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"Maple Leaf Hangout", Episode 8

It felt like it's been a while since our last show, so we were finally able to get everyone together for Episode 8 of the "Maple Leaf Hangout" program.  The Leafs are a perhaps surprising 6 and 2 on the young season, and we've already seen them deal with a series of injuries (Fraser, Kulemin, van Riemsdyk....Reimer??) to go along with Clarkson's 10-game absence due to suspension.

While they may not always have played as well as their record would indicate, it's likely encouraging that they have won some games they shouldn't have. Though it's early in the season, there have been a few interesting twists and turns, and some surprises.  We discuss precisely that during this program, along with the future of Morgan Rielly, the goaltending situation, turnover issues, Joffrey Lupul as well as a little Jake Gardiner talk.

If you're interested in checking this one out, click here.


  1. Another enjoyable show, Michael! A couple of thoughts:

    - It's important to note, as some have, that Reimer bobbled the puck on a routine shot, and that led to his sprawling out of the crease and getting kneed. I'm sure this is what drives Leafs' management crazy - he keeps turning the routine into an adventure. Dropping the puck though, as he often does, leads to goal mouth scrambles, defensive panic, and what amount to bonus scoring chances. The way Carolina was buzzing the net, I have to believe they would have scored more goals than they did, thanks to the loose pucks. I like James, but he doesn't instill confidence.
    - We may talk about Toronto's explosive offence, but in the last two games they've acted as if they're on the PK all the time - dumping the puck out of the zone or passing aimlessly, only to have the opposing team simply corral the puck and head right back into the Leafs zone. I don't think this bodes well for out foray into Chicago.
    - The question that isn't being addressed by management is who sits when Fraser returns? That's a big one, it seems to me. Would we be worse off if it's Dion/Gunnar, Franson/Fraser, and Ranger/Gardiner? I don't think so. And like one of your guests, I'm wondering why we haven't seen TJ Brennan yet?
    - I was at the game, and Reimer certainly looked dazed as he lay on the ice and eventually got to his feet. I hope we aren't about to have that delayed concussion surface, but it sure felt liuke it was going to when you saw the colllision.

    1. If "rebound control" and glove hand confidence are things that a goalie can work on, I like Reimer's future- here or elsewhere, Gerund O'. He has so many of the other attributes most of us like in goaltenders. He's a competitor and often rises to the occasion. In my eyes he has been good far more often that he has struggled during his years in Toronto.

      Teams go through phases, so I wonder if what you mention about their recent offensive mediocrity will pass?

      I'm a Fraser guy, too. He struggled at times in the playoffs, sure, but he was a stalwart in a protected environment a year ago. He also brings some toughness, which our defense seems to lack right now at times.

      Chicago should be a challenge- and I'm looking for an entertaining game- thanks Gerund!

  2. So glad you all got together for another Handout episode. I've been missing them.
    I'm wondering how Raymond will do once back on the third line. He is getting minutes on the top line but will he be to be as successful back on the third line when other players return? I'm hoping ,because we now have Bolland and occasionally Kadri that we will now have the dangerous third line Carlyle wanted last year with Grabo. I'm just wondering if we can continue to provide lots of opportunity for Mason to do what he does best. I expect we'll still see him getting PP minutes.
    There's nothing that would thrill me more than to see Reimer keep the #1 spot. I like Bernier, his calmness in net etc etc. What I most like about James is the level of compete and the intensity he brings to every game he plays. With Bernier I feel we have seen mostly all we will see. With James I always feel we haven't seen anything yet. I think James is mentally stronger than many think and he will not stop or give up until he proves certain people wrong. I just want to see him do it in Toronto.
    There's just something about a young player with his front tooth missing. I liked what I saw in Leivo during the prospect camp and I hope he stays a while. He had stitches put in after the collision with Reimer and was quite upset about what happened but he kept his focus and came right back out to score his first goal. He has determination and some fire to his game.
    I'm liking Broll as well. There's something very mature and steady about him though he's still very young. He's also a good skater for his size. I think he could be a very versatile and safe option for Carlyle for 3rd and 4th line and on the penalty kill.
    I'm not sure what's best for Rielly but I think it would be better to concentrate on Gardiner alone for a bit. He is struggling and needs some attention. Do we have the time and expertise to develop both players properly at the same time or will one's development suffer? Though I honestly think Reilly is ready I would like to see Gardiner get the time he needs right now. I'd like to see Morgan come in the new year after World Juniors.
    I'm very excited to see how everything comes together this season. C.N.

    1. I agree that Raymond will ultimately find his niche, one would think, as a solid third-line contributor. He certainly seems to have the versatility, though, to play just about anywhere. Good teams need guys like that.

      I'm a Bernier guy too. I'm not sure if we're in a minority. We may well be. I have no issue with Bernier- he'll no doubt be a solid netminder for us. I just believe the present 'tandem' approach won't last.

      Leivo has surprised me. I admit I did not anticipate his even playing with the big club this season.

      Aaron raised Broll's play on the program and he does seem to be earning his keep so far.

      I think Rielly stays, but I guess we'll find out for sure soon. Thanks C.N.- and thanks as well for listening to the show.

  3. Michael,

    Once again, I am thoroughly enjoying the episodes of the Hangout. Already looking forward to the next one. It was a very interesting week in Leafs world, as I like to call it. Plenty of talking points to get to, so lets get to them.

    We talk a lot about Carlyle, both in your forum, and in general as Leaf fans. Is it just me, or does this team play nothing like the way you would think a Carlyle team should play? Besides the face punching, of course, that they have down pat. Although in the last few games, not so much. Where I was going was, I was led to believe that Carlyle is a defensive minded, limit the oppositions chances, play hard along the wall, forecheck, backcheck, no one takes a shift off kind of coach. But, in my opinion, we seem to have as a coach, someone who is able to say that is what he wants to the press, but even after an entire overhaul of the roster, hasn't really changed the team from what Wilson gave us. They are still an opportunistic lot, getting out chanced and outshot, albeit with far superior goaltending. Thought he was some kind of defense first hard ass. I frankly, don't see him that way at all.

    On to Reimer, how many more injuries does he have to have before we do consider him injury prone? He seems to be fine from another blow to the head, that is a good thing. The fact that he still has trouble catching the puck with his glove, is to say the least, troubling. We both love his compete level, or his battle. If he was better at holding on to the puck, maybe he wouldn't have to work so hard. He seems to spend a lot of time laying on the ice trying to recover the puck. Honestly, its something I didn't notice as much until Bernier got here. His team sure does seem relieved that there aren't as many mad scrambles for the puck after a shot on Bernier. If the Leafs make the playoffs and injuries don't factor, Bernier plays every playoff game.

    Very few games left before some suspension and injury relief comes our way. Clarkson will be back, as well as Kulemin and Fraser. I am really looking forward to seeing Clarkson on one of the top two lines. As well as seeing our third line. Bolland, Raymond, and Nik Kulemin. Lots of potential to shut the other team down, as well as score some goals. Our top three lines are as deep as any in the league, without having a truly dominant world class player. Lupul is close to that kind of player, almost there, just not quite. Some better injury luck, and more smarts(Clarkson), and we are well prepared, up front.

    On to Mark Fraser and what to do with Rielly. I see no scenario where he doesn't stay up with the big club. Better options for the future, be damned. As soon as Fraser comes back. One of Gardiner, or Rielly in the press box every game. I honestly, can't be the only one who thinks this is stupid. They both need to play more to develop more. I realize that Carlyle is in the game winning business, not the player development one. It seems obvious to me that these kinds of decisions shouldn't be up to him unless management feels that the team is on the verge of a cup win. Sorry Leaf fans, we aren't.

    Even though I watched the game the other night, did Colton Orr dress? I too, would much rather see Broll play, he seems to have a reason to be on the ice, other than to drop his gloves, and stick. Funny that a guy with some hockey skill, makes for a better team, very strange that.

    1. Outstanding post today, Jim. Enjoyed every paragraph.

      It's funny what you say about Carlyle. You describe well the distinction between what he calls for publicly and what we seem to be witnessing. Our guest on the program referred to Toronto's "quick strike" offensive attack (not sure if those were the exact words). Wasn't that a lot of what we remember from the Wilson era? Carlyle teams are supposed to be different- and this is "his" team now. (I must hasten to add: they have been winning!)

      I'd like to believe Reimer will be fine, short and long-term- health-wise. But I do understand why some see him as "injury-prone". I see it differently, but I get it.

      Like you, I project that third line as the kind that we have needed for years and finally have. Some offense, some grit and an ability to (hopefully) shutdown good lines.

      Some may not feel Fraser is important. I do. An imperfect defenseman, to be sure, but if we look around the NHL these days, there are a lot of third-spair defensemen who make their coaches tense. I think Carlyle feels pretty good when Fraser is out there- and so do his teammates.

      And yes, Broll is showing us something. Thanks Jim.

  4. While I can bemoan the fact that we don't have Komorov this season, we still have a huge slice of team toughness and nastiness sitting poised to return. As we saw in the game against Chicago, we are not hard to play against. At some points during the game I wondered if our strategy was to stand still and let them skate rings around us in hopes they would tire out. We are lacking the hitting and blocked shots (Fraser), the fore-checking and strength on the boards (Kulemin), the digging in the corners and in-your-face nastiness (Clarkson) that we saw last year and during the pre-season. Not to mention the veteran leadership a player like Clarkson brings. And though I don't think we need to fight every game (McLaren) nor can we spare Orr for it, it is still a part of our identity, like it or not, as a team you just don't mess with. I praise the hard work of our rookies but it's very hard for them to replace veteran presence in the line-up. As these four player return we will finally see what this Leafs line-up can do.

    1. The Leafs seem a little caught in between these days, Anon. The injuries are no doubt part of the less-than stellar performances of late, which was the case at times even when we were winning.

      We should be a tougher squad to play against when the injured/suspended guys are back. It's the old, 'no one said this was going to be easy'...thanks Anon.