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A subtle sign from Reimer; I hate Torts; and thoughts on Komi, Grabbo and Gunner as Leafs lose in Manhattan

Please excuse any typos today- I wanted to get this up soon after the Ranger game...


I’ve probably watched old Seinfeld and Frasier episodes more than a grown man ever should, but of the many ‘highlights’ from those two classic sitcoms, one moment stands out:  it is the Frasier episode where his Seattle radio show is critiqued by a focus group.  Frasier’s program receives universally rave reviews—except for one solitary individual.  That individual really doesn’t want to disclose his opinion, but when pushed, rather than follow the crowd and proclaim his love for the show, he admits he’s not really a fan.  When nudged further (and Frasier is actually watching this unfold through a one-way mirror), the naysayer finally, when asked what he doesn’t like about the show, says simply, “I just don’t like him”.

The rest of the episode sees Frasier ignoring all the positive feedback.  He obsesses over the one bit of criticism and seeks out the solitary critic.  In the end, he inadvertently burns down the guy’s newsstand.

But the moral (it’s not really a moral, I guess) of the story, for me, is simply this:  sometimes, there are people we just don’t like.  It’s not fair.  We may have a hard time explaining, even to ourselves, just why we feel the way we do.  But we do.

Well, that’s how I feel about Rangers coach John Tortorella.  Good NHL coach, obviously.  Hey, he won a Cup (well, his players won a Cup) in Tampa.  He’s done a nice job in bringing the Rangers back, after years in the wilderness under long-time GM Glen Sather, who surely wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame based on his Ranger years, eh?

In any event, there’s just something I don’t like about Tortorella.  I know plenty of fans like his caustic ‘straight from the hip’ approach from the media.  But me, I just find him acerbic and tremendously condescending.  He just comes across as a real… well, let’s just say he seems awfully prickly to me.  He takes himself awfully seriously.

I’m probably in a minority. But we share here, so, I shared.


Though New York has struggled early in this mini 2012-’13 NHL season, the Leafs won’t face many lineups better than the Rangers this season.  And Toronto did a lot of good things in their match-up with a superior Ranger squad Saturday night.

Let’s start with Reimer.  He made 37 saves on 41 shots, and kept the Leafs in the lead until well into the final period on Saturday night.  He made all kinds of good stops—off rebounds, deflections, with the glove, etc. He seemed at ease and in control. 

One subtle, little thing told me that Reimer is feeling pretty good, and may be his old self soon.  A few minutes into the third period, Reimer made an ordinary save on a backhand shot.  After the whistle, before giving the puck to the linesman, he flipped the puck casually out of his glove and intentionally ‘caught’ it on the back side of his catching glove.  He was having fun, and was relaxed and enjoying the moment.

Yes, the Rangers went on to score four goals (one into an empty net) but Reimer stood his ground as the game went on, as the Leafs pretty much wilted around him.

I like what I saw of Reimer against New York.  Despite two crappy goals against Pittsburgh, he has looked pretty sharp—and confident this season—to me.  He has played by far the better opposition so far, as compared with Scrivens—the Pens and New York.

Is he “back”?  I don’t know.  But one moment told me he feels pretty good.  And I won’t let another third period struggle—and loss— by his over-matched teammates convince me he’s the problem.


I said I liked a lot about what the Leafs did Saturday night, and I did.  They battled about as hard as they could, for the most part.  The Rangers are a big, physical, shot-blocking team. (Hell, Boyle was blocking shots with seconds left and the Rangers up by three; they take this stuff seriously over there…)

But the fact is, the third period kind of showed how and why we are still a long ways away from, well, being a contender of any serious description.  We can complain that Lupul is out, and that MacArthur went down with a hand injury as well during the game, but c’mon.  All kinds of teams have been decimated by injuries already in this young season.  The Leafs are an NHL team and, like every other team, will have to utilize their system depth to compete.  Injuries can’t be an excuse.

The bigger issue is not just depth, but whether we can play the kind of physical, line-matching, grinding hockey that Carlyle wants them to play.  I love van Riemsdyk going to the net again to score a goal.  That’s great to see.  I saw a Leaf (was it Kadri or Kostka, I couldn’t tell?) slamming into the Lead net, trying to break up an empty net goal when the game was already out of reach.  These guys are trying.  But while I do not want to over-analyze a handful of games, weaknesses are beginning to show—even when we play hard.

It’s not a surprise that we are fighting the odds; it’s just that fans are hoping for better results, even against those odds...

Grabovski seemed to win a lot of draws against the Rangers, though I have n idea what his ‘stats” were by the end of the night. I generally liked his game, too.  I especially liked that, after Callahan flattened him up against the boards ( a bit of a dirty hit, I thought, rather like Phaneuf on Tavares the other night) Grabosvki came back and scored against Lundqvist.  I’m sure that reminded a lot of Leaf fans of Grabbo’s stunning comeback after being crunched by Chara in Boston a couple of years ago—and how he returned to score a gorgeous winning goal.

Clearly, a big hit does not detour the Leaf pivot.  He’s not a perfect player, but he usually gives us what he has, and some nights, it’s plenty good enough.


I know Kosta is being tested a lot, now five games into his emerging NHL career.  At the age of 27, he is suddenly playing at a more elite level than ever before.  And while he has struggled at times (minus 4, like Phaneuf, last night—though the last was an empty-netter) , he is logging tons of minutes and working his tail off.  Both he and the captain played about 32 minutes Saturday night.  Honestly, that’s too much.  But I like the guy his play and his attitude.  Whether he can continue to be an impact, big minute guy, through the end of the season, I don’t know.  But I appreciate the energy he is bringing to the table every single night so far. He has skill, hockey smarts and a lot of determination.


Gunnarsson is frustrating me a little bit.  VLM readers know I have long been a Gunner supporter, but I’m just seeing too many little bits of brain cramps, tiny errors, being soft on the man, those little things that have led to key goals against already this season.  His stats may look OK—and yes, I still like a lot of the subtle things that he does well—but he is not as good as we need him to be so far.


Well, we lost with Komisarek in the lineup, though he played fairly solidly again, I thought.  Before the game, many fans were hoping he would be back in the lineup.  How things have changed, eh?  I’d like to see him get his confidence back, and contribute going forward.


Kessel?  I’ll have some thoughts on him over the next few days….

I’m guessing the Leafs, who keep showing positive signs in every game, will be working on some things on Monday.  A couple of days without a game has to help, before they go to Buffalo Tuesday night.

Stay positive—and hopeful.  It will be tough sledding, I sense, but there are some good signs.


  1. I'm sorry Michael but I just don't see it with regards to Kostka. Yeah he is a nice story and seems like a nice guy but really nothing I have seen so far these 5 games suggests he is a top pairing NHL d-man. At best his future lies as a 5-6 guy who gets spot duty on the powerplay and even there I have serious doubts.

    Kessel needs to start scoring and soon. I know he has 25 or more shots, but as the pre game showed a lot of those shots are from a long ways out and had no hope of going in.

    That's two bad games ina row for Phaneuf. Simply put they are playing the guy too much. This is the same damm thing they did last year. He is a good dman but he is not a 30 minute a night kinda guy.

    Riemer was good tonight. It looks like he might be back. Hopefully he can build on this moving forward. In my opinion he has looked much better than Scrivens so far this year.

    The Leafs can not play Carlye's style right now as constituted. They are not big enough and not deep enough. Like I've said for a couple of posts now as the rest of the NHL gets up to speed the Leafs are going to keep getting exposed more and more often.

    One last note those two fights tonight were completly ridiculous and stupid. I love a good hockey fight when it comes out of the natural flow of the game, niether of these qualifies. Asham came on the ice and skated right at Brown. No attempt to get in the play just get on the ice and fight. Orr's fight was even worse, nothing but a joke. They should have kicked both guys out the game as well as give the 5 minutes, just a complete and utter waste of time.

  2. Maybe I'm wishing and hoping with Kostka, Willbur, in part because it is, as you say, a nice story. But I do see a guy who can skate and move the puck. I agree he should not be playing 30 minutes a night! We'll see where he settles in as the season moves along. Maybe he will still surprise you...

    I liked Reimer again, too.

    Not sure what to say about the fights. Guys like Cherry swear they inspire a smaller team like the Leafs. Maybe, but some nights it seems, as you suggest, like a waste of time. Spur of the moment fights I get. This other stuff is too much.

    For me, real toughness is the way you play the game. Hard, rugged. It can include fighting, but doesn't have to. Bob Gainey rarely fought, but he was one tough player.

  3. For me the real toughness is a guy like Komisarek who when his team is getting thrashed 9-0 still answers the bell against a guy who has beaten him badly 3 proir times. Orr fighting off a face off is a joke.

    I hope your right about Kostka and I do think he can play in the NHL. He has been better than Franson, Gunnarsson and Fraser so far. If Carlye keeps playing him on top line minutes though it could get real ugly.

    Props to Komisarek by the way. He has been good this year. If he plays within himself he can still be a valuable piece. Good on him to never complain and just keep working. I like him.

  4. I respect Komisarek, too, Willbur. It's a shame he has never fully found his game on a regular basis, though, like so many Leafs in recent years, he was likely mis-cast in terms of fan - and the organization's - expectations. Thanks.

  5. I think you've made a pretty fair assessment of the game, Michael. Reimer did all he could, with plenty of great saves. To paraphrase Tom Brady's girlfriend after the Pats lost because of dropped passes, Reimer can't shoot and score too! His best game in ages, to my eyes.
    The PK was solid again, another promising sign. I though the D played pretty well, but when you've played most of the game in your own end, it's inevitable you're going to get ground down. I, too, like Kostka's minutes so far. He's far less responsible for our losses than the forwards.
    Our obvious weakness is our offence. I think we had two shots from that "dirty area" in front of the net - that both scored - in the first two periods. We look small, ineffective, and content to shoot from the perimeter. Our PP continues to be a disaster. Kessel looks discombobulated and predictable, far from the dangerous sniper we think him to be. It's in this area that I think we see the Herculean task Dave Nonis has before him.
    I don't think we have a hope of making the playoffs this year, and that's OK as long as we see progress. I'm seeing it defensively, and maybe that's how you have to start, building from the net out, as the departed Brian Burke used to say. But the Rangers were playing their third game in four nights, and they pounded us into submission. That's not a good sign!
    As for the fights... these phoney "who's toughest" fights are a waste of time. As was said above, I don't mind a fight if it comes out of the play. And at least we won both of them. But I prefer Phaneuf's method... rather than take a penalty going after Nash when he crashed Reimer, he just decked him instead with a clean hit a couple of shifts later.

  6. I just did the math and realized that the Leafs also played 3 games in four nights. So at the very least, we should have been equally exhausted, I guess. Obviously, we weren't.
    And one last thought - I agree with those who are disappointed in Gunner's play so far. Don't know if it's the pairing, or him getting into shape, but he just doesn't look like the same guy.

  7. There were good things and bad things in the game tonight.

    Grabovski, JVR and to a lesser extent Kulemin looked good. With the addition of JVR's size hands and willingness to go to the front of the net that line looked very good.

    Kessel's line no so much. Lupul is a huge missing piece. I have this bad feeling we could have a repeat of last year.

    They play Phaneuf and Kostka too much. Somewhat like the Islanders game, Phaneuf and Kostka faded by the third period. They actually had a very good first period I saw Kostka check and take the puck off Nash and later Gaborik.

    They need to find a way to better manage the ice time of Phanuef and Kostka. Keep it to under 25 minutes. Perhaps they can do this with defensive upgrade to their fourth line so that they could play Komi and Gunnarson with them for more minutes?

    The unfortunate thing is that a good guy for this (Jason Arnott) was signed by New York today. Jason Arnott would have been a nice guy to move up and down the third and fourth line depending on the need. Arnott is also a big center (220 lbs) and would help out on team size. He could take face offs and play on the wing. I think Arnott is as tough as Brown but a better checker and more of a scoring threat. Arnott would also provide some nice veteran leadership. If we have Orr do we really need Brown?

    I think Arnott will cost the Rangers less than 1 million over the remaining games. the price was 1.6-7 million for a full season pro-rated.

  8. I wasn't able to catch the game, so just a couple of superficial observations.

    Reimer should now have a firm grip on the starter spot. I'm hoping it sticks. Scrivens might turn out to be fine in the long run, he might not, but at this point he's pretty much an unknown quantity, including for most of the Leafs. Reimer, on the other hand, has shown he can play well in the past, which could make things a bit less complicated for the rest of the team.

    I'm not a big fan of the +/-, but being four goals on the negative in a single game probably means a player wasn't exactly having a stellar night. Playing Phaneuf for 32 minutes in a single game is a bit much. Doing the same with Kostka is just setting him up to fail. If I'm a coach and I throw a career minor leaguer on the ice, against top competition, for 32 minutes in his fifth NHL game, I don't get to be disappointed when it doesn't work out. Kostka has looked okay to me, for most part, and being a d-man, could easily be a few years from his best, but trying to force him there just doesn't sit well with me.

    If Komisarek has looked good, he needs more ice time. Captain Obvious speaking. In my books, a top shutdown d-man has been the biggest hole in the roster. He was good with the Habs, not a star, but good. He struggled under Wilson, like many others, but his pay grade, combined with shaky performances, made him the whipping boy. Hard to say how Carlyle and his staff rate him, but I'd say there's considerable potential gain by giving him a shot right about now. At the very least, his trade value can't exactly plummet if it doesn't work out.

    By the way, great Frasier reference about Tortorella. Goodness, I loved that show. I don't hate Torts, I actually find him to be a somewhat unintentionally comical figure, exactly because he doesn't seem to have much of either a personality or a sense of humor, and takes himself so seriously. Then again, I tend to laugh at the dumbest things. Though I'd probably find him less funny and more annoying if he was coaching the Leafs.

  9. MIchael,

    Another time, another place, I would be happy to discuss some of the people that I just don't like. However, there is a character limit to this comment screen.

    Reimer was not the problem. The big question remains, is he the solution? He was ok again last night. He made some great saves, he is supposed to do that I think. All goalies make great saves, and let in stinkers. Which they do more of determines their fate. The crappy play in front of him never seemed to bother Cujo. Is this unfair of me? Perhaps, but really why can't I want Reimer to be one of the best goalies in the game, and not be so interested that he is just ok? Or mediocre?

    Heres what I see about the Rangers. Everyone has a role, guys like Boyle especially. They know what it is and they perform that role or they don't play. Boyle is their 3rd line centre. He is not expected to score. He hits, he forechecks, he backchecks, and he blocks shots. On the Leafs, precicesly what is Kadris role? See the huge difference. The other thing, if Torotorella's players don't do what he wants them to, they don't play. They sit on the bench or in the pressbox. In Toronto our assistant captains can regularly be found in the pressbox. Not because they don't follow directions, but because they can't really play.

    Kostka is a nice story and I wish him well. Its really too bad that the best Marlies d'man didn't want to play in the NHL. It would have been Kostka who in Toronto if Ranger had wanted to play.

    Here we go, tough hockey. A friend tells me the strangely dressed intermission sideshow, was talking about truculence. Or some other garbage that he is usually on about. Having Orr and Brown in the same lineup did wonders for the Leafs last night. Sorry, was the game over after 20 minutes? I didn't think so. I like Brown, think he is a decent penalty killer. Any clue why Carlyle dresses Brwon and Orr and Fraser and then staples them to the bench for most of the game? I don't, its stupid. The toughest team to play against that I have ever seen is the Detroit Red Wings over the last 20 years. But Jim, they have no fighters. Correct, just a team of guys who fight for every inch of ice and win more battles for loose pucks than they lose. Real toughness is doing the things that you don't want to do, but know you should do. The Wings did, and do this under Babcock. Everyone on that team competes, it might as well be the team motto. I hope that the Leafs are as tough as the Wings someday, the sideshow needs to end.

  10. Perhaps I was unrealistically hopeful going into the truncated season, however I turned off the game yesterday evening a little stunned by how overmatched the Leafs appeared to be. On the offensive side I was particularly concerned by their inability to generate an acceptable number of shots on goal. On the defensive side of the rink, I had to agree with the Rangers' diplomatic announcer's comment that you had to feel a bit "sorry for" the Leafs in their inability to cope with the Rangers' forecheck.

    I am still fine with Reimer and Scrivens. I do not think, at this point at least, that a true elite goaltender would make much difference. If we had Jacques Plante and Terry Sawchuck in nets, our record probably be -- two wins and three losses.

    I know it is still a little early, but I am convinced now more than ever that Nonis had better hang onto all early draft choices for the foreseeable future. He might as well gather up any more he can at the deadline as well. Like others here, I am delighted with Komisarek's play and very happy for him. JVR and Kadri look like bright spots to me and Grabo plays with jam and emotion, a bit of a refreshing throwback that reminds me of when hockey seemed a little less technical. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but he brings a certain quality to the game of a Canadian player of previous decades. I am beginning to understand why so many fans are endeared by his play.

  11. Very fair assessment, Gerund O'. PK is better so far, and that's good. But yes, the forwards just don't have the size to combat the big, physical teams. Some nights we will survive and even thrive, but when the other guys are on their game and playing hard, it's going to be tough against the elite teams in the East.

    (I still think we can sneak into the playoffs, if it matters, simply because there are a lot of teams like us in the East with middlish rosters....)

  12. How many times, DP, have we said here in this space: the Leafs, while building a young team, still need guys with toughness and leadership- and yes, experience.

    I'm not saying it had to be Arnott or Knuble or whomever. But we sorely lack those veteran guys with a history of success who can show the younger players. One of the many reasons I'm relieved Rielly is not here. Is this what you want to "learn" from?

  13. Komi is playing regular but modest minutes, CGLN. Other than "minutes", as fans, we never really know what the coaching staff is thinking. But most of us would agree that in an early-season game, playing one defense pair for 32 minutes is, well, a sign that you don't have much confidence in your other guys- especially if that first pairing is struggling a bit.

    Forwards have a lot to do with the late game struggles the last two nights. The guys are working hard and doing some good things. But it's a big ship to turn around, eh?

  14. There's a lot in your post today, Jim. You are a tad harsh but fair at the same time, with Reimer. I think, yes, that we are so desperate to see him play well, that we are thrilled when he is simply, as you say, doing what good NHL goalies should do: make some tough saves.

    I don't know exactly Ranger Ranger initially was reluctant to join the Leafs. There has to be a personal reason there.

    No doubt the Rangers are a classic "everyone has a role" team, as you well cite. That's what Carlyle is striving for here, but I'm not sure he has the talent pool to do it successfully- though the Rangers aren't a team superstars, either.

    The "side show"? I don't know what I feel. But I'd rather have Bob Bourne, Bob Gainey, Terry O'Reilly, etc. than this. Guys who played hard all night long, and if they fought because they were ticked off, fine. But that was not all they did. Playing 3 minutes a night is a joke. It means your coaches don't trust that you can play even up- it's get on and get off. (Didn't you love the Wings with Maltby, Draper and McCarthy? What a "third" line...)

  15. Thanks Bobby C- we can probably throw Turk Broda into the hopper as well. Wouldn't likely make much difference, as you say. It's going to be tough many nights against the "big boys" when you just don't have the players to compete over a full 60 minutes. There are some nice young pieces as you cite, but the rebuilding is still in its relative infancy- at least it feels that way some nights. Thanks Bobby.

  16. I don't think there's a lot to turn around yet, Michael, we're still more in the process of figuring out which way the ship is actually going.

    I've watched three out of the first five games. Komi has dressed for as many, and I don't consider that exactly "regular". For me, it has a lot to do with that time zones, and myself being the sleepy, yet whiny type, but Komisarek has been available. It seems to me, like you could give both Komisarek and Kostka a break just by snapping your fingers, but what do I know?

    But no reason for panic. There have been good things in every game, something to throw into garbage as well, but five games is not a good sample size even this year. I've now seen some of Grabovski against the Rangers, and I'm wondering what does it take for the rest of the team to follow that guy's spirit?

    I mean, he was having a bad time against the Islanders after the first period, who wasn't, but he seems to have been pretty good against the Rangers. That's what we need.

  17. Yes, I'm not sure, CGLN, if Carlyle feels boxed in having to use Phaneuf and Kostka so much. Surely he is well aware that he is relying on them too much already.

    Well see if Komisarek "earns" more ice time.

    I agree, it's early. I generally am loathe to make any pronouncements until a team has played 10 games. But given the shortened season, it feels like every game has extra significance, though even that is an over-reaction, I realize, given where the team is at in its overall development.

    In some ways, yes, Grabbo could be a captain. He plays with passion most nights.

  18. Hey Michael,

    I was unable to catch most of the game yesterday but when i was watching the highlights and i noticed a few things.

    #1. The team as a general note - needs to learn how to play in front of their net better - you know in the space in front.

    #2. Reimer was good yesterday and as good as any elite goaltender - and i can bet all the "harsh" people on reimer that even the goalie on the other side would have failed if he had the kinda game that was occuring in front of Reimer when he let in goal #3 & #4 - I would even venture to include #1 - but reimer did committ himself a little more towards on side of the net when he couldn't even see the puck clearly.

    #3. Point number 2 leads me to say the obvious we need size and a team better able to move the traffic away from Reimer - but that is a tough one with a giant like Boyle but still.

    #4. Now Specifically to comment about goal #2 that tied the game - And I think this is where the Big minutes given to the "Top" pairing hurt. I saw phanuef do exactly what he should have in front of the net - engage the stick of Marc Stall and then when the play didn't arrive their instantly - he let go - and a sec later the puck was on his stick and in. Yes Reimer, should have tried to get it but remember he was also looking out for the guy right beside him who passed that puck to stall.

    #5. Now about the #3 that gave them the lead, Gunnerson was engaging garbner behind the net and then left him as soon as the puck was moved up to the point to stand in front of his goalie looking right across at the other net, and garbner was easily able to walk up and get a tip while also block Reimer's vision along with Gunnerson. That i think is the kinda sloppy play that we didn't see from Gunner in years past - but then again the whole area in front of Reimer was empty and i am sure he was afraid of letting someone get a shot from there.

    #6. Michael it was Kadri in the net - when he tried to stop that 5th goal - he looked like he was about to throw-up, lol not cause he was unfit, but cause i feel he was playing with heart - which i find a rather refreshing thing.

    Anon from Scarborough

  19. Appreciate hearing your observations, Scarborough Anon. All valid.

    The Gunner thing is not a huge deal, but there are enough little things that, if he is not doing those "things", his presence becomes more a liability than a plus. And usually, he has been a positive contributor here- and I believe still will be. Thanks.

  20. Well I'm not going to be too positive or negative about this team or any of its players, given we are only 5 games into the season after a LONG lockout. Also, lets not mention the team is adjusting to a new coach and to a new GM.

    No one is expecting the Leafs to excel this year, and most would agree making the playoffs is really wishful thinking. But Leafs management is never going to admit they want to do anything but win. So they will try to field the best team possible until such time as they are mathematically eliminated. Carlyle is going to play the guys he feels give the team the best chance of winning.

    I'm quite surprised Kostka is getting the minutes he's getting. His play is okay, but I think most would agree he is not really worthy of top pairing minutes. One of the other D-men have got to step up their game.

    Lets face it, against many NHL teams these days, size matters! The NYR have six players who are 6'4" or taller. Toronto only has three of that size, two of which who weren't even dressed against the Rangers. Not to mention Toronto has four forwards under 6' tall, and a D-man who is a mere 5-10. How do you expect to win puck battles along the boards or in front of the net with that size difference?? Heart and pugnacity aside, you still need the size and physical strength.

    When times are tough, little things can compound problems and make matters worse. For example; Grabo glove-handing the puck falling down after the faceoff, or the too-many men on the ice penalty. Did you see the level of frustration on Carlyle's face after that infraction?

    Lets move on and keep learning from our mistakes. Until Nonis gets a bit more talent and size into this team, we'll just have to be patient.

  21. No question there are roster challenges, Don (TML_fan). And yes, patience is needed. The question is whether the ongoing "build" will ever really get us where we need to be: a team with tons of high end skill, size and toughness ( and goaltending, and, and...)

  22. I think the only way we achieve respectability in the future of this build is to draft smart and draft lucky - lol - you need both.

    Examples: Boston, Pittsburgh, LA, Detroit, Chicago, and NYR.

    Or make smart trades.

    Examples: LA, Boston, Vancouver, and NYR.

    or Make big splash signings.

    Ex: NYR, and Philly.

    Now lets see what can we do.

    Of course simply tanking without a plan doesn't work either - Ex. Columbus.

    Anon from Scarborough.

  23. Coming up against the Rangers revealed a fair bit about our team in comparison with a team expected to challenge for the cup… especially in light of the end goal for the kind of team our management is hoping to ice.

    I was actually quite pleased with Reimer’s play - and noticed the little puck flip you mentioned at the time, too . Though I could cope with the acquisition of Luongo, I’d rather not handicap the team’s hard-won cap flexibility at this time. I’d rather wait out the year and see what we have. I think there are other options/considerations (besides having a Luongo to help attract UFAs) that would help us to transform this team.

    When I look at the chasm between what Carlyle and Nonis ‘want’ and what we ‘have’ – I see a lot of fine players who just don’t fit the mould. I truly appreciate and enjoy the excitement of watching Phil Kessel and I think he is slowly’ testing the waters’ of a more complete game.

    He’s actually got decent size (6’ 202 lbs.) that would allow him to be more physical however, it would take away from his strengths. I believe he has fast-twitch muscles and he’s being asked to produce offensively with that, but at the same time, slow the ‘twitching’ down to add a more physical element. There’s no sense turning Guy Lafleur into Bob Gainey… It’s not gonna’ happen.

    Kessel would have been a great (mogilny-like) addition to a team already comprising the identity that’s being advocated, but he is not the foundational piece that this team’s ‘identity’ needs. For that reason (amongst others), I can see a number of reasons why he may be dealt (before his NTC kicks in next season) in one of a series of deals that could ‘transform the culture and identity’ of this team.

    If the Ducks can’t sign Perry and need a star player to salve the loss, I could see these two being traded straight up (conditioned upon Perry re-signing with the Leafs). Though, there is another element to be considered… I love Gardiner, but imagine that the Ducks (with the loss of Shultz) would like him back… not sure if that could turn into a blockbuster (with Hiller, Getzlaf, or someone else added into the mix).

    If Getzlaf doesn’t want to play in Toronto, then I wonder, if O’Reilly is truly available for a young forward and a 2nd pick (as rumoured today). I could see Bozak being returned to his University of (?) Denver roots along with another alumnus – Colbourne (though I ‘ve said before that I’d hate to lose him before he’s grown into his body) if the 2nd pick doesn’t happen.

    The two primary mentions thus far (Perry and O’Reilly) are both from S. Ontario and would help put a local face on the franchise (did you hear the cheers for Toronto-born Kostka in the home opener?) !!

    If the team considered an offer sheet/threat-thereof-and-trade for Subban giving up either a 1st & 3rd or a combination of picks/players/prospect(s) – we would have another Toronto face for the team and all three are significant physical upgrades. Would that be enough to turn the corner? Would we be willing to lose next years 1st, 2nd and 3rd along with some guys who may not fit the identity in order to move in the direction I’ve mentioned?

    Also, I think you’re gonna’ see Ashton, Devane (or even D’Amigo) come into the lineup after Colton Orr reaches game 400 and earns his pension. Then, we will probably see more of the 4th line in game action. In the meantime, free agents may be watching how we treat Orr, given that they may not like what we’ve done with LACK over the past few years…

  24. Agreed- you need skill and luck while assessing at draft time, Scarborough Anon. The Leafs have a plan, and hopefully the plan will stop shifting.

  25. Lots to think on in your post, InTimeFor62. I'm not sure we can trade our way out of this. Would Anaheim really move a hard-working skill guy with heart for, well, a streaky (if talented) guy? Maybe, if, as you say, it is part of a larger deal where other real assets (like a Gardiner) go the other way. (Anaheim knows they made a huge mistake in the Beauchemin deal and I believe they have wanted Gardiner back since but haven't been able to pry him away from the Leafs.)

    Some fun trade thoughts, for sure.

  26. With the departure of speedy (but one-dimensional) Jason Blake from the Ducks, I think that Kessel could be the complement for Getzlaf (for the same reason we want him) to replace that element on the Ducks. I think they have room for him and it seems Getz wants to stay in California and Perry seems to want to be closer to home. This is the only reason I think the idea is plausible (and the reason for thinking about Gardiner in the mix).

    With Rielly on his way and a veteran Liles locked up for 4 years, I think Gardiner would be the key to a deal (but we'd probably get a pick with Perry if that happened). We get heart and an Ontario 'face' and the Ducks get a flashy star for the LA market...

    I think the long term plan for the Leafs was to assemble the best (not cohesive) players they could, then develop the prospects and trade for the type of team you really want. Maybe the Leafs (more than just Reimer) will be seen as 'Transformers'...

  27. Your assessment of the 'plan' may well be spot on, InTimeFor62. Whether it comes to fruition is the challenge, as always.

  28. WOW! Grabbo as the "C" of the Leafs! You said it, Michael, not me. Grapes knows you're one of "them" now!

    But really, WOW! I'll order the Grabovski "C" jersey right away. Actually, I'd order five of them, in different sizes as the kid is still growing up, and he's doomed to be a Leafs fan, unless he grows his own free will, which I'll battle against until the end of time. I'll go broke, but it would be worth it.

    Ok, we've now had a Swedish phenom captain the team through thick and thin. Thank you, Mats, and good riddance, would probably be the combined thoughts of many of the fans, But he was somehow a passive personality, who just doesn't captivate the fans' imaginations as well as the Belarusian pineapple stabber might.

    I really don't remember what Grapes had to say about Sundin getting the "C", but I'll look it up. Grabovski? Why the hell not? He has the heart, he doesn't seem to feel the pressure...

    It seems unreal to think of Grabbo as the Captain. But basically, he has the biggest heart to go with. I can't really recall when Grabbo was showing indifference towards the play, even when he wasn't playing well. I can remember nights when Phaneuf just didn't bother to show up.

    It wouldn't actually be the first captaincy of his career, he has captained the Belarus. Not the magnitude of the Leafs, but here's the kicker; the reporters could actually take what he says out of context and actually try and misinterpret him to something scandalous, because cleverly, there's just nothing to be had.

    You might get a lot of "fire burn the ice" which would, honestly, be a difference compared to "keep working hard, get back to the basics, and do the little things right".

  29. I honestly think he's someone that, if we stood back and thought about it, would make sense in some ways as Captain, CGLN. I realize there may be some language issues still, but he has guts and plays with fire.

  30. Language issues have as much to do with anything as Saku Koivu captaining the Habs. I recall him being called out for not speaking french after defeating cancer. Well, it was the same sort of cancer that seems to mostly plague fairly good hockey players like Mario Lemieux and Saku Koivu. Unfortunately, Koivu wasn't good enough to speak french after recovery, unlike Mario Lemieux, who spoke the language as candidly as if he'd never saw the sad side of it all. It's still a problem in Quebec if you're an absolute idiot. But take it from someone who actually tried to learn French; It's a damned hard language to learn for someone who speaks Finnish as the first language.

    And no, I never did learn French. According to some referencés, I pronounce it "just right". I simply don't know what I pronounced.

    And really, when you think about it, which one of them speaks worse English? Grabbo, or Phaneuf?