Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.


Three weeks is all it takes

Below are my picks for the season I soothsaid on 09/06/06. Already I am doubting a few, especially in the West.

NY Rangers
NJ Devils
NY Islanders





San Jose
Los Angeles

East 8
Buffalo (Finalist)

West 8
San Jose (Champs)

I'm pretty confident with the Atlantic, though Philly could win it just as easily as the Rangers. But with the way Lundqvist is playing and the way Esche has played his entire career, I wouldn't bet on it. I don't like the Devils because this cap turmoil undermines the team feeling that NJ relies on, and can make players feel expendable. Which of course they are, but you don't want your players to feel that way. Pittsburgh will improve its point total, but I'm not confident it will overtake the Devils. No comment on Long Island. What a fucking joke.

The Northeast is a toughie, mostly because I'm most familiar with all five teams, but I still think Buffalo is the one team to advance the farthest in the post season thanks to Ryan Miller, with Ottawa winning the regular season battle. I thought the Leafs had a chance to take third up until last night when I saw Chara play for the B's. He gives them 5-10 more wins, mostly of the not-losing-the-lead variety. Montreal, I'm not worried about at all.

The Southeast is the Canes' to lose, especially if Cole can play 70+ games. I originally ranked the Panthers high because of the forward depth (Bertuzzi, Olli's Olympic linemate Peltonen, Joe and Gary, Horton,Olesz, Weiss) but I'm not sure Martin is the man to bring out the offense in this squad. Now I'm thinking Atlanta with a healthy Lehtonen will be chasing the Canes. If they can reduce the GAs, Hossa and Kovalchuk can win alot of games on the PP all by themselves. Tampa is too top heavy, and Washington is...Washington.

But in the West, I think I messed up the Pacific and Northwest. The Central is a dogfight between Nashville and Detroit, with the edge resting in Vokoun. I thought Columbus had a shot before the Zherdev soap opera and the Fedorov injury. I'm less confident, but a full season out of Nash should be enough to beat out a rebounding Chicago squad and a Blues team led by the U.S. over-50 Olympic team.

In the Pacific, I think I doubted Dallas after their implosion last May, and moved LA too high. I suppose I don't see enough of these two to have a good read. SJ and Anaheim are obviously the cream. Phoenix might be better, but Cujo's reflexes are starting to wane.

The Northwest is even more congested than last year. You've got the Flames trying to score more, the Oilers with a real NHL goaltender for an entire season, the Canucks giving up fire-power for goal-tending but seemingly indecisive in team direction, and Minnesota with possibly the best offensive tandem in the division. Then there is Colorado.

But really, who the eff really knows?


Comcast, oh how I loathe thee

Well, after several attempts to spend my hard earned money on an over-priced ($169.00 USD, up significantly from last year and the 2003-04 price with no early bird special or 'Thank You Fans' discount - I think I know where the increased revenue is coming from this season to increase the salary cap for next year) were met with retarditude, as one good buddy who has tangled extensively with the cable goliath noted, I managed to get through to an account service executive with a level of competency of someone who is actually paid usable currency to answer the phone on behalf of a major media corporation. Thanks Tiffany. And no, I don't want to sign-up for your phone service.

[ RANT ] : The first few people I talked to willfully lied in a variety of ways; Comcast doesn't offer this product, It isn't available yet because Comcast isn't broadcasting "pregames" (at least get the jargon right you dope!) so check back later in the week. Is your job that bad that you purposefully make shit up to not help people? Do you really want to screw your boss' numbers up that bad? How archaic are internal systems that you can't even research product availability? Is there zero accountability on the limb of the phone tree dedicated to adding and deleting services? Wouldn't it be great if an employee identification number was electronically given to you before the "executive" picked up the line so you could call back and complain? Sorry, didn't mean to lapse into a utopian vision of a 'modern capitalist developed world'.

Cable pisses me off in general because I don't have a choice between cable companies. No choice, ergo no competition, ergo no incentive to improve product or service, ergo shitty product and service. I'm left to the luck of the draw as to which non-responsive vacuum hose into my wallet has a contract in my neighborhood. From my point of view, that is the definition of a monopoly. Or an oligarchy because I suppose to I could use satellite. But I'm not going back to DSL or dial up as an ISP. So I'm stuck. If only Rogers and Time Warner or whoever could simultaneously compete for my cable dollars. Alas, the individual consumer is relegated to a dot on a graph of a larger market economy. [ /RANT ]

Now that I have fought my way through the retarditude to successfully overpay for a sub-standard product I might even have something insightful or nervous to say related to on-ice activity. Check back on Sunday. UPDATE - Comcast executives actually did get something right; the new high-priced Center Ice package is not broadcasting pre-season games.

And if you have missed JFJ's blog, it is has been great so far; consistent posts on varying topics revealing more information than the dailies. A real eye-opener for all the JFJ haters. Bowen chimes in today on Johnny Pohl, a day after JFJ essentially gave his pet-project his blessing to be a Leaf this season, saying he is a guy who disproves the adage 'good guys finish last.'

Links on the right - >


Nice. I like.

It isn't often that the entertainment industry, hockey, and international relations intersect. Today is one of those days as Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev is in Washington today for an official visit, and Kazakhstani Nik Antropov speaks up in today's Star about satirical Kazakhstani Borat, aka Sasha Baron Cohen, and the tension the comedian has caused in his homeland.

The Kazakh government isn't finding Borat's act humorous, as they have shutdown www.borat.kz, and are pursuing legal action against the British comedian.

This is the part that gets me,
Responding in character, "Borat" disavows any connection with Baron Cohen and "fully supports my government's decision to sue this Jew." But of course, Borat goes further, saying reforms instituted in 2003 means "women can now travel on inside of bus, homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats, and age of consent has been raised to eight years old. Please, captain of industry; I invite you to come to Kazakhstan where we have incredible natural resources, hardworking labour, and some of the cleanest prostitutes in whole of central Asia."

Antropov doesn't add much to the story, apart from being a good sport.

Synergistic hockey blogging; the final frontier.

UPDATE - Check out JFJ's 09/25/06 blog entry where he explains some of his roster decisions. Here is a short abstraction: Earl - great skills, needs consistency. Newbury - in great shape, needs to outplay others in tough/scoring role. Tlusty - better than expected, but only 18, in good hands to develop. Pogge - impressive, needs to build game for next level.

Wanna play?

Being a kid was the greatest. Zero responsibility. Candy. Naps. Candy. Oh yeah, and 'playing' was my favorite activity. Yours too? Well, if you haven't completely misplaced your inner-child, sign on up for the First Ever Raking Leafs Hockey Pool. It is being held at The Common Fan, get this, for free. You'll have to register first, but it is quick and painless.

Here are the The Rules:

-Select a roster made up of 20 NHL players (skaters only)
-Collect 1 point for each goal, assist, short-handed goal, and game-winning goal - most points at the end of the regular season wins.
-There are no trades or roster changes allowed when the season starts.
-Tie-breakers: 1) total goals, 2) total game-winning goals, 3) total shorthanded goals. IN the event of a tie, I'm picking a number between 1 and 1,000,000,000. Whoever is closest wins.

To rip an infomercial line; set it and forget it! Well not 'forget' it, but you get what I'm saying. Tommy Tinkerton need not apply.

UPDATE: I don't have any prize to give out to the winner. I already spend enough of my time on this blog, I'm not going to start spending my money too. However, perhaps a certain NHL team would like to donate a prize. Hopefully by season end, Maple Leafs brass will have read this post and will send something along.

I don't plug much of anything here at RakingLeafs, but I like what TCF is doing with their hockey pools and blog news, so I want to help support them.


Loose Lips?

Not exactly, but definitely a loosening of said lips. JFJ, the embattled GM that faces a rabid Toronto hockey media and fanbase seemingly bent on his removal, is turning over a new....huh-huh...leaf. That's right, John Ferguson Jr. published his first post on his brand spanking new blog over at mapleleafs.com. As can be expected, there is nothing earth shattering in content; recap of off-season moves, new system, new coach, chance for young players, etc. Nevertheless, I'll be interested to see how often (UPDATE - JABS notes quite frequently, which is a pleasant surprise), this new outlet is updated, especially if things don't go swimmingly. Or how about the status of Carlo? That would be ideal.

Cheers to JFJ, and the team in general, for opening up to blogdom. I suppose an independent blogger would've been too much to ask for, considering the money involved in the Maple Leafs brand, but perhaps that is a possibility down the road. And what are the odds of a ghost-writer?

His isn't the only new blog, as Joe Bowen and Mike Ulmer are settling into new ml.com digs as well.

UPDATE - 09/20/06 entry "...I thought Bobby Clarke was a terrific captain in Philadelphia and Darryl Sittler and obviously Mats Sundin, were terrific captains here in Toronto."

Were? Come again? Interesting that JFJ groups Sundin in with great captains of the past. I generally ignore the "Sundin doesn't want to be captain" rag filler, but this is different as it comes from within the organization. And when you think about how Mats back-tracked out of his initial response to the "trade to a contender" question earlier at this year's camp, I might have to start worrying about Mats not being a Leaf for life.

Hopefully it is just a misclassification on JFJ's part, and not a slip of the mind. I don't want to start thinking about maxmizing the return for an asset before it depreciates. Mats should stay.


M(aurice). O(ffense).

I suspect someone in the MSM read James Mirtle's post questioning how the Maple Leafs are going to score goals this year without Allison and Lindros, as the very next day Steve Milton of the Hamilton Spectator gets the new head coach to articulate his basic game plan.
The offence is based on how fast you practice...That's where offensive concepts come from. You learn how to play with each other. You practice at high speed, and what you've done is create anticipation of where the puck is going to be and how it's going to get there. That anticipation creates the half-step you need. It used to be that a half-step didn't mean anything...But now, you get five or six inches and that's enough to get away.
It'll be a two-man forecheck with room in it that if you had to pull it back, you can. But the whole concept of forechecking is changing, because we're not dumping the puck in any more, except for line changes. Our basic offensive theory is 'Where will we put the puck when we can't do anything more with it?' And some of that is dictated by the skill level of the individuals.
Milton also speculates that due to the high skill level of the Leafs blue line (additions Kubina, Carlo and/or White) much of the offense will originate with the puck mover, which is ideal for the new-NHL (and really, the old NHL too, but it was less prevalent due to the emphasis on defense).

"...Bringing centres back into their own zone would increase the options for the defencemen. And a puck handler with options is a dangerous weapon."

With that approach in mind, perhaps we'll see McCabe(R) and Kaberle(L) as the first pair, Kubina(R) and Carlo(L) as the second, and White(R) and Gill(L) as the third.

Sounds like a decent strategy; play to your strengths. Just keep those odd-man rushes off of turn-overs to a minimum, Paul.


$6 to see rookie game on-line

Rookie Tournament Final to be broadcast live on-line via www.hamiltonbulldogs.com, beginning at 3:45 EST. For $6. Stupid pay-per-view. Stop trying to extract my money from my wallet. What will help the NHL's bottom line is exposure, not measely fees for pre-season rookie tournament games.

With the rookie buds 3-0 record, and great performances from Pogge and T-lusty and tournament goal scoring leader John Mitchell, I was definitely going to risk the wrath of my manager to watch the game this afternoon. But not for $6.

Call me cheap, but the cost for the Center Ice package increased more than the salary cap, and my hockey related revenue flow hasn't followed suit.