Thursday, February 28

WHAT? HUH?

Back when I was in high school a lot of movies were suddenly released that all had the same premise. Wherein the soul of Character A somehow gets swapped with the soul of Character B. Wackiness would then ensue, we’d all learn a lesson, and the movie would end. It was a premise first introduced in "Freaky Friday" in the 70’s (and perfected, in my opinion, not by Big but by the 1984 Steve Martin vehicle, "All of Me". Also staring Lily Tomlin (amazingly, believable as a straight woman). Regardless it had Steve Martin in it and Steve Martin, like Bill Murray, is always good. Steve Martin should win the Nobel Prize for awesomeness and if there isn’t such an award there should be, but let me tell you this, if there was such an award, it would be a landslide. Here’s to Steve Martin in honor of his excellent excellence in the pursuit of excellence, through excellence.

There was "18 Again" which had that creepy guy in it…oh yeah George Burns, who at the time honestly resembled a chimpanzee – I mean is that even alright to say? I dunno…but he did. He looked like a smoking 200 year old chimpanzee. That one I believe also had a running sub-plot to it. I think I remember watching that movie high on acid or maybe just wishing I was.

There was, "Like Father, Like Son" with Kirk Cameron, pardon me, TV hunk Kirk Cameron. I believe it was some kind of potion that changes them in this one. Regardless…Kirk Cameron wears a lot of button down shirts tucked into high wasted jeans with pleats and Reeboks in the movie. If I remember correctly, he’s much harried and drives a Jag as well. I think he also had a perm. What I know for sure was that he had a mullet. I promise you it was 1 Flavor of the Month, 2 haircuts.
The movie also starred Dudley Moore. He made it right around the time he couldn’t look Peter Cook in the eyes anymore.

There was also "Vice Versa". Where non-threatening, moppet Fred Savage turns into his father, Judge Reinhold, via, natch, a mysterious Oriental skull (duh). He becomes his dad and his dad becomes him…vice versa…we get it. It’s funny for the whole family, which means it’s not funny. To me this movie is the exact opposite of Goodfellas.
There was also some Alan Smithee shit with those horrible Corey’s that’s so terrible that I can’t even be bothered to make up some jokes about it.

I actually heard two Leafs fans be-moan the way we’re playing right now. Bitching that Toskala is playing all the games, and using words like finally and bullshit and no trade blah blah blah Tucker, godamn Raycroft my ass. It was disgraceful...they called themselves fans and they werer bitching about playing well. What? Huh?.
We Leafs fans are learning very valuable lessons right now. At a time when we’re happy that Wade Belak leaves but un-happy that Mats doesn’t. Where do we stand?

It’s disgraceful how Toronto media calls the dressing room a country club. This is not a country club…if it were…these games would be over in the first period.
I recently watched The Last Time They Played on Leafs TV. It was that game against Florida. One of the real low points of the season for sure. I had the audacity to watch it again…can you fucking believe that guy? Anyway I watched it and that team compared to yesterdays team...well you all know how schizo they can be.
I tell you this...Mats screaming off the bench with a minute left to tie the game? That’s not a Godamn country club....that's a Captain.

I don’t even want to begin to imagine the possibilities. More like I wont allow myself to consider them. Instead I just want to let it progress naturally. Does the thought of losing Steven “We Stand on Guard for Thee” Stamkos in the draft make me want to reach for the pharmaceuticals? Of course it does. But I wonder where the honor is in tanking - I think I would rather watch our boys try to fucking fight their way up the standings with honor then lose on purpose.

Tuesday, February 26

IN SUMATION

I know what you are all thinking…and no they aren’t contacts.

So today Grandpa Fletch did what he could,and I believe, that he did a good job. I'm thinking of that Simpsons joke about the worlds smallest handcuffs..cos that was a problem today. I know this may make some of you vom in your mouth a little but Grandpa was completely handcuffed in this situation. And lets face it, it's a much sexier topic to talk about what wasn't moved as opposed to what was. But let's keep this above board. Moose...hands where I can see them!

Here is the breakdown: Kilger (who I hate to see go) we received Florida’s 3rd round pick this year. For Belak (who is such a great room guy) we received (also from the Panthers) a 5th round selection in this year’s draft. I think that’s great wheeling and dealing. I thought for sure Belak would fall into the future considerations morass. Which I have always felt was kind of like being told your blind date had a nice personality. I have always liked Belak and anybody willing to get punched in the face standing up for the Maple Leafs is okay in my books. Tomorrow night he has to face his former teammates. In typical Belak style in his interview about the trade I heard him say, “Ian White better watch his head.”
Our dressing room will miss him and so will the city.

Hall Gill. Again…I sort of hate to see him go (damn this Leafs team is confusing) Remember when you were a kid and you had those really long “family” sleds. One of those that looked like an upper case J on its back. That’s what Hall Gill reminds me of when he’s sprawled on the ice blocking shots. The Penguins rather adroitly parting with their 2nd in 08 and their 5th in the 09 draft for the services of the toboggan. The Pens look better and better…although Moose tell me about Ty Conklin cos, like almost every team in the East (the Leafs strangely enough being one of the exceptions) the Pens have shaky goaltending.

Grandpa also cleared nearly 3 million is cap space and did anyone else see his press conference? Besides looking awesome, his eye brow almost permanently cocked; (anyone else think he looked almost exactly like Roger Moore in A View to a Kill?) Talking about Phase One and trades involving preliminary discussions? (And just who is Fletch talking about there?) Correct me if I am wrong but is there not a window of opportunity to trade Kaberle in the summer? Hmmm….I know this re-build may take a few more years cause of the dreaded NTC, the worst acronym to happen to Toronto since SARS, but I believe, maybe for the first time, that its in the correct hands.

Speaking in summary of the rest of the trades. I like what the Caps did. And I know that Fedorov is 100 years old but I have a feeling we are going to see some Power Play 96 Fedorov paired with Semin and/or Ovechkin. And Huet has a ton to prove. I would be scared shitless to play the Caps in the playoffs. (Just like I would be scared to play the Avs in the West.) The Pens who I have already mentioned made some smart moves. They did give up a lot on paper for the rental of Hossa but this is a very shrewd move I think. First off it keeps him out of the two other teams in the East who were in the hunt…and that lets face it…Hossa is playing for a contract and nothing says 10 million a year like a very strong playoff. The line combination possibility is scary. But again…goaltending…just like Montreal and otwa. The Pens this year may be like the Dynasty era Edmonton Oilers. They may get 5 goals against but they're gonna score 8 on you.

Montreal surprised me and if you look at my live blogging this morning…I do mention Huet and the surprise of how cheap he cost. And as far as that other team is concerned…














The East’s only hope of winning the cup is all the teams in the West absolutely beating the shit out of each other in 7 game series which, we all know, they will do. And if the playoffs were to start today the Ducks and the Sharks would meet in the first round.

And finally Fletch said, in fact guaranteed that the face of the organization would be different next season. If Mats Sundin is the face of the organization and Fletch said...(you get it, I know)does he know something about Mats that we don't? And does anyone else see the idea of buy outs becoming the thing that the next GM will be handcuffed by?

LIVE COVERAGE OF TRADE DEADLINE DAY

So it's finally here: trade deadline day. Welcome to HS/HS first annual deadline day extravaganza. There's balloons and spelling mistakes and face painting for the kids.
I woke up early....actually setting an alarm...no...now I'm just lying. My son woke me up by repeating jumping on my fibula.

We here at HS/HS will be updating during the day....so did I mention that we will BE LIVE ALL DAY LONG.

Comrie re-signed (1 year worth 4 million) Jackman re-signed. Forsberg and his balsa-wood foot surprising everyone and signing with the AVS. (Philly losing 10 in a row mighta helped) Dan Boyle now the third big 3. Richards gonna go?

10 am (EST) - Prospal to the Flyers for Alexandre Picard and a conditional draft pick. 10 straight loses...you gotta do something.

4 hours 33 minutes left.
Montreal with 4.2 in cap space? Higgins, Ryder, Huet?

10:30 am - The Devils just picked up Bryce Salvador for Cam Jansen.

11 am - LEAFS NEWS!!!!!!!! Belak to Panthers for a 5th round pick.

11:30 Brian Campbell traded to the Sharks? Yup - Steve Bernier and a first round pick going back to Sabres. Wasn't Bernier who we lost when we traded for Owen Nolan?

11:40 Lightning and Star shave agreed to deal involving Richards. Just waiting on Richards approval. Which has just been confirmed. Richards and Holmqvist to Dallas for Mike Smith and Jokinen and Halpern.

11:43 Huet to Capitals for 2nd round pick (09)? This seems out of left field...there is no way that they are going with Price. This, to me, seems like something else is going to happen. I'm surprised by such a small return for Huet.

11:50 - Tampa Bay and Jay Feester doing what the Leafs needed (and clearly can't) do.

12:15 - Ruslan Salei to the Avs and the Blackhawks trade Tuomo Ruutu to Carolina for Andrew Ladd.

12:35 - Latest on Adam Foote...probably wont stay in Columbus. He has a no trade clause but he will waive it. But he will only waive to Colorado.

12:37 - Martin Lapointe on his way to otwa for 2008 6th round pick. Does it mean that they are out of the Hossa sweepstakes?

1:00 - Adam Foote back to the Avs. Amazing to see the moves they are making considering they aren't even a lock for the playoffs. This seems to be a move about not letting anyone else (re: Ducks) get him.

Man the West are stocking up. What are the East doing?

1:12 - Fedorov to Capitals. Fedorov, Semin, Ovechkin. How do you say Holy Shit in Russian?

1 Hour and 41 minutes remaining. Is Brian 'Mr Brian Burke' Burke gonna respond to the Stars or the Sharks?

1:30 - Matt Cooke to Washington from Vancouver for Matt Pettinger.

Interesting what the Caps are doing. Personally I don't believe Jokinen is on the move.

1:53: With an hour and 7 minutes remaining...I gotta say that someone in the East has to make a play for Hossa....the West is gonna stampede the East.

2:04 - Rumors: Kilger and Holik are going somewhere.

2:12: Is it me or does Dave Nonis have to do something? They need secondary scoring for sure.

45 minutes left...you know now that all of our players have said no to the NTC means that we can add 4 or 5 more years to that proper rebuild. It's a sad day in Leaf land.

2:40 - With Hossa still in play...I gotta believe that the teams in the East (you know who you are) have to be scrambling to make something happen. Atlanta are in Montreal tonight...is it even possible that at some point Hossa will just move his equiptment across the hall?


San Jose and Dallas looking really good for the run. The West in general is going to win. I believe Calgary and Detroit must respond to what the Sharks and Stars have done.

2:52 LEAFS NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!! Hall Gill traded to Penguins for a 2nd round and a 5th round pick.

2: 53 - Christian Backman to Rangers for 4th round pick.

3:00 - Holy Shitballs. Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Penguins for Christensen, Armstrong, Esposito and a potential 1st round pick.
Is this just me or is this not a great deal for the Pens? For a rental? Holy balls.
Makes me even more ill when I think what Mats would've garnered.

Montreal and otwa have blown it. Wow. Time for Hossa to really step up this playoffs. He is playing for a contract so I believe Hossa/Crosby or Hossa/Malkin is scary.
after that gorgeous beating that we gave last night....if they think Martin Lapointe is their answer....well thats just fine.

3:08 - Chris Simon to the Wild for 6th round pick.

3:10 - The Kings have traded Brad Stuart to Detroit for a 2nd and a 4th round.

3:15 - LEAFS NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!Chad Kilger to the Panthers for a 3rd round pick.

3:16 - Rangers have traded Gratton, Sjostrom and Leneveu to Phoenix for Montoya and Hossa.

3:25 - The Ducks picks up Marc-Andre Bergeron from the Isles for a 3rd round pick and J.S Aubin to Ducks for 7th rounder.

Looking at Grandpa Cliff right now at his news conference. The Leafs are done friends. No more...nothing is gonna come out now. I guess this is the first step of the process and we all know that we were hoping for more and we didn't get it.

Cliff is talking about one of the 5 with a NTC and saying that before the game yesterday that that player agreed to be traded to a specific team and then after the game...changed their minds. He is also talking about the face of the Leafs being very different come the start of next season. Does that mean buy outs? Free agency?
Cliff is also telling us that the 5th round pick from the Pens is for the 09 draft.

Cliff looking very defiant. Talking about looking very different next year. DOes he know something we don't? Like Mats wont come back or that....dare I say it....he wont re-sign Mats????

Monday, February 25

DOCTOR IT HURTS WHEN I DO THIS

The Spanish have a proverb that fits how I feel at this moment. Donde hay amor hay dolor: where there is love there is pain. Besides being an almost prototypically Mediterranean thing to say its exactly how I feel. Dramatic sure...but this is the Leafs and I truly love the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Just so you know I am just gonna write and write and write and write cos it hurts. It's exactly the opposite of what Rod Stewart sang about when he sang that it felt so good, he didn't understand.

I just read on some blog a rumor of Mats, J.P and Fletch hatching some scheme to drive Mats’ asking price up. And again my heart rose and fell at the same time. Kind of like how you have to breath to play a wind instrument. If Mats did that and then came back…can you imagine how beloved he would be? I mean even more so.

You see that hope? That’s the pain talking. Cos the reality is that it’s not true and that we’re going to be in the same mess next year. And now the hot rumor is McCabe to New York (the isle or the show?) but that we’d have to package him with a first round pick. And that makes about as much sense as trading Markov for Robert Reichel and Travis Green.

Oh.

You all know that I have carpal-tunnel-syndromed my wrists typing ad infinitum about my love of Mats Sundin. (Yes, Moose…yet another post about Mats Sundin) I wear my heart on my sleeve about him and his team. Duhr.

But whose next…

Sunday, February 24

Mats Stays. God Damn It/Thank God

I was at watching the Academy Awards tonight and during the show, both my phones rang, one after the other. I didn't answer because, as I said, I was at watching the Academy Awards. It was also because I was a little scared. I knew that two phone calls in a row tonight meant one of two things. It was either going to be "Can you believe what Tilda Swinton was wearing?!" or, "Can you believe what the Leafs got for Sundin?!". Neither of those questions I wanted to face.

Addressing the prospect, as we all have, of Mats being traded this month has been long and hard. Yes, Loser Domi, long and hard. It's been a time of self (Leaf) reflection where I daily asked myself, what is the best thing to happen here; Should Mats stay because he loves the Leafs as much as we do, and continue to be the best captain in hockey? Or should he swallow hard, waive his NTC, become a rental, get the Leafs some future players and come back in the summer? My feelings on the matter were, to say the least, inconsistent:
It was weird, so many times I felt I had to make the decision. I felt the pressure to do the right thing for me, you, Mats and the future...and then I'd remember that thank Christ it wasn't up to me as I can barely manage to write a hockey blog, let alone be responsible for the Most Beautiful Sweater In All Of Sports. So Mats is staying as our Captain until he decides he doesn't want to play hockey anymore, and if anyone in the world deserves that privilege, it's Mats Sundin.

There are people out there who will only see the negative in all of this. The Thing That Lives Under The Stairs Howard Berger is already licking his mustachioed chops at the prospect of another doomed Leafs season minus the rewards that a Sundin trade would have (maybe) brought the club. He goes further in saying that now that the club has broken the invisible wall of actually asking Mats to waive his NTC, the magic of being a Leaf is forever dispelled for Sundin. Berger has already forced Mats' retirement papers into his hand, inferring a self-imposed Sundin banishment back to Sweden.
In other situations, I might agree with that assessment, but not in this case. I believe Mats understands the position Cliff Fletcher was put in in asking him to waive. Mats knew that it was about the future of the Leafs, with Mats just taking one for the team, as usual. Sundin wasn't unwanted or unneeded, he was just needed in another way.

Make sure you read Norte's take below. I owe him this week because he's really saved the blog's ass by posting his off. Norte - unlike the other two posters on HS/HS, Moose and What's-His-Name - actually understands what team is the one that stirs the drink around here, if you get my drift. I know that everyone reading just can't wait for Moose's newest post, "Patrick Thoresen Picked Up On Waivers By Flyers! What This Means To Jared Stoll!" I know I certainly ZZ-ZZZ-zzzz

Props also to Norte in the below post for finding that picture of His Worship, The Mayor of Ottawa. The Mayor graciously modeling his idea for the new Senators jersey. People, I PROMISE YOU, that design is being considered.

EXTRY EXTRY...READ ALL ABOUT IT: Mats Sundin staying put. City mourns yet feels slightly relieved.

Be careful what you don't really wish for or not that would or wouldnt be really good to happen or not happen.

It’s funny how this doesn’t feel like what it is…which is basically doomsday. I know what you are thinking….its not doomsday, I would then say it is and you would say its not and I would say it is again and all we would need after that would be the parrot and we’re Monty Python. It’s doomsday because Mats Sundin will not re-sign next year...and we wont get that Edmonton pick.

The vilification of Mats Sundin will begin. Some people, bandwagon jumping Leaf fans and undoubtedly fans from otwa, (see below), will use the phrase the Maple Laughs, which is always good quality material. Their blogs and message boards (hope you read French) will be filled with lots of LOLs, LMFAO’s. That will undoubtedly be followed by bon-mots where they’ll refer to Mats as a retard.
(This next part I would ask you to use an English accent) To those bastards I say your repeated attempts at defamation and slanderous vitriol are about as scurrilous as your malignant vituperation.

And your women have fat legs.

It’s not up to Mats to correct the wrongs done our team, his team, at the hands of JFJ or MLSE…quite frankly I don’t give a care which acronym to be mad at at this point. A bad contract is a bad contract….and Mats didn’t have to trade his heart for any of them. And that’s what it came down too. Hey people…when its in the blood, its in the blood.
I can only hope that when Mats next steps onto the ice at ACC that he get the kind of applause that he deserves. On most nights he’s been our only highlight reel. And has played his heart out, that same heart, for us, game in/game out as long as I care to remember. And he even asks, and he’s asking us people, you and me, ‘hope you guys understand?’ I for one do Mats. Am I fucking sick to the stomach about it? yes. But I have one thing to say to Mats: That’ll do pig, that'll do.

But, you know what, who's next?

Saturday, February 23

Should Mats Stay or Should Mats Go? to the tune of Should I Stay or Should I Go by the Clash

You know who bugs me? Those people getting up and leaving with two minutes left to go in tonight’s game. Did you see them? Bastards. Regardless of the fact that I am the type of person who stays until the very last credit at a movie before he leaves, you’re watching the Toronto Maple Leafs, at home, and you leave early? What the hell is wrong with you? Whether it’s for a pee, a ciggie or a Timmy’s…you really aren’t going to beat the traffic that much. You must be the same people who bang on the glass and will boo Mats in the future no matter what his decision.

You wanna know what really really bugs me about those people? That they didn’t even stay long enough to watch, what could very well be the last time, the last time, Mats Sundin skates back out onto the ice as a star of the game in a home uniform. Did you people hear me? That’s a possibility?
The last time/home uniform

italics…


Disgraceful.

My apologies right now for the tone of this piece…I must admit I have a canker sore that has made me about as ornery as Mats in this morning’s media scrum. I watched tonight’s game or more accurately I watched all of tonight’s game. Which is as rare as Westerns these days.
And as anyone who watched it will tell you it was one of those frustrating Maple Leaf games. Not frustrating that we won, frustrating because of the way we won. (You see the way I put the emphasis on the word way by using italics again?)
Frustrating because this is the first time in I can’t tell you how many games that I actually thought ‘It’s going in’ during a Maple Leaf rush. And unlike Moose, who has these thoughts all the time, I rarely think of Steen putting it in. And with a backhand as sweet as his new contract to boot. The signing of which isn’t just media savvy but hockey savvy as well. He might not be his father but you wanna know what separates the good teams from the great teams in the current NHL? The amount of Alex Steen’s you have on your team. I only hope that Brian Burke doesn’t know that. My fingers are crossed.

Not sure what feed you were watching but did you notice the little sneaky shots of Grandpa on the phone during the game. (If Cliff Fletcher were my grandpa I would be proud, I would tell him he always dressed good and was like catnip to the broads.) If you didn’t see it, 3 or 4 times during the game, they cut to shots of Cliff on the phone. Shaking his head yeah at one point. It made my stomach drop with excitement and despair. You know, the usual.

Did you see the media scrum this morning? I can’t tell you when I have ever seen Mats so terse. There was a few times there where I thought he was going to ask one of the reporters to step outside. Was it just me or did Mats not look like if he heard the phrase no trade clause one more time he was going to go Travis Bickle? Was that joke too wordy? And kinda not funny?

You wanna know why Mats is so pissed off? Because he doesn't want to go but knows that it would be good for the team. He loves this team as much as we do. I tell you what....whether Mats stays or goes he will always be the greatest Leaf ever.

Boom Goes the Dynamite

It’s Saturday, a little past 10 in the morning, my two and a half year old is sitting on my lap watching cartoons and pretending to play flute with his nose. It’s the first time in his lifetime (barring injury) that Mats Sundin may not be in the lineup for HNIC. Quite frankly that may as well be happening to all of us as well. I don’t want to remember a game where #13 wasn’t playing. In fact I don’t even like typing this now. This is speculation of course…and with the flu running rampant through the dressing room…Mats might not be out there for that reason. Either way I feel like I should be wearing a black armband.


At three days and counting…its getting to a point (for me) where I just want to see him go. I dated a women in the 90’s that this reminds me of. I knew she was leaving me and it was just a matter of when. Did I like sharing my bed with her, of course, but at that point (knowing it was done) the easiest thing was to say goodbye.

There is a Huey Lewis lyric that reminds me of both situations:
Cause she’s heart and soul. She’s got it all, hot loving every night.

To me not only does that lyric prove that the Back to the Future soundtrack isn’t as bad as you remember but that, once again, I am trying to mask my pain with humor.

Thursday, February 21

BLOW HERE TO INFLATE MARKET

As trade deadline day or trade deadline day (as it has come to be known round here) approaches, you have to ask yourself, is this gonna be worth it? There are two schools of thought here. There are the ‘the only players that we are going to be able to get rid of are Chad Kilger and Dominic Moore types’. Players notable for their contracts with 5 zero’s as opposed to 6. Then there are the hopeful bastards who think that the fire sale will include all the pieces that Toronto doesn’t want anymore. Raycroft for Francois Beuchemin you say…yeah that adds up.
The truth sadly is probably a lot closer to the former.

I have to admit when I heard the news that Forsberg wouldn’t be back in the NHL this season I felt something akin to relief. Not because I wish anything Marquis de Sade to happen to him…and not even because I would then care who he would go to. Quite frankly all the speculation makes for very good sit down reading.
Relief because now I believe we have to start thinking about what else gets thrown into any Sundin deal. With the possibility of Forsberg coming back…inexplicably it sent Mats down to (arguably) the 2nd most coveted player (potentially) available. I say arguably because there are those who want Hossa more. Correct me if I am wrong but is this not for the playoffs? I won’t even waste my Google privileges digging up stats for you. Let me just make this prediction: if Mats does waive his NTC then I promise you this, whoever gets him is going to win the Stanley Cup. Plain and Simple. Let me tell you why: Cos Mats Sundin…being the man and player that he is, with his sense of honor being what it is will kill for any team that picks him up. He will know what was given up for him and he will give you the A game every night, every shift. Because he knows, and everyone else does too that Mats Sundin is a Toronto Maple Leaf. The same way you are and the same way I am. Come the summer…Mats will re-sign. And whether it’s a one day contract so he can retire a Leaf or it’s a three year contract extension (which I would, without question, offer.) he will retire a Leaf. And I know that you know that I know that Brian Burke knows that too.

(Speaking of Noses….did Craig Button get a nose job?)
It’s that knowledge, and all of us who have gotten to watch him game in game out lo these many years can attest, that makes the bright star, trade wise, potentially, this year.
When I do hear what is being offered for him I think…good start…to me the pot needs to be sweetened something akin to a bong being dropped in the middle of sugarcane field. Hossa might score more goals (I would argue that Jonas fucking Hoglund surely isn’t Kovalchuk) but show me another Captain (save maybe Sakic) who has carried and continues to carry an entire team nay an entire city, on its shoulders. And now offense to the Burnaby kid but this is Toronto we’re talking about…not Denver.

I also hear that the trade the Flyers made for Modry was a scramble after an all that’s left to do is shake hands deal that saw Kaberle going to Philadelphia for Jeff Carter and a pick was nixed at the 11th hour by Kaberle himself. Besides the fact that it has all the makings of the best deal the Leafs never made, it’s gotten me to thinking 2 things. Number 1, apparently the last time we negotiated with Kaberle he accepted less money to be able to have a NTC. He has every right to say no to this trade. Anything else would be un-ethical. I am not yet thoroughly convinced of Jeff Carter and Kaberle 4.5 for the next 3 years is phenomenal. Here's what it comes down to folks...when Pavel Kubina becomes a 5 million a year player it makes the Kaberle's of the world 7 million a year players. I think I remember something from Economics class, a quick turn of phrase that sums that up, something is telling me that it’s the law of diminishing returns but I could be wrong. Regardless of the phrase it’s just what happens. It's really no different than the ubiquitous old person joke about back in my day beer was 15 cents and Cadillac’s were 25 dollars.

Secondly, and more pressing, what if Trader Cliff isn’t actually able to make any deals? What if? Just like my post here on HS/HS the night before the season started. This is still a team of ifs. What if Fletch, who was brought in because of his ability to make the situation better, isn’t actually able to? Not because those MLSE pig fuckers won’t let him but because, what if the best deals he is offered don’t make the team any better…and he doesn’t take them. This is a possibility. I don’t want Mats traded cos he is an underachieving cry-baby European no-show millionaire fuck-face; I want him traded because he isn’t.

You want the truth…if this was December and not February and the team was playing like we are now…then I would have no doubt we would be buyers as opposed to traders. Perhaps we would be standing pat guys. Not because I believe the team is any better than a 92 point team…I don’t…it’s because this is a team that wants to stay together, that like each other, that love the city the uniform the team. It’s easy to say as I sit here, greasy and bloated, handsome but essentially horrible, if I was a Toronto Maple Leaf at this moment…I wouldn’t want to be traded either.

Tuesday, February 19

Now's when we want to try some new line combo's!

First of all, I hate that calling for the coach's head after a loss automatically qualifies me as some know nothing radio call in show reject but seriously? Tonight was just plain atrocious. Our magical goalie was kicking out rebounds like I get kicked out of Vegas strip clubs for breaking that "no touchy touchy" rule. Ales Hemsky actually pulled a laz-boy recliner out on the ice at one point and caught up on some light reading. In a stroke of brilliance Dustin Penner, who I was surprised to find wasn't scratched the last 7 games but has, get this, supposedly been out on the ice, is now playing center for our checking line! And yet the radio hosts continue to bust all the "coach's fault" callers' balls. Well guess what, I'm a fan, fan's (and multinational beer conglomerates) are the people paying the salaries. We buy the tickets, the third third, away fourth practice, and retro special limited edition Klima jerseys. I want to be able to fire the coach.

The Oilers have been playing their best hockey of the year. Ever since having their bottoms tanned a lovely rosy pink by the San Jose Sharks some time ago there was a call to arms led by, of all people, Zach "Huggy Bear" Stortini. The Oilers were suddenly not the passive, glasses taped together, test the backup goalie against, draw hearts with sparkly macaroni on that date of the calendar team to play against. We were tough! We were strong like bull! Hungry like the wolf! We were mean and we hit people and we made them cry. We won 4 of 5 games. Then we lost an absolute heartbreaker to the Canucks. A game we deserved to win and only lost because of two flukey goals off our own guys. We left two hundred yards of skin (incidentally the name of Russell Crowe's band) and more blood than Richard Zednik's carotid on the ice that night. I spoke with Moose about the next game being the real test. A test of this new mettle. Well, that mettle is brittle.

MacT had two days of practice in Nashville at what was once and may still be called the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Apparently Predators coach and man voted least likely to pull of a turtle neck Barry Trotz attended both of them. This got into MacT's head. MacT who is second in the league for bench minors caused by too many men penalties. MacT who actually had to run "change on the fly" drills for his team. MacT who decided to change up all the lines! That'll be a shocker to ole Trotsky! He'll never be able to handle the four wonkiest combinations of players ever seen on an NHL lineup card! The lines worked like this...

Hemsky - Reasoner - Stoll
Moreau - Penner - Pisani
Cogliano - Gagner - Nilsson
And the same old fourth line.

Now, best case scenario, with everyone playing at their utmost, how are these lines supposed to click? I guess Gagner could pass it to Nilsson, other than that... what are we hoping for? Then! With the game improbably tied at four late in the third period, let's chuck Dustin Penner out there for a draw in OUR OWN END! This man isn't a center! He's barely even a hockey player! And being down with 2 minutes left let's not put Gagner out there. He only has a 7 game point streak and a goal and assist tonight already. Nope. Let's put our first line center Marty Reasoner out there. Oh! And those "change on the fly" drills really panned out, what with both the first two goals coming from rushes from terrible line changes. Wow. Let's run line change drills and then, change all the lines! That ought to stop us from getting confused when we shift on the fly. Right?

So, the team that was playing its best hockey, not good enough to get into the playoffs but fun to watch at least, is now a random collection of players who have no idea what the name of the person lining up on either side of them is. I truly believe that if the lines had been the same as last game the team would have come out straight off of that Vancouver bloody brawlfest and torn it up. There was an awful lot of talk about the new feeling of "team" that had grown from all this physical play and sticking up for one another. So let's shake it up, right MacT? Well, maybe we should shake up the coaching staff. Holy christ I'm angry. C'mon Wash, close your eyes, just imagine combing out Klima's curly locks. Mmmmm, that's the stuff.


Sunday, February 17

I Guess Darcy's Now Worth a Seventh Round Pick?

Claude Julien took time out Saturday night from ruining the game of hockey to watch Darcy "What Chronic Knee Injury?" Tucker take the Toronto Maple Leafs on his back and win the hockey game they were playing against his Bruins.

The Leafs looked to be on the bottom end of another 'lose by one goal' game by doing what they usually do: Come out not ready to play, have Toskala get the shit shelled out of him in the first period, and try and to break (their own) world record for the most passes thrown around the perimeter on a powerplay without a shot. When a team's best line is always it's checking line, that highlights some pretty dramatic problems.

I'm not sure if, like me, you weren't thrilled with hope for a win when in the pre-game show they showed Kyle Wellwood getting dressed, goofily grinning. I'm sorry, but that's not exactly the warrior's scowl I would have wanted to see from a guy freshly sprung from the press box and being a dozen Coffee Crisp's away from career immolation. Let's just say that Kyle isn't exactly Gary Roberts. At this rate Kyle is barely Tanya Roberts.

Kyle, seen here at left contemplating rainbows, was reinstated as an actual forward on the Leafs for a night. While he won a few face-offs with that kick-spin move of his, and got 12 minutes of ice time, he was mostly invisible save for an assist on the bee-u-tee Antropov goal, which was 75% Darcy's doing anyway.

As for Darcy, thank you, thank you, thank you, to George Cross of the Toronto Sun and asshole "un-named GM" who awakened the beast in Tucker, sending him to his best game all year. It may be four months too late, but still.
The GM, who I pray to Christ was Boston's Peter Chiarelli, said that Tucker was "done" and that he wouldn't even trade a seventh round pick for Darc. Hey, guess what, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, you don't challenge a real warrior like Tucker like that and not expect him to respond! 3 points of inspired play including the sexually arousing game winner in over time. Again, 4 months a little late, but still. That is why we're lucky to have Darcy, and every team in the league knows it.

For those of us who are wanting the Leafs to lose as part of the Stampede for Stamkos, don't worry too much in the win (it seems insane even to say that), as the Kings won on Saturday, calling it about even. 49% chance, here we come!

Friday, February 15

Deadline Decisions: Maple Leafs Edition


House Money


There's an old gambling adage that once you're ahead a few bucks, you play a little looser because you're playing with "house money." That's the enviable situation Cliff Fletcher finds himself in as the interim GM of the Leafs. I don't doubt for a second that Fletcher will do the job to the best of his abilities and wants to see the Leafs suceed long term. However, you can't tell me it's not easier to pull the trigger on a deal, knowing you're not going to be second guessed at every turn by everyone in the organization. Not to mention the second guessing that goes on in your own head when you're fearing for your job on a daily basis. Fletcher's legacy or reputation isn't going to be harmed by anything he does in the next two weeks, and he knows that. As an interim GM, he knows he won't have to face the daily scrutiny from the Toronto media, because he's not likely to be around to see the fruits of his labor. He's free to make the moves he thinks are best, and if they don't work out? Oh well, he tried. It's the next GM's problem. I think it's safe to say that there are a lot tougher environments to work in.

So, now it's my turn to play with the "house money." Aren't we all armchair GM's anyway? Now to be fair, I'm not a Leafs fan. I've been an Edmonton Oiler fan for 27 years. I should also note that I was raised in an anti-Leafs household as my dad is from Montreal, where he drove limo's for 14 years. But all that aside, it's a fun exercise. Sort of like when you start up a new game of video hockey and let the computer randomly choose your team for you. You gotta make chicken salad out of...well...the Toronto Maple Leafs. As an outsider with a fresh outlook and free of any passion or bias, I more closely resemble Fletcher than your average Leafs fan. I mean do you really want Greener on here telling you why the Leafs can't afford to trade John Pohl?

A quick overview:

For the most part, I'm not going to be dealing in fantasy-based hypotheticals, like: The Leafs should trade Sundin for Kesler, Edler and a #1 pick! Why? Well for starters, I have no clue what other GM's around the league are offering for Leafs players. To sit here and say 'this' is a fair trade would be based on my valuation of each teams players, when in fact every GM values his assets in different ways, based on different organizational circumstances. That's an area best left to other internet hacks with too much free time and fanciful imaginations (e5).

The NTC's

The players that have the most trade value, and the players that most fans want to see traded, have No Trade clauses in their contracts. Sundin, Tucker, Kaberle, McCabe, and Kubina. Players ask for NTC's for a reason. They want security and they don't want to get traded. Personally, I don't think any of the above players wants to, or will, waive their NTC. The only way I see that happening is if Sundin decides he doesn't want to return to the Leafs next year. Therefore, for the purpose of this exercise, those players are staying and will be the core of what the Leafs should build around next year.

The Cap

The Leafs trouble isn't so much the lack of prospects and picks, as much as it is cap space. They have a lot of bad contracts (big money, excess years) - another reason why guys like Blake or Kubina aren't likely to be moved. The cap is expected to rise to around $54 million, with the Leafs already having $42 million committed next year. That's without re-signing Sundin, and RFA's like Steen, Stajan, Wellwood, and Pogge. The Leafs sole purpose between now and July 1st, should be to shed as much salary as possible. That likely means getting creative with some deals and trying to get other teams to take a contract they don't necessarily want in exchange for a player they do want. The Leafs need to trim about $10 million off their payroll to sign their own free agents, compete for some mid-level UFA's in the summer, and leave themselves some cushion for 2008-09.

Pack Your Shit

Raycroft: Obviously. This is one of those guys you can maybe attach to another deal. Just as the Leafs had to take Mark Bell in the Toskala deal, perhaps the price for a Leafs forward comes down, if somebody takes Raycroft. By any means necessary, his salary has to be shed. Waivers/re-entry waivers, a 7th round pick, whatever it takes. $2 million back-up goalies on non-playoff teams are luxuries you can't afford. Then, let Pogge come up and get a taste of playing a couple games down the stretch.

Antropov: I know, I know. I hear Leafs fans say how after waiting and developing this guy for 10 years, they better not trade him now. That's precisely the reason TO trade him. He's finally developed into a player with a lot of value. He has an affordable contract, is signed for another year, and every team is looking for more scoring. When you factor all that, along with his age, he might garner the Leafs the best return in any deal (short of Sundin waiving his NTC).


Gill:
He's not quite Cory Cross yet, but he makes too much money for the return. $2 million can get you a #4 or #5 defenseman on the UFA market with a little change to spare. His contract isn't terrible and playoff teams are always looking for depth, size, and grit come playoff time. Could you get a #3 pick or a B-level prospect?

Colaiacovo: Enough already with the human chandelier. He's 24 years old, been a "top prospect" forever, and just can't stay healthy enough to take the next step. Trade him before his value dips any further and let Anton Stralman take his place. You can't fall in love with potential.

Kilger: There's nothing wrong with his performance and he comes pretty cheap, plus he's signed for another year. That makes him a nice piece for playoff contenders. If teams call you'd have to listen. These types of guys are replaceable and moving them also opens up ice time for the kids to develop (Earl, Tlusty, etc.)

You need to have some level of continuity so you can't trade 15 guys. Nobody is gonna take Bell, and the cost on the free agent market to replace a relatively affordable 20-goal guy like Ponikarovsky is probably a bit high. He's definitely a trade candidate, but it's a cost/benefit analysis with guys like that.

Belak, Pohl, Moore and Wozniewski are all UFA's and none are vital to the cause unless you want to retain Belak in an enforcer role. Steen and Stajan are guys that have to be re-signed, but probably won't be due big raises. No problems there. Wellwood is a tricky situation. His skill is valuable, but he's a guy who probably needs some tough love. Sign him, and tell him if he doesn't get himself into an off-season conditioning program he's gonna be doing stairs up to the press box each night.

If the Leafs can move some salary and pick up some legitimate prospects and picks in the next two drafts, the rebuild will be underway and Fletcher will have done is job. Mats can likely be had for the hometown discount in the summer ($4.5 million?), and while the UFA crop is not as strong as last year, there'll still be money to compete for some second tier guys like Huselius, Rolston, Morrison, Langkow, Streit, Liles, and Nick Scultz. It's not like guys don't want to play in Toronto. Who knows, the way Wade Redden has been treated in Ottawa, maybe he's in play this summer.

Thoughts? Crazy lunatic rantings? Death threats?

Wednesday, February 13

On This Day Was Born The King of Kings

The King of Kings was born on this day, 37 years ago. We've all been thinking a lot more of Mats in the past few months, with the prospect of losing him (even temporarily) hanging over our heads. No matter what happens with this, or any trade deadline, Mats will always be ours. When his career is over, he will come back to our rink, with a Leafs jersey on his back. He will stand at center ice with a spotlight on him. After the near-endless cheers have died down, he will tell us how much it meant to him to be a Leaf, and he will thank Cliff Fletcher for bringing him to Toronto in the first place.

Nothing says "I love you" like an overly compressed Youtube video, but I love this moment so, so much. Mats' 500th. We all saw it, and how impropable the stats lined up for Mats that night (500th, hat-trick, GWG, short-handed in overtime). Magic follows magic. It's as simple as that.

It's one of my favorite Leafs moments, and not even a clunky call by Bob Cole and Cassie Campbell can dispel how great the scene is. (If anyone wants to dub Joe Bowen's call over it, please do).

Hope you enjoy it, again. Happy Birthday, Mats!

Monday, February 11

BuyTheLeafs.com: ...And a Saviour Approacheth

How about that last post, huh? There is almost nothing I love more than dedicating an entire HS/HS blog day to a picture of an array of Buffalonians recoiling in horror to the second and only northern New York performance of "Jason vs. Freddy On Ice". The show garnered overwhelmingly negative reviews save for save for cub reporter Clint "Shanky" Malarchuck, who called it "...awesome!..." and, "...a tour de force! They got it exactly right..!"

Like I said though, almost nothing. I really, really love the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the feeling I get from meeting you guys and using our collective powers of prose to, say, bitch slap the moustache right off Howard Berger makes this blog all the more rewarding.
Case in point: Jeremy over at BuyTheLeafs.com. Having never seen Jeremy, just from our conversation I can tell you two things about him: One, that he is clearly more handsome than Moose, and two, that he dreams big. And when I say big, I mean BIG. Like last Christmas, he wasn't wishing he'd wake up to find one Xbox 360 under the tree, he was wishing he'd wake up and find ten thousand.

Jeremy works at an investment firm and he has hatched a plan. A plan he's generously agreed to share with each and every one of us: He wants us, Leafs Nation, to buy the Toronto Maple Leafs, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels into the back of Richard Peddie. Think I'm joking? Well take it outside fatso, because I would never joke about something so serious.
I spoke to Jeremy about Buy the Leafs, whose main goal is to ultimately make all of our Leafs coloured dreams come true.

He Score, He Shoot: So Jeremy, on your blog you describe yourself like most us do, as a "Leafaholic". Let's start by telling me what your personal history is with the Leafs.

Buy The Leafs: I've been a Leafaholic since as far back as I can remember. My doctor says the condition is hereditary. My grandfather is going to die having a heart attack watching the Leafs play. I'm going to name my first born, "Dougie".
My relationship with the Leafs is one of suffering. Need I say more than "The 80's"? Then of course ’93, when the Leafs would have won the Cup easily beating the Habs if it wasn't for Fraser. I remember that Borschevsky goal in game 7 against the Wings like it was yesterday. It's depressing; I don't remember what I ate for breakfast, yet I remember little Russians and Kingstonians from 15 years ago. Even more depressing, I actually spelt Borschevsky right without checking.

HS/HS: I actually think that makes you kind of a stud. But seriously, you should make sure you have a V-Fib unit around your grandfather at all times. I'm just saying. So what about us as Leafs fans makes us different from fans of other teams? Why are we so much better?

BTL: Haha. We're the best because no other fans would have put up with what we have and still love the team with all our hearts. We just keep coming back every year with a smile. It's very Canadian.

HS/HS: What is the basic idea for BuyTheLeafs.com?

BTL: To lead the revolution so the inmates can take over and run the asylum. You have to admit, it would be an improvement.

HS/HS: How hard is it to convince people of the seriousness of BuyTheLeafs?

BTL: It's easier to convince Hab fans that the Leafs will win the Cup this year. You know, I understand people being skeptical, I would be as well. It's real easy for anybody to put up a website these days... even Sens fans can do it. That's why all we are asking for is basically a name and email, which will be kept 100% confidential and destroyed if this fails.
We just need people to show some interest, either registering on our site, emailing us, joining our Facebook group or MySpace page. Just something to show us that there is enough interest so we can proceed to the next step of actually forming a company.

HS/HS: Jeremy, when I first looked at your site, the thing that struck me was that it was clear that you had a real business model. You hold up as an example two European soccer teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Those are sporting clubs with "members" rather than shareholders. They hold elections, where members vote, select their President and then relinquish control of the club to them. Would your plan with the Leafs be similar, or would shareholders have a say in major club decisions?

BTL: Well, the way I envision it at this point is, shareholders will vote for a board and a president that will hire a CEO who will be responsible for the day to day business operations.
Shareholders would also vote for any major club decisions. The issue is, what is a major decision the fans should vote for, and what is best left up to the board? Should hiring/firing a GM be a fan/shareholder vote? Or is that something the board and president would be responsible for and evaluated on?
There can be similarities with the way non-profit member clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona are run. However, from a financial stand point, they never had to come up with $1.8-billion initial capital to purchase the clubs. It would be next to impossible to put this together as a non-profit members club at this point.

HS/HS: There is a similar effort being made right now by fans of Liverpool FC in England, to buy the club from their American owners (incidentally, George Gillett of the Montreal Canadiens and Tom Hicks of the Dallas Stars). Have you been following that story?

BTL: I hadn't seen this, but that seems to be a trend right now. There's also a group in Miami trying to buy the NFL Dolphins. I heard something on the news yesterday about a group in Buffalo trying to purchase the Bills. There have been a couple other similar stories from around the world. Teams are a public trust, and I think fans are tired of paying money so others can get rich.

HS/HS: If the money was raised, who would handle the negotiations of the sale?

BTL: Lawyers. Lots of them. Unfortunately. On our behalf, the board of directors would be responsible for putting together a negotiating team including lawyers, accountants, etc.

HS/HS: The Leafs have major money, don't they? Exactly how much do they make every year?

BTL: Is the sky blue? The actual numbers are a closely guarded secret. However, according to leaked documents, the company made a profit of about $83-million in the last fiscal year (06-07 season). According to Forbes, from that $83-million, about $53-million was from the Leafs. I should also note though, as we have seen with many governments and companies (Enron, Nortel, and many more), accounting is an art, not a science.

HS/HS: For a project of this size, is it realistic to expect a Leafs fan to invest without regard for a return on their investment?

BTL: Well, your typical fan that might invest $1 000, at 10% ROI would receive $100 a year. The point is most fans would rather leave that money with the club to win. People investing larger amounts, will expect a return. This can be structured so there is a difference between fans and investors.

HS/HS: Just so you know dude, I have no idea what that meant, because I'm an idiot. But I DO know sales pitches. If you had to go in today and make a sales pitch to someone, would you approach them more as a fan or an investor?

BTL: Depends on how much money they have. For the smaller amounts, I would approach them as fans. For larger amounts, as investors.
Financially, there are a couple different options as to how this can be structured. We could borrow money or have split shares where people can invest and get a higher return but not have voting rights. This really all depends on how many fans show interest, and how much fan money can be raised, as opposed to investor money.

HS/HS: So how can people get involved?

BTL: They can register at BuyTheLeafs.com, email us for more info at info@BuyTheLeafs.com, or, join us at Facebook and Myspace, and hopefully help spread the word to their fellow Leaf Nation inmates-citizens.

HS/HS: Well Jeremy, you're clearly excellent. You're the embodiment of the phrase "Put your money where your mouth is", and you're encouraging every Leafs fan to do the same. In closing, let me ask you this: If, one day your dream came true, and you owned the Leafs, would you give up your shares if it meant they would win the Cup?

BTL: In a heartbeat. I'd give up my left arm. I'd even give up my first born, Dougie.

God, let's hope it comes to that.

Sunday, February 10

Horror

A few months ago, Greener and I were re-living the gore of Clint Malarchuk's severed jugular vein via the magic Youtube. Tonight in Buffalo, also the site of the Malarchuk's incident in 1989, Richard Zednik was struck in the neck by a teammate's (Olli Jokinen) skate.

I've watched the Panthers a lot this season and was watching tonight as well. I feared the worst, and judging from the reaction of his teammates, so did they. It was bad. I could post some scratchy Youtube clip, but the faces of the fans in this picture tell the story even better.

Zednik had emergency surgery and is listed in stable condition. Thankfully, one of the Sabres medical staff was able to locate the severed vein and pinch it off to stop the bleeding on the way to the hospital.

Best wishes all around.

Saturday, February 9

Flames 4, Oil 1: Rant

After losing to a mediocre hockey team like the Calgary Flames, I would like to come on here and rail the Oilers, but I can't. Yes, the Oilers got away from their simple, physical, pucks-to-the-net style that got them two straight wins, including a 5-0 bitch slapping of Cowtown earlier this week. But, the Flames got two fluke goals, and aside from a few sloppy breakouts and too few shots, the Oilers played an okay game. Kiprusoff only faced 15 shots, and was decidedly average (again). Of those 15 shots, 2 went through him and had to be cleared off the goal line, and he's still looking for Robert Nilsson's goal after being deked into Row Q.

I've not been one to live and die with results this year. The Oilers are what they are: a work in progress. But tonight got under my skin because I can't stomach watching the Calgary Flames unless their crisp bodies are being pulled from a burning wreckage. In particular:

Dion Phaneuf: Are you kidding me with this guy? This is Calgary's idea of a $6.5 million franchise defenseman? Clueless in his own zone, chases guys 80 feet to make a hit, and a quite frankly, a half-man. Let me tell what a fucking leader does. In the game on Monday, Ethan Moreau put his elbow under Phanuef's chin and knocked him to the ice. When Frankenberry got up for more, Moreau fed him four right hands. What does Phaneuf do? He gets up and complains to the refs. So Moreau, being the supreme captain that he is, says after the game that he felt bad that Phaneuf didn't get a chance to get his gloves off quicker and square up, and says he'll give him another chance on Saturday. Mind you, this is the same Ethan Moreau that has been told not to fight by his coach, because of his surgically repaired shoulder. So tonight, Moreau calmy offers Phaneuf a return tilt. Apparently, Phaneuf's strategy this time was to head-butt Moreau's fist until 'Chopper' literally deposited him into his own goal. Dion, next time you want to eat that much knuckle you may just want to opt for an intravenous tube or something. But hey, keep frosting those tips, buddy. Lookin' good!

Matthew Lombardi: You got rag-dolled by Ladislav Smid!

Mark Smith: I'm sorry, you are? Elbows to the back of guys heads, and the old "hold me back routine," huh? Really? You're so shit, you wish you were Jarkko Ruutu.

Robyn "free hand" Regehr: I'm so tired of watching this gutless fucking Cro-Magnon try and drive Ales Hemsky's head through the boards and get off with 2 minutes or less. I hope one day Regehr has to be carried off on a stretcher after being on the receiving end of one those cheap shit hits he likes to dole out. His act is so far over the line it's disgusting. When does enough become enough? When Hemsky is carried off on a stretcher?

Have you ever seen Regehr go into the corner first to get a loose puck? Of course not, he wouldn't know what to do with it if he got it. Hemsky, who gives up 4-inches and 40-pounds, is always first into a corner because he's fucking fearless. Funny how Regehr got so tough after Laraque left town, isn't it? On the RARE occasion when he fights, who does he dance with? Middleweight Zack Stortini, and lover Dustin Penner. What a hero. Have you ever seen Regehr engage an opposing forward without putting his hand on him first? I'll answer that...no you haven't. He has to grab because anybody with speed makes him look like a steaming pile of dog shit. Hey pylon, meet Ferrari.

My apology for the external Youtube link. Apparently the poster is VERY protective and didn't want it embedded!

Thursday, February 7

Leafs 4, Canadiens 2. Next Up: 7 Game Win Streak. 8th Here We Come!

You just knew the Leafs were going to come out exceptionally well against the Habs in Montreal tonight. All season long (and a long time before that), the Leafs have been the team you do not want to face after they've gotten murdered on the ice. When you then add on to that that the killing was perpetrated at home in front of their fans...well the Habs opened the doors to the Bell Center tonight knowing that they were the band who had to go on after the Beatles, and too bad for them, 'cause their amps only go up to '10'.

The Leafs still have A LOT of pride in them, and no matter what Darren Drager said last week on TSN -clearly the low point in his career- the Leafs aren't dogging it to have a better shot at S. Stamkos. They are going to go down kicking and screaming until such time as they are told they aren't allowed to do it anymore.

Now given that right now the Leafs have a very good shot at getting Stamkos, we, as Leafs fans must hilariously understand that the Leafs will now go on a 7 game winning streak, throwing them back into the thick of it for the last playoff spot. THAT my darlings is what we get for following a team that has GUTS and CHARACTER to spare. One of the best examples of that tonight was when the King of Kings was ready to kick Mike Komisarek's head in for the extra shoves on Robbie Earl when he was down. If that doesn't make you want to go to war for the jersey, then I don't know what will.
So even if the Leafs don't make the playoffs, thank Christ this is the team we love, and not a bunch of gutless, choking assholes who dive in the playoffs...Aaarrghthpppthhh-Mike Fisher-phhthhh-p-tew! Sorry, I just had to spit there.

~~~~

Sorry everybody, I don't want to ruin your morning read but I do have to mention something terrible that surrounds us everyday. What, you may ask? Cystic acne? No, something much worse: Howard Berger.

I've written like a champion before about Howard. He's been getting on my tits for a long time now. The article above I wrote in the middle of August while the Leafs were gearing up for camp. Everything I said in the piece relates to an article that Berger just wrote yesterday on the terrible Hockeybuzz.com

Hockeybuzz is a website where the head guy just makes up a bunch of shit every morning and puts "e3" next to it, telling you he'll have "more later...". He just keeps reprinting this misinformation, hoping you'll keep refreshing your page, putting money in his pocket. If by some ungodly chance something he reports actually happens, he smugly claims superiority. WHEN it doesn't, and he gets called on it, he simply shrugs and says "I only said they were rumours.", laughing all the way to the bank.

Anyway, so Berger wrote a ridiculous piece about his "limo" driver in Montreal who had the smoked-meat-filled gall to ask him how Leafs fans manage in "that city". Berger, knowing he's got a live one here, which means he doesn't have to write anything now and so he can more quickly get one of those smoked meats for himself, urges him on, "How do we do what?"

"Put up with that hockey team. It doesn't seem like it ever changes in Toronto. The Leafs are always bad. Every year, it's the same thing."

The fatso continues:

"You have an awful team, year after year, but that arena is filled every night. Don't the people care? If we had that kind of team here all the time, there would be riots on the streets like in 1955. Canadiens' fans wouldn't put up with it, I can assure you."

And old Howard just let's him go. Berger feels absolutely no pressure to bother to mention say, that the over the course of the 90's and till this year the Leafs have had a better team than the Habs. Not mentioning that not so long ago we went to the conference final with half our line-up decimated with injuries- most notably to Mats who had a broken wrist and our goalie Curtis Joseph who had a motherfucking broken hand! How about those years -not so long ago- when the Habs couldn't make the playoffs to save their lives? Convenient silence from Howard.

And why? Because he uses this dumb biased bastard's words to actually come out and attack the very last group of people responsible for the Leafs problems: Leafs fan themselves:

"Leaf followers are the champion of two-faced sports fans. They bitch and moan and curse at their team; even cheering for the opposition as in the late stages of the Florida massacre Tuesday night."

This fucker just attacked you, me, and all of us who actually give a shit, no matter what, about this team. He uses the disgraceful antics of a very small group of people in the stands on Tuesday, to whitewash us all with the lazy label "Two-faced". He knows that too, but he doesn't care.

Then he says, "But, they have no capacity to offer meaningful resistance. Like sheep, they mindlessly flock to the arena every hockey night, in every disastrous season." Right, it's our fault the Leafs have had a bad season. And one of the ways we can prove we're not sheep is to what, turn over some cop cars and light them on fire like they did in Montreal one time in the 50's?

Once again Howard, like most things, gets it completely wrong. Firstly, every season disastrous? WRONG. Second, mindlessly flock to the arena? You mean go to the game because we're not fairweather fans who can't fill our building like so many expansion franchises he himself probably rails against? WRONG. Good one, Howard, you're really keeping the good name of Hockeybuzz alive and well.

This unbecoming welt which turns us into two-faced sheep is something called "Passion". Howard Berger seems so bored covering the Leafs, it feels like that's something he lost a long, long time ago. At this rate, he wouldn't know it if came up and shaved him in his moustache.

SEXY UPDATE: Think it's just me? Get the actual numbers proving this from the awesome Cox Bloc.

BEATING A DEAD HORSE: NOW NOT JUST A EUPHEMISM FOR MASTURBATION

My opinion of the Florida game is the same as yours. Quite frankly Greener wrote about it below and my opinion is the same as his. And at this point the least said the better.
It almost ruined, for me, what happened on Saturday night. (I said almost.)Ultimately, (bigger picture ultimately) I don’t care if the Leafs lose every game from here on out. All I ask is that they beat the team from ottowo every time they play. I really love that it was on HNIC too so all them wool socked friggers were watching.
I must admit I especially liked how bad it made Spezza and Ray “Wanna Step Outside?" Emery look. I tell you something, I’d rather have McCabe for 5 than Spezza for 7. Spezza for 7? Now that’s over paying.

And let me ask you this: Which razor would you rather have on your team?

And a big He Score, He Shoot, ‘atta boy to Robbie Earl who not only got his first NHL point, on Hockey Night in Canada no less, but also showed as much hustle as the Van McCoy wikipedia page. With a spinnarama pass so good he made it look cinchy. Colaiacovo, fresh from not being injured, finished the play for the (eventual) game winner. Another ‘atta boy to the out of nowhere Dominic Moore for his first goal as a Leaf.

Stat that made me vom a little in my mouth: 19 Games since Kyle Wellwood's last goal.

I have suddenly started feeling a little queasy about a few of the trades that have been bandied about. Shit, I have to admit; a few times I have been the bandier. But I have started to feel that there is something akin to a pack mentality happening? My last post I called it Trade Deadline Fever or something equally as dramatic and awesome. It’s like watching a fight and then suddenly finding your self stomping a guy who’s lying on the ground’s neck. There is something similar in bicycle racing: it’s called the peleton. In the peleton you don’t even have to peddle. You’re sucked into it, no questions asked.
It’s just like being a fan of the Leafs right now. We have been so terrible this year. Admittedly I have, shall we say, imbibed in my time, so the memory, like the ol’ gray mare, aint what she used to be but this is the worst that I can remember. Because of that it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex that surrounds our team right now. A place so full of greed and avarice that if it weren’t wearing socks you would call it the 1980’s.

It’s a fairly Canadian mentality to eat our own. Canada/Canadians love when the Leafs are terrible. Read the Toronto media after any game day and disagree with me. There are even Leafs fans who talk with relish about the Ballard years or Alan Bester as our number 1 goalie. Don’t even get me started on the guys who talk of conspiracies between the MLSE and the underground gambling dens of Toronto or the bastards who call Mats Sundin a bad Captain and over-rated.

What was I talking about? Oh yes. I read the papers and I think of the trades that can be made. The potential trades. Like I have written about already. It turned me into a monster…and quite frankly speculatin’ hurts my brain.

Recently I was in a social setting where I found myself defending the Leafs. Saying the usual, this team isn’t as terrible as it seems. Nobody would have predicted what we are facing this year. Excuse me, the dude has cancer. Yes, we’ve been blown out of the water, embarrassed in our home rink, booed by (some) fans, but we’ve also lost 17 games by one goal. And then it starts to hit me: the idea that maybe we shouldn’t trade everyone away. Maybe the problem isn’t the team. Elements of…yes, of course. I know I have talked about blowing this shit up (blowed up real good) but I am starting to think that that’s not the answer. This year is a write off. We know that already. But I am starting to think that trading away all of the pieces is as dramatically incorrect as keeping them all.
Do I think Mats should be traded? Yes, absolutely. Would I trade Kubina? Yes. Gill. Yes. McCabe and Blake….perhaps but only to free up cap space for the up-coming UFA free for all.

The point is we know we will finish near the bottom of the standings. It might not be ocean front but it’ll be ocean view, if you know what I mean. And everyone knows that in this years draft...really anywhere in the top 10 is a lock. Trading Mats makes sense strictly for the return. Parlay that first round pick with our own and then tinker and trade and sign in the off season.
In other words - Don’t trade Kaberle. The justification that Anton Stralman is the next Kaberle is not enough. Isn’t that a good thing? To have as many Kaberle’s as possible. I know his return would be amazing…but Kaberle is too big a piece of the future pie.

And finally... another 'atta boy to Mike B from Sudbury, Ontario our He Score, He Shoot Fan of the Week for his new Norte tattoo.Way to go, Mike!

Wednesday, February 6

The Katz in the Hatz

If I ruled the world! I heard that song coming from Daryl Katz's limosine as he rolled past my house trolling for poon. Is trolling for poon too adult for this site? I don't swear in my posts so I'm hoping I've earned a little slack here, and I choose to use that slack, all of it, on saying "trolling for poon". I've gotten off track, I was gonna say that Katz's limo was carved out of a giant Halls mentholyptus lozenge and that it ran on cough syrup and the tears of rich people who aren't quite as rich. Really, the point is that its official, 100% sewn up, with Todd "Remember Spawn? Anyone?" McFarlane the last seller finally having sold... the mission is accomplished and the Oilers have changed hands. The NHL board of guvnuh's are drinking their mint juleps about it now and after some quail hunting will approve the sale in about a month and a half.

Now in reading all the coverage on this momentous occassion I've seen a lot of people talk about hoping for change, hoping for a new direction, hoping for something different. It caused me to ask, what changes do I want to see happen? Let's find out together!


1. Coaching staff change. Well, they say he's a scapegoat, they say you can't fire all your players so fire your coach. There are two players left from when MacT took over in 2000. Horc and Moreau. So they have fired all the players. At least once. The fact of the matter is they haven't finished higher than 3rd in the NW division since MacT took over and he's had a wide variety of personnel. Of course, he didn't have much success until Kevin Lowe gave him some actual stud players but even then, the team finished 8th. So is MacT's skill so high that regardless of the personnel he can always finish a team at 8th or lower? Is that his super power? I feel like you can't find a more inconsistent team game to game, or a less motivated team for the big games, and eventually you do have to point the finger at the coach. Its like a goalie, I need a coach who can coach me some wins when maybe the team isn't all showing up.


2. Kevin Lowe. Alright alright alright. He's a genius to some and a villain to others. He's made a few real good moves, and a fairly large chunk of terrible moves. His hand has been forced on more than one occasion so you can't judge him too harshly, or can you? I'm as flip floppy on KLowe as the Edmonton public seem to be. The fact of the matter is the Oil have the fourth highest payroll in the league and not a lot to show for it. Injuries! I hear you cry. Absolutely, the Oil have lost a ton of games because they didn't have their A team together. But where is all that money going? Pisani, Roloson, Staios. These are 2.5, 3.7, and 2.7 million dollar contracts. Almost 9 million for three guys that aren't that essential to the success of the team in my mind. Then you've got just under 10 million for this offseasons acquisitions, Souray and Penner. I think the Penner debate will remain open for a while yet, though I have a hard time believing he'll consistently be worth anywhere near that money. Either way, 20 million on five guys that you can't trade because of the cap and that aren't gonna win a scoring race or flip a game on its ear. That seems like poor money management to me.

3. Ken Low - Well, who else can you blame for two consecutive years of well over 250 man games lost? The trainer, that's who!

Tuesday, February 5

It Never Has To Hurt Like This Again

I got dumped hard one time by a girl I really, really liked. I proceeded to spend the next 2 months not really feeling like I had the ability to breathe. The world around me seemed like a blur. One evening, as I was sitting on my bed, not feeling like I had the ability to breathe, I heard in my ears, a loud, discernable, "thump". I looked around to see what it was, but it was only me there. I wondered what it could be, and after hours of semi-coherent thought, figured out what it was: That, in my despair, I had hit bottom. I realized that this was the worst moment of an already unbearable situation. Tonight, against a team with a feral cat as it's logo, the Toronto Maple Leafs, each one of them, heard their own discernable "thump". This was the worst moment of an already unbearable situation. The worst defeat of the season. Losing 8-0 at home.

In his post game interview Mats said, "Everyone who wore the sweater should be ashamed of the way we played." After a loss like this, they should also be ready to be traded. With even Joe Bowen and Greg Millen saying that this team is going to look very different the next time the Leafs play the Panthers on the 27th of this month, very few of the Leafs should be comfortable they are safe from being traded outright. Or, for those Leafs lucky enough to have a NTC, receiving a phone call that will sound like this:

Bye-ee indeed. That phone call means that Trader-Cliff is going to try and convince you to let him Trader-You. In Matt Stajan's post game interview, he starts to speak of the Leafs locker room, about how they have a really good group, then he steers the subject away to something else. They know that it's on now, and that that good group is not for long.

Such shoddy defence today. That Hall Gill in the feet miscue, being the worst. After the 10 second-in 2nd period goal, it just seemed like everything went wrong for the Leafs, no bounces, no good rolls. The only "break" they got was when Raycroft got killed on a breakaway wrister and it wrang off the post. Is it just me or does it look that the majority of the goals scored on Toskala are of the "just throw it at the net, look for a tip" variety? He's so strong and it's just those ugly ones that get him. Raycroft on the other hand, Jesus. Every goal on him now is from a sick rebound he gives up to the slot. He's just got nothing. It's gone beyond ridiculous and now it's just sad. Having said that, I think it's disgusting when fans mock a player like some in the ACC did tonight to Raycroft. I mean, he's on our goddamn team! Do you really think he's just slumming, and taking it easy down there? That he's not really trying to change the outcome of his game/career/life? That behaviour is beneath us as fans.

So that "thump" I heard was the worst moment. But you know what? It got better after that, and it was never as bad again. Maybe that's what we and the Leafs are about to see come the trade deadline. That we'll get ourselves together, and it won't hurt as much ever again.

Monday, February 4

NORTE'S POST? LIKE A ROLLER COASTER RIDE WHERE YOU BARF UP YOUR COTTON CANDY, BUT IT'S OK COS IT TASTES KINDA SWEET IN YOUR MOUTH

“Maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves."
-Fight Club

Clearly the first rule of quoting Fight Club is there is no quoting Fight Club. OR something. Look, I want to talk hockey, not Fight Club. Stop bringing up Fight Club, what’s with you and that movie? Jesus….you’re always talking about that movie. Fight Club, Fight Club, Fight Club….enough with the Fight Club…Jesus.

And scene.

This morning I woke up in a cold sweat. I was having a terrible dream, the same terrible dream most of the night. There I was, Norte: bons viveurs, goalie, blogger, looking as handsome as ever, swept up in what can only be described as trade fever. I was like an animal in my dream. Some terrible clawed and fanged creature, in an ironic t-shirt, googling things like Stamkos, Taveres, Edler instead of the usual cotillion of boobs, Asian, horny.
There I was, blood shot eyes (which admittedly isn’t that abnormal) with a ‘why Grandma what big teeth you have’ smile reading about the demise of the Edmonton Oilers. Laughing, howling at the moon if you will, at the news of Shawn Horcoff and his shoulder. Forgive me Moose and Wash, but I'm enjoying the potential of your teams L's almost as much as my own team’s.
The words Is he or isn’t he? Will he or won’t he? Flashing past me like whistle stops in bad film noir. No Trade Clause blinking on and off like broken neon. It was a terrible dream…and it was one of those dreams that you keep having every time you fall back asleep. Problem was….I’m that episode of Dallas…cos, guess what, I'm not asleep. I’m Bobby Ewing and I’m in the shower.

Hello, my name is Norte and I am addicted to reading about the upcoming trade deadline.
I don’t particularly like how much interest I am investing in trade speculation….but this is the most fun I have had regarding the Leafs this year. Admittedly it’s a little horrifying to realize that the trade has to be like that Beatles couplet about the love you give equaling the love you get back: you want Stamkos or an Edler then you have to be both really shitty and open to trading a Sundin and a Kaberle. And sadly I am not talking Ronnie or Frantisek.
Do I want to see Kaberle go? Of course not. Absolutely not actually. I don’t want him to go. I had always hoped he would be sort of like the Leafs version of Lidstrom: (one crest, Norris mainstay)…but the big picture, the big picture…with that contract of his to boot. I believe he would garner as much attention as Sundin (on contract and age alone).
My fear is that the trade that (will) happen(s) will already have been posted on a thousand different blogs…so when it does finally happen…it’ll be like…oh that deal.
I like the Ducks potential best because as I said above the Oilers are pretty shitty this year too. My fingers are crossed for that one. Secondly…with Mats? Can you imagine? Mats and Teemu? Cos you know Teemu will finally be hitting mid-season stride around April too. And Kaberle is only 30….Christ I could shed a tear thinking about it.
The anticipation of the where and the when and for what….is kind of thrilling. You get to imagine. Shit…hmmm…how about Kubina to Chicago for Cam Barker. Darcy to Calgary for Dustin Boyd. Yeah, you think, over ride trade rejection. Mats to the Ducks for Bobby Ryan, Edmonton’s first round this year. That sounds good…..but wait…suddenly it hits me…Wait a minute….Taveres isn’t eligible for this years draft cos he was born three days before the eternal equinox in a leap year…so that means he would be available in 2009 right?
This is exactly like eating at a Chinese food buffet. There are two ways to approach it. You can pile it on right away, eyes bigger than your stomach, no regard for the Kung Po as you dump on the Mu Shu, practically drowning your Ling Mung Gai in Wu Lo Yuk.
And there are people who go up…and come back with a soup.
I hear that next year’s draft is gonna be another good one and I ask, hypothetically of course, what would I rather have? Jonathon Toews or Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane? Crosby or Crosby/Malkin? Clearly rebuilding is a faster process these days but this may be the time, the perfect time to open with the soup.