34. MLSE's staggering record of failure would be unacceptable to fans anywhere else in the world. What is it about Toronto?
    35. "Bonin goes into the corner without an iota of trepidation." Unforgettable. And how about Bill Hewitt's announcing of that Armstrong Cup-winning goal? One thing that strikes you if you watch the old games - there's far less chatter. Foster Hewitt was the best, IMHO. He just gave you the essentials - didn't try to tell you what a player was thinking, like Bob Cole insists on doing.
    36. Unless there's something coming down the road, hello Tyler Bozak!
    37. Man, Orr was amazing. I've never seen a player control a game like he could. I hated the Flyers for targeting his knees.
    38. I liked Hall, Bower, Plante - and especially Gump Worsley. He didn't even look like a goalie!
    39. My happy Leaf memories all revolve around victories - Baun's broken ankle goal, Armstrong's Cup winner, Lanny's Islander killer, Gilmour's 3OT goal, etc. I find trades interesting, but have never set any great store by them.
    40. Well, I have to admit - I would pay attention to either of those!
    41. Perhaps. I don't see the Leafs as much improved, either. It depends on which team shows up next year - the Leafs of the first half, or the Leafs of the second.
    42. Well, Lou has a pretty good track record, but it's hard to see how this one works.
    43. I won't be surprised if they're in the finals again, but I doubt Luongo's ability to be a Thomas.
    44. I was sorry to see Brent go, too. Of course, I was also hoping we'd get Stalberg back.
    45. Wow! I haven't seen that kind of consistency from him yet, much as I like him. May it be true!
    46. Let's revisit this in April, when the Red Wings are once again in the thick of it. I'm curious how some teams can get it so right, and others get it so wrong.
    47. I think this is Wilson's last season to show significant results. We saw glimmers of real progress last year... it better be a fireball this year, or he'll be gone. And if the first half is like last year's, I don't think he'll last the season.
    48. Kulemin puzzles me. I like him - and I enjoyed the chemistry he had with Grabbo and MacArthur. But he seems like a bit of an underachiever to me, for some reason. Not sure why... maybe his reluctance to use his size...
    49. I think he made real strides this year, and he and Lupul could be something special. I'm cutting him some slack.
    50. Hey - if you'll put up with our opinions and memories, we'll put up with yours!

  7. 1. Agreed but expect Burke to move 1-2 defensemen before camp.
    2. If not we are doomed.
    3. The Monster has to show something this year or he is gone by the trade deadline.
    4. Connolly is an improvement over Bozak and nothing else.
    5 Salary floor was a big reason for this year's madness.
    6. Agreed get rid of the armour on the elbows and shoulders. And call charging more often. Since when did leaving your feet become the accepted way to throw a body check.
    7. I don't like it but with the sped up game it is needed.
    8 I like Olympic hockey as it is today. I didn't like the one sided hypocrisy of the supposedly "amateur" Soviet team beating up on beer leaguers.
    9 There's and off color joke in there somewhere.
    11 Absolutely Morris should have been a first ballot HOFer.
    12. Because gambling unlike substance abuse carries the whiff of throwing games. Not going to happen.
    13 The congressional hearings were nothing more than a "show trial". @kidkawartha: Conrad Black; Bernie Madoff and the Enron guys totally agree with you.
    17 OJ isn't in the baseball hall of fame.
    18 Yawn.
    21 St. John's agrees with you! Winnipeg will however struggle. I am already a little concerned about their management.
    22 Agreed 100% Gord is one of the few that isn't doing "shtick" or trying to manufacture outrage just for the sake of it. One of the few guys on the Fan I can still listen to.
    25 Isn't Pogge in their system now as well?
    26. More like Tim Tomas in my mind.
    27 Still better than all the other all star games out there.
    28 They are horribly dated and the anchors are getting progressively worse. In the age of twitter, smart phones etc who needs to wait till 11 every night to catch up on sports?
    30. Maybe you're right but my gut says they're ex athletes not Vietnam vets.
    31 NBA is sliding backwards into irrelevance. When the only reason people tuned into to watch your finals was because they hated someone so much you know you have a problem.
    32 In Toronto the fans can't live without Leafs 24-7 the local media should embrace it not criticize it.
    33 WWOS Theme song was the best in history.
    34 TFC is an absolute joke as are the Raptors. At least the Leafs have had stretches of respectability over the past 20 years - an seem to be trying now.
    35 Best play by play guy in years. I hate the newer "Joe Buck style" announcers like Jim Hughson - they put me to sleep.
    36 Kadri, Colbourne and BOZAK BOZAK BOZAK!!
    37 I too was fortunate enough to see this guy play in his prime. Best hockey player ever.
    38 Ken Dryden was mine.
    39 Remember the Philly bumpersticker? Only the Lord saves more than Bernie Parent
    40 I will gladly take either. But Burke should OFFER SHEET STAMKOS
    41 Habs and Ottawa are not that improved. All the other teams scare me.
    42 Devils were the best team in the East for the second half I think they will surprise people.
    43. They will be like the Ottawa Senators of a few years ago. Gillis inherited a team that Burke/Nonis built. He will be proven to be out of his league.
    44 Brent was the Gary Valk of last year's team.
    46. This is something that seems obvious to everyone but the Toronto hockey media who still think these guys are the greatest team in the world. Fact is they don't have a great pool of prospects, they haven't stolen anyone in the draft since Datsyuk and that was 13 years ago and guys like Abdelkader and Flippula are highly overrated plus their defense now consists of Garnet Exelby and Ian White. Welcome to the Eastern Conference!!
    47 The fact that he doesn't have a contract will provide endless fodder for the Simmons, Cox's and Brady's of the world this year.
    48. Remember when Berger said he would be nothing more than a 3rd line grinder?
    49. Just get him a decent center and we will be alright.
    50 Keep on bloggin pardner.

  8. Thanks very much for your responses and kind comments,Dee, and thanks Gerund O' for taking the time to respond thoughtfully to the various opinions expressed. This has been my hope for the site, that people can take the time to sit back and offer their own insights and memories. We all 'have "opinions" and it's fun to go back and forth. All the best.

  9. Meatriarchy...Thanks very much for your post. Great comments. I could comment on many of your thoughts, as with Gerund O and and Dee and KidK, because I really enjoyed them a lot...but on point 48, it makes me think of a great old Toronto Star writer, early in Lanny McDonald's third year, saying he would be a nice (basically) third-line guy, not someone who would score much at the NHL level. After 500 goals in the NHL, that analysis was clearly premature. I think it will be with Kulemin, too, but he can show more, I believe. Hopefully confidence will do it this season.

  10. Couple of differing opinions. First,
    i'm not sure the Red Wings will regress as a team. Some plyers may show signs of regression, but Babcock has given them an identity and and style of play that doesn't wear down players over the season anywhere near as much as, for example, Ron Wilson's run'n'gun. They control the puck, and pass it very wisely to make it work for them. That kind of play was a big reason why Finland won the World Championship last spring, despite having inferior overall squad skill level in the squad when compared to the odds-on favorites like Russia, Canada, Czech Republic and perhaps Sweden, who fielded a young and fairly inexperienced team.

    Second, I wouldn't be too worried if Kulemin doesn't get key minutes in the Russian squad; he's not the type of player who gets much attention in an environment that puts pure flair above work ethic. Had he chosen to stay home, he'd be a career third line grinder in KHL, and in KHL the bottom six minutes often get very limited indeed.

    Third, I personally love your blog, especially the trips down the memory lane about the past Leafs players. I'm Finnish, and contact to NHL were all about Jari Kurri, and a bit later, about Teemu Selänne, before the times of the internet. I first found Wendel Clark, and through him, I learned to love the Leafs. Your blog is a fantastic gateway to my beloved team's rich history along with offering astute opinions about the present.

  11. CGLN, thanks for a great post. I understand your thoughts on the Red Wings. They may not have the talent they have historically had, but they have excellent coaching and a system that they believe in. I can't argue that.

    As for Kulemin, I'm hoping you are absolutely correct. I think he has more to offer even than we have seen in Toronto. I appreciate your observations about how the KHL operates. I have precious little knowledge about the league.

    And thank you for your comments about the site. It is encouraging to receive that kind of feedback and it is very much appreciated.

  12. Love the thoughts, and I agree with most of them. The only one that I have a glaring issue with is #7. I would be really, genuinely unhappy if the League switched to no-touch icing before removing the whole concept of a non-trapezoidal area. It's an arbitrary rule that was built to restrict the skill set of two goalies (Brodeur, Turco), and maybe a third or fourth in a couple cases.

    Puck handling is a skill set that goalies rarely use any more. In the Winter Classic, Fleury went behind the net to play the puck, and coughed it up to a Cap leading to a goal. Allowing goalies to play the puck again would cut down on face-first races into the boards, it would increase the need for goalies to work on another skill set, and would keep the game feeling fast, rather than giving teams who are trapped in their own zone an option to slow down the pace of the game and take a faceoff (even if it means the opposition gets a line change).

    I really, really hate that trapezoid.

  13. Bower Power...Thanks for the post. And I have to agree with the goalie/puck-handling issue. It seemed to be an over-reaction, yes, based on the skills of a few of the goalies you cited above.