Toronto Maple Leafs

Of Stålberg, Steen and Tlustý
Published by Toronto Mike on March 4, 2013 @ 15:36 in Toronto Maple Leafs

Of Stalberg, Steen and TlustyPrior 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.

Comments 4 comments
Things are Looking Up in Toronto Sports
Published by Toronto Mike on February 14, 2013 @ 15:15 in Sports, Toronto Argos, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto FC, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto News ~ Toronto Focus, Toronto Raptors

Things are Looking Up in Toronto SportsToronto 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.

Comments 22 comments
Bob Cole: The Voice That Divides Us All
Published by Toronto Mike on February 10, 2013 @ 14:48 in Toronto Maple Leafs

Bob Cole: The Voice That Divides Us AllI'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?

Comments 67 comments
When Brian Burke Attacks: What Would You Do?
Published by Toronto Mike on January 23, 2013 @ 14:06 in Toronto Maple Leafs

Brian Burke Cease and Desist Lawyer LetterLast 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
Lawyers
2200 – 1055 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, V6E 2E9

I've yet to reply back...

Comments 53 comments
2013 Leafs Roster and Prediction
Published by Toronto Mike on January 19, 2013 @ 10:50 in Toronto Maple Leafs

leafsI'm looking forward to watching the Leafs vs. Habs tonight. Here's our opening night roster.

Forwards:

  • Lupul
  • Kessel
  • Kulemin
  • Van Riemsdyk
  • Grabovski
  • MacArthur
  • Bozak
  • Kadri
  • Komarov
  • McLement
  • Brown
  • Steckel
  • Orr

Defense:

  • Phaneuf
  • Gunnarsson
  • Liles
  • Kostka
  • Gardiner (currently injured)
  • Komisarek
  • Franson
  • Fraser
  • Holzer

Goalies:

  • Reimer
  • Scrivens

I'm predicting this team will surprise us and play above their ability and finish 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Go Leafs Go!

Comments 17 comments
Brian Burke Fired
Published by Toronto Mike on January 9, 2013 @ 12:42 in Toronto Maple Leafs

Brian Burke FiredThe Toronto Maple Leafs fired president and general manager Brian Burke.

He was hired with much fanfare and hope back in 2008 but without a playoff appearance during his tenure, he's been on the clock for at least a year.

burkes law2

I was pretty sure they'd give him one more season. I didn't see this announcement coming at this time, did you?

Comments 37 comments
Ping!!! NHL Lockout Ends
Published by Toronto Mike on January 6, 2013 @ 10:50 in Toronto Maple Leafs

Ping!!! NHL Lockout EndsI've been so fed up with the NHL and NHLPA CBA negotiations, I've been telling everyone who will listen to just ping me when it's over. This morning, I received several pings. I guess the lockout is over and we'll have a season.

Immediately, I'm hit with two different sensations. One is anger that we had to wait 113 days and that they'd do this to us after cancelling the 2004-2005 season. They fought over a multi-billion dollar pie and we suffer. Screw 'em.

The other is delight that NHL hockey is back. I watched the entire Marlies game yesterday because I miss Leafs hockey. I've been watching for 30 years and it's a fun pastime that I can share with my family and friends. Nothing's better than sitting down on a Saturday night to watch the Leafs game with my kids. Even Monica has become a big fan instead of merely a casual follower looking for a good site to bet on march madness.

So no, there's no boycott here. I'll still watch, and if you give me a ticket, I'll even go to the ACC. And I even have silly fantasies in my head where we slip into 8th and actually win a playoff game or two. I know it's crazy, but it's what we Leaf fans hope for.

Compare the tone of this entry to my entry when the NHL and NHLPA ended the last work stoppage. I was just damn happy then. Now I'm happy but more than a little jaded.

How do you feel about the NHL returning?

Comments 48 comments
Déjà Vu with Apathy
Published by Toronto Mike on September 26, 2012 @ 15:07 in Toronto Maple Leafs

SighEight years ago, I was already writing pleas to Bettman and Goodenow to get a deal done so I could enjoy NHL hockey again. I really, really cared, and my heart broke when the entire season was cancelled.

Eight years later, there's that same multi-billion dollar pie being fought over by multi-millionaires, and the big losers remain us suckers who tune in and support our favourite NHL teams. Since we lost the season in 2004/2005, I've watched my Leafs miss the playoffs each and every year. I can do that again. I'm actually getting pretty good at it.

It's déjà vu all over again, but this time with a steaming pile of apathy. This time, it's different.

Comments 12 comments
The New Bottom for Toronto Sports Teams
Published by Toronto Mike on August 16, 2012 @ 10:09 in Toronto Argos, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto FC, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors

The New Bottom for Toronto Sports Teams?I think we're about to hit a new bottom... at least a new bottom for Toronto sports teams. With the Euro Cup and Olympic distractions behind us, and summer winding down, I've decided to do a quick State of the Union analysis of Toronto professional sports teams.

Toronto Blue Jays
I'm sad to say I haven't followed this team much the past few weeks. Oh... I see we're dead last in the AL East, 15 games behind the Yankees. And our wild card hopes have evaporated... and half the team is on the DL. Wasn't that new wild card supposed to belong to us? Nah, we'll finish last instead.

Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs haven't made the playoffs since before the last labour stoppage, and now it looks like we're heading into another. We diehards don't even get to enjoy watching our team miss the playoffs again. That might be the only thing worse than the longest non-playoff streak in the league. Sad and pitiful.

Toronto Raptors
We sucked last year, and we'll suck again this season. Every analyst and pundit has assured me of that. And really, even if a miracle of miracles occurred and we slipped into 8th place in the conference, Miami would chew us up and spit us out in 4.

Toronto Argos
Firstly, I fully acknowledge that almost none of you care about the CFL. I just checked the standings and we're 3-3. That almost sounds decent until you see in an 8-team league only one team has a worse record. That shit's cray!

Toronto FC
Lastly, we check in on our professional MLS soccer team. I remember getting off to a horrible start, but I've lost touch with them recently. I wonder how they're doing.... Oh... dead last in the Eastern Conference. That sounds about right.

So there you have it, a quick review of how it currently looks for Toronto sports teams. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we've found a brand new low.

Comments 35 comments
Leafs Announce Roster for 2012 Alumni Game
Published by Toronto Mike on July 11, 2012 @ 15:00 in Toronto Maple Leafs

XXXBack in January, we had some fun speculating who would play for the Leafs in the Alumni Showdown.

The Leafs just announced their roster for this game, although they will add a few more players later. Here's who they're confirming thus far:

  • Darryl Sittler
  • Rick Vaive
  • Darcy Tucker
  • Felix Potvin
  • Mike Palmateer
  • Kevin Maguire
  • Dave Andreychuk
  • Doug Gilmour
  • Wendel Clark
  • Curtis Joseph
  • Johnny Bower
  • Ron Ellis
  • Jim McKenny

We mentioned them all, except for Kevin Maguire. That choice is a bit of a shocker. Surely Ed Olczyk can get the game off from his analyst duties to play for the blue and white. And Mats is likely sitting on his decision, as an homage to the way he left the Leafs.

What's really important, and has already been mentioned by @DownGoesBrown on Twitter, is that Bob Cole call this game.

Comments 5 comments


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