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Leafs Add Speed, Move Carefully


In selecting William Nylander with the eighth overall pick in this weekend’s entry draft, the Leafs chose speed, skill and pedigree over size.

But there is speed and there is haste and while the Leafs moved to acquire the first they are clearly leery of the second.

The draft produced an encouraging pick in Nylander and a reshuffling of the defence with Czech Roman Polak acquired from St. Louis for Carl Gunnarsson.

But seismic change to a team that finished out of the playoffs doesn’t seem especially likely.

For one thing, the Leafs have […]

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Eight Assumptions For The Leafs’ Eighth Pick In The Entry Draft



The NHL entry draft is Friday in Philadelphia. The Leafs hold the eighth choice. Perhaps you’ve heard.

With that in mind, let’s go into this with eight assumptions.

Assumption number one: Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad isn’t a slam dunk for first overall.

Ekblad is not projected as the stand alone prospect in the draft and if he was, the Panthers would not consider moving the first pick. That they are open for business speaks to that fact. That’s why it seems highly unlikely the Leafs will airlift their young core in a […]

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Leafs’ Finn And Bibeau Story Of Memorial Cup Tourney


London – One is the Memorial Cup’s leading plus minus player and captains the most impressive team in the tournament.

The other is a goalie who has led an upstart QMJHL team into the elimination bracket of the tournament.

It has been a winning week for Maple Leaf prospects Matt Finn of the Guelph Storm and Val-d’Or goalie Antoine Bibeau.

The 20-year-old Finn leads the tournament with a plus-eight as the Storm, the class of the field so far, await the winner of Friday’s game between Val-d’Or and the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Drafted in […]

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Brendan Shanahan is the new CEO of culture.



That’s what Brendan Shanahan took as a good day during his term as czar of NHL player discipline.

“Our greatest compliment working in player safety was silence,” Shanahan said as he was introduced as the Leafs new president and alternate governor at the Air Canada Centre, Monday.

“It’s a little bit like being a referee. If people forget you’re there you know you refereed a very good game.”

Good luck with that.

There will be no more quiet days for the 45-year-old Shanahan. He has become the majordomo of one of the most intensely-followed […]

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Shanahan’s Resume And Outsider Status Are His Greatest Assets


Loyal to none and bigger than life

Of all the qualities Brendan Shanahan brings to the presidency of the Toronto Maple Leafs, those two may be the most important.

It might feel like a reach to brand Shanahan an outlier. His resume screams hockey insider. As the NHL’s czar of player safety, he knows not only every middle to upper echelon figure at the NHL’s offices in New York and Toronto but every miscreant, their coach, GM, agent and union rep.

How connected is Shanahan?

Well, start with the company he keeps. A 2013 […]

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After The Fall: Now What?


I’m a glass overflowing kind of guy.

I think we’re going to get this climate change thing sorted out. Don’t ask me why, it’s just a feeling.

I’ll give you even money that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin can still patch things up, if not for their sake then for the kids, Apple and Moses who, now that I think of it, might deserve new parents with better judgment.

And so I am happy to inform you that Leaf fans can now decide what’s worse, a sudden heartwrenching loss in Boston or the […]

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Bruins can again define Leafs’ progress


Say what you want about the schedulemaker: he certainly has a flair for the dramatic.

The Leafs host the Bruins, Thursday night in the most meaningful game Toronto has played since May 14.

Yes, that May 14, the three goals in 10-minutes May 14 Game 7 loss in Boston.

Here is the recipe for the season, Leaf fans. You need both the Leafs and the Bruins to be the teams they seemed destined to be when Nazem Kadri popped home a two-on-one goal to put the Leafs up 4-1 early in the third […]

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Wondering if the Leafs will make playoffs? Look no further.


Let’s look at the bright side here.

The Maple Leafs are 26th in goals against, 28th on the penalty kill and minus 15 for the year.

They have played more games than any of the three teams contesting the remaining two Eastern Conference Wild Card spots.

They have – you may not have noticed this – lost six games in a row.

And this, friends, is why you win games in October.

Because after a devastating stretch in which their weaknesses have been laid bare, the Leafs remain tied with Columbus, Detroit and Washington with […]

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Gardiner, Rielly A Study In Contrasts


Lost among the broader story lines of the hunt for a playoff spot and a three-game losing streak, the development of the Maple Leafs two youngest defenceman chugs along.

What of Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly, the future and to an ever-increasing degree, the present of the Toronto Maple Leafs blueline?

Gardiner and Rielly have scads in common. The pair regularly log minutes on the second wave of the power play. They share a Toronto apartment and at 23 and 20 are the youngest defencemen on the team and aside from Nazem […]

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Leafs Prospect Connor Brown The Number One Point Getter In Nation


Connor Brown has a great pedigree but humble beginnings.

The son of a minor-pro hockey player and the brother of four-year OHLer, the Leafs draft pick stands out because of where he started from.

Brown was drafted by the Erie Otters in the 13th round of the midget draft. The Leafs waited until the sixth round to choose him at 156  in 2012.

Brown’s 43 goals and 123 points in 65 games don’t just lead the OHL. His point total betters those of the QMJHL and WHL leaders which makes the 20-year-old Toronto […]

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Here’s why Dave Nonis stood pat.


Ladies and gentlemen, your Toronto Maple Leafs.

While the Montreal Canadiens landed Thomas Vanek and the New York Rangers grabbed Martin St. Louis,  Leafs GM Dave Nonis elected, as expected, to keep things as is on trade deadline day.

Let’s look at this from a couple of vantage points.

At first blush, Nonis’ inactivity comes down to one question: are the Leafs as porous as the team that garnered just two of six points after the break or the gangbusters group that went 11-2-2 in the heady days before Sochi?

The answer, of course, […]

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Ten pressing questions as the Leafs look at the last 22 games.


Now, where were we?

The Maple Leafs renew their season Thursday with a road date against the New York Islanders followed by another road engagement with Montreal on Saturday.

Here are 10 questions facing the club as they approach the last 22 games of the regular season.

Can Phil Kessel maintain his torrid pace? Kessel, a five-goal scorer during the Olympics and the tournament’s top forward, banked 27 points over his last 15 Leaf games. In that stretch he scored 11 times and did not go more than two games without a goal. […]

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Baun ambivalent about legacy of famous goal.


He is not ungrateful but sometimes Bob Baun wonders whether his iconic goal was a good thing or a bad thing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

April 23, 1964, the 27-year-old Baun, playing on a broken leg numbed by freezing, scores in the second minute of overtime as the Leafs beat Detroit 4-3 in an elimination game in Motown to even the Stanley Cup final at three games each.

Two nights later, the Leafs won Game 7 at home by a count of 4-0 to claim their third straight Stanley Cup, a […]

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Hot Kessel riding a wave of cool

Phil Kessel

Remember the player draft for the 2011 All-Star game in Raleigh?

Remember how Phil Kessel was picked last?

Two things about that:

First, do you remember how good he was about it, how he donated the $20,000 consolation prize to a Cancer charity and laughed off what was clearly an excruciating moment where he was last pick among 42 all-stars.

Anyone, anyone who was the last pick on the playground, not an uncommon bitter memory among sportswriters by the way, would have shuddered. I would have considered therapy.

“Something good (comes out of it),” Kessel […]

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Leafs hit road trip on a roll with Bozak key

Playing between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak has been red hot.


Playing between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak has been red hot.

He was a skinny, five-foot-nine 18-year-old on the bubble for the 2004-2005 version of the Junior A Victoria Salsa. You should know in the intervening years the Salsa refashioned themselves as the Victoria Grizzlies.

That fits. Tyler Bozak knows something about the elements that go into an overhaul.

“The NHL seemed the furthest away my first year in Victoria,” he said in a recent interview. “I went for a tryout and I was an undersized guy. I wasn’t […]

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Rubber meets road as Leafs enter key phase


The wind at your back.

The wind in your face.

Those are the two scenarios the Maple Leafs find themselves contemplating as they head to what may be their most crucial stretch of hockey.

The seventh-place Leafs, owners of 47 Eastern Conference points, visit the 45-point Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday. The next night’s opposition: the Washington Capitals, own 46 points.

The math says by Saturday morning the Leafs, sitting somewhere in the post season top eight all season long and nine gaudy points above the eighth spot on Halloween, might be perched on the porch […]

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Gleason adds muscle to Leafs blue line


Needing more heft and a little more menace the Maple Leafs added Michigan native Tim Gleason in a New Year’s deal with the Carolina Hurricanes that saw John-Michael Liles and prospect Dennis Robertson head to Carolina.

Assuming the Leafs didn’t contribute a little to Liles’ salary, the trade is basically a saw salary wise. The six-foot- 215-pound Gleason has two more years after this one at a cap hit of $4 million per. Liles, meanwhile, will carry a cap hit of $3.875 million over the next two and a half seasons.

What […]

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Former Players Back On The Ice


They used to call Gordie Howe Power.

It was a nickname built on his ferocious strength. Sometimes Gordie would grasp a door knob while someone on the other side was about to pull the door open.

No matter how hard the person on the other side would pull, no force on earth could overcome Gordie Howe.

Except, of course, for time.

When one of the greatest players in hockey, one of the greatest men in hockey, stepped onto a red carpet to drop a puck Tuesday he had to be steadied and directed a […]

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One year later, the fun bus rolls on.

Ulmer Rides Bus

They went through snow.

They went through wind.

They waited better than a year.

Finally, on New Year’s Eve in picturesque Ann Arbor, Michigan, Will and Lisa’s travelling road show hit their destination.

When the lockout scuttled last year’s Winter Classic, few fans were more disappointed than Will Milne.

Will, 24, a Leaf fan and an alumni from Queen’s, had managed to acquire a block of 40 tickets to the game. At the time MLSE employee Lisa McLaughlin, was working in ticketing. She made the deal possible. The two are friends and the idea of […]

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Phaneuf deal also says something about rest of blue line.



That’s the new buzzword when assembling a team, be it in basketball, soccer or, in this case, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The word had a particular resonance, Wednesday, New Year’s Eve, as the Maple Leafs announced seven more years for Dion Phaneuf at about $7 million per.

“You need some players to play around the core,” Leafs GM Dave Nonis was saying at the press conference. “We think we are adding pieces that will help us win.”

Never mind that tantalizing idea for a moment. There is no question the Leafs, with Joffrey […]

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