Reimer a worthy candidate for Masterton

For a nice guy, James Reimer can hang tough.

There is an unusual resiliency in James Reimer the Leafs nominee for the Masterton Trophy given to the NHLer who shows perseverance, dedication and sportsmanship.

Dedication. Check.

Sportsmanship. He says nothing but nice things about anyone. James Reimer is Richter scale nice, nuclear nice. Another check.

But dedication and sportsmanship are minor elements in the Masterton debate. It’s really an award about perseverance.

On the surface, Reimer’s stick-to-itness is just slightly above grade. He has rebounded very nicely from a head injury this year to continue the steady progression of his career.

You can even ...

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On Andrew Moffatt, Wendel and being there when times are tough

Andrew Moffatt and his dad Bob.

Andrew Moffatt had the gift of making people comfortable in the toughest circumstances.

When his uncle Joe was dying of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease  a few years ago Andrew was the one who brought the donuts for the vigil.

There are few places lonelier than a hospital room bereft of hope but a wellspring of kindness in every vigil comes from the people who bring the donuts and fill up the room with talk.

Conversations, remembrances, stories, are a link to a world outside the hospital where people aren’t sick and life continues ...

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No Looking Back To Last Year

reimer488ulmerpar15

The Leafs’ impending return to the post season has made talking about last year seem silly.

Indulge me.

Here then are the 10 reasons this year’s Leafs team need never again be mentioned in the same breath as last year’s team.

1.   James Reimer. Reimer has emerged as one of the league’s most dependable goalies. His return to health stands as the major reason why the Leafs lowered their goals against to 2.63 GAA from last season’s dismal 3.16.

2.   The penalty kill. While the Leafs power play numbers haven’t changed from last season, ...

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Hab Fans: This One’s For You

Yep. Best fans in hockey.

Yep. Best fans in hockey.

I find no great enmity between the Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators but I do find fault with those who describe the two teams as rivals. Call me if the Senators beat the Leafs in a playoff round. The heavy bag is not a rival to the boxer.

I like Ryan Miller, find a level of noble industry in the Boston Bruins and enjoy John Tortorella the way I enjoy watching Monster Trucks steamroll pickups a couple of times a year at the Rogers Centre. ...

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Nonis says kicking tires not a kick at Reimer.

The Leafs acquired defenceman Ryan O

No one outside the Maple Leafs management suite will know how close the team came to acquiring Roberto Luongo but when the horn blew on trade deadline day everybody wearing blue was where they were the day before.

The only new body coming in is six-foot-five depth defenceman Ryan O’Byrne, gleaned from Colorado for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 entry draft. A 28-year-old right-handed defenceman who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, O’Byrne is a stay-at-home type who has 300 NHL games, four goals and 363 penalty ...

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Leafs need to look hard to find spots to shore up

If the Leafs are willing to live with the risk, bringing in a veteran such as Miikka Kipusoff behind James Reimer could be worth the risk

It has never been tough to assess what the Toronto Maple Leafs need.

A number once centre. A front-line goalie. Depth on defence. A big body to put in front of the net. A strong faceoff man to anchor the third line and kill penalties. A potent second line.

While the Leafs are a long mile short of Stanley Cup contender status, it’s become much harder to pin down exactly what kind of wish list the team should have.

Winning will do that. The Leafs, idle until Thursday when they play Philadelphia, are ...

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Lettie’s jersey will be lone exhibit in family’s Hall of Fame.

Lettie MacDougall and her beloved Leafs jersey

Lettie MacDougall and her beloved Leafs jersey

There is a Hall of Fame to be built in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

It will have one exhibit: a home Leafs jersey bearing the number 96 with autographs of the current team penned across the number nine.

It is a retired jersey, never to be worn again and soon Bill MacDougall will arrange for its trophy case in the office of his family business, MacDougall Transfer and Storage in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

The jersey belonged to Bill’s Mother, Lettie who passed away Feb. 26.

Foster Hewitt began ...

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Team defence is behind the Leafs plunge.

The Maple Leafs need a whole lot less of this.

The Maple Leafs need a whole lot less of this.

When Randy Carlyle took over the Leafs a year ago he reminded one and all that no team succeeds without stout defence.

Lately the difficulty has come in reminding his team.

Despite consistent goalscoring the Leafs’ play has veered from OK to great to poor this season.

The Maple Leafs undertake their 30th game of the season Wednesday when they host Tampa.

They are 15-12-2 overall and when you break down the season you get a picture of why the team hasn’t mustered a ...

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The five essential attributes for a pro hockey player

The ability to keep the faith, in James Reimer

The ability to keep the faith, in James Reimer’s case religious faith is one of the five determinants for success say a handful of Maple Leafs.

#FreeJakeGardiner.

When Gardiner’s agent Ben Hankinson tweeted out his cheeky request this week he inadvertently spoke to a commodity as precious as oxygen to the minor league hockey player.

Patience.

Never mind the agent. How does the young professional hockey player cultivate a quality that so often eludes men in general and young men in particular?

How can a young player watch colleagues with comparable skill levels earn ...

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What I Learned From Talk Radio

Nazem Kadri reacts after scoring against the Buffalo Sabres.

 

The Leafs are halfway through their season. I have compiled everything I learned from talk radio so far. For brevity’s sake I stopped at 75, precisely the number of goals Nazem Kadri is expected to score next season.

1. Nazem Kadri is too small to be a front-line NHLer.
2. Nazem Kadri has three goals in his first four games. He’s ready.
3. Nazem Kadri hasn’t scored in nine games. Told you he’s too small.
4. We should all name our baby boys Nazem Kadri.
5. The Leafs have to trade for Roberto Luongo.
6. Never ...

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One year in: What Randy Carlyle Considers Sacred

Randy Carlyle obsessive line-matching is part of his bench-side persona.

Carlyle’s obsessive line-matching is part of his bench persona.

Randy Carlyle would get up at first light, shower and get dressed.

Then he would get into his car and take the first road to nowhere.

There is no count on how many times Carlyle drove around Anaheim from November 30, 2011, the day he was fired as coach of the Ducks, to when he was hired by the Maple Leafs on March 2, a year Saturday,

The desolation of those drives has not left the 56-year-old Carlyle.

“I had my period of time I ...

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JVR to get 50 goals, Fraser +71: Gods of Math.

By my math, this man will soon be a plus 70.

 

By my math, this man will soon be a plus 71.

It’s not James van Riemsdyk’s offence, although a goal total that has now reached 11 bears savouring.

It’s not Nazem Kadri’s point production.

No, if you ask Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis about the biggest surprise in an 11-7-0 season he will default to Mark Fraser.

“We felt he would be a seven or an eight who could give you the odd game,” Nonis said. “You talk about players earning their ice time; Mark has earned it. He makes sound decisions. He ...

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Marlies’ Drew MacIntyre is king of goalies for hire

The Marlies

The Marlies’ Drew MacIntyre is on his 13th team in nine years.

Doug Teskey.

Jimi St. John.

Scott Fankhouser.

Logan Koopmans.

Drew MacIntyre has backed up dozens of goalies. Many weren’t as well known as the netminders listed above.

At 29, the Charlottetown native is on his 13th pro team in just nine years. Lucky number 13 is the Toronto Marlies for whom MacIntyre has surrendered just two goals over as many games.

The Marlies signed MacIntyre last week when James Reimer sustained a knee injury that prompted the callup of Jussi Rynnas. Reimer has begun ...

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Leafs need to consider JVR in the middle.

James van Riemsdyk is inexperienced in the face-off circle but his installation at centre between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul would have a healthy impact on the Leafs.

James van Riemsdyk is inexperienced in the face-off circle but his installation at centre between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul would help the Leafs.

Joffrey Lupul is midway through his projected six-week recovery from a broken arm. That means the question of who will man the Leafs top line will only grow in importance.

Those conversations need to centre on James van Riemsdyk, specifically moving him to the middle of the number-one unit upon Lupul’s return.

Aside from the excellent play of James Reimer the dominant conclusion of the early season is ...

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What the Reimer injury says about the Leafs

scrivens400feb12

It’s true. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

 Even if it’s gone short-term.

 Which brings us back to James Reimer, out for at least a week with a knee sprained in the Leafs 5-2 win over Philadelphia.

 “Ah,” you say. “What if it’s longer?”

Even if Reimer’s injury keeps him out for months instead of weeks the Leafs will likely still sit on their hands.

 That would mean no deal for Roberto Luongo, no attempt to coax Tim Thomas out of his unfathomable retirement.

 Reimer’s knee provides a fine benchmark to examine how ...

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The ethical wasteland that is the facewash.

If you think this is okay, you can

If you think this is okay, you can’t really talk about facewashing protocol.

Okay, this is not an anti-fighting tirade.

This is a what happens when you allow fighting tirade.

This is about the code and by association the scrum that swept up Mikhail Grabovski and the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty.

In case you haven’t heard, the league declined to suspend Grabovski for what Pacioretty said was a bite in a scrum Saturday night.

The facewash in hockey is as old as shin pads. Sometimes it’s penalized, sometimes it’s not but if you ticketed every ...

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Why Phil Kessel should burn his equipment.

Honestly, what did this guy do to deserve this?

 

Honestly, what did this guy do to deserve this?

Goalless but nonetheless leading the NHL with 42 shots on net and 1.6 million directed somewhere around there, Phil Kessel has become a bigger story than the team he plays for.

I can’t stop watching Phil Kessel. I commiserate when he shuffles back to the Leafs bench after skating his guts out with no result. I count the shifts until he comes back.

Phil Kessel is absolutely riveting because he is doing everything a hockey player can do to manage what should come ...

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Owuya’s work ethic makes him Marlie to watch.

Mark Owuya (above) is famous among the Marlies for his unrelenting work ethic.

Every member of the Toronto Marlies knows Mark Owuya will exhaust shooters even after a gruelling practice.

In the informal play that is the end of practice the Toronto Marlies resort to kids’ games.

Sometimes they cluster in a tight group. Then one player tosses a puck into the air. They squish tighter and wait to see whose helmeted head the puck will find.

Other times one player flicks a puck waist-high toward a teammate who tries to hit it with a baseball-style swing.

Usually they cluster around a net and rattle off ...

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Special brings viewer behind the curtain

Dave Nonis welcomes Morgan Rielly to the Maple Leafs on draft day. Behind the Draft chronicles the Leafs selection of Rielly at teh 2012 draft.

Behind The Draft lives behind the scenes.

The 30-minute special which airs Friday at 7 p.m. on Leafs TV is packed with candid never-before-seen moments from the 2012 draft in Pittsburgh that netted the Leafs heralded defenceman Morgan Rielly.

Current GM Dave Nonis chortles at the draft table while reading a tweet directed at Rielly by Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul: “Congrats Morgan Rielly on becoming a Maple Leaf. Look forward to playing w you. Now go get me some tape..#rookie.”

Behind the Draft chronicles  Morgan Rielly at the 2012 draft.

Director of amateur ...

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Fortune favours the brave: Why the Leafs shouldn’t be afraid to risk their first-rounder.

kessel600jan25

A sentence that begins with the words “If I ran the Toronto Maple Leafs…,” carries the same probability as “I just learned to split an atom with my Swiss Army Knife…”

That said…

IF I ran the Toronto Maple Leafs I wouldn’t be the least bit afraid of risking my first-round draft pick.

Hear me out.

Brian Burke moved a package that would (heavy emphasis on would) include Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton to land Phil Kessel in a trade with Boston. I get that. Would I do something similar?

Well, if I ran the ...

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