Tag Archives: Darcy Tucker

Pogge Up- Down The Stretch They Come

So we are going to see the start of the professional evaluation of one Justin Pogge. It’s a good thing too. At least when he is in net the pundits are going to have lots to write about. One shot, he’s good the next- he’s a bum. Burke and Wilson need to know what they have sooner rather then later and well sooner starts now. If Pogge can’t play in the NHL we had better know now as the planning is well under way. As one scout told me after the last game, Burke isn’t done his evaluations yet, when he is the dominoes will start to fall. One evaluation that is obvious is that of Justin Pogge.

Sorry for the NFL thought, but I am curious, US newspapers are ceasing to cover the NHL in droves, yet our news outlets are all already down in Tampa for the superbowl. Seems odd to me, does it to anyone else?

Doug Gilmour is a favorite. Someone, anyone please explain to me why he told Damien he was paying for his current players to attend the event honoring the former captain this Saturday night while Steve Simmons’s story is that a penguins player is the one who actually paid for the tickets? No really, why would Gilmour lie about something so small, he looks like and would be a liar if this is true.

Suspended not suspended, injured, not injured WHO CARES…enough already. Why was this the only thing being talked about today? There has to be something better to talk about then this.

I will say it again, there is no better player in the game today then Alexander Ovechkin. He is the only player in the league I would pay to see, night in and night out. He is strong, he is tough, he is animated, he is talented, he is the guy the NHL needs to start selling as the face of the league.

Have all the good rumor sources dried up? Garrioch had the Leafs looking at Pronger, Hanky gave the Jay Bo to the buds his highest rating before a deal being done. Where are all the good scoops?

The Avs are coming up this week. Tucker and Red light Raycroft doing battle against their former teammates (or what is left of them). It will be very interesting to hear the interviews with Tucker this week and then to see his sideshow Bob antics take shape against his former club.

Ok sports fans, who pulls the trigger first, Burke or Colangelo? Which player gets dealt first, a Leaf or Jermaine O’Neal?


As Bad A Night As I Can Remember

Wow- something is in the water today? No no, not the Leafs, a good game and a shutout loss…too bad we picked up a point. The Raptors? Hell no, the way I figure they are going to be right in the thick of the John Tavares lottery. Once again I am totally puzzled by the media… It’s like one big Seinfeld episode, except I don’t care for many of the characters, actually the only similarity is that their articles are about nothing… NOTHING…

First, Berger writes a totally useless article about Matt Stajan wanting more noise at the ACC. This is news how? No really, has any player ever not wanted that? The fact that team isn’t that strong at home has nothing to do with the fans. It has everything to with character. That isn’t a shot against Stajan. It’s the whole group. The team that Sundin, McCabe, Tucker lead wasn’t very good at home either. It’s not easy playing here in Toronto in front of the home crowd, it takes character to do it well. When a player messes up he hears about it. Sometimes unmercifully . So to hear that one guy would like more noise is totally irrelevant and not the least bit newsworthy. To write an entire blog about it????? Come on Howie, how about a review of the All Star Official uniforms, I gave you everything you need. Hell, as a member of the media you can probably get a preview too- you got the scoop on the 3rd jerseys after all.

What’s worse then Berger writing about Stajan asking for more noise, Paul Hunter of the Star writing the EXACT same story…. Complete with the same predictable Dave Winfield analogy. Tomorrow, whichever station books Winfield to talk about asking for noise wins the prize. Come on folks…this is really pathetic.

Then, Hunter’s buddy Damien wrote a totally useless article about Luke Schenn. Let’s see, he thinks, maybe, Burke wouldn’t have kept Schenn up had he been GM at the beginning of the season. Wow! How interesting. Funny, because I don’t think Burke would have resigned Ed Belfour after the lockout if he were GM back then either. Oh yeah, and under the same relevance theme is my favorite, Pat Quinn wouldn’t have yanked Toskala in favor of Joseph for the shootout like Wilson did earlier this year. The usual Damien anti-leaf article is, about, n o t h i n g. A new reader wrote a funny post about LT’s post today being both the argument and the counter-argument…Damien did the exact same thing here:

“the decision to keep the 18-year-old defenceman in the big leagues this season has certainly not been a disaster. In fact, in a season that has become increasingly gloomy, Schenn has been one of the bright notes all year. ” He likes him…..

“What will never be known, of course, is what it has cost the Leafs to keep Schenn in the NHL this season rather than returning him to Kelowna of the Western Hockey League for another season of competing against his peers. ” He doesn’t…

“Perhaps nothing, and it’s true, Schenn has rarely looked outclassed in the NHL this season, and the manner in which he shrugged off a 12-game absence due to a knee problem was a sign of maturity. On Wednesday night he was paired with Ian White most of the night and out against Boston’s tricky line of David Krejci, Mike Ryder and Blake Wheeler, a challenging assignment against the Eastern Conference’s top squad. ” He likes him….

“At the same time, particularly for a player drafted fifth overall, and one for whom the Leafs traded away first, second and third round picks in order to position themselves to get him, there haven’t been many signs of offensive potential. ” He doesn’t

“What the Leafs don’t know is whether this is the Luke Richardson story all over again. Richardson was the seventh overall pick in 1987 and played for the Leafs as 18-year-old, actually potting four goals in his rookie season.The club maintained over and over that, like Schenn now, Richardson had offensive potential that he’d shown as a junior in Peterborough. But it never shone through in the NHL, and Richardson never managed more than 21 points in a season. ” Ummmm, he doesn’t like him…

“Would the Leafs be happy if Schenn turned out to be Richardson? Somewhat, but it wouldn’t be the kind of home run they’d hoped to hit with such a high pick. He’ll never be a bust, it would seem, and the Leafs can only hope he might one day be an all-star.” He likes him

“Schenn hasn’t been eaten alive by the pressure of playing on a weak team in this hockey-mad city, and that’s a good sign. There’s obvious poise, and a willingness to play a physical game and even stand up for teammates, commodities in short supply on the current edition of the Leafs. ” He Likes him

“The older Schenn boy, meanwhile, is still learning as he goes in the world’s top hockey league. He was solid for two periods Wednesday night, but with less than seven minutes to play he was schooled by Bruins blueliner Dennis Wideman on a rush, then was caught napping when Marc Savard hit Zdeno Chara with a goalmouth pass to tie the game 3-3 and create overtime.” He doesn’t…

“He’s a big kid finding his way in a tough league. Whether he should have been in the league so young or not, no one can argue he’s a big part of the Leafs’ future.” WHAT- That’s it???? That’s the conclusion??? Talk about 3 minutes of my life I will never get back… What kind of crock this is. The headline is Burke Likely Would Have Sent Schenn Down..there is no quote from Burke, it’s Damien’s hunch. I know, Damien didn’t write the headline… Talk about an article about NOTHING!!!

Then, to top it all off, the guy I think had really been rising to the top wrote a totally useless article. Jeff’ Blair’s piece in the globe is about 19 segments too long. I actually think I captured the gist in 1 paragraph in a post yesterday. Blair wrote an entire page on the losing records of our teams! An entire page. Complete with quotes from Beeston and Burke. Get this:

“”One of the problems the city has right now is that nobody’s excelling,” said Blue Jays interim chief executive officer Paul Beeston, a committed Toronto booster.” Ummmmm YA THINK???? This from a guy I REALLY like (Beeston)….This from the guy who has “just about finished the Blue Jays President job description”….. What I think Beeston meant was, that the problem is the teams in cities not named Toronto score more points then those teams from Toronto!

“When will the bulls run rampant again in the Toronto sports market? Not soon. Let’s be honest. Of the current crop of Maple Leafs, it’s hard to imagine general manager Brian Burke wanting anybody other than Luke Schenn around in two or three years.” Ok, I am waiting for something I don’t already now…..

“The Raptors have, what, three legitimate NBA starters (four when Jermaine O’Neal’s healthy) and a bunch of guys who wouldn’t be a first option off a contender’s bench? Andrea Bargnani looks to be developing the way general manager Bryan Colangelo expected, but the Raptors have always seemed a day late and a dollar short, and that sometimes happens when you just give away a franchise player such as Vince Carter.” Uh huh, and????

“The Blue Jays’ window of opportunity — created when the late Ted Rogers made his famous three-year commitment — turned out not to be as wide as anticipated because, with the game’s revenue explosion, a $90-million payroll didn’t buy as much as it once did and the Blue Jays didn’t have enough high-calibre young players to fill in when injuries hit.” The part with the news, the actual original thought is coming right?

“Those are some of the reasons for the drought. The good news is no cause is lost, as is clearly demonstrated by what’s happened in Boston since the Patriots won their first of three Super Bowls in 2001. The Red Sox — the Red Sox! — ended the Curse of the Bambino and won their first World Series in 86 years and the Celtics won the 2008 NBA title, and don’t look now, but the Bruins, who haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1972, are leading the NHL Eastern Conference.” TIME…that’s what you got Jeff? TIME, so this drought will end because the coin that has landed 1 million straight times on heads will eventually fall to tails????? Because it just has to???? Sorry, I had hoped you could do better then this ending:

“Mostly, though, it’s a hungry market. Kicked in the pocketbook, its psyche battered, and tired of having to go through it all again after the TSX closes. Hey buddy … got a win?”

So the Leafs lost in a shutout, earned one too many points, but that is ok. The Raptors got shelled…stick a fork in their season…the TV show Lost started and I am confused as ever….and I am going to bed disappointed by 4 brutal articles… Here’s hoping tomorrow’s a better day 🙂

Berger is here
Cox is http://www.thestar.com/Sports/Hockey/article/575293
Hunter is here
Blair is here

Quotes of the Day

“If I had my way, I’d bench Tucker and Arnason for the next five games, minimum, and just go with kids who want to play. Watching two guys making what they’re making and getting the square root of Sweet Fanny Adam in return has gone way beyond the “this is getting old” mark.” Adrian Dater (http://blogs.denverpost.com/avs/2009/01/16/pathetic/) on Darcy Tucker

“Breathe, all of you,” Maurice told a group of Toronto media anxious to get him to attach a meaning to the game. “Just breathe. What do you expect me to say? that I want to lose?” Paul Maurice, head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes before yesterday’s game to the thong, I mean throng of Leaf beat reporters hanging onto his every word looking for deeper meaning.

““I almost felt like a bridesmaid in Mats Sundin’s wedding.” Brendan Shanahan

Silence On A Snowy Night In Toronto

Man, I thought it was quiet over the holidays, there is nothing but crickets tonight. Everyone must be gassing up their snow-blowers (look out mr. Sakic). It is dead tonight. Not one interesting thing in one paper, in one media outlet anywhere(it is 12:20 am right now)

So here are some random thoughts:

Leafs were lousy last night vs. the Panthers. I have no problem with the losing. This is the first time in a long time where they didn’t even bother to show up. I sense another long skate in practice coming up.

To boo or not to boo. I am pretty tired of this argument. With very little exception every player who returns to their old team should expect to get razzed a little. Is it right? Who knows. It sports. As Seinfeld said, we don’t root for a player we root for a jersey. When the player changes teams he who we used to cheer for we now boo. McCabe made a lot of dough here, and really made his career here. Others have been treated way worse.

One of the reasons he was a thorn in the public’s side is that he just wasn’t that bright. He would have done much better with a no -comment, ummmm whenever he was asked a question. For him to call out Leaf Fans who may boo Sundin is just another example of the lack of brains in his melon. To say it’s ok to me just not Mats is just dumb. Who do you think you are? You don’t need to take one for him anymore. Fans are going to do what they want to do, so mind your own business. I give him credit for this, he said that he waived his NTC clause because he didn’t want to hijack the team. He is the only player who last year said, if there is a deal there to be made bring it to me. The reality is no one wanted him.

Is it just me, or is anyone else out there really hoping the Buds honor not only Team Canada but also Pat Quinn. I know there is no Saturday home game for a bit. I hope, the next chance they get they really whoop it up for old Pat.

I loved the Winter Classic. The all star games excites me about as much as going to the dentist. Really, if you are doing one, why the other? I know, it’s a big sponsor event for the league… The debate about who should be on the team or not is about as interesting as the never ending debate about fighting in hockey. Someone a hell of a lot smarter then me (and that is a BIG group) has to be able to come up with a better format then the current all star bore.

The fact that the NHL Poster boy isn’t Alexander Ovechkin is just a crock. There is no better player in the game right now then AO. The race isn’t close. As good as some of the other younger guys are, AO is the man. I find it hard to watch non-leaf games, but I do to try to keep an eye on the younger talent and other on-goings in the game (sorry Howie). I really try to watch as many Caps games as I can to catch a glimpse of AO on the ice.

Anyone else been listening to Roscoe Toth on the fan this week? He is miffed at all the attention the WJC’s get. He goes to a ton of junior games all season long (good for him) and feels that the folks who rave about junior hockey for these 2 weeks aren’t real junior hockey fans. Guess what? He is right. Compare if you will the NCAA basketball tournament. Those of you reading this from work, turn left, now turn right, how many people around you enter some sort of NCAA basketball tourney pool? Of those, how many are die hard fans all season long??? Fans get caught up in the hype, and we Canadians have such an inferiority complex that we will really pay attention in those areas where we may actually excel. I think it’s great Roscoe goes to a couple of junior games a week. If the local GTA area teams want to drum up support, look at this little gem. My son is in 3 different hockey programs right now. We get all kinds of stuff in the mail as a result. We have never, ever seen or heard a thing from any of the teams in our area. If those teams want to increase their fan base there is a huge hockey market they don’t tap into right in front of them.

Former Detroit Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli had his son in-law on his coaching staff for the past 0-16 campaign. After a loss on Dec 21, Rob Parker an eight year vet with the Detroit News, asked Marinelli in the post game press conference if Marinelli “wished his daughter had married a better defensive coordinator?” As a result of that question, Parker was demoted from from columnist to general assignment reporter. Parker, as a result of that demotion resigned. I, as you may recall lived in the burbs of Detroit for several years. Mrs. TSM was born and raised there and both little TSM’s were born there as well. I have never been a Parker fan (surprised? I love sooooo many columnists…)I will say this, Parker has written and said a hell of a lot worse things then this. To lose his job, in this economy, in that market for this comment is so thin skinned it is hard to believe. Parker has said that he will remain in Detroit. That whittles his writing options down to 1 (the Free Press is owned by the same company as the News), The Oakland Press at least as far as local papers go. He does do some work on ESPN. Here is hoping that he finds work really soon….

Since I started this blog I have had the good fortune to chat with some folks who cover the NHL. I asked one today to assess for those of us up here the seasons of Mr. Tucker and Mr. Raycroft in Colorado thus far. His response:

“Tucker has looked slow and taken lots of bad penalties. Raycroft is
6-1, maybe the most deceptive won-lost record of all time so far, but
wins are wins.”

Hope you all have an easy commute tomorrow. Sounds like the roads in the GTA are going to be hell

Interesting To Watch Burke Towards 2010/11

If you haven’t already read it, get ready, it’s going to be everywhere. You will hear that the NHL salary cap will not go down next season, as for the season after, all bets are off. Remember that the Cap is based on the previous years’ hockey revenue. Given that much of the hockey type revenues for this year are already accounted for, next year’s cap is pretty safe. Next year when sponsorships are expected to shrink, along with ticket sales and luxury suites, the size of the pie to split up for the following season (2010/11) is going to shrink dramatically. So while Cliff did a nice job hacking and cutting the payroll and salary commitments for both now and tomorrow, the pressure is really going to be on Burke to act accordingly so that his team isn’t prevented from doing the things he wants at the time this franchise should be righted. In simple terms, you don’t Burke’s hands to be tied be salaries and contracts that aren’t movable nor desirable internally. Assuming Sundin signs elsewhere this season, we could be looking at multiple seasons where the Buds are significantly below the ceiling. Also Burke’s ability to pedal players this year and next off-season could be dramatically hindered by the almight dollar and teams’ need for cap precious cap space.

Going into 2010-2011, as the leafs sit right now , they are in pretty good shape. 5 committed contracts carrying a cap hit in total of $18,725,000. Jason Blake($4,000,000) and Niklas Hagman($3,000,000) are the only 2 forwards with contracts in that season. On the blueline, Tomas Kaberle($4,250,000), Jeff Finger($3,500,000) and Luke Schenn(2,975,000) are the only players with contracts. The Buds will still be on the hook for Darcy Tuker’s salary at the time, taking a cap hit of $1,000,000. Of all those players (Tucker excluded) I am only comfortable that Schenn will still be here. Hagman’s no trade clause expires after this year and there is no guarantee that come next deadline he couldn’t be a valuable trading asset. Despite a few good games, I am not convinced that Jason Blake will be here by then. Be it the minor’s or re-callable waivers, I am comfortable that he won’t be here. On D, I don’t have to get into Tomas Kaberle as his story has been well documented this past week. The jury is out on Finger. I wouldn’t be stunned if her was still around in 10/11, nor would I be stunned if he were elsewhere.

So, as the NBA sits back and waits on 2010 does the NHL too? How much does this effect what Burke wants to do. At some point down the road, Mats Sundin needs to be replaced. A franchise player is going to have to be acquired. Ideally this will happen in the draft. More likely, this player will come via trade/free agency. As the calendar progresses from year to year the age limits on free agency seems to get lower and lower, which should have resulted in more and more free agents. Instead, thankfully, I think for the leafs, teams have been locking up their younger players to long term deals at big money. How is that to the Leafs advantage? Well, if the cap goes down, teams are going to have to look to trim payroll. The value of cap space at that time will be at an all time premium. The less payroll a team has tied up, the more flexibility they will have. It really is that simple.

Tampa Bay, for example has 34,502,273 already tied up in salary in that year in 9 guys. The New York Ranger’s have 34,782,143 tied up in 7 guys…ouch! The Ottawa Senators have 30,526,496 tied up in 7 players and 1 buyout (emerson). The Flyers have 42,145,833 tied up in 10 guys. Burke is in good shape compared to some of his compadres. Does this guarantee success? Of course not. What it should mean is that if Burke is smart at the time he wants to add those extra pieces to get to or over the top, the could very well be pretty affordable.

These are interesting times indeed. I am interested to see how this plays out. I doubt that the Jeff Finger’s of the world will realize the huge dollars that they saw this past summer when free agency opens up this summer. That is not to say there won’t be a lot of movement. I think the top guys will get their money. Maybe not at the pace as in years past, but the big dogs will eat.

salary info form nhlscap.com

Very Candid Ron Wilson on The Gameplan

Amazing interview with new Leaf coach Ron Wilson on the new mid-day show on the Fan just now.

Wilson was asked why come to Toronto given all that is going on here, and not having a full time GM. RW: “cliff is full time gm/president- it is the Toronto Maple Leafs! It would be like managing the NY Yankees in baseball….I can’t think of a better situation for me. The team is going through a bottoming out process and I have a record of working through those before. I had more questions of management then they did of me. Most of what i heard was media misrepresentation and not close to the reality of the situation. Cliff is right guy until the next guy is hired… I want to get the Leafs back to where they were when Pat Quinn had took them and then higher.”

What a shocker that the media’s bad mouthing of the Leafs is nothing more then media speculation. This is the reason that we as fans have a right to be pissed when the Berger’s or Cox’s of the world spew crap that they have no clue about….

the guys then asked Wilson about having coached young teams before.
RW:” I have coached through re-builds before- i have been in this situation before.. I know the things you have to do to turn things around. I want to put a defensive system in place. If Mats Sundin doesn’t come back we aren’t going to score 4-5 goals a game. In the past this team had to score that many goals to win. Well you don’t have to score 4-5 goals if you don’t have your own net filled with 405 goals a night. My goal from the start of training camp is to put a defensive system in place that around Christmas time people will start to notice a big difference.”

Indeed. A good coach looks at their talent and then coaches with what he has. There is no reason to play a run and gun style with this team. It may not be the most exciting team to watch, but at least they will be competitive.

Wilson was then asked what his thoughts on Jason Blake were
RW:”Health knocked him for a loop last year. Big contracts make players feel like they have to play up to that number. So if Jason Blake tripled his salary when he came to the Leafs he felt like he had to try 3x as hard. It just isn’t possible. I am going to have to talk to Jeff Finger about this too. i don’t expect to him play 10x better because he got 10x the money”

Doug MacLean then said that the one things the Leafs don’t have is a franchise player, and aksed for Wilson’s comments:
“i agree 100%, we don’t. We can’t turn this around without one. I am paid to coach – i am paid for short term outlook while the gm is paid for long term outlook…I want to win every game, but we are going to have lots of young players who have never had a chance to play before- we know the cupboard is bare, haven’t produced much… I am not going to say we are going to make the playoffs I have no idea where we are going to finish. The team lost most of their games in the 3rd period. When you lose as many games as they did in the 3rd period, its a sign of only 1 thing, poor leadership. They needed a change in leadership and that is why the changes that were made this summer needed to be made.”

WOW- and there it is. People have been wondering why get rid of Wellwood, why get rid of Tucker, why get rid of McCabe and Raycroft? There is the number one reason. Cliff clearly believes that the leadership in the room was clearly an issue. So while getting rid of salary was an added upside, the main issue was the quality of the people.

It was interesting listening to the interaction between Wilson and MacLean, as unlike other hosts, MacLean hasn’t been out of the business very long so he clearly knows his shit. Maclean said that he thinks the number one priority for the Buds will be to clear as much cap space as possible because the franchise player doesn’t have to come through the draft. He explained that the onus is on Wilson and Fletcher to clean the image of the Maple Leafs so that when the Rick Nash’s of the world are UFA they want to come to Toronto. The insinuation is that right now they don’t. I guess a few years of JFJ and Paul Maurice can do that.

For those who can, I recommend tuning in to the Fan between 2-4 pm and listening to the Gameplan. Maclean and Armstrong are a real breath of fresh air here in Toronto. They had a very pointed interview with J.P Ricciardi that I will try to review later.

Listening to Wilson got me excited again for training camp to start…