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Marlies coaching precinct home to good cop/bad cop.

The Marlies' coaching staff has something in common with how the Montreal Canadiens harvested the Rocket's red glare.

In the early 1950s, a generation before the advent of the assistant coach, a rough-hewed winger named Bert Olmstead would sit on the Montreal Canadiens bench beside Maurice Richard.

His job was to light the Rocket’s fuse.

“I’d always know how to get to Rock. If Irvin (Habs coach Dick Irvin) nodded, I’d get on him. If he didn’t, I’d leave him alone,” Olmstead told me 15 years ago.

When the cue was given, Olmstead […]

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Prospect hails from town whose citizens feel no pain.

This is the main street of Petter Granberg's hometown. I think the picture was taken in April.

Petter Granberg, the latest Leafs signee, hails from Gallivare, Sweden. Take a look.

The Leafs signed Granberg to a three-year entry-level contract this week. He’s a nice kid, just 19 and his season included a trip to the final of the Swedish Elite League and a solid performance on the blueline as Sweden won this year’s World Juniors.

Gallivare is as the crow flies, about 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. If you […]

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Tricks of the trade at combine: speak slowly, don’t vomit.

Russian star Nail Yakupov says he has no interest in playing in the KHL.

Don’t be surprised by a question.

Don’t puke.

For 100 of the best 18-year-old hockey players at the NHL Scouting Combine, the goals are pretty straightforward.

The three-day-event kicked off Thursday at a Toronto airport hotel. The Leafs will bring the fifth overall selection to the entry draft in Pittsburgh, June 22-23.

For the players, the combine can be numbingly repetitive. They are introduced to team officials who pepper them with questions. It’s not unlike a job interview.

“Actually, the questions […]

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Kill or be killed: an essay on the Marlies power play.


When professional hockey was making its first steps into Britain in the 1980s, one local operator, strapped for the official parlance, began calling the penalty box “the bin of woe.”

Leave it to the English to grasp the concept so viscerally. No wonder they invented the language.

In real life, isolation is a consequence of a lapse in judgment.  A wayward colt is brutally excised from the herd by the boss mare. A disobedient child is put in the corner.

The incarceration model is alive and well in Canada’s national game. Hockey is […]

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Ben Scrivens on red light, rationality and peanut butter

The back of Ben Scrivens' mask bears the symbol of Cornell University and the university's Quill and Dagger society.

Ben Scrivens is an answer waiting to happen.

The Marlies 25-year-old netminder regularly delights when asked a question he can answer which is, you know, all of them.

A Cornell alumni and a member of the school’s secret Quill and Dagger Society (members include two National Security Advisors, Two World Bank Presidents, Six Pulitzer Prize winners and former Leaf President Ken Dryden), Scrivens is the AHL’s leading playoff goaltender by virtue of his […]

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The NHL Draft is a month away…why we should care now.

In four weeks we'll get a much better idea who Randy Carlyle will be yelling at.

The countdown is on.

The NHL draft is four weeks from today.

The draft itself lacks drama. Marquee pick Nail Yakupov is at the top of a solid but somewhat charisma-free bunch. The Leafs pick fifth and would likely be tickled to come home with six-foot-two North American centreman Alex Galchenyuk.

No, it’s the horse trading that will pack them in and the Maple Leafs should be prime players in a weekend where the draft could well […]

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Down a man, the Marlies don’t seem to mind.

It’s hard, damnably hard to lose when you don’t give up any power play goals.

Really. You can do anything. A trip, a wayward shot that doesn’t hit Plexiglas, a hug misinterpreted by a suspicious official as a hold.

Right now it’s a bit like professional wrestling in Marlieworld. You can go heel and come out ahead.

The Marlies are a win away from the Calder Cup finals thanks to a tidy 3-0 win over the Oklahoma City Barons, Wednesday at Ricoh.

They now lead their third-round series three games to one and can […]

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All things being equal: can the Barons stop Kadri, Frattin and D’Amigo?

If the OKC Barons can keep Nazem Kadri (shown here during a stint with the Leafs) under control they will enjoy a huge advantage in their third-round series with the Marlies.

So uncannily alike, the Toronto Marlies and Oklahoma City Barons must feel they are playing themselves as much as each other.

The Barons earned 99 points this season. The Marlies struck for 96.

The Marlies outscored the Bs by four goals, 217-214.

Toronto finished with 175 goals against, one piddly goal fewer than the Barons.

The Barons have won seven of nine playoff […]

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You’ve got to know when to hold them.


Suppose, just suppose, the Leafs had a line on a goalie.

Not a kid, this guy is 25-years-old. He won 40 of 73 games at a big-time US college. Goalie X succeeded everywhere he played. He would test through the ceiling in emotional intelligence.

Your candidate was a Hobey Baker finalist and played a dozen NHL games without incident. Size isn’t a problem; he is six-foot-two. Did I mention he was the best goalie in the American League this season?

Oh, yes. He’s 7-1 in the post-season with a .944 save percentage.

Ladies and […]

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Here’s to the good ones and the good ones to come.


There’s a saying in journalism: you don’t pull for the team, you pull for the story.

Sometimes, more often than you think, you pull for the guy.

So it is with former Leaf John Mitchell, whose faceoff win  led to the Rangers game-winning goal in Game 5 of their playoff with Washington.

You’d have to go a long way to find a kinder guy than John Mitchell, a kid from Oakville so universally liked that anyone who so much as walked by him would wish him well.

You might however find one in the […]

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Ulmerstandings: how young are the Marlies?

Twenty-one-year-old Nazem Kadri is a Marlie with 50 games of NHL experience.

Twenty-one-year-old Nazem Kadri is a Marlie with 50 games of NHL experience.

They are an odd group, your Toronto Marlies.

They are young but play like veterans. The Marlies have won five of six American Hockey League playoff games.

Nazem Kadri is 21 years old. He has played 50 NHL games.

Jake Gardiner turns 22 on July 4th. He played 75 Leafs games this season.

Matt Frattin is 24. He played 57 NHL games and has scored 18 goals in 29 Marlie playoff and regular season games.

“We feel a part of something big,” said […]

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Holzer, Scrivens stand out as Marlies even series.

Ben Scrivens stopped 27 of 28 shots as the Marlies downed Abbotsford 5-1 to even their playoff series at a game each.

You’ve probably heard all about the Marlies excellent young defenceman.

His name is Korbinian Holzer.

Oh, you thought I was talking about the other guy.

Last night, and throughout the Marlies five playoff games, the other guy has been Jake Gardiner.

Holzer scored once and set up another with a rocket drive that ricocheted off Abbotsford goalie Danny Taylor. Holzer along with partner Mark Fraser made the Marlies’ end failsafe as the […]

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Rookie season a good one for defenceman Jesse Blacker


Jesse Blacker, seen here during a Leafs exhibition game, has brought excellent skating and rabid enthusiasm to his first Marlies season.

This is what the playoffs are like.

An upper body injury meant Jesse Blacker hadn’t played since March 31 when he took the ice for Game 1 of the Marlies playoff against the Abbotsford Heat at Ricoh.

Late in the first period the rookie defenceman tried to beat a man near his own blue line.

The puck stayed in, a wild sequence ensued and the Marlies never got the puck back. Another […]

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Nicolas Deschamps rekindling career with Marlies


Nicolas Deschamps, shown here as a member of the Chicoutimi Saugeneens, was a prolific junior but he fell off the map in the Anaheim organization.

People talk about it all the time.

A change of scenery, a fresh take, a change is as good as a rest.

So it shouldn’t surprise that a player would rekindle his game in fresh colours.

But if you are going to move, you’d best man-up. Something stopped working and for whatever reason, that something was you.

Which brings us neatly to Nicolas Deschamps, a pleasant surprise for the […]

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Jerry D’Amigo enjoying his status as man of the moment.


Whether it be with the Marlies or with Team USA, Jerry D'Amigo has shown he can score big goals and deliver a solid all-around game.

Jerry D’Amigo, the owner of five goals in the Marlies three-game sweep of the Rochester Americans, has been on a goalscoring run before.

The first came at the 2010 World Juniors where he scored six goals and added six helpers in half a dozen games for Team USA.

Last season with the Kitchener Rangers D’Amigo scored six goals and added three more assists in seven playoff games.

D’Amigo, […]

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My bet on whether the Leafs will try to acquire Luongo.


Note: While an employee at MLSE I have absolutely no idea whether the Maple Leafs will pursue Roberto Luongo. This post is a reasonable and hopefully reasoned guess. Anywhoo…

I have this great idea about marriage.

There should be a no-fault window for separation every five years; sort of a renegotiation where you can look at the Missus and say ‘up for another five?’

What the Leafs need to consider about Roberto Luongo is whether they want to be married to him for the rest of his playing life. How long he wants […]

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Pleasure trip lands Percy in the spotlight.

Less than a year after Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke selected him in the first round of the NHL draft, defenceman Stuart Percy is logging big playoff minutes with the Toronto Marlies.

They call it the imposter syndrome.

It afflicts most everyone. The more you think about something the more unreal it feels when you get it.

Which brings us nicely to defenceman Stuart Percy, just 18, and drafted 25th overall by the Maple Leafs last June? A concussion meant a speed bump this season in junior but in 150 games with […]

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Marlie Joe Colborne doesn’t remember last goal…for now.

Joe Colborne, shown here in a November game with the Maple Leafs against Washington, is looking to reclaim the momentum that made him the AHL's player of the month in October. Colborne had two assists as the Marlies won their AHL payoff opener 4-3 over the Rochester Americans.

Over the last five years Joe Colborne has scored 130 goals. If you did that over a week your arms would get tired.

He has scored all kinds of goals with all kinds of people. He has scored in the Alberta Junior […]

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Mueller looks to break through as Marlies ride into playoffs.

Marcel Mueller will get the chance to show he can contribute to the Maple Leafs as the Marlies open their first -round playoff against the Rochester Americans, Thursday at Ricoh Coliseum.

It began, as these stories always do, in a small Bavarian town known by a name I will not attempt to spell. A decade ago, Korbinian Holzer faced Marcel Mueller for the first time.

As 14-year-olds the two future Marlies met and pretty well instantly became estranged at a tournament in their native Germany. “He was the biggest defenceman and I was among the biggest forwards so we saw a lot of each other,” Mueller said Tuesday.

For lack of a snappier name, the two are known locally as The […]

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The price of big and bad might make you mad.


By any measure, especially his own, Leafs’ GM Brian Burke did not have a good year.

But in one element, Burke has been in front of the curve.

Big and bad is the new black.

In January, Burke reluctantly sent Colton Orr to the minors and publicly fretted the era of the fighter was over.

At the Leafs season-ending press conference Burke stressed the need to be bigger and stronger. “We need to address the size of the group and the compete level of the group,” he said.

“I like teams that go into buildings […]

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