Raking Leafs

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


Oh Ver Ray Tid

Along the lines of something I was hoping to see from David Johnson this off-season, Sean Allen goes through the Eastern Conference with an eye for potential busts.

He needs to watch more Pens games, because from what I've seen there is no shortage of centers playing the wing. Though he is spot on when it comes to Redden. He also makes an interesting point about Tucker's PP time. Does Maurice let seniority dictate whether Tucker resigns the lease to his office? I'm not sure which way that will play out. And I think Vinnie made the leap to elite status last year. He'll be in the hunt for the Hart all season.

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In Among the Hills of Morris....

I just have to follow up a previous mention of George Parros, class of 1998, by mentioning his visit to Delbarton on his one day with Stanley. Here's a link to the Daily Record. [via] Congrats George! I never would've dreamt the Stanley Cup would've visited the senior garden.

And that 'stach rocks!

In other news reported late Friday, seemingly intended to be lost in the news cycle, the Leafs have promoted from within and rewarded Jeff Jackson, JFJ's capologist, with an Assistant GM title. This brings the Assistant GM count to two, supposedly leading the way in organizational structure innovation.
In effect, Jackson's promotion gives the Leafs two assistant GMs, since Mike Penny also retained his job and title as well.

"That may end up being kind of a new [organizational] model," Jackson said. "The only thing I'm going to be doing more of is help Mike manage the [Toronto] Marlies and be more involved with our prospects playing in the American [Hockey] League, and maybe do a little more scouting with the players we drafted.

"Really, day to day, nothing's really changing."
It would've been refreshing to have seen the organization add someone who brings something new to the table. But alas, miracles don't happen that frequently. Not even ever forty years. I also get the sense the Toronto media is almost pissed about this unexciting development, sucking all the potential dramatic ammunition from their collective arsenal.

I'm sure they'll think of something to overhype. They always do.

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JFJ a dumb-Bell?

JFJ has some 'splainin' to do.

For some history and perspective, here is a good compilation of similar alcohol-related incidents. [via -> via]

UPDATE - "According to Ferguson, through a released statement, the Leafs "have been aware of the charges against Mark Bell" and have been "following the legal proceedings closely. Mark has acknowledged the error in judgment (and) has accepted responsibility for his actions, and the Leafs organization will support Mark through this challenging time."

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A difference maker

The following was received this morning from RL's intrepid NY Rangers' correspondent. Enjoy. - ninja

Chasing Forsberg: Ottawa in the hunt...

As we all know (just trust me), I've been very wrong about many hockey-related items in the past. One theme that has proved a near-constant is my frequently incorrect assertion that Peter Forsberg is a difference-maker when it comes to a Stanley Cup run.

Now, I know on the skin of things, he is in fact a difference-maker. And I doubt any sane-minded individual would question that. But my prognostications have always gone a bit beyond that and, it turns out, a bit too far. At various times I have said each of the following:

--- "Forsberg, coming back from (insert injury), will lead the Avs to another Cup. No question."

--- "Sweet turds, Philly signed Forsberg. Crap!"

--- "Nashville is the team to beat with the kid from Ornskoldsvik on board! You just watch!"

And watch we all did. We watched Forsberg get hurt and the Avs fail. We watched Philly go from top to bottom and Nashville lose their legs just as someone (who shall remain spleenless) was added to their team. At every turn, my predicitions, based on my faith in Forsberg, were incorrect.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe that for some time Peter Forsberg was the best hockey player in the known universe. And I still believe that his body has more hockey talent than nearly anyone else in the world. It just so happens that his body is made up of plastic screws, jello, and duct tape at this point. And, as a result, his immense talents are finding it difficult to overcome his brittle frame. It turns out that "Foppa" means "injury-prone" in several North Germanic languages.

Why do I bring this up? Well, because my first instinct on reading the article referenced above was the same as it's always been. I thought, "Holy cow, can anyone stop the Sens now?!? They were in the Cup finals and now they've added a difference-maker."

But for once I caught myself. For the first time in recorded history, I tempered that conclusion with something that approached an actual rational thought. I said to myself, "Yeah, Heatley and Spezza and Alfredsson and Forsberg sounds great, but count the sentences in that article until they use the phrase "health issues". (It's eight.)

And note how they casually mention that these "health issues" leave Injury Prone and his agent months (!) from making a decision? When does the hockey season start again? Let's just say I am not sold on this.

So here I am, a Forsberg-backer from my formative years, here to tell you, my favorite Leaf Fan, to put on your #21 Senators jersey and get out those pom-poms, because if I know anything for certain, it's this: Peter Forsberg is a difference maker.

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Roster Rundown

I avoid supporting anything Eklund as much as possible, but since I don't get to hear Berger on the radio, his blog posts will have to suffice. He has a series of posts examining the state of the team, but his real contribution is his player by player post. There are a few things I'd tweak, but overall it is a fair assessment of the team.

Here are a few highlights: Kaberle might be the best Leafs' draft choice ever...McCabe is not a particularly good decision maker in his own zone...Tucker had been just about the most prolific forward in the NHL on the powerplay -- in his "office" to the left of the net...For all the guffaws about Alexei Yashin, the Russian centerman "made" Blake last season, setting up something like 31 of his 40 markers...Poni [is] a solid, unspectacular forward, capable of netting 25 goals in a healthy season...Wellwood has all kinds of creativity, and probably the most raw talent of any player on the Leafs right now (Berger also notes his physical limitations. Wellwood is just getting back to training after his long hernia rehab. I had hoped he would return for this season with some added muscle mass to help him defend his own ice, but I'm guessing I'll have to wait another year to see that type of physical change)...Stajan [is] young and just talented enough that there might be a hidden level that has not yet emerged...Berger treats Steen harshly, and rightly so to some extent. But his analysis seems to forget that in-the-corners-hit-the-checker-first trait. Personally, I love that box-out move, and it is anything but shying away from contact...Antropov seemed to flourish under Maurice, who talked him up from the moment he was named coach and showed great confidence in him...Berger also misses the mark on Battaglia. The Leafs need pluggers, and Bates' experience makes his plugging well above average...Pohl, talent is his only shortcoming (I assume he means physical talents)...Kilger forechecks as well as any skater on the Leafs, kills penalties effectively, and earns every goal and point he puts up...White [is] the blueliner I would peddle to save a bit of cap space, because he's marketable and would likely allow Ferguson to retrieve one of the first-round draft picks he gave up...Kubina, judging this fellow based on his $5-million stipend you'll never appreciate what he brings to the table. Gill [is] a smart defenceman and has learned to cope in the quicker NHL...Devereaux brought more than enough ooomph to the Leafs in a limited role last season...Carlo [is] the Leafs' most technically-sound open-ice hitter (not too mention the second best puck-moving defender on the team)...Belak has severe limitations in all areas of the ice, but he can play forward and defence in a pinch...Bell [is] a wild-card.

Along very similar lines, Leafstown has posted profiles of Raycroft, Belak, White, Carlo and Steen. Keep an eye out for Sundin, Stajan, and Kaberle profiles in the near future.

UPDATE - Check out the new-to-me http://www.torontomapleleafs.info/, an aggregator of everything bloggy about TML. Please bear with me if I haven't linked to your site. There is a long-needed blogroll update to be completed before the season starts.

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