Toronto Maple Leafs

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.

Other entries you may enjoy:

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Ronnie James Dio(n)

ronnie-james-dion

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Goalie Madness

leafsI've always been fascinated with goaltenders. There are goalies who score, our love of unproven goalies, and an exhaustive list of every goalie to wear the blue and white in the NHL.

Ever since Ed Belfour, it's been a little sketchy between the pipes in this city. Ok, it's been a lot sketchy, which may explain why Ed Belfour played the last playoff game in this city almost 8 years ago. Holy shit, has it really been 8 years?

Let's just look at the last two seasons. This was Jean-Sébastien Giguère's team, then James Reimer took the reigns to close out last season. We loved Reimer, we still do, but earlier this year we flirted with Ben Scrivens before being surprised by The Monster, a player we were all ready to trade for a bag of pucks.

Who saw this coming? Our season rests on the shoulders of Jonas Gustavsson, signed from Sweden to great fanfare back in 2009, who is an awful lot like Reimer, Scrivens and the lot in that he's unproven.

But at least he's not Vesa Toskala. We can do this...

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Leafs Practice at MasterCard Centre For Hockey Excellence

leafsYes, the MasterCard Centre For Hockey Excellence should change its name. There's been very little hockey excellence from this franchise over the past 30 years, I'm all too aware. The MasterCard Centre For Hockey Mediocrity would be more appropriate, but I digress...

On Friday, MasterCard was kind enough to send me to a Maple Leafs practice there. They literally picked me up and dropped me off when it was over. It was pretty cool watching a full official practice in such an intimate setting.

Leafs practice facility at MasterCard Centre #pricelessTO

Leafs Practice

Leafs Practice

This was a part of Mastercard's #pricelessTO initiative, and they made it easy for this life-long Leafs fan to check out the action. Here's a few videos I took.



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Leafs Alumni Roster

leafs alumniA Winter Classic featuring the Leafs means we're getting an alumni game. That's got me thinking about who I'd like to see out there.

Between the pipes, for example, I don't need to see Cujo or Belfour. Give me Bester, Wregget and Potvin, please. Up front, I also want to go heavy with the '83-'93 teams. Yes, it's all about me.

Here's a laundry list of the Leafs I'd like to see considered for our Alumni team. The only slam dunks would be Wendel, Dougie, Darryl, Borje and Mats, right?

  • John Anderson
  • Dave Andreychuk
  • Bryan Berard
  • Allan Bester
  • Nikolai Borchevsky
  • Wendel Clark
  • Russ Courtnall
  • Vincent Damphousse
  • Dan Daoust
  • Bill Derlago
  • Dave Ellett
  • Tom Fergus
  • Mike Foligno
  • Miroslav Frycer
  • Todd Gill
  • Doug Gilmour
  • Al Iafrate
  • Peter Ihnacak
  • Dave Keon
  • Chris Kotsopoulos
  • Gary Leeman
  • Jim McKenny
  • Ed Olczyk
  • Felix Potvin
  • Gary Roberts
  • Borje Salming
  • Darryl Sittler
  • Mats Sundin
  • Steve Thomas
  • Rick Vaive
  • Ken Wregget
  • Dmitri Yushkevich

Who do you want to see suit up for the Leafs in the alumni game next season?

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