Toronto Maple Leafs

No Leafs = No Eyeballs

TVDuring hockey season, I have a Pavlovian response to Saturday nights. Around 7pm I instinctively seek a comfy seat and a television so I can watch my Toronto Maple Leafs on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. It's an important tradition in my house.

This past Saturday night, as the clock approached 7, I felt those familiar tingles. It was time for hockey featuring the blue and white, only there was no Leaf game to be found. Instead it was the Habs vs. Sens and the Leafs had the night off.

In his column today, Chris Zelkovich explains why a Saturday night without the Leafs is a ratings disaster for the CBC.

While stories hit the news from time to time telling us that interest in the Toronto Maple Leafs is dropping faster than, well, the Leafs' playoff chances, the fact is the Blue-and-White still drive ratings no matter how bad they are.

Further proof came Saturday night in one of those rare instances when the Leafs are not the main attraction on Hockey Night In Canada. In fact, this Saturday they weren't even playing. Instead, the nation got the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators -- an all-Canadian matchup featuring one team with deep roots across the country.

It was a pretty good game, too.

The result? The lowest Game 1 rating on CBC this season. It drew 300,000 fewer viewers than the previously ratings dog and drew only 130,000 more than a Detroit-Toronto pre-season game.

It was almost beaten out by the Pittsburgh-Vancouver late game and finished behind three NFL playoff games. Actually, it was four because the 1,040,000 who watched Sunday's Jets-Chargers game included only those who tuned in to TSN. The game was on CBS, too.

Here's an idea for the NHL schedule makers. Let's ensure the Leafs play each and every Saturday night. It's good for me, it's good for the CBC and it just makes good sense.

Besides, it's the way it should be. You don't mess with the natural order of things.

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Lanny McDonald and Brian Glennie are Hungry Men

Hungry ManYouTube user Retrontario frequently uploads fantastic retro-Toronto-centric gems. These clips never fail to bring back a ton of memories for me, so I feature them from time to time.

Lanny McDonald and Brian Glennie are hungry. Thankfully, they have Hungry-Man tv dinners to fill them up.

This is proof positive that NHLers weren't paid very much in the 70s.

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Maple Leafs 1, Capitals 6

LeafsRemember when we shutout Philadelphia 4-0? Bozak had that sick goal and Toskala recorded his first shutout since October 2008?

That was fun.

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Molson Sticks it to Leafs Fans With Molson Canadian 67

beerNear my house there's a big billboard advertising Molson's new light beer. It's called Molson Canadian 67 and the logo is half a maple leaf beside "67". When I see this logo, I only think of one thing. That's 1967, the last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup.

I see this ad as a taunt. '67 was a long time ago, a time when there were only six NHL teams, a time before my birth. Why is Molson taunting Leafs fans?

Oh right, George Gillett recently sold the Montreal Canadiens and the Bell Centre to the Molson family. Now it all makes perfect sense.

Molson's marketing team will tell you the 67 references the number of calories in the beer, but we know better. It's Molson, and the Montreal Canadiens, sticking it to Leafs fans.


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Maple Leafs 4, Flyers 0

LeafsWere we that good or were the Flyers that bad? Methinks we caught the Flyers on an off night because there's no other way to explain a Vesa Toskala shutout.

It was a convincing win with the clear highlight being an absolutely sick goal by Tyler Bozak. It also happens to be his first career NHL goal.

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Maple Leafs 2, Hurricanes 4

LeafsThe Leafs have allowed 51 power play goals against this season. A blog called Behind the Net recently listed the worst penalty killing teams since 1963.

Only two terrible Los Angeles Kings teams from the late 70s and early 80s had less than a 70 PK%. This season's Leafs clock in at 68.32%. That's unbelievably bad.

No matter how you slice it, this year's Leafs take is historically bad on the power-play. Every single player with regular PK time other than Jeff Finger has given up goals at a rate that's worse than the league-average. Mike Komisarek, Nikolai Kulemin, Wayne Primeau and Francois Beauchemin have been particularly bad, allowing goals at double the NHL average, or worse. Komisarek's poor PK work is made even worse because he did not even play against top PP lines at 4-on-5. And let's not forget Vesa Toskala, who has had a humiliating 768 save percentage down a man - that's so bad that it can't all be the fault of the skaters in front of him.

Typical Leafs analysis with the cup half empty all the time. Don't you all realize that the opposition is only scoring on their powerplays against us 31.68% of the time? We kill 2 out of every 3 successfully!

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Maple Leafs 1, Penguins 4

leafsTied 1-1 in the second period, Alexei Ponikarovsky was awarded a penalty shot. I saw it, you saw it, it happened.

It never happened. Instead, they determined that Sergei Gonchar had scored 13-seconds earlier. There's a rule somewhere about scoring two goals on the same play, so the penalty shot was cancelled.

This, in a nutshell, is the life of a Maple Leafs fan. We're tied with the defending Stanley Cup champions and fighting tough, about to get a penalty shot, but instead the puck is dropped at centre ice and we're down 2-1.

The sad thing is, I'm rather used to it by now. Of course Wallin missed that open net! What did you expect him to do? Score?

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Maple Leafs 2, Sabres 3

leafsI have an idea that will instantly improve our hockey club. Let's stop playing the Buffalo Sabres. We've now lost 10 in a row against them, going 0-5 this season.

I have another idea. Let's stop spotting the opposition a two goal lead. For the 23rd time this season, we were down 2-0. I know it's fun to storm back, but sometimes you fall a little short.

If my two ideas are implemented, I guarantee a race for 8th in the Eastern Conference.

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Maple Leafs 2, Flyers 6

LeafsThe Leafs fell behind 1-0 for 31st time in 44 games. But you know what's scary? This was the 22nd time they were down 2-0. We've been down 2-0 or more in half of our games.

In this one, we actually fell behind 4-0 in a snoozer of a game. It's tough to come off the excitement of the gold medal game on Tuesday and watch a dog like this.

At least we finally have a legitimate shot at the first overall pick, right?

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Maple Leafs 3, Panthers 2

leafsI thought it might be wise to get this Leaf recap up before tonight's game against the Flyers. You see, there was another game last night, and this Leaf victory sort of got buried.

What I'd like to see is a PPM look at GTA viewers of this game. If they're anything like me, they watched the entire first period and then got completely absorbed by the Canada-USA junior final.

Sobering fact of the day: Phil "The Thrill" Kessel has only one point in his past 10 games.

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