Toronto Maple Leafs


Leafs Trade Martin Skoula to New Jersey

maple leafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs have traded defenceman Martin Skoula to New Jersey for a 5th round draft pick in 2010.

Say what you will about Martin Skoula, but he never faltered in a Leafs uniform. No Maple Leaf in history, outside of Olaf Kolzig, committed as few errors.

Farewell, Martin Skoula. You will be missed dearly by the Barilkosphere.

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Leafs Trade Ponikarovsky to Penguins

maple leafsThe Toronto Maple Leafs have traded Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Luca Caputi and defenceman Martin Skoula.

Poni was one of the longest serving Leafs, this being his ninth year with the blue and white. He recorded 114 goals and 257 points in 477 NHL games since he was drafted in the fourth round (87th overall) by Toronto in 1998.

Today is the NHL's trade deadline, so I'll be keeping my good eye on all deals involving the Leafs. And no, I'm not recapping that game against Carolina last night. I don't have the heart.

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WWWD Tee Shirt Arrives

hangerMy WWWD tee shirt has arrived!

No, it wasn't a freebie, I paid actual hard earned cash for this sucker, and I love it. It is now my official Tuesday night volleyball shirt.

wwwd 001

What would Wendel do? I like to think he'd be rather proud of my selection. Get your funny hockey tee shirt today at http://www.puckinghilarious.com/.

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Maple Leafs 2, Sharks 3

LeafsJ.S. Giguere's perfect Maple Leaf career is over. I honestly thought he could do it, but it was not to be. J.S. Giguere is not the impenetrable fortress of doom.

It was fun to see Future Stanley Cup Winner Nazem Kadri making his NHL debut ahead of schedule. I thought he looked pretty good.

And Phil Kessel got his 21st. We'll be happy with 30 from Phil this season. Next season, we're looking for 40.

It was Giguere's first loss as a Leaf, but will it be his last? Only time will tell.

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Maple Leafs 5, Senators 0

leafsChatting with Mississauga Blogger earlier today, we agreed that the Leafs fans love to hate the Habs but just simply hate the Sens. There's no love to hate about it. I just despise that franchise and wish them nothing but failure.

This 5-0 shellacking reminded me of the four playoff series we had against the Senators over the past 15 years. All four ended with justice prevailing. Tonight, the same justice was evident in spades.

There were several things to get excited about. Jean-Sebastien Giguere became the first goaltender in franchise history to open his debut season with back-to-back shutouts, both Phil Kessel and Luke Schenn had three-point nights, and, most importantly, we ended Ottawa's 11 game winning streak.

Sens suck.

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Brendan Burke, Dead at 21

Brendan BurkeThe news hit me tonight like a tonne of bricks. Brian Burke's son, Brendan, had succumbed to injuries he suffered in an auto accident. Brendan was only 21-years old.

The first thing I thought of was my James. I'm sure all fathers can relate to this reaction. I felt the extraordinary love I have for my son, and realized that's how Brian felt about Brendan. Even thinking about losing my son hurt so much I cannot fathom the sadness Brian is feeling. My thoughts are with the Burke family at this hour.

In November, there was quite a bit of coverage here in Toronto about Brian Burke coming out in support of his openly gay son Brendan. I purposely didn't write about that story. Instead, I wrote about the Leafs win over the Lightning. In the comments of that entry, someone asked me why I didn't write about Brian and Brendan. Here's what I wrote.

Brian Burke's son is gay. Brian Burke supports and loves his son regardless. That's how it should be. There's no story there.

As a father, I was seeing it from Brian's vantage point. I didn't want Brian's love and support of Brendan to be a story. I didn't want that to be newsworthy. I wanted that to be commonplace, unexceptional and completely expected.

In retrospect, I should have seen it from Brendan's vantage point. There was in fact a story there. Brendan showed a great deal of courage, coming out as a homosexual male while pursuing a hockey career as the son of a hard nosed "tough guy". Brendan was the inspiring story, not Brian. I was wrong.

That day, I recapped the hockey game instead of giving Brendan the credit he deserved. Tonight, for the first time in almost a decade, I'm not recapping a Leafs game. Instead, I honour Brendan's memory.

Rest in peace, Brendan.

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Jean-Sebastien Giguere Just Ducky

LeafsPart of the fun in catching Jean-Sebastien Giguere's first game as a Maple Leaf is seeing him suit up for the blue and white while wearing his Ducks mask.

Leafs vs. Devils

I don't know if he'll be wearing his Ducks mask tonight or if he'll be breaking in a new paint job, but I hope it's the latter. That duck theme doesn't intimidate anyone.

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Maple Leafs 3, Devils 0 - Witnessed from Row 3

LeafsI had horseshoes up my ass for this one. Ford invited me to sit in their super amazing 3rd row seats just beside the Leafs penalty box just as I was hating my favourite team, and then a miracle happened. This game became a big deal.

I kept a very close eye on the three newbies, and all three played a great game. Here's a shot I took of Dion Phaneuf.

Leafs vs. Devils

J.S. Giguère got a shutout, Dion Phaneuf had us chanting his name with big hits and a fight, and even Fredrik Sjostrom looked great, getting a point. You'd have thought this one was scripted.

Early in the first, Dion Phaneuf sat beside me for five minutes. That was pretty surreal.

Leafs vs. Devils

Lest we forget our new goaltender, who was just solid. The only other Leaf goalie to get a shutout in his first game was Eddie Belfour. Here's Giggy, still wearing his Ducks mask.

Leafs vs. Devils

There was an extraordinary energy in the ACC last night, and we were loud throughout. I thought we might all head to Yonge street after the final buzzer.

Leafs vs. Devils

A big thanks to Ford Canada for inviting me. They gave me the best seat I've ever had for a Leafs game, access to their luxury suite where I could eat and drink whatever I wanted, and... and this was the most surprising part to me... there was absolutely no sales pitch at any time. No speech about their new line of automobiles, no slideshow about their new promotion, nothing. They just wanted me to have a good time, and I had a great time. Thanks, Ford!

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Glorious Leafs Trades, Freaky Timing and My Thoughts

LeafsI slept in this morning. My son's early morning practice was cancelled due to a video shoot at the rink, so I didn't wake up until 9:30 or so.

The moment I got online, I learnt something big was going down. Brian Burke had a press conference scheduled for 11:30 and the announcement was to be "major". The more details that leaked, the better it all got. In my humble opinion, this was a fantastic day for fellow fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Before I dive into the nuts and bolts, I've got to comment on the freaky timing. Three days ago, the PR person for Ford Canada contacted me and asked me if I'd like to watch a Leafs game from the third row this coming Tuesday. I actually hesitated before saying yes. That's when an alarm went off in my head. The result was this entry entitled "I Hate My Favourite Team".

I wrote that late Thursday night. My ticket for Tuesday night's game arrived on Friday. I watched last night's game and didn't give a flying fig that we blew a 3-0 lead in the third period. I awoke this morning caring as little about the Leafs as I ever have in my lifetime. I felt complete apathy.

Suddenly, with a couple of strokes of his mighty pen, Brian Burke has me very much looking forward to watching Tuesday's game from the third row. Today, we sent six players and got four in return. Let's take a look at what we gave up.

Leaving Toronto My Thoughts
Matt Stajan He's just a guy, a 3rd liner. Nice player, but no major loss.
Ian White I really liked White. I'm very sorry to see him go.
Jamal Mayers Who cares? I sure don't.
Nik Hagman Hagman was a decent player, but no all-star.
Jason Blake Overrated, overpaid, don't let the door hit ya on the way out.
Vesa Toskala See above - I'd have given both Blake and Toskala away for absolutely nothing.

To summarize the above, I'm sorry to see White and Hagman go, but you've got to give up something to get something special. Let's see who's joining Toronto in today's trades.

Joining Toronto My Thoughts
Dion Phaneuf I love this addition. He's a former and future all-star who got serious Team Canada consideration. He's only 24-years old. I'd have traded the 4 Leafs for him alone.
Fredrik Sjostrom I'm not sure what Sjostrom adds, but at least he's only 26.
Keith Aulie I'm surprised we got a bonafide prospect in this deal. He'll join the Marlies and has great promise.
Jean-Sébastien Giguère Sure, Giguere might be overpaid, but he's only 32 and we need goaltending. And besides, we got him for Blake and Toskala, two players I'd have traded for nothing.

I'm very, very happy with today's deals, and very much looking forward to Tuesday night. The Leafs are a better team today, and more importantly, there's reason to care again. And dare I say, even a glimmer of hope.

burkes law2

Thanks, Burkie.

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Dion Phaneuf a Maple Leaf - Huge 7 Player Trade

LeafsDion Phaneuf is a Toronto Maple Leaf. This is not a drill. The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired defensemen Dion Phaneuf and Keith Aulie along with winger Fredrik Sjöström from the Calgary Flames in exchange for Matt Stajan, Nik Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Ian White.

Phaneuf, 24, averaged 51.5 points per season from 2005-09. This year, he has 10 goals and 12 assists to go with a plus-3 rating. I absolutely love this deal; Burke won this one hands down.

Brian Burke will announce a second trade shortly. I'm hearing Jean-Sébastien Giguère is coming to Toronto for Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake. I'm off to the movies so if someone out there can leave a comment confirming the details surrounding trade #2, I'd appreciate it.

dion

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