Thursday, January 31

NHL Rule #94 (New): No Stick Checks

Every single time the topic of officiating comes up in any hockey broadcast I watch, I hear the commentators say the exact same thing: That NHL officiating is the best officiating in the entire sports world. If that is indeed true, then I now know why NASCAR is so popular.

The Keystone Cops of tonight's joke-a-thon between The Leafs and The Hurricanes were Mike "Eggo My" Leggo, and Don "30 Years Experience" Koharski. Now before I get started on this, I don't want any non-Leaf fans who may be reading (ie: Moose) to think that this is one of those "the calls always go against The Leafs" posts of years gone by. It isn't. But for fuck sake, in the 21st fucking century, how can a game be called so shittily?

Forgetting the Blake no-goal that Cam Ward had to reach back into the locker room to pull out. Forgetting that Scott Walker was pointing at some chick in the upper bowl with his stick when the puck struck it, sending it on a 45 degree downward trajectory into the net; at least the war room validated those. It was the snow-blind call on Antropov in overtime that gives refereeing a terrible name. It's the kind of thing that robs a little bit of the love of the game from you, when you realize that with 2 and a half minutes to go in overtime, some tubby man-tit from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia- who wasn't go enough to play- just changed your teams fate.

So Stillman is exiting the zone when Antropov tries to stick check him from behind. Koharski, naturally, calls him for HOOKING, sending the Hurricanes on a game winning powerplay. I mean, that's just fucking wrong and awful, and not just because it went against the Leafs; that's just the cruelest cut of all. If we'd won on that, I'd accept the extra point, but I wouldn't take any pride in it.

Apparently Antropov was assessed two game misconducts after the horn for "abusing the officials", which I hope meant he was hitting them with a belt and screaming that they'd never amount to anything. Either way, that's a three game suspension. Maurice, whose had it up to here, came very close to criticizing the officials to the media scrum, so we'll see if he gets fined by the league. I hope he does. You know why? Because he was right:

Wednesday, January 30

CANNON FODDER

The question we Leafs fan have to ask is: Is Mats Sundin possibly the ultimate captain? A man whose love for his team actually supersedes his desire to win a Stanley Cup. A man whose love for his team means that unless he wins said cup in a Leafs uniform than he'd rather not win one at all, thank you very much? Isn't that exactly the kind of unwaivering, unconditional loyalty that we ourselves show this team. Is Mats, yet again, leading the charge?

It just doesn't seem feasible in this day and age to find such selflessness. It's a much racier headline when it reads that Mats wants to play the good guy and say that he doesn't want to be traded but that secretly he wants out of Dodge. That his nice guy act is just that, an act. Eating our own is a fairly Toronto mentality but I really believe that Mats doesn't want to be traded. I don't think he is a rat who wants off this sinking, stinking garbage barge of a campaign. Even though he has a thousand reasons why he should (Jonus fucking Hoglund on his wing for one).
One of the marks of a great Captain is a do or die mentality. Think of a former Captain of ours, the one that Mats was traded for. Certainly it could be argued that he always played his best in the Blue and White. That his heart just didn't beat the same under any other crest. And Dougie? Here is a man whose jersey hung on hooks in St. Louis, Calgary, Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo and Montreal. A man whose mullett was present to lift the Stanley Cup in another city. And yet, when you think of Killer, I bet you he's wearing the Blue And White.
That can't be taught of course. It's in the heart and Mats is showing just that. To me he loves the Toronto Maple Leafs like we love the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And that's why Mats above the stats, the consistency, the selflessness, the hairline will go down as the Greatest Toronto Maple Leaf of All Time.

I am sorry you Keon people, I am sorry you Sittler people, you Vaive people really have to try and get out more, and you all know how I feel about Wendel and Dougie but its Mats who will go down in history as the greatest of all time.

There...now I've said it twice.

And it's that exact same reason why Mats will waive his no trade clause. Because it will benefit his team. This team, your team, my team, our team, we all scream for ice cream, Toronto Maple Leafs.

And is it going to suck? Oh shit...it's going to be bad. Remember the first girl to break your heart? Remember how it felt the first time you saw her with another guy? It's going to be akin to that.
Real lip trembling, heart in the stomach, lump in the throat, I promised Mess I wouldn't do this, territory.

Monday, January 28

Kyle Wellwood: 4th Liner. Also: Fat, Lazy

I'm not sure how much of what I'm feeling right now about Kyle Wellwood is completely justified and based in reality, or if the fact that I'm kind of sick today is making me a complete asshole. Whichever the reason, I'm really pissed at Kyle Wellwood. Kyle has just been demoted to the 4th line on a team that now sits 28th out of 30 teams, so the way I figure it, he is now the 680th best player in the NHL. Or is that worst? I don't know. Kyle will now be sharing an inglorious 4 minutes of ice time per game with Johnny Pohl and Wade Belak. To tell you the truth I'd rather see Bates Battaglia there, or Ben Ondrus, or Kris Newbury, or Norte, or Me. At least you know those guys will fucking bring it.

To say that Kyle is a baby-faced guy is the understatement of the century unless you quickly follow it up with "baby-bodied", "baby-legged" and "baby-conditioned". Everything on him is round. Kyle is so out of shape, he wouldn't make it in my league; and my league features Wash, who regularly samples an entire tasting menu with wine minutes before a game.

Everything about Wellwood's shit season can be attributed tho the fact that last summer, the heaviest lifting he did was hauling the empty 2-4 case out of the back of the pickup and into his local LCBO. How do we know? Because unbelievably, Wellwood's dad said so last year before training camp, throwing Kyle under any number of busses, including this one.

What era does Kyle Wellwood think he's in? Is this 1978? The days when a hockey player thought of training camp as the place to get in shape are long gone. One of the last guys of any note to do it that way was Gretzky, and that was 20 years ago and it was Gretzky. Do you know how much better Kyle's groin would be if he'd worked out last year? Immeasurably. Not only would the muscle itself be stronger, more flexible and resilient, but so would all the surrounding tissues helping to support the already prone area. He would hit the ice ready to play instead of trying to catch up during game situations. Well guess what? If you have to catch up in the NHL, you're already dead...or on the forth line/press box, which for a skill guy like Wellwood is basically the same thing.

Kyle has to get serious about being an NHL player and a Toronto Maple Leaf. This is a guy who was traded straight up for Jason Spezza in Junior. If he continues this laissez-faire career, let's just say he's going to look great in a TPS Turku uniform.

To show just how far we haven't come, please enjoy the last time I wrote about the area around Kyle's genitals. You're welcome.

Katz says Rats

Soooooo, that headline isn't accurate to what I'm aiming to write about here. In fact, Edmonton megagajillionaire Daryl Katz is probably wringing his golden hands together in a swivelly leather chair as we speak, but this headline rhymed and my other options didn't.

It looks like the deal is done here. The Edmonton Journal reported that after some of the mini-bosses on the EIG agreed to sell their shares at a suddenly inflated price Katz has over 60% ownership, which is what he said he'd close at, though he wants more. I just hope he doesn't get it, then freak out while trying to resign both Tom Gilbert and Joni "Revenge Offer Sheet" Pitkanen and pull a Hudsucker out his 90th floor window. But that's all fine and good. He's got what he wants (basically) and so we don't have to worry about the sad remaining semi-millionaires left to stand in his way. What I'm confused about is the fact that every EIG member that hasn't agreed to sign has given the same reasons, they are concerned about his desire to keep the team in Edmonton. And not one person in the media has even mentioned how ridiculous a notion that is. Here's why that concern no longer makes sense in today's world.

1st. The $. At this point the Canadian dollar is on par if not slightly stronger than the American one, there is no longer money to be made shifting the team to a US market, nor is there money to be saved by not having to pay the difference. Add to that the fact that Alberta is the richest province in Canada and that leads to...

2nd. The fans. You show me one other place in all professional sports where a team can have the year it had last year PLUS the year it is having this year and still sell out every game, making a profit in the process. And that's with one of the smallest arena's in the league. You add on another two thousand people and the average $5000 that a season of their ticket buying gets you and you tell me that Winnipeg or North Carolina is a better market.

3rd. The competition. Well I know the Oil Kings are doing well in ticket sales... and um, do the Trappers still play? No, they were sold and the Cracker Cats moved in. Right? How are they doing? Doesn't matter. There are no other entertainment options in Edmonton other than live theater that is pulling in up to 200 people a night, and watching people get stabbed with actual kitana swords on Whyte Avenue after 10pm on a wednesday. They may have added another time to that show, yeah, just looked it up, stabbings at 10 and midnight. Even then though!

4th. Katz is from Edmonton, lives in Edmonton, and has a mansion made of old Canadian $2 bills and pure laughter built in Edmonton. Why would he even want to move?

5th. The selling price. So if there's no benefit to moving the team, maybe selling the team is his angle. This is probably the biggest since Katz is supposed to a money grubbing jerk, right? The Penguins, with the best young team in hockey since the original Oilers, were willing to sell for $175 million last year. Katz is now offering $200 million for a crappy team doing crappily. What's he gonna make selling to some other billionaire?

Soooo, its not like back when Peter Puck was trying to sell the team and could use moving the team out of Edmonton as leverage. There is no other place that is a better fit for the Oil, no other city that gives a damn about hockey, and no other locale that is a guaranteed money maker. Maybe that's why the EIG wants to hang on, huh?

Friday, January 25

The TV Guide Says...Hey, It's All-Star Weekend!

The All-Star game is this weekend, and like every year I'm actually looking forward to it. It's so easy to just pawn off any all-star competition as an all-hype event where millionaires show up to compete at 1/3 the pace, skill and ability, all of which, I may add, are true. But there's something different about the NHL's weekend that makes it actually bearable watchable. Besides the fact that not one single player in the game will be fat, the chief difference is that in the NHL All-Star game, the players actually seems to have fun being there and participating. In other sports' "all-star" games, you see the faraway looks in the players eyes as they realize that by being there they had to turn down an opportunity to have sex with Mariah Carey. With hockey players, the dialogue is more like this:

"Oh geez. Hey, man, what's happening?"
"Ah, nothin."
"How're ya gonna beat Brodeur in the skills competition?"
"Oh, I dunno. Just gotta put the puck to the net, and see what happens."
"Yeah, I hear ya. Just gotta go hard for 60 minutes."
"Yeah"
"Hey, how's your Mum?"

Etc, etc. You know, you can't blame them for that. Life is hard playing hockey in the NHL, what with all of the modesty and children's hospital visiting. The fact is, we're the luckiest fans in the world. The fact that Mats isn't in the game notwithstanding.

Thursday, January 24

Hell No, Mats Won't Go! Wait, Yes. Yes He Will

The only thing worse than that headline, is the fact that it's true. Mats will be traded to someone within the next month. My fingers ache as I write that, and it's not because of my achy fingers. What a horrible thing to have to write. Mats on another team.
I know this because the man "in charge" of the Leafs has been mandated with making the Leafs a better team. Judging by the idiot savants on the board of MLSE, I'm assuming that mandate is his own. Never the less, he has it. Cliff Fletcher knows what a winning Leafs team means round these parts (ie: the Planet Earth) and will do what is necessary to make that happen. Lest you forget, he's done that very thing before.

JFJ was not going to trade anyone off of this team between now and the deadline. It would have been his death knell, both as GM, and as human being. He forever known as the guy who traded Mats, the King of Kings. Cliff Fletcher is the GM of the Leafs because he's got the stones to meet with Mats and explain to him the horrible, horrible truth. That is, that after a pre-determined date sometime in the next month and till July 1st, the Toronto Maple Leafs, YOUR Toronto Maple Leafs, HIS Toronto Maple Leafs, will be, for the first time in 14 years, a better team without him. He will say that there is no point to Mats going home to Sweden again in April. That by playing somewhere else, basically for 2 and a half months, he will be able to ensure that the Leafs won't have to go through this terrible fallow period for another 5 or 10 years. That aside from being able to win his own Cup (my god, can you imagine!), he can help the Leafs immeasurably, and then come back and enjoy the fruits of his sacrifice if he so chooses...winking and nudging the whole time. Mats will understand this and waive his NTC. Regardless of that, once a team comes to you with that request, you kind of want to leave, right?

It was Fletcher's old, graying balls that got us Mats in the first place. By trading a beloved Captain. For Christs sake, it's his nickname! His name isn't "Stand-Pat Fletch" or "Easy Does It Cliff" or "Can't We Please Just Think This Through Cliffy". It's "Trader Cliff". And you get that unironic moniker one way only.

Tuesday, January 22

Get Out of Town, Fletch

I watched a 30 minute gore-fest of a press conference today announcing the firing of John Ferguson as VP/GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Cliff Fletcher put in as interim GM. That in and of itself is not the worst news I've ever heard. The objectionable part of it was the meeting was chaired by a grey-skinned Nosferatu named Richard Peddie. Peddie stays true to his vampiric brethren in every way except when he climbs in your window at night, it's not because he wants to drink your blood, it's because he wants to go through your pants pockets for twonies.

Sitting with Cliff Fletcher- a man who's actually accomplished something in his life besides a grotesque accumulation of money - Peddie waxed rhapsodic about Fletch as if the turnaround of the Leafs was to start then and now. When pressed by a reporter, Peddie stated that Fletcher would have all the room he needs to maneuver to get the Leafs ship righted until a full-time GM is hired (with Fletcher's help). He then unintentionally contradicted himself when he said that he and some fat lawyer named Gord Kirke were going to oversee that process. Read: Sit on Fletcher's shoulder second and third guessing his every move. Also, that's just what this organization needs, isn't it? Another meddling non-hockey knob sticking his snout where it
doesn't belong.

The fact remains that as long as Peddie has anything to do with the hockey side of the Leafs, he will cause trouble. Not only with his direct meddling, but by reputation; People around the NHL know what kind of shit they'd have to go through if they worked for MLSE. Who in their right mind would ever put themselves through that? OK, obviously I would, faster than I could say "Go fuck yourselves, other He Score, He Shoot posters!" And trust me, I can say that fuckin fast. What I'm getting at is, Peddie's ongoing involvement may scare away some potentially high quality candidates. On the other hand, we're the motherfucking Toronto Maple Leafs and every sports mind in the world would dry hump Sam Pollock's corpse to have a ride inside us.

The next GM has to be the strongest candidate in hockey, and that to me is one Brian "Mr. Brian Burke" Burke. The Leafs need the strongest hand to guide them. When we have it, like with Pat Quinn and Pat Burns, we have success. When we don't, like with Mike Murphy, and Ken Dryden, we don't. The job is Burke's to lose, and he/we all know it. The Toronto media will start feeding on that so look for them to hound him all month long about it. He'll say he's got another year on his contract in Anaheim, and that he's not going anywhere. But give me a break. Isn't that the same thing that Scotty Bowman was saying last summer, after which we learn he'd accepted the position and it was the board (well, Peddie) that rejected it at the 11th hour?
Burke's fortitude and ego will help his decision making for him. His ego will tell him that there's nothing that he couldn't overcome. Running the biggest ship in hockey will be oh-so tantalizing as well. I live an hour from his house. Trust me, he is dying of boredom.

OUT WITH THE NEW, IN WITH THE OLD

JFJ has left the building. No surprise there. JFJ getting fired was accepted and really it was down to the when. Really he was fired the minute that douchebag real estate agent in the $3000 suit started flapping his porcelain veneers. Whether JFJ did or didn't do the job and even regardless of the fact that he had to go: (he did) The way in which this was handled made me hang my Leafs head in shame. Perhaps the worst Leafs front office handling since Larry Murphy was let go for future considerations.

What's fair is that JFJ isn't the only guy in a suit at the ACC whose head should roll.

And no offense to Trader Cliff but I think the days of getting Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville for Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Jeff Reese, Craig Berube, and Alexander Godynyuk are over. There's not a GM in the league that would take that sucker's bet today. How good 'ol Fletch fooled Doug Risebrough that cold January day in 1992 is anyone's guess.

On the rumor front. I just heard Sundin to the Flyers for Jeff Carter and a first round pick in this years draft. But the rumor that keeps persisting is Sundin to the Flames for a package that would include Alex Tanguay.

"As all of our general managers have had, he will have the autonomy and responsibility for all hockey decisions ..."

Wednesday, January 16

THERE IS NO LIGHT AND YOU CAN'T EVEN FIND THE TUNNEL

I keep repeating to myself…not so much mantra like as obsessive compulsively, destruction begets beautiful acts of creation, destruction begets beautiful acts of creation and it’s like reading philosophy cos I don’t really understand what it means but I like saying it anyway, over and over again, to myself. The problem is I have begun to think that about the Leafs as well. Its not that I want them to lose necessarily but I don’t want them to win - basically. There is no malocchio on anyone’s head but there isn’t not a malocchio on anyone’s head either. I don’t think it’s as terrible as it would be to go on a terrible losing streak. Not Say It Aint So, Joe territory, closer to Wozniewski Belak first line PP and PK…giver’ a shot. (Shrugs)

The only thing we can hope for is no winning streaks.

God that sounds terrible, I know. Look…personally I hope Mats scores two goals a night…because I keep thinking, rubbing my hands together like a creepy scheming madman…1st and 3rd round picks for a broken down Peter Forsberg. 1st and 2nd round pick in 2007, 2nd round in 08, and Glen Metropolit for Keith Tkachuk. Keith Tkachuk? Who truly was only ever dominating in Power Play 96 for the Playstation, and that was really only ever against Greener.
I digress.

In 1984 at the trade deadline the Jets traded their 3rd round pick in that years draft to Montreal for a palooka named Robert Picard. Montreal went ahead and used that pick to draft Patrick Roy. Our own beloved Maple Leafs gave up Alyn McCauley and Brad Boyes and their 1st pick in the 03 draft for Owen Nolan and his prematuring grey beard. I won’t even tell you what they parted with for Brian Leetch and Ron Francis (mainly because I don’t want to look it up.)
And then I think…well...if we’re rebuilding anyway, knowing that Raycroft, Tucker and Blake are virtually un-tradable, that this team, this group isn’t good enough, and that this years draft is stacked, perhaps its time to think about Kaberle too. With his amazing first pass, agreeable contract and milky white skin he would fetch an agreeable return. And that’s what our team needs. Agreeable returns. An agreeable return is Gilmour, Macoun, Nattress, Manderville, Wamsley for Leeman, Godynuk, Reese, Petit and Berube. That one worked out in our favor if I remember correctly.

I can hear Greener now, talking on and on (and on) about Kaberle only getting better. That at 30 years old...he is just coming into his prime. I would agree with him but Anton Stralman looking a lot like Kaberle did 5 years ago but a better skater seems to be in our midsts. And I I believe Kaberle would fetch a 1st rounder this year. It would be a shame to break those two up…like twins. Imagine the return from trading them both together?
I know this seems treasonous but my colors are blue.

Keep losing and in 4 years were the Penguins. I think we should accept our fate…if this GM is going to be fired, do it now…get someone in there with enough time to do a deal properly. I’m not going to name drop but we all know the names of the hockey minds bandied who have been bandied and paraded about for JFJ’s job. Interim, short term, long term…even if its old junk, its still rock 'n' roll to me. Just do it or don’t. It’s not the product on the ice that’s bad, it’s not coaching, it’s not JFJ, who looks better and better as the days go on, its not Andrew Raycroft. It's Richard Goddamn Peddie. I put the malocchio on Peddie.

PS. It was Maxim Kondratiev, Jarkko Immonen, a first-round pick in the 2004 draft, which became Lauri Korpikoski, a second-round pick in 2005, which became Michael Sauer and 4th round selection (later traded to Columbus - Columbus selected Jared Boll) in 2005, respectively.

Tuesday, January 15

Leafs Win. Say, "Wow, It's Way Better Than Losing!"

A couple of very uncommon things happened in the world today. One was that I spent the afternoon at Moose's house and actually enjoyed myself, and the other was that the Leafs won their hockey game, 5-4 against L' Ouragans du Caroline. This is the first win for my darlings since, I think 1954/55, or was it 55/56? No, no, it was 54/55. I'm also happy to report that the Leafs won in convincing fashion, playing a full 60 minute game. Well maybe a 45 minute game, really pushing to start the second, and looking good down the line(s) after that.

Joe Bowen and Greg Millen were really pumping up Anton Stralman, and with good reason. He looked great during the game, and as far as I'm concerned, most of the games he's been in. Kubina played well too, minus that "let's keep it interesting" moment with 5 seconds left. He was obviously trying to avenge Ponikarovsky's unshot pulled goalie goal against the Canes and score into the open net, as I distinctly heard him yell "Dis is one for juo, Poni'ez" which is weird because I should never have been able to hear that, and because I just discovered how hard it is to write a convincing Czech language accent.
Blake was buzzing all night during a really entertaining game. Matt Stajan looked strong, and well, well, well, you know who added a little spark? Mr. Dom Moore, thank you very much. You know who looked to take away a little spark, Mr. Andy "Cory Cross" Wozniewski. I don't know if any of you remember what Cory Cross looked like in a Leafs uniform...well, of course he looked physically awesome, as we have the fuckin studliest outfits since The Knights of the Round Table. What I mean is, he usually played hockey badly, was always a liability, prone to doing exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. Ask Moose. The Oilers were saddled with Cross two teams after us. Woz is starting to look like that. I know everyone gets out the sharpest cutlery for Wozniewski (I'm looking generally in your direction, JaredofLondon) so I don't have to. I'll remain fair and impartial and say only that Wozniewski reminds me of one of the Leafs most untrustable defensemen in their entire long and storied history.

When I saw that the Canes were starting Michael Leighton, I thought, "How queer!" Then I realized that I was just looking at Moose's taste in furniture. Then I saw who the Canes were starting in net, and I thought, "Really? Michael Leighton?", and it struck me that he must be from Ontario and was therefore about to shut us out, as shitty goalies from the GTA/Ontario always do. I've written about this diabolical yet true phenomena before, using my natural flair and creativity.

We have so much to talk about, don't we? I'm going to write more fully soon about the newest developments in the pathetic and despicable de Sade like handling of John Ferguson Jr. by MLSE. JFJ, whether you like him as a GM or not, is a class act as a person. He is constantly demeaned and demoralized by these rich cocksuckers who hired him and he NEVER strikes back with any bullshit of his own; refusing to wallow in the same trough that those ruinous pigs Richard Peddie and Larry Tanenbaum.
JFJ has gathered a lot of sympathy from around the league, and will land on his feet after he is finally freed from the gallows his ACC gondola has become.

I know that Norte has some thoughts on this, as well as "Oh, gee wiz, do I really have to write about the Leafs?" Moose. Until we're lucky enough to read those, here are some archived posts I uploaded from Heaven just for you: In this one I write nice things about JFJ, and in this one, I call Peddie an asshole, TWICE! It's like kissing sisters!

Saturday, January 12

Well, The Leafs Won the Second Period, Right?

As a responsible hockey blogger and all around dullard entertaining guy, I'm a big believer in giving the people what they want. And right now what the people want is...to know what happened when I went to see the Leafs play the Kings at the Staples Center on Thursday! I know, I know, me too! It's all so interesting even I want to know what happened, and I was there!

As I mentioned bitterly a few posts ago, HS/HS second liner Moose's asshole of a boss promised he and I a box suite in exchange for joining his team. We did that, in the end handing him a t-shirt with the word "CHAMPIONS" on it. Being the honorable dudes we are, we clearly expected him to stiff us and snicker when we decided to actually ask him for his promised riches, which he did. We really shouldn't have been too surprised really. You know that ancient Confucian proverb: "If wise men lay with dogs...something - something - something - Moose's boss is a jerk."

So I had to scramble like crazy and got probably some of the best seats in the arena. Section 119, Row 14, Seat 15, directly above the Leafs bench. I got there an hour before the game, as did 10,000 other Leafs jerseys. It was so amazing being with people I actually care about. I mean, I usually hang out with Moose, so that tells you something right there. When grown men are giving smiling acknowledgment to each other in the bathroom, you know it's either because you each have a Leafs jersey on, or you're both cruising for anonymous gay sex. This time, it was the former.
I was right beside the Leafs tunnel and took these action shots:

What's amazing are two things. One, that clearly I should be a photographer for the Associated Press, and two, it's amazing how thrilled I was to see them. I haven't seen the Leafs since 2003, so getting the chance again was really incredible.
Here's a note about me: I'm not a star fucker in any way; I could give a shit about celebrity. I've been friends with very famous people, and let me tell you, the majority of them are the meanest, shit-hearted jerks you'll ever meet. But when it comes to this group, that changes. During the warm-up, I had my face pressed up against the glass with the other lunatics and I made eye contact with Mats as he skated up to, and past the glass, and right then and there, I literally got sprung. I'm sorry if this shocks you, but it's true. I got sprung. It's a good thing I was wearing my bathrobe.

By the way, reading this back to myself, I realize that all this may be like being forced to look at someones slides of their trip to Banff National Park, except, you know, awesome, and about the Leafs. And quasi-gay. Ok, totally gay. But, you know, just bear with me.

As for the game itself. Uh, wow. We've all had a few days to digest everything we saw, and everything we didn't see. I REALLY don't want to pile on Andrew Raycroft, but that was one of the softest goaltending performances I've ever seen. It looked like when one of the trainers puts on equipment for the players to shoot at him during an optional skate. The size and frequency of the rebounds Andrew was giving out were really shocking. Frolov floats a week backhander off his chest and it sails four feet away back to the slot, to be slammed in for (another) goal. That's not weak goaltending, that's no goaltending. I don't think Raycroft will ever see another game in a Leafs sweater. His bad performances are now pathological. J.S. Aubin never saw another Leafs game, and he played better than Raycroft has this year. Scott Clemmensen is the Leafs backup goalie.

From what I saw, this is a group of players who are having absolutely no fun playing hockey right now. They all looked so unbelievably miserable on the bench. When Darcy scored, he skated straight to the bench, slammed the door and sat down. A team so far down like this is ripe for speculation. Have they given up on Paul Maurice, and have accepted that his system has failed, as everyone seems to think? Or is it an indication that the other shoe is about to drop, and that something has to change, and that starts on the ice. I guess we'll have an indication of what the answer is starting in San Jose.

LEAFS 2007 – 2008: These are not the Droids you are looking for

Let me start by saying that putting Toskala into the net on Thursday was one of the worst hockey decisions I have ever seen. One can suppose that Paul Maurice was just trying to protect an already destroyed Andrew Raycroft. (As a goalie I appreciate the move, as a Leaf fan I am horrified.) Or that just like line combinations, taking him out was tantamount to shaking up the team. (Of course, Raycroft was marshmallow soft and clearly couldn't’t see the puck.) I don’t care how porous the defense in front of you is, an .871 save percentage is your own doing. Still I believe he should have played the whole game. Suffered the complete loss and was given the chance to be part of the much better 2nd and 3rd periods. Quite frankly I think pulling him wasn’t the red flag in front of the team it was supposed to be. It was a white flag.
(Did you see Raycroft on the bench after he was pulled. I have never seen someone chew gum so forlornly.)

It left me uneasy that Toskala was put in. What am I supposed to make of a blatant disregard of his groin? Re-injured…of course...cos groins are apparently made of gold leaf. (No pun)

And for tonight’s game, all I can hope is that Pogge was called up to back up Raycroft…not start. I believe in baptism by fire but ask Dan Blackburn what can happen when you bring a goalie in too early. Simply put, this isn’t Pogge’s time. I think calling Clemenson back would have been a better choice. Regardless of who is called up. You gotta go with Raycroft. For so many reasons its just a shame that I dont have some sort of avenue to write and tell you why.

Paul Maurice and his coaching style of hard work, intense fore-checking, strong puck support and attention to defensive play clearly was the wrong choice for this team. Just in case you were playing along, that’s sarcasm. One can only hope that he is not caught in the crossfire….
He should be held accountable for a disastrous PP and PK and as his claim, at the beginning of the year, that this team was playoff ready. Our slide, this slide, really…with very few exceptions, has been happening from the beginning. The few games where we did play well were clearly the anomaly.
As far as I am concerned you keep Kaberle, Antropov, Toskala, Wellwood, White and Stajan…other than that…all the rest if up for grabs.

This is where Toskala is injured.

Thursday, January 10

Game Over: 2:11 seconds in? Terrible

Ow. Ow, Owwwwwwwwww. Okay that’s the sound of pain, of realization. Like a toothache. A persistent, aching, stinking, horrible toothache. My team, your team, our team: this team just isn’t good enough. It hurts me to the core to write that statement. But like that toothache, I have to realize that I can’t keep on ignoring it. With the Leafs this year I have brushed, flossed, lathered, rinsed and repeated. I have chewed on the other side of my mouth, wrapped my head in gauze. Drank neither hot nor cold drinks and just pretended that everything was fine. But there it always was, from my first intake of breath to my last sip of lukewarm juice. An infection that reminds, like a slap in the face, that something just isn’t right.

I believe that this was the game (last nights against the Ducks). The game I will remember or, more specifically, try to forget. The one that was the barometer. I don’t believe that this was the game in terms of an X on a calendar, a hey lets see how we’re doin’ kind of thing on a randomly picked date. No no…this game, this team. Not just because they’re the Stanley Cup champs either…but because the Ducks, you can smell already, are a playoff team.
Woefully underachieving at the start of the season very much like our very own team. The difference: Stanley Cup hangovers don’t last 40 years. To paraphrase the song New York, New York: …if we can make it there (Honda Center), we can make it anywhere.
But this game for me….more than any others this year shows me what my team lacks. I would say that earlier losses to Boston, Phoenix and Carolina were more humiliating but none have been as unequivocal in showing what the Leafs are lacking.

The Ducks should start growing their beards now.

And if Brian Burke is worth his weight in salt, which he might just be, I would go after Mats with every fiber of my being. Does the thought literally make me ill? Of course it does…Mats Sundin is my captain….not yours, fuckface…but because of that…I want Mats to hoist that most beautiful of trophies. The Ducks own Edmonton’s first round pick this year…and as the Oil are about as terrible as the Leafs (sorry Moose and Wash), the prospect of two high first round draft picks (not to mention whatever else Mats would garner) is exciting. I know that Selanne is coming back too. Can you imagine? I can. Can you say repeat?

I can hear HS/HS’s own Greener now: With 40 games remaining, it’s a bit premature to sell the farm. Maybe but I really don’t believe it’s too early to start thinking about the future of our team…and right now Mats is golden. Will his stock ever be as high again?

Wednesday, January 9

1 Day and Counting


GAME TIME:

Tuesday, January 8

Aliens to MacT: Ummmm, nah, you keep Grebeshkov

Who in piss hell was that playing in the Oilers silks last eve? That question has been burning in the minds of Edmonton fans, and likely any scouts that were present and more than likely in the coaching and front office staff's fevered brains in the wake of an entertaining, free flowing, humdinger of a game.

I wish I could comment on how the Oil have turned a corner. I wish I could disprove the "Canadians eat their own" rule. I wish. But no. The Oilers did this to me in early december. Remember? When we'd all gotten over them. When it became clear that the Oilers were just a bunch of jerk asses left over from the previous year, and that just under 10 million dollars had been spent on two guys in exchange for the sole service of "being tall". Then, suddenly, more than two games were won in a row. The earth shuddered, shook, tried to shimmy but embarassedly stopped halfway having never been clear on what a shimmy really was, then split open and swallowed the team again and with it, my hopes and dreams.

Since I refuse to do any research for this blog thereby unseating Moose as the club secretary I'm going to give a vague stat. 16 games in a row where the opposition got at least one point. 16! That's an awful lot of division rivals strolling away with parting gifts or even with the big door prize. So forgive me for not hopping on the wagon again. Besides, I simultaneously fell off the Oilers bandwagon and my AA bandwagon and so if I tried to get back on I'd miss or at best throw up all down the side.

That being said, boy, it was fun to watch those alien bodysnatchers wearing the skins of our players last night. Remember when Xlykok, dressed as Hemsky, began to deke and instead shot between the legs of the hapless Islander defenceman? Human Hemmer woulda tried a deke and been pushed off the puck and then whiffed on a pass. Or howzabout The Mighty Gorffrijion, wearing the recently removed face of Marty Reasoner over his glistening scales, using some sort of alien time bending technology that warped his style of play back to when he was in junior? Or the insidious, devilish, hideous Grebeshkov, who was not taken over by our new alien overlords and instead was just as terrible.

Dennis Grebeshkov (pictured right) was his usual horrifying self. How he managed to not be inspired by his teams clean breakouts, by Hemmer's lifting the team on his shoulders, by Stoll's resurgence or by Mathieu Garon's first game as official starter and instead chose to blow it huge every time he touched the puck, I will never understand. So lemme get this straight, he can't play in a tight checking game because he's not strong enough or positionally sound, so he must be able to shine in a game like last nights, where there were three different occasions in which the game went over five minutes without a stop. We've got Gilbert, Pitkanen, and even most underrated player Ladislav Smid successfully pushing the puck up the ice AND playing solid D, WHY IS GREBESHKOV PLAYING!!!??? Its well documented the Oil need more grit, just as its well documented that Grebeshkov is a shitheel, so why is he playing and Rourke, the surprise unknown defensive defenceman in white shining armor candidate languishing in the minors. Are Grebeshkov's zero goals really worth all the mistakes? Are his boneheaded plays made worthwhile by his aimless passes through the neutral zone? I submit to you that they are not. Who wants to head up a posse, find this guy, and string him up by the gold chain he wears on the OUTSIDE of his jersey? I will say however, his going from a tinted 70's pimp visor to the clear "didn't improve his vision" visor does deserve a kudo. I'm now going to conclude with the ending a real Canadian hockey journalist would. "Beam him up, MacT!" Get it? Eat your heart out (along with the entirety of the buffet table) Terry Jones!

Monday, January 7

Steve Downie: Just Makes You Sick

Today I spent about 30 minutes making face-to-face eye contact with silverback mountain gorillas at the San Diego Zoo during one of the worst weather days I've ever seen, anywhere. You know in "Aliens", when the space marines land on the planet where the dead colony is and they get out in the middle of a complete meteorological shit storm? Balmy compared to today. If you've ever been beside a gorilla whose shivering with cold, then you've walked a mile in my addidas.

Then after a three hour drive home in conditions so bad it felt like I was navigating the Straits of Magellan, I got home and prepared to watch the Leafs game from Saturday against a team whose plane you wish would go down in the Andes forcing the survivors to eat the dead; the Flyers. Can you imagine eating a dead Steve Downie? His flesh would probably give you dysentery. His flesh would make you sick and then you'd die from starvation and dysentery. Your final thought before being claimed by sweet, sweet death would be what everyone else in the world's is about Steve Downie: "Fuck you, Steve Downie."

I've written hilariously well about Steve Downie before, and I have to say he has exactly as much character as Moose's boss, who, in exchange for Moose and I joining his POS team - which we did, hand delivering them a championship - agreed to get us a box to see the Leafs at the Staples Center on Thursday...which, when it came time to deliver, he laughingly blew off. Then he refused to at least get us seats saying "That wasn't part of the deal." That's right Tony, doing more for us was part of the deal, fulfilling your part of the agreement was part of the deal, you short, lousy, Steve Downie-esqe, little creep.
The worst part is that what tickets he said he did have access to were promised long ago to an even worse sub-human. Some guy originally from Toronto, who apparently "loves the Leafs", but who, during last years final showed up to Moose's work in an Ottawa Senators jersey. You know when you hear about how in the middle ages, thousands of cheering people would gather in a town square to witness a beheading? I understand that now. As I write this I'm trying to think of something funny to say which would be worse than wearing an Ottawa Senators jersey, and I can't think of one goddamed thing. That's how bad it is.

I got tickets anyhow, and if you want to see what I look like, watch the game on Thursday and just find the coolest guy in section 119, row 14 who looks the happiest he's ever been.



Sunday, January 6

Stay Classy

Get rid of this guy.

Friday, January 4

ON PAPER: Not Worth The Paper It’s Written On

I used to have a job at a store where I worked directly with the owner. Besides the fact that she was the most flatulent woman I had ever met, she also exhibited somewhat schizophrenic tendencies. So much so that from day to day, shift to shift, I never knew which version of her I was going to get. That day. That minute. That 48 seconds.

You see what I did there?

I will admit that it was fun watching the game Thursday night along with Gill, Kaberle and Wozniewski wasn’t it? And although I usually delight in the looks of childish innocence on the faces of people watching hockey, I wasn’t so delighted to see that look on the faces of those three as they too watched Malkin and Crosby dance, delight, bob, weave, humiliate, deque, split and embarrass them. Saying that the three threw their goalie to the wolves is an insult to wolves…nay to the whole lupus family.
It’s like…if you aren’t going to wear underwear…you better make sure your fly is done up, you know? I’m not even sure what that means.
( I’m just glad Gary Roberts wasn’t on the ice to witness it.)

And to say that the Leafs had such a great first period only makes it worse. I mean….if we cant beat Ty Conklin…how in the name of sweet Jesus are we gonna beat Brodeur? Glass is half full guy Greener will tell you that the Leafs hit four posts in the game. I would counter that maybe he should mind his own business and say that nobody should have to watch their team from between splayed fingers, terrified of what was going to happen next. And that with no resolve on the injury front we’re talking less happy endings then Toskala’s nutsack at this point.
That nobody should have to watch their junior team’s glorified back-up back up the back- up until the back-up’s confidence is back up.

And Saturday? Saturday has all the makings of a tragedy….the possibility of which also makes it comedic, cos really, Saturday, who do you go with? When 50% of the criteria is a hot hand?

Message To Bill Butler: Go Fuck Yourself...

...you smarmy, hypocritical, greedy prick. I'm too angry to write anything that would grant some meaningful perspective to the situation, but thankfully John MacKinnon has summed it up nicely.

Thursday, January 3

Penner v. Smyth


Mid-Season Comparison


I'm trying to divert my disgust with the Edmonton Investors Group, so I thought this would be an interesting exercise.

While Ryan Smyth wasn't traded for Dustin Penner, it's clear that Penner got Smyth's money and was, for all intents and purposes, his direct replacement. Who would you rather have? To the scorecards:


There's a lot of Oiler fans out there who still haven't gotten over the Ryan Smyth trade. I'm not one of them. So for me, the last number is the most interesting. Do people still think Ryan Smyth is worth that money in today's market? There are 31 players in the NHL making $6 million or more, 18 of them are forwards. Ryan Smyth is the 21st highest paid player in the league, and 13th highest paid forward. He ranks 81st in league scoring. I've watched Ryan Smyth his entire career, I know there is much more to his game than just scoring. But for $6.25 million a year, I would want more.

More to the point, is Ryan Smyth worth $2 million more than a guy who is six years younger, who hasn't had multiple knee surgeries, and is putting up almost identical numbers? If you toss in the fact that Robert Nilsson seems to be developing into an actual NHL player, I think Kevin Lowe got it right. He knew Ryan Smyth was not a $5 million player, but he offered it (and then some) anyway. Smyth may have done the Oilers a favor by turning it down. Draw your own conclusions.