Toronto Maple Leafs
When my Leafs defeated the Sens last night, we secured a playoff spot for the first time since 2004. That was nine long years ago.
So what's new? My favourite barometer for measuring our playoff drought is my daughter Michelle. She's turning nine this summer. The Leafs haven't played a playoff game since she was born.
The last time the Leafs played a playoff game, I was in my 20s. Really. I WAS IN MY 20s.
Sure, this blog was active, here's an entry about our last playoff game in which Karel Pilar scored a big goal before Mats Sundin scored late to force overtime. (That's right, I wrote Karel Pilar.) But there was no Twitter. There wasn't even YouTube. Facebook was just for Harvard students. And we all watched the Leafs in standard definition. And if you had a cell phone, it was likely not a smartphone. Compare the television and phone you owned in 2004 to the ones you use today.
I big tradition in my family has always been my brothers (and sometimes mom) coming over to watch Leafs playoff games. We'd all wear our jerseys and go crazy for the blue and white. Neither of my brothers had kids last time we did this. Now they both do, and just like my daughter, one of my nephews is almost nine.
I could go on.... nine years is a long time. What matters now is that the drought is officially over. The Leafs are in the playoffs and playing a fun brand of hockey I've enjoyed all season. But make no mistake... if we're going to advance a round or two, it will be because of this remarkable young man.
Guys, I'm worried about what's happening this month with my Leafs.
First, Mike Brown was shipped to Edmonton for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft.
And yesterday, Mike Komisarek was waived by the Maple Leafs. When he clears, he'll be sent down to the Marlies.
Now that I think of it, hasn't Michael Kostka been a healthy scratch lately? And wasn't Mikhail Grabovski left on the bench during that lengthy shootout with the Jets?
This systematic elimination of Maple Leaf Mikes has to stop.
The NHL's board of governors have approved NHL realignment for next season. The new format will feature two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference and two seven-team divisions in the West.
As a Leafs fan, I'm going to look at this with my blue and white eyes. Our new division is identical to our old division, with a few new teams added: Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay.
I grew up with the Leafs in the Norris division where we had a great rivalry with Detroit. I'm looking forward to enjoying that rivalry again, and always felt the Red Wings belonged in our division. So I'm loving the fact we keep our rivalries with the Sens, Habs, Bruins and Sabres, but we get to add Detroit to the mix.
I'm fairly indifferent to Florida and Tampa Bay joining the party, but I suppose it makes good sense geographically. What do you think of the NHL's realignment?
Prior to boarding a flight from Frankfurt to London, I was given a complimentary copy of USA Today's International Edition. I shot straight to the hockey section to see how USA Today covers hockey.
There was one article about the dominating Chicago Blackhawks and their replenished depth. It specifically applauded the trade for Viktor Stålberg. Stålberg, as you'll recall, was traded by the Leafs to Chicago in the deal that brought us Kris Versteeg.
There was another article about the Staal brothers and their success together. Both Eric and Jordan Staal are on pace for personal highs in terms of points-per-game, and part of the reason Eric Staal is having his best season is the presence of Jiří Tlustý on his line. Tlustý, of course, was traded by the Leafs to Carolina in exchange for Philippe Paradis.
Another article mentioned the St. Louis Blues, already left in the Central Division dust by Chicago. The article referenced the Blues' leading scorer, Alex Steen. Steen was traded by the Leafs to St. Louis with Carlo Colaiacovo for Lee Stempniak.
Stålberg, Steen and Tlustý are all blossoming young NHL stars and all were recently Toronto Maple Leafs. These assets were practically given away and my Leafs have little to show for it.
I now suspect Mike Brown will lead the Oilers in scoring.
Toronto Sports fans, I have good news. It seems we bounced off the bottom in August and things are looking up.
At that time, the Jays, Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Argos were all in pretty dire straits. You'll have to click back for details. I called it a "brand new low", but as I type this today I'm pleased to report the Argos are Grey Cup champs, the Blue Jays are entering the pre-season as World Series favourites and both the Leafs and Raptors are on four game winning streaks. Heck, the Leafs might even make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
And let me tell you as someone who is watching both the Leafs and Raptors these days, they're both entertaining and full of hope, something that's been sorely lacking the past few years. The Toronto professional sports scene is suddenly respectable again.
Go Jays Go! And go Leafs, Raptors and Argos, too! I'm not sure about TFC, but the other teams are headed in the right direction.
I've made no secret over the years what I think about Bob Cole as a hockey game commentator. A couple of years ago I pleaded with the CBC to let Bob Cole continue calling Saturday night Leafs games.
I loved every syllable he uttered. I love Bob Cole's voice and style, I always have. He provided the voiceover for all my favourite hockey memories. Every Leafs playoff goal of my life has been called by Mr. Bob Cole and I'll always love him for it.
Hearing his voice tonight, I realized how much better Leafs games are when he's behind the microphone. Not only do I hope Bob Cole doesn't retire, but I hope the CBC gives him back to us and has him call every Saturday night Leafs game next season. That's the way it used to be, and that's the way it should be.
Last night, Bob Cole called the awesome Leafs - Habs game on Hockey Night in Canada, and I loved it. He sounded great... there's no other voice like Bob Cole's and I sincerely hope he's up to calling every Hockey Night in Canada Leafs game until he sheds his mortal coil.
We don't get Bob Cole calling many Leafs games these days. We usually get the much less interesting Jim Hughson who has a decent voice but lacks Bob Cole's poetic flavour and irreplaceable
timber timbre. It's that flavour Bob Cole adds that has me easily forgiving if he mispronounces James van Riemsdyk's name or misidentifies a player. He's human, and 79-years old, and a minor mistake like that never bothers me. Like I said, he's the best hockey commentator I've ever heard and until I hear someone as good I'd like to hear the best.
Without failure, every time Bob Cole calls a Leafs game on Hockey Night in Canada, I celebrate on Twitter. Every time I do that I'm hit with a series of replies that he's too old and should retire. Many, it seems, dislike Bob Cole calling hockey games, and it never fails to baffle me.
I want to know what you think of Bob Cole calling Leafs games in 2013. Would you rather Jim Hughson? Would you rather someone else? Does it really offend you when he's a step behind a play that you're watching in real-time?
Why don't you appreciate Bob Cole the way I do?
Last Friday, I did what I've done every Friday for quite some time. I hosted an Open Mike entry where folks can comment about whatever's on their mind.
I've maintained this blog for over ten years, and in that time I've received 47348 comments on 11744 entries. 69 of those comments were on this particular Open Mike entry, and one has resulted in a rather threatening cease and desist letter from a lawyer representing Brian Burke.
The anonymous comment reiterated a rumour that's been all over the place this past month. I myself have heard this Brian Burke rumour from many different sources, but have never written about it here because I don't believe it to be true. In fact, I wrote this comment on January 18, 2013 at 18:14 in response:
The rumour about Burke is everywhere, but that doesn't make it true. It's not fair to Burke or Hazel Mae to treat such scandalous speculation as fact.
I've already removed the offending comment. I'm simply not in the mood to be bullied by lawyers over an anonymous comment on my blog. The cease and desist letter, however, didn't just ask me to remove the comment, it wanted me to pass on all information I have "concerning the individual noted above who published or republished this story, and of any other individual who has published or republished the whole of the “news story”" on TorontoMike.com. That's something I'm not willing to do.
I am many things, but I am not a lawyer. I'm going to reproduce the letter in its entirety below in the hopes you'll share with me your opinion and advice. Perhaps one of you is a lawyer or knows a lawyer? Here's the letter I received earlier today.
We are legal counsel for Mr. Brian Burke. Mr. Burke is extremely concerned about a defamatory “story” being posted about him in various places to the effect that he is the father of Hazel Mae’s child. The “story” also contains many other defamatory statements about Mr. Burke.
It has come to our attention that the “story” was posted in response to your “Mid-January Open Mike” blog on January 18, 2013 at 20:14 by “Anonymous”.
While you referred to the “story” as scandalous speculation, it remains posted on your web site. We trust you are aware of the legal consequences of the publication and re-publication of the postings. Please immediately remove this posting from your web site, and any similar postings on your web site which publish or republish the defamatory statements noted above in whole, or in part, or in substance.
If you do not remove the posting we have identified and any other similar postings from your web site, we have instructions to commence legal proceedings to protect Mr. Burke’s reputation and interests.
Please also provide us with any and all information you have concerning the individual noted above who published or republished this story, and of any other individual who has published or republished the whole of the “news story” on your web site. Mr. Burke wishes to discover the author of the story. If you do not provide us with such information, we have instructions to commence legal proceedings in order to obtain a court order that you provide that information to us and pay Mr. Burke’s costs of having to obtain the court’s assistance.
We look forward to hearing from you immediately.
H. David Edinger
Heenan Blaikie LLP
2200 – 1055 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 2E9
I've yet to reply back...
I'm looking forward to watching the Leafs vs. Habs tonight. Here's our opening night roster.
- Van Riemsdyk
- Gardiner (currently injured)
I'm predicting this team will surprise us and play above their ability and finish 10th in the Eastern Conference.
Go Leafs Go!
The Toronto Maple Leafs fired president and general manager Brian Burke.
I was pretty sure they'd give him one more season. I didn't see this announcement coming at this time, did you?
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