Back to the future: van Riemsdyk shifted to centre.

Is this man the answer to the Leafs long-standing search for a number once centre?

It was just an idea. A notion even.

Is this man the answer to the Leafs long-standing search for a number one centre?

Back in the summer of 2012, Randy Carlyle was wrapping up an 18-game stint as the Leafs coach when he wondered out loud about the possibility of moving James van Riemsdyk from left wing to centre.

“I made that comment over the summer months and it was big news,” Carlyle was saying.

“This was my first test on maybe I should shut my mouth.”

What Carlyle didn’t recognize was that since ...

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Nazem Kadri Answers The Bell And The Hockey Questionnaire.

Kadri

For a guy who makes a handsome living built on fractions of sentences, Nazem Kadri isn’t a particularly patient guy.

Ask him about the one thing he would change about himself and the 23-year-old London native sites the need to be willing to wait.

“I would be more patient,” Kadri said in his Five Questions feature. “I can get impatient and agitated sometimes. Sometimes I have to breathe and relax.”

He is breathing pretty easily right now.

In the three games he has played with Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk Kadri has scored ...

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Clarkson’s return means Leafs will stand a little taller.

The Leafs will benefit from the ferocity displayed by David Clarkson when he left the bench to confront Buffalo

Ten games gone and really what’s been lost?

The Leafs will benefit from the ferocity displayed by David Clarkson when he left the bench to confront Buffalo’s giant John Scott.

David Clarkson returns to the Leafs’ lineup Friday in Columbus after his ten-game suspension for leaving the bench to defend Phil Kessel’s honour against Buffalo’s vast John Scott.

Along the way Clarkson lost $269,000 in salary but you get the feeling he will still be fine financially.

The Leafs, meanwhile lost only three of the 10 games he sat out.  Their 14 points ...

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The invisible man: The Carl Gunnarsson story.

gunnarssonulmer620

Carl Gunnarsson is the invisible man.

Unnoticed, even in the hottest hockey market, the 26-year-old Gunnarsson is regularly among the top five Leafs in ice time. He was third last season with 21:16, second the year before.

This season he sits fourth in ice time among defenceman with 19:31 behind Phaneuf, Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner but he is the only member of that group who doesn’t see power play time. Gunnarsson’s three and half minutes on the penalty kill leads the blueliners.

Unlike most hockey players, you would reflexively define Gunnarsson by ...

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Marlies defenceman T.J. Brennan is on a run for the ages

TJBrennan

T.J. Brennan is on fire.

The Marlies defenceman scored seven goals in the Marlies first three games. He has two hat tricks and 10 points.

There is no precedent for this kind of offensive output by a Marlies defenceman. Even if you look North, Brennan’s feat is a staggering rarity. The last hat trick scored by a Leaf defenceman was authored by Ian Turnbull 31 years ago.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Marlies goalie Drew MacIntyre, a 10-year pro, “but I played with T.J. in Rochester (in 2011-2012) and I know ...

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If Leafs Stay Defensive 100 Points in Reach

Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer would be the key elements of a 100-point season.

Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer would be the key elements of a 100-point season.

Are the Leafs a 100-point team?

Of course they’re not, silly. They only have 12 points.

So how to explain the deluge of good fortune that is a 6-1 record with only one overwhelmingly convincing  victory (last weeks’ 4-0 win over Nashville) in the mix?

Let me give you a hint: the Leafs are actually better than people are saying because they are dramatically improved in the only stat that counts.

They are certainly better than what Randy Carlyle is ...

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Marlies prospect makes sure things don’t blow up in his face.

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It is a testament to Christopher Gibson’s dexterity that the Toronto Marlies 20-year-old goalie handles the puck as he would a hand grenade.

He has handled hand grenades. He prefers pucks but sometimes they don’t give the kid a choice.

Gibson is one of the more arresting stories on the Marlies, a private in the Finnish army who this summer fulfilled half of the 180 days of military service every Finnish male is obliged to provide. His North American peers, meanwhile, hung out at the cottage and worked out.

The Leafs tendered Gibson ...

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One in 10,000 chance lands fan chance to drop puck

brent644oct4

It has been 20 years since Brian Brett dropped a puck and barring a recall on gravity he will do it again.

This time, though, there will be 20,000 spectators.

Brian Brett is the winner of the Leafs Drop The Puck contest.

Brian is a 32-year-old Brampton resident who works in marketing. He is also the winner of the Leafs Drop the Puck contest and as such will handle the ceremonial puck drop between Ottawa captain Jason Spezza and Dion Phaneuf when the Leafs open against the Senators.

Brian’s name was drawn from ...

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Smith tabbed to wear the deep blue C

Trevor Smith was named the

When you meet Vincent Lecavalier or Sidney Crosby and you are a brother hockey player they look you in the eye, extend their right hands and say: “Vincent Lecavalier” or “Sidney Crosby.”

Trevor Smith was named the

That experience stayed with the Trevor Smith, bestowed the captaincy of the Toronto Marlies Friday in a press conference at the Ricoh Coliseum.

The 28-year-centreman is a first time pro captain but his resume shows seven minor league teams going onto eight years.

In between are 24 NHL games, seven with the New York Islanders in ...

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Kessel signing speaks volumes about himself, Nonis.

Get used to more of this

By inducing Phil Kessel to sign an eight-year contract extension for a widely reported sum of $64 million, Dave Nonis has put his most significant stamp on the Maple Leafs.

Get used to more of this

Nonis has been busy. He lured free agent David Clarkson and traded for goalie Jonathan Bernier and super-pest Dave Bolland.

But in each of those circumstances, Nonis had circumstance in his favor.

Clarkson, a Toronto native, loved the team since childhood and likely rejected a bit more money to be a Leaf.

The LA Kings knew they could ...

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Bolland retraces footsteps back to St. Leo’s.

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To Dave Bolland, it was a trip to tiny town.

Thursday, Bolland was back at his old elementary school, St. Leo’s in Etobicoke, to kick off the season’s first Shape Up assembly.

Maple Leaf Dave Bolland and Raptor alumni Jamaal Magloire were among the athletes and trainers on hand at Bolland’s alma mater, St. Leo’s in Etobicoke.

Several times a year, MLSE athletes, athletic trainers and clinicians offer an hour-long program encouraging Toronto and GTA schoolchildren to get active and stay that way. Raptors alumni Jamaal Magloire and Greg McKegg, representing the ...

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Bolland-McClement-Kulemin: Leafs third line?

Dave Bolland

Dave Bolland’s offence, neatly illustrated by his Stanley Cup-winning goal against Boston, could give the Leafs third line some scoring juice

There are two things  you can anticipate with Randy Carlyle.

First, he will devise countless lineups and combinations. “Last year was my first with Randy and he played me all over the place,” is the way forward Jay McClement put it.

Second, his teams will have a strong third line.

Carlyle’s 2006-2007 Stanley Cup-winning Anaheim team thrived with a checking line that consisted of Sammy Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen.

Once the home ...

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Goaltending, Boston loss are stories that will stick as Leafs approach camp

The story of James Reimer and who will tend the Leafs

The Maple Leafs enjoyed their annual charity golf outing , the Leafs and Legends event at Rattlesnake Point in Milton, Tuesday and since this was the first event in months the media questioning was devoted to tried and true talking points.

There are no better go-to subjects than a potential goaltending snit – witness the goings on in Vancouver over the last few years – so the acquisition of Jonathan Bernier to challenge incumbent James Reimer promises to be on the front burner.

The story of James Reimer and who will ...

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Special delivery: Leaf season tickets come with a twist for Toronto man.

Robert Hyndman is flanked by Maple Leafs Colton Orr and Jay McClement. Robert

Robert Hyndman, flanked by Maple Leafs Colton Orr and Jay McClement, had his season tickets hand-delivered by the Maple Leafs. Robert’s father-in-law Les is on the left.

Robert Hyndman is living the Canadian dream.

He works at a beer store, has for 34 years, and he has Leafs season tickets.

But life recently got even better.

Robert answered a call to his door to receive his ticket package delivered by Maple Leafs Colton Orr and Jay McClement.

The promotion is held in conjunction with Purolator and it’s a dandy. A media throng descended on ...

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David Clarkson takes the Proust Questionnaire.

David Clarkson, the Leafs newest free agent signee, grew up a Leafs fan and idolized, among others, Wendel Clark.

David Clarkson, the Leafs newest free agent signee, grew up a Leafs fan and idolized, among others, Wendel Clark.

Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson is a Rod Stewart fan. This and many other facts are revealed as we asked the Leafs free agent signee to fill out the Proust Questionnaire.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?  “I just had my first child. That was pretty perfect.”
What is your greatest fear? “I don’t have a greatest fear.”
Which historical or living figure do you most identify with? “I grew up a big ...

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Will he be ready: The Morgan Rielly story.

What to do with Morgan Rielly will be a question for the Leafs come training camp.

 

At 19, is defenceman Morgan Rielly ready to play in the NHL?

That’s the magic question for the Maple Leafs to ponder at this week’s prospect camp.

The answer…who knows?

What to do with Morgan Rielly will be a question for the Leafs come training camp.

There’s no doubt that ideally, Rielly, the Leafs first-round pick in the 2012 draft and fifth overall, would play for the Marlies where he could continue to compete against men. Then, if the Leafs deemed him ready, Rielly could be recalled at the team’s convenience.

It doesn’t work ...

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Spott’s Secret To Development

Steve Spott is the new Marlies head coach

For Steve Spott, it will be same as it ever was.

Spott, 45, is a week into his new job as head coach of the Toronto Marlies. Spott takes over from Dallas Eakins who was hired to be the Edmonton Oilers head coach.

A host of Marlies veterans including Ryan Hamilton, Will Acton and Greg Scott will not be back.

Assuming 23-year-old Joe Colborne finds his way to the Leafs, the Marlies will be in the hands of young players such as Greg McKegg, Spencer Abbott and Jerry D’Amigo.

Spott, who came to the ...

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Lure of the Leafs a key Nonis asset.

David Clarkson's adds scoring and intense play to the Leafs lineup.

Make an offer.

Hold your breath.

Let the crest do the rest.

That’s the recipe Leafs GM Dave Nonis used to land the most coveted player in the free agent sweepstakes and repatriate a valued member of last year’s team.

David Clarkson’s adds scoring and intense play to the Leafs lineup.

Right winger David Clarkson came to Toronto because he wanted to be a Maple Leaf.

Tyler Bozak, in Nonis’ estimation, turned down more money elsewhere because he wanted to be a Maple Leaf.

Dave Bolland raved about the chance to be a Leaf a week ...

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Nonis’ dream summer continues with signing of David Clarkson

David Clarkson's tendency toward contact will make the Leafs a tougher team to play against.

David Clarkson’s tendency toward contact will make the Leafs a tougher team to play against.

 

The Maple Leafs have landed the number one target in the free agent sweepstakes in David Clarkson.

Clarkson, a 29-year-old right-winger scored 30 goals in his last full NHL season and 15 more in 48 games last season. The Toronto native agreed to a seven-year deal with the Leafs.

Originally signed by the New Jersey Devils as a free agent, Clarkson adds to a talented corps of top-six wingers that includes Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and James ...

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Joffrey Lupul’s wonderful, fantastic, amazing summer.

Joffrey Lupul was a journalist, model and international man about town this summer.

Here’s a sentence you never figure to read in a hockey story: “It’s nice to step out of your comfort zone whether it’s writing articles for a magazine or posing in the nude.”

Yes, it has been a wonderful summer for Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul. He has been a model for ESPN’s The Magazine Body Issue, a music correspondent at Bonnaroo, one of the world’s great music festivals and a member of the jet set at the Cannes Film Festival.

But for Lupul, fun time is over.

Joffrey Lupul was a journalist, ...

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