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“The Maple Leaf Hangout”, Episode 11

With the Leafs in a prolonged break before their next game against the Devils Friday night (and then another lengthy road trip), it seemed timely to pull together the panel for Episode 11 of “The Maple Leaf Hangout”.

Our special guest this time around is Gus Katsaros, the Scouting Coordinator for McKeens Hockey.  Gus provides some very interesting reflections—and perhaps a different perspective—on the blue and white and their play so far this season.

We cover a range of topics, from the impact of the Bolland injury (which stirred some debate about Dave Nonis), to breakdowns and turnover issues as well as the now standard discussion around how many shots we’re giving up.

Hope you enjoy it.


  1. Another good Hangout, Michael, and scary enough for Halloween. What do you do when you lose your two most versatile players - even worse - centers? We can fill the spot but not the role, or many roles, these two play. We were very fortunate to have not one but two centers who could play on lines 1, 2 or 3, on the PP, and were invaluable on the PK. We've lost the type of leadership that can only come from a player who has won it all -twice. It's no wonder that teams hold on to their top 2 or 3 centers at all cost and can afford to let 3rd and 4th line centers go. Do the Leafs mortgage their future on another center ( there's already wild speculations galore- and I have no idea what Giroux is like on the PK) or plug the holes and weather the storm? C.N.

    1. I'm not enough of a cap person to know what the answer is in financial terms, C.N., but you raise a great question. In the short term I'd weather the storm. The idea of over-paying for a player who may not be "the answer" is a bit troubling. I guess it also depends on whether Bolland will be back in less time than first thought.

      For me, the versatility that Bolland brings (and that's impossible to replace, really) - and his leadership - will be missed.

      As for the speculation- sometimes there is something to it, other teams it just seems made-up. We'll soon see! Thanks C.N.

  2. Michael,

    Great episode, it was too long between episodes. Heres hoping that we can increase the frequency a little bit. Lots of time between games, need my fill of Leafs talk.

    I really and truly couldn't agree more with Mike Stephens perspective on the situation that management has them in. When a team insists on carrying multiple goons on the active roster, the opportunity cost of that is giving away guys like Colborne. Having the plugs in the lineup night after night, hurts the ability of the rest of the team. Other guys have to play more to compensate for the fact that Orr, Bodie, and McLaren can't play hockey and are glued to the bench. To me, its not about having Colborne, its solely about not having options.

    Carlyle's insistence on specialists, there are a bunch of guys on this team that can do one thing, and only one thing. McClement checks, and kills penalties, yet cannot score. Bozak and Kadri can score but cannot check. The goons can punch but cannot skate, or do much of anything else honestly. This results in more reliance on the top three lines, now some of the actual hockey players are injured, and they are right against the cap. The top players play more than they maybe should, and I don't think that players play better after a certain point.

    The fact that there is very little criticism of management here is disappointing to me. Hammers are very useful tools, unless you really need a wrench. This team needs players who are versatile. Bolland was very versatile, the problem to me is that almost no one else in this lineup is. There was some criticism of my comments about Bolland being a third line centre, maybe he really is a second. Who knows, the bad thing is that if thats the case then is Kadri a third line guy, is it Bozak? It seems to me that all we really have is three third line centres. Even if you like Bolland, he's not a top flight NHL'er at the position.

    The idea that the team needs multiple breakout plays, dependent upon which one of the six defenceman is on the ice seems like an unnecessary complication. No one on this team goes and demands to get the puck in their own zone. Is this because they aren't willing to take the risk, or that they aren't capable. The forwards seem so passive when it comes to this, I think. It really seems like they don't want the puck, maybe its a lack of talent at centre ice.

    I have said since the start of the season that I don't like the makeup of the team, still don't. Too many one trick ponies on this team. They are up against the cap, and are suffering through injuries, not a good recipe to make changes. The rest of the season is going to be incredibly interesting.

  3. Two areas that would seem to be a "concern" (at least from my perspective) going forward are our play at centre, yes, and our blue line corps. I would feel that way likely even without the loss of Bolland.

    I used to feel that way about our overall forward mix in previous years- way too many third-line guys, not enough elite talent up front. Now we have some high-end plays (Lupul, Kessel, van Riemsdyk….Kadri??) but at centre, I'm not so sure, as you well break down.

    Your second-to-last paragraph caught my eye. It's worth reading again for those visiting today. Thanks Jim.

  4. Michael,

    Do you see any possibility of a huge trade happening? I am thinking along the lines of getting Gilmour from Calgary oh so many years ago. Is there a package that Toronto could put together to get Ryan Nugent Hopkins out of Edmonton. I would trade Reimer, Gardiner, Bozak and a pick for him. Would this work for you? What do you think of it from Toronto's perspective, Edmonton's? Have you heard any other rumours that might solve the Leafs problems as well as another teams?

    1. I'm not a good trade 'speculator', Jim but if I had to put my prognostication (guessing?) hat on, I would think that, while Edmonton may have the more urgent need (including in goal), I wonder if Calgary is the better fit as a trading partner?

      I will say that teams surely know Toronto may be feeling a tad desperate these days so I doubt they will be lining up to help us. I don't see us "winning" a trade, say, with Calgary- Burke won't let that happen. And I'm not sure Edmonton will part with one of Nugent-Hopkins or Yakupov. (Gosh they have a lot of individually talented offensive guys, eh…?) I'm not sure where this leaves us!

  5. Another good listen, Michael! I really enjoyed both James Mirtle's and Gus's contributions in the last two episodes. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for that, Matt D.- good to know some folks are enjoying the discussion.

  6. Some good news at least. With the return of Fraser, Gardiner is back on the left paired with Franson. Fraser is paired with Ranger. Assuming this arrangement stands I believe we will see some heavy hitting from the third pair.

    I was hoping to see Smithson given a chance. The Marlies seem to be finding veterans looking for a second chance and it's certainly been a help to the Leafs so far.

    It often sparks new interest when a new player arrives, reguardless of his talents. More so when it's a veteran. I'm looking forward to his first face-off as a Leaf.

    After a jump straight into the regular season and very little time for Randy to work with his roster, these few days have been so important. We'll see on Friday what he's managed to do in five days. I'm ever hopeful. C.N.

    1. We sometime hear coaches say there is often not enough time during the busy regular-season NHL schedule to work on things (much like baseball teams forget "fundamentals" once spring training is in the rearview mirror). So the Leafs will, I'm sure, have utilized their "time off" well, C.N.- Carlyle knew there were gaps in our game.

      As fans we always wait to see what the "new guy" can bring. We may have to wait on Smithson (not sure) but Fraser will be an "old" new guy....I'm happy he's back. Thanks C.N.