Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs Season, 2011-12

The Passion That Torments Us All

Let's finish last.

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My Son's First Leafs Game

leafsI still remember taking my son James to his first Jays game. That was way back in 2004 and Gabe Gross hit a grand slam, Russ Adams hit his first career home run and Carlos Delgado went deep in a 12-5 victory. Brian Burke sat two rows ahead of us and we had a blast.

It's taken me quite a bit longer to get James to his first Leafs game. We've seen several Jays and Marlies games, and a Raptors game and TFC match, but last night was his first Leafs game, a 1-0 shoot-out loss from the Coke Zero Gondola Box.

In the Coke box watching the Leafs #sweet

I'm not sure how the game played on television, it was quite possibly a snooze-fest, but live there was a good ebb and flow and it was pretty entertaining for a scoreless hockey game. Fatherhood Schmaltz Alert: More than anything, I wanted the Leafs to score. I didn't care if we lost 10-1, I wanted James to hear the horn go and witness the eruption of joy that happens after the home team scores. A bunch of posts later, I didn't get my wish, but James had fun regardless.

The boys first Leafs game!

I want to give a big thanks to Coke Zero for inviting us. It was a part of their big "Impossible Made Possible" campaign and it was amazing not only getting James into a game, but having free food and drink all game long. I'm not blaming Coke Zero for the lack of Leafs goals.

Fwd: Coca-Cola Zero Impossible Made Possible

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Patrick Burke Does a Reddit AMA

Patrick Burke Does a Reddit AMAFlyers scout Patrick Burke, who happens to be Brian Burke's son, did a Reddit AMA today. AMA stands for "ask me anything" and when they're done right, they can be pretty awesome.

Patrick is promoting the You Can Play Project, founded in honour of his brother Brendan to make locker rooms safe for LGBT athletes around the world.

Here are some Patrick Burke answers that would be interesting to Leaf fans.

Q: Can we get your dad for an AMA as well? I'm sure /r/hockey would love that.

A: My dad just mastered his blackberry about 6 months ago. In 15 years when he understands how online message boards work, I will have him do an AMA.

Q: What was Brian Burke like as a dad?

A: Truculent? In all seriousness, the image that the public has of my father is not accurate. He takes on a lot of heat for himself in order to save his team or coach the hassle, and people seem to judge him by that. He sees that as part of his job. He has a very big heart- I guarantee he does more charity work than any other GM in professional sports, and he does it very quietly.

Q: What was your (and your dad's) very first reaction when you found out Brendan was gay?

A: I gave Brendan a hug, told him I didn't care. Then we walked back inside my family's house and I yelled "Mom, you owe me twenty bucks! I always told you he was gay!" An older brother's job is always to harass his younger brother. I wanted Brendan to know that nothing would change about our relationship.

Q: 1) How has your dad handled all the stress of being the GM of the Leafs within the last couple months as they've dropped in the standings?
2) What position do you think the Leafs need to fill the most to be a strong playoff team next year? Who do you think will fill that position (realistically)?
3) What do you think of the media pressure on the coach and your dad in Toronto? How well do you think Wilson and your dad had/have handled the media?
Thanks from a die-hard Leafs fan. (They're actually a religion to me).

A:

I'm still waiting for Patrick Burke to answer that last series...

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Antropov, Kaberle, Ponikarovsky and Stajan Walk Into a Bar...

leafsDuring the Leafs game last night, Joe Bowen mentioned that there were only six active NHLers who had ever played for the Leafs in a playoff game.

That's amazing, but what's more amazing is the fact that there are only four players still playing who can say they played for the Leafs in our last playoff game.

That game, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers, was recapped here on May 4, 2004.

It's tough to look back, but here's what I wrote that night.

I am 29 years old. For every year of my life, the Maple Leafs season has ended without the Leafs captain hoisting Lord Stanley's Mug. You'd think I'd be used to this by now. I'm not.

The overtime was thrilling, the momentum was ours but victory was not to be. This is where I'd chuck in a cliche like "We'll get 'em next year", but I don't even know if there will be a next year. When NHL hockey finally does return, how many of these lovable but grizzled veterans will remain? Have I just witnessed Ed Belfour's last game? What about Gary Roberts? Will Alexander Mogilny return?

I have so much to say but little desire to say it. The fact is I've seen my last Leaf game for quite some time and that's pretty shitty. A second round exit in six games does not come close to meeting my expectations for this team. Anything less than an appearance in the finals would have disappointed me. Tonight I'm downhearted, crying tears of blue and white. I'm going to bed.

Philadelphia wins series 4-2

Little did I know, one day there'd be but four. This is for the survivors, the final four... this is for Antropov, Kaberle, Ponikarovsky and Stajan.

Nik Antropov

antropov

Tomas Kaberle

Kaberle

Alexei Ponikarovsky

ponikarovsky

Matt Stajan

Stajan

I'd give anything for a second round exit this season. Anything.

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Leafs Fan Dilemma Tonight

not sure if i want leafs to win, or lose to get ron wilson fired

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Leafs Trade Keith Aulie to Lighting for Carter Ashton

maple leafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs have traded defenceman Keith Aulie to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Carter Ashton, a young right wing prospect.

From Hockey's Future:

Ashton has developed into a consistent two-way performer and has quietly impressed scouts. Ashton possesses pro size and has demonstrated that he understands and accepts his role. A polished player with regards to the defensive nuances of the game he has added some offense to his game and drives to the net hard. Ashton's skating technique may need to improve as he advances to higher levels. Ashton is the son of former NHL winger Brent Ashton, who played 998 regular season games in the NHL.

Here's hoping Carter Ashton works out because I liked Keith Aulie. I liked him so much, he was #4 on my list of 5 reasons to be psyched about this Leafs season, published last March.

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Brian Burke: On the Clock

leafsDuring the summer of 2008, we all knew Brian Burke was on his way. Sure, he was still GM of the Ducks at the time, but by November it was official. Brian Burke had a 5-year deal to be the new President and GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

We watched the Leafs miss the playoffs under Burke's watch in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and with the Leafs trailing Washington 4-0 as I type, our hopes here in 2012 are quickly fading. Burke's made significant changes, but the results are the same.

Some say it's the coaching. Others say it's the goaltending. I say it's everything.

Ron Wilson needs to go, we need reliable and dependable goaltending, and the talent of both the forwards and defensemen needs a serious upgrade. We're praying to somehow slip into 8th place in the conference so we can be first-round fodder, and not a soul in this city thinks there's a prayer we'll play for the cup. This is a mediocre team, like most Leafs teams this past decade.

With the trade deadline Monday, what players wouldn't you part with? Gardiner, maybe? In truth, there's no blue chip Leafs players that aren't expendable. There's a few decent parts, and at least one d-man with a massive upside, but it feels like we're as far away from the cup as ever. Any hope we had has dissolved.

Here's hoping Burke doesn't give up a single draft pick on Monday. Here's hoping Burke fires his buddy Ron Wilson, something he should have done last summer. Here's hoping we hold on to Jake Gardiner, find a goalie who can stand on his head for a couple of months and don't sacrifice the future for a potential 8th place finish.

And Burke? At some point he has to live up to his rep... he's on the clock, and he knows it. I'm giving him one more season.

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The Monster Becomes Gus: The End of an Era

leafsAs is often the case in life, the pursuit of The Monster was the peak. The Best Goaltender Outside the NHL™ kept us waiting, teased us for while, before eventually choosing the Leafs.

He started strong, inspiring this slice of creativity from yours truly.

monsters

Last night, I watched the Leafs vs. Devils, and leapt for joy when Phil Kessel scored the tying goal in the last minute of play. Then, in overtime, I saw Jonas Gustavsson, formerly known as The Monster, allow the worst OT goal I can ever recall seeing. It was horrendous, and it couldn't come at a worst time. I counted three bad goals in all last night, but this was the worst of the bunch.

That's it. The Monster era is over. Give the keys to James Reimer and let's see where the chips fall. The Monster can never start another game in this city. He can pack his bags now for his inevitable return to Sweden.

The Monster is simply Gus now. And Gus is done.

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Habs Fans Resort to Prayer

habs fans prayThe Catholic Church of Montreal has Habs fans praying for a miracle. In an ad run in La Presse and Le Journal de Montreal newspapers, they've printed the hopeful final NHL standings with 8th place occupied by "Pray".

standings

With the Montreal Canadiens currently sitting in 14th place, it's going to take more than prayer for them to finish 8th, but it's fun seeing things are this desperate in Montreal. They certainly won't make the playoffs without divine intervention.

I don't believe in prayer, but I'd hope those who do would pray for something a little more righteous, like a Leafs Stanley Cup parade this June.

Prions.

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Ronnie James Dio(n)

ronnie-james-dion

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