Toronto Maple Leafs

Tim Connolly Signs with Leafs

leafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs have signed free agent centre Tim Connolly, formerly of the Buffalo Sabres, to a two-year deal that will average $4.75 million per season.

The Rangers landed Brad Richards while we scored Tim Connolly. I think Connolly has offensive flair, and I did like him enough to draft him in my playoff pool (thanks for the 2 points, Tim!), but if he's our first line centre, I think we're in big trouble.

When the Kessel / Connolly line is our 2nd line, I'll feel better.

Picture 4

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Leafs Trade For John-Micheal Liles

leafsFrom TSN, it begins...

The Avalanche sent the defenceman to the Maple Leafs in exchange for Toronto's second round draft pick in 2012. That draft pick was acquired when the Leafs dealt Tomas Kaberle to the Bruins last year.

Liles has been with the Avs for all seven of his seasons in the NHL. Last year, he posted six goals and 40 assists in 76 games.

The 30-year-old has 68 goals and 207 assists in 523 career games.

Liles has one year remaining on his contract at $4.5 million, with a cap hit at $4.2 million

I like it. What say you?

BTW, the Maple Leafs 2011/12 Season Countdown Clock is live. There's 104 days, 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 4 seconds left until the puck drops!

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The Pool Ends, Vancouver Burns, Leafs Watch Commences

StanleyI was glad the Canucks lost. Normally, I hate Boston, but in this series, they had my full support.

It sounds like more folks are talking about the riots than the series. That's too bad. If you want to see some amazing photos of the Vancouver riots, you want to visit the National Post.

riot4

riot34

In my annual playoff pool, I actually finished second. My brother Steve finished first. Good times...

And with hockey officially behind us this season, our Leafs watch officially begins. Go Leafs Go!

Go Leafs Go

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The Difference Between Leafs Fans and Habs Fans

Stanley CupI haven't written much about these Stanley Cup finals, but I've been watching. Truth be told, it's been tough to get into this series. I hate Boston, and want to root for the Canucks, but I'd like the next Canadian team to win the cup to be my Toronto Maple Leafs.

On Twitter, it seems the bulk of hockey fans outside British Columbia are rooting for the Bruins. The Canucks are an easy team to dislike. You can't blame the masses for turning on Vancouver, but you can blame Habs fans.

That's the primary difference between Leafs fans and Habs fans. No Leafs fan worth his or her salt would ever root for the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals. We'd root passionately for the other team, regardless of which one that is. Habs fans, at least the ones I follow on Twitter, seem to be cheering for Boston.

Don't Habs fans hate Boston the way we Leafs fans hate Habs fans? I realize these Canucks are pretty hateful, but there's no way Habs fans should be cheering for Boston.

I guess that's the difference between Leafs fans and Habs fans. We hate better.

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Why Won't Hitchcock Start Reimer?

hockey canadaKen Hitchcock is starting Jonathan Bernier over James Reimer in Canada’s quarter-final against Russia at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

All Reimer did was go 4-0. Methinks Hitchcock could learn a valuable lesson from Ron Wilson...


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Possible Free Agents Who Could Be Coerced To Toronto

LeafsThe following is a guest blog entry, submitted by Michelle. If you have a story you'd like to contribute, don't hesitate to let me know.

Toronto made their annual late-season run towards a playoff spot, but the Maple Leafs still missed the postseason for the sixth consecutive year, and the natives are beyond getting restless in arguably the most hockey-mad market in the NHL (with all due respect to Montreal). The Maple Leafs require a center to put on their No.1 line alongside Phil Kessel, who has averaged 31 goals per year in his two seasons in Toronto with the likes of Tyler Bozak and youngster Nazem Kadri as his set-up men, and general manager Brian Burke will be looking high and low for a true pass-first center this summer.

Brad Richards of Dallas is probably the best option for Toronto to improve their NHL odds on the free-agent market, and he led the Stars with 77 points in 72 games this season. The Stars really struggled when Richards was out with a concussion, and that is the major problem: in this day and age of concussions, how much would Burke be willing to pay for a 31-year-old who has had concussion issues, along with a number of other injuries? Richards made $7.8 million last season and would probably want something similar, and Burke is adamant that he’s not going to overpay anyone.

The other options suffer from the same issues of injuries and age: Buffalo’s Tim Connolly, who was knocked out of the last round of the playoffs against Philadelphia with another possible concussion, and he’ll be 30 in a few days. He made $4.5 million last season, and Burke would probably be able to get him at a discount, but he’s not a No.1 type of player. Jason Arnott and Michal Handzus are 35 and 33 years old, respectively, so they’re out of the picture. Chris Higgins, currently with Vancouver, is 27 and a free agent after the season, but he’s been inconsistent throughout his career. Burke may have to try and pull off one of his wild trades, and it’s going to be a long and interesting summer in Leafs Nation.

Anyone want to take a stab at predicting which free agents are coming here this summer?

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Bill Barilko's Goal: 60 Years Later

leafsThere was no way I was letting this day go by without writing about what happened 60 years ago tonight.

It was April 21st, 1951, game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. At the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period, Bill Barilko scored the last goal of his life winning the Stanley Cup for the Leafs.

The 24 year old defenseman perished in a light plane crash that summer while on a fishing trip to Northern Ontario. Not until his body was recovered 11 years later in the bush near Cochrane, Ontario, did the Leafs win another championship.

I recently received several documents from the daughter of Ron Boyd who was the helicopter pilot who found the crash site of Bill Barilko. I also recently conducted an interview with Kevin Shea, author of "Barilko: Without a Trace".

Video Of Barilko's Last Goal

The Call Of The Goal

This brief video of the goal gives us a listen as to how it was heard on April 21, 1951.

The Top Leafs Goal

Global TV's Jim Tatti tells us about #1, off the stick of Bashin' Bill Barilko.

Ken Dryden on Bill Barilko

Dryden tells us why Barilko's goal matters.


Pictures

The famous goal
The Goal.

The final resting place of Bill Barilko
The final resting place of Bashin' Bill Barilko.

My brothers and I in our Leaf jerseys.  I'm wearing Bill Barilko's #5
My brothers and I in our Leaf jerseys. #5 Forever.

Bill Barilko
Bashin' Bill Barilko

Bill Barilko's goal remembered on a Maple Leaf Garden's Leaf Ticket Stub
Bill Barilko's goal remembered on a Maple Leaf Garden's Ticket Stub.

The card that inspired the Tragically Hip to record 50 Mission Cap
The card immortilized by The Tragically Hip in Fifty Mission Cap.

The Tragically Hip's "Fifty Mission Cap" Lyrics

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the cup
They didn't win another until 1962 the year he was discovered
I stole this from a hockey card I keep tucked up under
My fifty mission cap I worked it in to look like that

Notes

He's our Buddy Holly, immortalized by the Hip's "Fifty Mission Cap", and scorer of the 1951 Stanley Cup winner for my beloved Maple Leafs. Every year, his legend grows. Here are some additional links of interest.

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Optimus Reim Remains EPIC - Playoffs Schmayoffs

leafsFact: The Leafs finished 22nd overall this season.

Fact: These exciting NHL playoffs don't include the blue and white for the sixth consecutive year.

Fact: James "Fucking" Reimer remains EPIC.

The video below from KesselySnipes was found on Pension Plan Puppets.

In the words of KesselySnipes:

Unnecessarily epic, beaucoup fromage, over the top, adhd, too much drums, loud, blood drenched centaurs skinning 100 foot hydras... However you want to describe this video, it's James "Fucking" Reimer; the man IS epic.

A big thanks to Pucking Hilarious for my new Optimus Reim tee shirt. I'll never take it off.

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A Leafs Fan Cheers For The Bruins (Because He Has To, And You Do, Too)

puckThis is going to feel funny, but here it comes...

Go Bruins!

BostonBRUINSlogo

That's right, during the first round of the NHL playoffs, I'll be cheering passionately and feverishly for the Boston Bruins, one of my five least favourite NHL teams. I don't want to cheer for the Bruins, but I have no choice, and neither do you, if you're a fellow Leafs fan. The reason is obvious.

bruins

Last year during the playoffs, many of you forgot the cardinal rule of the Barilkosphere. If you love the Leafs, you hate the Habs. It is written. In case you missed that gentle reminder from May 2010, here it is again for you.

LeafsIf another supposed Leafs fan tells me they're cheering for the Habs, I'm going to blow. The commonality amongst the people I'm hearing this nonsense from is that they're all young. It seems our youth thinks it's okay to love the Leafs and root for the Habs.

When I ask these young Leaf fans why they're cheering for Montreal, they give me the same two reasons:

  1. They're a Canadian-based franchise, and we should root for a Canadian team
  2. They're underdogs, and we should root for the plucky underdog

Kids, let me be clear: under no circumstance is it okay for you to cheer for the Montreal Canadiens if you love the Toronto Maple Leafs. There are no exceptions. Should Montreal face Ottawa in the conference finals, you cheer for an influenza outbreak that suspends the season.

Luckily, Montreal isn't facing Ottawa in the conference final. Montreal's facing Philadelphia, and that means for the next couple of weeks I'll be rooting with all my might for the Philadelphia Flyers. Normally, I strongly dislike the Flyers, but in this situation, as a die-hard Leafs fan, the choice is clear. Actually, it's not a choice at all.

If you know a young, ignorant, misguided Leafs fan who has decided to cheer on the Habs during these playoffs, please direct them here. We need to put an end to this despicable nonsense. Again, so there's no misunderstanding: If you love the Leafs, you hate the Habs. There are no exceptions.

Go Bruins Go!

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The Ongoing History of Optimus Reim

leafsLooking back at the 2010/11 Leafs season, I'm going to remember it as the year we discovered Optimus Reim. The Optimus Reim phenomenon has truly been something special.

As the season draws to a close, let's remember the year of Optimus Reim.

Jay Onrait shows the Optimus Reim logo on SportsCentre:

Great article by James Mirtle on the Globe and Mail web site about Reimer embracing the nickname:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/leafs-beat/leafs-goalie-embraces-optimus-reim-nickname/article1963475/

A photo of James Reimer's new helmet with Pucking Hilarious's logo on the side:

Optimus_Reim_Helmet

And of course, where everyone can order their own tee, including the new Optimus Reim Shirsey Foul tee:

http://www.puckinghilarious.com

James-Reimer-Optimus-Reim-of-the-Maple-Leafs

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