Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pavel Kubina packing his bags for L. A.?

As the Leafs get ready for a busy off season, soon to commence with Stanley Cup playoffs into its Final Stage, word out of Toronto is the Brian Burke will be shopping Defensemen Pavel Kubina who's no trade clause will seize to exist from Draft Day until August 15. Kubina has one year left on a contract that pays him 5 million a season and would be a decent pick up for a season and wouldn't give any teams a cap hit next season when it is though that the NHL salary cap will come down. We could see Kubina pack his bags right on Draft day as Burke looks to move up the draft, as much as he wants those first two spots the most likely team that may trade with Burke could just be the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings lack a veteran go to defensemen and Kubina with his experience and leadership could be just what the Kings could use and better option then over bidding teams to win the services of a defensemen when the NHL free agency period begins. The Leafs could send Kubina and their 1st round pick to L.A for the Kings 1st round pick which would land the Leafs with the 5th Overall pick in the draft in which they could select Brayden Schenn or big defensemen Jared Cowan. This looks to be Pavel Kubina's last month as a member of the Maple Leafs but the question remains will he be a draft day news story?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peter Zezel passes away at 44

The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost a favorite son as Peter Zezel passes away. The former Leaf has had a long battle with a rare blood disorder haemolytic anaemia in which the red blood cells are destroyed faster then they are replaced. Zezel was taken in the 2nd Round, 41st Overall by the Philadelphia Flyers and went on to play in 873 games in his NHL career in which 207 games where with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Zezel will always be remembered for his hard work and checking role a member of those two great back to back runs into the semi-finals in the early nineties with the Leafs. May he rest in peace.

Zezel's family has requested that instead of flowers, donations be made in Peter Zezel's name to the James Birrell Fund at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Who would be Leafs backup goaltender?

The Leafs go into another off season full of questions but one of the most important questions is will Vesa Toskala return to the form of two seasons ago. Toskala will be given the number one goaltender spot next season and as long as the groin is healed their is no reason to not thing that he will return to form, but one thing that could help him get there faster is a competitive back up keeper breathing down his neck for his job. The Leafs are looking at "The Monster" the 24 year old Swedish keeper Jonas Gustavsson, this move has been put on hold with the passing of the goalkeepers mother over the weekend. When and if he is ready to play in the NHL the Leafs will have a fight on their hands for his services especially with Colorado in the hunt and Gustavsson's idol possibly behind the bench in Patrick Roy. This could leave the Leafs out in the cold. What options are out there to back up Toskala and who might be the best fit to push him is anyone's guess but I'll try and you can always let me know what you think would best fit this team.

Martin Gerber- He played well in his short stay in Toronto after being picked up on waivers going 6-5-0 and 10-14-1 overall for the season but to stay in Toronto will need to take a big paycut.

Manny Fernandez- He finished the season with 16-8-3 record on a strong Boston team, another goaltender who will need to take a big paycut if he wants to remain in the league.

Stephan Valiquette- This Toronto native always plays well against the Leafs and with a 5-5-2 record would welcome a little more of a workload.

Mathieu Garon- With an 8-9-1 overall record last season with the Oilers and Penguins, Garon is one year younger the Toskala and will be hungry to show that his #1 status the last few years was no joke.

The Leafs can also go with Ty Conklin, Scott Clemenson, Wade Dubielewicz or Antero Niittymaki but the four goalies mentioned above i feel would push Toskala to the point where he will need to stand on his head in the goal this season, the results would be a few victories stolen by the Leafs netminder something we couldn't say last season.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Hockey factor City by City

I though it might be interesting to see how hockey ranks across NHL cities compared to other major sports in that city, this is my opinion as i have watched hockey in 16 different cities and discussed hockey with many fans in the cities that i was in, i hope to add more cities this year in completing all 30 teams down the road, please feel free to correct me if your from any city and comment on what the ranking would be. The sports that will be used is NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS and CFL.

The average attendance of Leagues used from prior season numbers:

NFL- 67,738 (2007 figures)
MLB- 32,717 (2008 figures)
CFL- 29,206 (2008 figures)
NBA- 17,394 (2007-08 figures)
NHL- 17,265 (2007-08 figures)
MLS- 16,460 (2008 figures)

1- (NHL) Maple Leafs
2- (MLB) Blue Jays
3- (MLS) Toronto FC
4- (CFL) Argonaunts
5- (NBA) Raptors

1- (NHL) Sabres
2- (NFL) Bills

1- (MLB) Red Sox
2- (NFL) Patriots
3- (NBA) Celtics
4- (NHL) Bruins
5- (MLS) Revolution

1- (NHL) Canadiens
2- (CFL) Alouettes

1- (NHL) Senators

New York/New Jersey
1- (MLB) Yankees
2- (NFL) Giants
3- (NBA) Knicks
4- (MLB) Mets
5- (NFL) Jets
6- (NHL) Rangers
7- (NBA) Nets
8- (NHL) Islanders
9- (NHL) Devils
10- (MLS) Red Bull

1- (NFL) Eagles
2- (NHL) Flyers
3- (MLB) Phillies
4- (NBA) 76ers

1- (NFL) Steelers
2- (NHL) Penguins
3- (MLB) Pirates

1- (NFL) Redskins
2- (NHL) Capitals
3- (NBA) Wizards
4- (MLB) Nationals
5- (MLS) DC United

1- (NFL) Panthers
2- (NHL) Hurricanes
3- (NBA) Bobcats

1- (NFL) Dolphins
2- (NBA) Heat
3- (MLB) Marlins
4- (NHL) Panthers

1- (NFL) Bucs
2- (MLB) Devil Rays
3- (NHL) Lightening

1- (MLB) Braves
2- (NFL) Falcons
3- (NBA) Hawks
4- (NHL) Thrashers

1- (NHL) Blue Jackets
2- (MLS) Crew

1- (MLB) Tigers
2- (NHL) Red Wings
3- (NFL) Lions
4- (NBA) Pistons

1- (MLB) Cubs
2- (NFL) Bears
3- (MLB) White Sox
4- (NBA) Bulls
5- (NHL) Black Hawks
6- (MLS) Fire

1- (NFL) Titans
2- (NHL) Predators

St Louis
1- (MLB) Cardinals
2- (NFL) Rams
3- (NHL) Blues

1- (NFL) Broncos
2- (NHL) Avalanche
3- (NBA) Nuggets
4- (MLB) Rockies
5- (MLS) Rapids

1- (NFL) Vikings
2- (NHL) Wild
3- (MLB) Twins
4- (NBA) Timberwolves

1- (NHL) Oilers
2- (CFL) Eskimos

1- (NHL) Flames
2- (CFL) Stampeders

1- (NHL) Canucks
2- (CFL) Lions

1- (NFL) Cowboys
2- (NBA) Mavericks
3- (NHL) Stars
4- (MLB) Rangers
5- (MLS) FC Dallas

1- (NBA) Suns
2- (NFL) Cardinals
3- (MLB) Diamondbacks
4- (NHL) Coyotes

San Jose
1- (NHL) Sharks
2- (MLS) Earthquakes

Los Angeles/Anaheim
1- (MLB) Dodgers
2- (NBA) Lakers
3- (MLB) Angels
4- (NHL) Ducks
5- (NHL) Kings
6- (MLS) Galaxy
7- (NBA) Clippers
8- (MLS) Chivas

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What the NHL should look like!

The NHL seems to be thinking of what it will do with the franchise in Phoenix but the team seems to be on life support so why keep the team there? This would be a perfect time to expand and realign some teams in the league.

I think if the NHL does finally agree to let Phoenix move to Hamilton they should expand by two teams the perfect two choices would be Winnipeg, Canada since they do have a great fan base and support for hockey in the NHL, there stadium can hold 15,003 and there team was moved not because of lack of fan support but was sold to pad the owners wallet and the other team being Seattle, USA who have shown some love for hockey and average about 5000 fans a game in the WHL and have had games were they have passed 10,000 they are close enough to Canada and do get snow so winter hockey is a past time, the stadium in place currently holds 15,177 for hockey.

These two teams may need to build larger stadiums but they would be great hockey markets for new NHL teams.

The NHL could then realign and have 4 Divisions per conference of 4 teams, and since both Winnipeg and Seattle are in the Mid to West Coast this would mean that Detroit, Columbus or Hamilton could be moved to the Eastern Conference.

I'll go with Hamilton moving to the East.

The New Divisions could look something like this

Eastern Conference

Division 1
Toronto Maple Leafs
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Hamilton ????

Division 2
Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres
Pittsburgh Penguins
Philadelphia Flyers

Division 3
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
New Jersey Devils
Washington Capitals

Division 4
Tampa Bay Lightening
Florida Panthers
Atlanta Thrashers
Carolina Hurricanes

Western Conference

Division 1
Detroit Red Wings
Chicago Black Hawks
St Louis Blues
Columbus Blue Jackets

Division 2

Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators
Colorado Avalanche
Dallas Stars

Division 3
Edmonton Oilers
Calgary Flames
Vancouver Canucks
Winnipeg ????

Division 4
San Jose Sharks
Los Angeles Kings
Anaheim Ducks
Seattle ????

The teams 82 game schedule would be broken down like this

Divisional: 6 games x 3 teams = 18 Games
Conference: 4 games x 12 teams = 48 Games
Opposite Conference 8 games at home versus each team of 2 divisions and 8 road games against each team of another 2 divisions.

Example of Toronto Maple Leafs Schedule

6 games each against Montreal , Ottawa, Hamilton

4 games each against Boston, Buffalo, Philly, Pittsburgh, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Washington, Carolina, Atlanta, Florida and Tampa

1 game against each team in the Western Conference 8 at home and 8 away games.

Teams would rotate the following year if they were the road team then the home team the next year.

What do others think?
Which two teams should be expanded into league?
What should the divisions look like?

Proud moments of being a Maple Leafs fan.

I am and will forever be a Maple Leafs fan, i know that the team hasn't brought Stanley home in a long time, hell i wasnt even born and 15 other teams have won the cup since 67 so it could be worse but that doesnt change the fact that i am a fan and will continue to be, friendships have been formed thanks to Leaf fans uniting, memories established and moments shared as we all hope and wait for that crowning moment once again.

What i would like to know is what moments as a Leaf fan or any hockey fan has your team made you feel proud to be a fan since you have been following hockey?

I will start with my Top 10 proudest moments

10-Felix Potvin's 3 shutouts in one series against the Hawks
9-Mats Sundin's 500th goal the winner in OT and a hat trick against Flames
8-Damphousse's 4 goal performance against the hated Habs
7-Al Iafrate's end to end rushes and notching a goal
6-Leafs knocking off the Sens in every playoff series head to head
5-Rick Vaive recording his first 50th goal season and first for Maple Leaf franchise
4-Wendel Clark enough said
3-Doug Gilmour's wrap around OT winner against the Blues
2-Darryl Sittler's 10 point night against Bruins
1-Maple Leafs going 7 games against the L.A. Kings in Conference Final

There are many more moments but these are the ones that make me smile the most what about you?

Is Burke bluffing on Tavares?

Brian Burke steps in front of the media last week and comes right out and lets everyone know that he is targeting John Tavares the potential first overall pick in this years NHL entry draft. Leaf fans jump for joy but when you sit back and think about it, what would the Leafs give up for the #1 overall pick. The guess here is at least two first rounders this years and next and possibly Schenn and a roster player, a reasonable asking price for the first overall pick. The though here is its not going to happen especially with the Islanders looking at a new stadium and the potential revenue in selling this kids jerseys. Brian Burke is looking like a magician dangling for Tavares with one hand and working the phones with the other. Is it possibly that Burke is bluffing while he works on another deal at the draft, i for one think so. The logical spot that Burke may be going after is the #2 overall pick, with Tampa in shambles laying off staff and looking to unload players to get closer to the bottom half of the salary cap this is where Burke might be able to work some magic. The Leafs could offer Tampa their 1st pick, their 2nd pick and a possible prospect or two in Stralman or Tlusty and grab Tampa's 2nd Overall pick and absorb a contract from Tampa which would most likely be that of Ryan Malone's at 4.5 million until 2014-15 or Andrej Meszaros signed at 4 million a season until 2013-14. Whatever one it was, it would be a decent addition to the team but this would mean the end of Kubina in Toronto who should be easy to unload with 1 year remaining on his contract at 5 million and if not then Burke can always buy him out. The next step would be to see what Burke will do with that 2nd Overall pick, would he pick big Swedish defensemen Victor Hedman who could be a force to reckon with and paired with Luke Schenn in the back end can be a scary 1-2 to face for years to come or will he take Brampton center Matt Duchene who is having himself a great OHL playoffs and currently does have one more point then Tavares. The Leafs need a few impact young players and a trade with Tampa could be in the works and questions of who? when? and how? will persist until something is done. In the mean time let's enjoy his song and dance on Tavares it could be the biggest illusion since Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

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